I was doing my routine of blog-hopping around my friends’ blogs leaving my paw-prints in each of them when I read Kengkay’s post about Harvey Keh’s email to OFW’s. His name rings a bell and I remembered that this is the guy who became popular (or controversial) because of another email a few months back. I got the help of the ever dependable Mr./Ms. Google in doing some backtracking that led me to this February 28, 2007 article in the Inquirer: Youth leader to leave RP if 7 things happen. The youth leader being referred to is Mr. Harvey Keh and the 7 things that would make him leave the country were as follows:
- If former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of “Hello Garci” infamy wins in his announced bid to become congressman of Bukidnon province.
- If “Dancing Queen” Tessie Aquino-Oreta reclaims her Senate seat.
- If actor and comedian Richard Gomez is elected senator.
- If former senator Gregorio Honasan wins a Senate seat.
- If Manny Pacquiao becomes congressman of General Santos City.
- If Sen. Lito Lapid is elected mayor of Makati City.
- If Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, who has long been linked to illegal gambling, is elected.
Naging “controversial” ang laman ng email nyang ito hindi dahil sa 7 scenarios na sinabi nya kungdi dahil sa sinabi nyang lilisanin nya na ang Pilipinas kung mangyayari ang mga ito. Kung tama ang pagkakaalala ko dito nag-react ang marami. Kahit naman ako agree akong si dapat mangyari ang alinman sa 7 kaya lang medyo di ako sang-ayon na ang paglisan ang tamang hakbang kapag nangyari nga ang mga ito. Well, dahil siguro ang #4 lang ang nangyari sa 7, andito pa rin si Harvey Keh at ngayon ay may panibagong e-mail na pinapa-ikot.
Simple lang ang sinasabi ni Harvey Keh sa kanyang email. He is encouraging overseas Filipinos to emulate the attitude of the Indians who are overseas – that of going abroad and learning and coming back to their country to put to use what they have learned. He outlined 9 concrete actions the overseas Filipinos can do to help their country. Here are the 9 actions he suggests:
- Volunteer your time, talents and skills to Philippine-based non-profit organizations/foundations
- Be an AHON Foundation Coordinator for their book drives abroad
- Invest in the Philippines.
- Blog Good Things about the Philippines.
- Sponsor a poor Filipino Scholar.
- Visit the Philippines.
- Mentor a Filipino Youth Online.
- Teach your children the language and culture of the Philippines.
- Send this email to your friends who work or live abroad.
These are simple actions that Filipinos abroad can very well do and I am not surprised that the suggested actions inspired many of those who received the email and Kengkay can attest to that. My personal favorite is no. 8, teaching their kids (especially if they are abroad with their parents) to love and be proud of their Filipino roots and heritage.
While I find the suggestions practical and commendable, I had the feeling that something is terribly amiss, something is lacking. For one, some of the suggestions are already being done by millions of overseas Filipinos. It cannot be denied that the OFW remittances have been keeping our economy afloat despite the poor economic policies of our succession of governments. Malaki ang investments ng ating mga OFW’s sa ating ekonomiya – their money create purchasing power among their families here, this creates demands or a market for goods and services which in turn creates jobs. Di ako ekonomista pero yan ang simple kong pag-intindi sa impact ng mga remittances maliban pa sa pagtulak ng value ng peso pataas laban sa dolyar. Pwede din silang magsimula ng kanilang mga sariling negosyo dito sa bansadahil mayroon na silang kapital kahit papaano. Dito kailangan lang talaga nila ng tulong sa pagpupundar at pagpapatakbo ng kanilang kabuhayan.
Filipinos abroad have been supporting the education of millions of children – sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, pamangkins and apos.
Mr. Keh’s suggestions got me thinking. Granting that the millions of Overseas Filipinos do as he suggests, would that make an impact on the lives of people in our country? Honestly. I think it would alleviate the lives of many and that is good. BUT even if they do these things we are still left with a bad and corrupt government. The elections will remain dirty and violent. Distribution of wealth will remain very skewed and inequality will remain. I do appreciate Mr. Keh’s suggestions and the value of the contribution of the Overseas Filipinos who will put his suggestions into action. Kaya lang, I think the fundamental problems of our country will still remain. And poverty, which is the main reason why most of the OFW’s dare to face the hazards and hardship of working abroad remains. Pag-uwi nila wala pa ding trabahong sasalubong sa kanila dito at pagkatapos ng kanilang bakasyon kailangan nilang muling lumakbay para kumayod sa ibang bansa.
I reflected further, how else can the Filipinos abroad help our country in ways that will contribute to the transformation of our society into something better. Many of them are exposed to governments and societies that are more or less egalitarian, di gaanong malaki ang agwat ng sitwayon ng mga tao, di ganoon karami ang mahihirap. They are exposed to societies where governments take better care of their citizens, where elections are not won through guns,goons and gold but by defeating the ideas and programs of their opponents with better ideas and programs. They have experienced living in countries where taxes are put into good use and not used to enrich and line the pockets of politicians. Alam nila na posible ang ganitong klaseng pamahalaan at pamayanan. Kung nagawa ito sa ibang bansa, magagawa rin natin ito sa Pilipinas. When the millions of overseas Filipinos will share this outlook and worldview, malaking bagay ito para sa isang bansang marami na ang cynical at nawalan na ng pag-asa sa mga mamamayan.
Overseas Filipinos have to realize their potential as a political force that will help transform our country. They were given the right to vote — they have to use it. They have to use this right in a manner that they have seen in many democratic countries theyare living in – vote according to programs and platforms. Napakarami ng mga taong dependent sa kanila. If politicians have been using the dependency of the poor in perpetuating themselves in power, OFW’s can use the same dependency to transform the minds of their families and relatives in the Philippines.
Beyond the palliatives, overseas Filipinos can contribute their vision that is shaped by their experiences in their host countries. And, with that vision they can share HOPE not only to their relatives and families but to the multitude of their fellow Filipinos. With their political force, they can contribute to fulfillment and attainment of their HOPES and VISION. Perhaps then, they will no longer need to leave their families behind to find HOPE overseas.