the gapanese invasion is nigh!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

filipino professionals piracy as a neocolonialist policy for first world countries

here's a paper i prepared when i turned 25. i'm uploading it for posterity purposes.
The exodus of Filipinos into foreign lands is an increasingly alarming phenomenon which distresses more this country that already agonizes over dismal political and economic (under)developments. While poverty in the Philippines and the conversely greener pastures abroad are the main reasons for the Filipino Diaspora, the Developed countries seem to fish into our troubled waters by recruiting more Filipinos to join their workers. It is not far-fetched then that this piracy (as opposed to the traditional sea banditry in terrorist lairs or the simulacrum-based audio/video postmodern stealing) is a neocolonialist policy for Western imperialists. The First World recruits Third World-based laborers in order to render Developing countries’ economies dependent to the former.
In the past, the first, Spain-bound expatriates in the likes of Jose Rizal and the rest of his ilustrado colleagues got to study in the mother country because they were way too capable of supporting scholarship,[1]as against the lesser fortunate indios who had to subsist in Catholic discourses taught languidly by friars. These expatriates acquired modern erudition their brilliance merited, as the ill-meaning conquistadors fiercely held on to their worldview that the monkeys they were ruling should be given the most mediocre education tolerable, in order to continue colonizing them.
The paradigm was subverted when the Americans took their turn to be kings of the islands. Instead of mimicking its predecessor Spain in teaching moral subservience and religious pedagogy, the United States encouraged sending off pensionados to the Land of Milk and Honey where the Filipino intellectuals would be trained professionally.[2]The ends would not be for the natives, nonetheless. When these scholars were fed enough Americanism to return to the archipelago as prototype Americans, they would think for and administer the country just like the colonizing Father. The superficial beauty of American benevolence was nothing but a new sheepskin covering the proverbial fox. The postwar must have bombed away the stubborn tentacles of what resembled colonialism, only to spawn—among new republics at that—the seeming subtle form of Western imperialism that is neocolonialism.
Invented in 1961, the term neocolonialism is defined in Merriam-Webster as “the economic and political policies by which a great power indirectly maintains or extends its influence over other areas or people.”[3]In the case of the Philippines, its colonizing father the U.S. continues to hound it with the multifaceted presence of White House expansionist policies, multinational corporations, Hollywood and MTV cultures, and the English mother tongue. The economic neocolonial policy of Uncle Sam does not merely rest on the establishment of leading capitalist companies like McDonald’s, Procter and Gamble or Coca-Cola;[4]the superpower has long imported Filipino laborers to help in American nation-building, from the lowly tuna-salmon canners in Alaska and pineapple pickers in Hawaii of old to the present-day teachers and healthcare workers across the states. Why the need for the U.S. to resort to neocolonialism? Because this is relatively met with fewer, openly remarked stings from the global community than when direct takeover is enacted, as when American troops refused to leave Iraq after the very recent fall of Saddam Hussein’s dissident regime.
According to the National Statistics Office, our 80 million-strong Third World nation has 3.99 million or 10.9% of its labor force registered “unemployed,” the highest jobless rate in Asia.[5]It is difficult when 5% of the populace has no work—people do the extreme from stealing food to wishing to become First World citizens—so a great number of Filipinos set their sight toward the lure of overseas employment. To be more statistical about it, a total of 7.4 million comprises the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world. That means almost 10% of Pinoys are expatriates working as teachers, engineers, “nurses, caregivers, entertainers, seamen, doctors and domestic helpers.”[6]In true Pinoy fashion of self-mockery, local essayist Jessica Zafra presented a simple plan for world domination: for us to send our tsimays (maids) crisscrossing the globe and then holding domestic hostage of the powers-that-be.[7]But the Filipino Diaspora is more than just laughing matter, since generally, this capitalization on Developing countries’ human resources cements the West’s stature as First World, and manifests a new concept of master-slave relationship that is no different from feudal ties of old or current-day capitalist-laborer ties. All these to the detriment of professionals’ countries of origin, the Philippines included.
The West’s neocolonialist policy of pirating Filipino professionals is an answer to the growing need of Developed countries for healthcare workers to look after the sick and the elderly, for instance. In fact, the country “has been the top exporter of nurses and the second top exporter of doctors in the world for more than 30 years now.”[8]It is highly likely that these medical workers’ employers were too busy making money to supervise personally their patients. Besides, the employers can leave the care for the patients to the nurses and doctors since the former can pay for the services. And pay high, in contrast to the pittance of a salary that the healthcare workers are paid in the country. The demand for nurses and caregivers abroad—one million in U.S. in the next 15 years whereas hundreds of thousands in Canada and Europe—is predicted to continue for decades, according to the Alliance of Health Workers,[9]hence some medical doctors shift to nursing in the hope of getting hired as nurses in other countries, and nurses get employment as caregivers,[10]an obvious underemployment and deskilling which are a feature of neocolonialist ploy. Right now, half of the 50,000 Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-trained caregivers “are now employed abroad.”[11]The accelerating pace of brain drain has contributed to the aggravation of what Health Alliance for Democracy termed as “national hemorrhage.”[12]
The bleak scenario in the medical profession is the same in the disciplines of teaching, engineering, and the like. For lack of better wages hereabouts, a significant number of teachers are forced to migrate to, say, New Zealand, Great Britain and the united States, where these teachers do not expect to teach mercifully in overcrowded, dilapidated classrooms or worse, under the tree shade, and be underpaid for all the zeal and talent they show in the educative process. Meanwhile, engineers are equally in demand in Developed countries if only for the tremendous help they give in literally building the nations (with infrastructures, skyscrapers, service and transport systems) they work in.
Data coming from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency point to the escalating number of migrant workers, with .6 million Filipinos finding work abroad in the first seven months of 2005.[13] Roughly 3, 000 citizens leave the native soil daily, which could mean that in a few years’ time, the country’s healthcare, education and engineering systems would collapse for lack of specialists in these fields. Owing to this, the quality of graduates we produce is jeopardized with our best teachers absent, our healthcare endangered with our very medical officers going export-oriented, and our civilization’s structures weakened with our own engineers building the empires of our neocolonizers.
The exodus of our professionals may, for one, be attributed to the lack of job opportunities around or if there are, these offer meager salaries inadequate to support the cost of living in the country. As a neocolonialist tactic, the West attracts our professionals with just what they want: stable, high-paying jobs that will remain a distant dream should our professionals stubbornly ground themselves in the Philippines. This economic hostage by the West is equated to the mythical Scylla and Charybdis: in this dilemma, we give away our nation-builders or the first World will cease pumping our economy. It is not a hidden fact that our OFWs’ remittances, the third largest in the world at 7.9 Billion,<[14] sustains the languishing Philippine economy as well as feeds the OFWs’ love ones home. Furthermore, the demand for OFWs reflects their comparative advantage skills-wise, although now threatened by stricter measures of foreign employment first in Japan, Malaysia[15]and South Korea.[16] This demand, however, likewise reflects neocolonialism in that our professionals get pirated; more professionals in the First World mean fortified and continued development in that side of the political universe, at our country’s expense. The West pirates them if only to exploit their brilliance for First World countries’ selfish ends. Some of our expatriate workers are even willing victims because they go undocumented just to land a job abroad. The neocolonialist ploy of economic hostage rears its ugly head when our workers disregard the hazards of leaving and of possible reversal of fortune (getting murdered like entertainer Maricris Sioson, scientist Victoria Suller, and nanny Delia Maga, or getting hostaged like Angelo dela Cruz and Roberto Tarongoy) just so they can feed the family.
The worsening political situation causes our professionals to seek more stable jobs abroad. With the government’s ineptitude toward providing more jobs, upgrading working conditions and keeping investors, our professionals join the bandwagon of Diaspora. Nonetheless, this political decay may just be a neocolonialist tactic by the First World nations to lure professionals into more politically smooth countries such as theirs. The U.S., for one, always casts a shadow in the political happenings of our Manila government. The intervention of our former colonizer decades after we gained (?) independence is an ironic take; while political bickering exacerbates our economic meltdown, the professionals are pushed into trying better deployment overseas. The neocolonizer’s intervention in our politics maneuvers our professionals to envision more beneficial work opportunities in more politically stable First World nations. In the end, instead of working for their own people, our professionals get enslaved by the neo-gods of the First World. With our professionals doing the dirty labor, the Developed countrymen can focus on trendy, more lucrative professions of the present such as information technology or other science-inclined disciplines—fields that premodern societies like the Philippines can pursue only in many, many years’ time. Our professionals are pirated to do menial work just so the First Worlders can man other developmental aspects that will entrench their progressive standing.
To resist this neocolonialist policy by the West, a government intervention should come in the way to stop the professionals piracy which depletes our pool of quality human resources. The national government is responsible in saving the Philippine politics and economy from complete deterioration, which admittedly pushed many to fly away. It must be able to persuade local and, if it cannot be helped, foreign investors into putting up businesses that will provide gainful employment for prospective workers. Also, the bureaucracy must be rid of massive corruption in order to earn the trust of these power players. These titanic jobs should not go off easily, but people in the government get their salary from the nation’s fund for them to perform their duties, so they might as well pay off what taxpayers deserve.
An appeal for nationalism and vigilance should also come into play because the least our citizens can do is flee a country in distress. While it will be difficult to restrict people from moving out, the fortified patriotic values and sense of national identity will help prevent the uprooting of our people to be transplanted somewhere else. The alienation, discrimination and loss of identity are the possible risks awaiting those who go transcultural, hence the plea not to heed the neocolonial piracy of professionals and to stay home where they can still take pride and honor in their lesser-paying jobs and find fulfillment nonetheless.
A demand for retribution from OFW-receiving countries should be considered because the country spends for the local professionalization of workers, only to be hired off abroad. “Ako ang nagsaing, iba ang kumain,” reads one of our proverbs, and we cannot let this happen to us because it is colonization all over again. With our weaker state, the First World continues to have us slavishly work at the mercy of their whip cracks. While it cannot be tolerated, the hiring of our professionals merits more remuneration for this manpower’s country of origin, whose money was spent in producing this competitive pool of human resources.
It is further recommended that other studies be conducted regarding the repercussions of professionals’ exodus into pirating First World countries in relation to the persistent evils of neocolonialism.

Adraneda, Katherine and Mayen Jaymalin. “Gov’t hit on exodus of medical workers.” In Philippine Star, September 21, 2005.
Agoncillo, Teodoro. History of the Filipino People. Quezon City: Garotech Publishing, 1990.
Bloomberg. “Jobless rate drops to 10.9% in July.” In Philippine Star, September 16, 2005.
Crisostomo, Shiela. “WHO: RP must address exodus of health professionals.” In Philippine Star, September 20, 2005.
Ellis, Beth, senior ed. The World Almanac Book of Facts. New Jersey: WRC Media Company, 2001.
Gatdula, Donnabelle. “OFW remittances up 22% to $5.8B.” In Philippine Star, September 16, 2005.
Jaymalin, Mayen. “Workers in Korea face salary cuts.” In Philippine Star, September 19, 2005.
__________. “Malaysia also tightens hiring rules for foreign workers.” In Philippine Star, September 20, 2005
Mish, Frederick, ed. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Massachusetts: Merriam Webster, Inc., 1995.
Zafra, Jessica. Twisted. Pasig City: Anvil, 1992.

[1] Agoncillo, Teodoro. History of the Filipino People. Quezon City: Garotech Publishing, 1990, 131.
[2]Ibid., 372.
[3]Mish, Frederick, ed. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1995, 778.
[4]Ellis, Beth, senior ed. The World Almanac Book of Facts. New Jersey: WRC Media Company, 2001, 141-142.
[5] Bloomberg. “Jobless rate drops to 10.9% in July.” In Philippine Star, September 16, 2005, B-1.
[6]Gatdula, Donnabelle. “OFW remittances up 22% to $5.8B.” In Philippine Star, September 16, 2005, B-1.
[7]Zafra, Jessica. Twisted. Pasig City: Anvil, 1992.
[8] Adraneda, Katherine and Mayen Jaymalin. “Gov’t hit on exodus of medical workers.” In Philippine Star, September 21, 2005, A-28.
[9]Crisostomo, Shiela. “WHO: RP must address exodus of health professionals.” In Philippine Star, September 20, 2005, A-8.
[10] Adraneda, Katherine and Mayen Jaymalin. “Gov’t hit on exodus of medical workers.” In Philippine Star, September 21, 2005, A-28.

[14] According to graphic data sourced from World Bank, picked up by the Philippine Star, September 16, 2005, B-1.
[15] Jaymalin, Mayen. “Malaysia also tightens hiring rules for foreign workers.” In Philippine Star, September 20, 2005, A-12.
[16] Jaymalin, Mayen. “Workers in Korea face salary cuts.” In Philippine Star, September 19, 2005, A-1.

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