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Oplan Homecoming

I was browsing in a quaint Hong Kong bookstore when an elderly gentleman asked me if I was South Korean.

I told him I am a Filipino and that started a nice chat with a man who turned out to be a retired professor from Mainland China. He asked a simple straight- forward question, “What happened to the Philippines that was once an Asian power? Why must so many Filipinas fly thousand of miles from home to care for children of middle class Hong Kong families and leave their own children to fend for themselves?”

I replied they have no choice. Otherwise their families would starve.

The kind professor gently protested that starvation has no place in the lives of such beautiful and creative people. The prospect of starvation is a serious anomaly especially in modern societies with modern technology. Just look at the progress of neighbors like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan even with their meager natural resources, something that the Philippines has in abundance.

Pain is an early warning device that signals something is wrong. It gives you a chance to nip the problem in the bud before it progresses to serious and irreversible levels. Suffering is extended pain that either alerts you that the end is near—thus it is time to put things in order—or it may be a cathartic experience. It may mean that a complete change or renewal must be made in order to survive and live another day.

One social barometer of a nation’s pain and suffering is the number of its workers forced to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Fact : Our country is one of the most abundant in the world. We have natural resources and human resources: beautiful, kind, nurturing, talented, skilled, creative, and inspired people. By synergizing these together, we can create the most wonderful products and services that can be offered to the rest of the world.

Questions : Why can’t our people find jobs here in their homeland to be close to their families? Why are so many forced to find jobs in faraway places? Why do we abdicate the responsibility of providing our talented and skilled people with jobs to foreigners and exposing them to alienation and abuse?

Instead of asking OFWs to save the economy at the expense of their families, why don’t we instead strive to save them by providing a business climate that invites capital to flow in and provides jobs for the emerging workforce?

Instead of exporting people, why don’t we export products manufactured here in our homeland? Or services by way of outsourcing by simply creating the friendliest investment environment attractive to local and foreign businesses?

Why not make it faster and cheaper for businesses to operate by cutting red tape and corruption? Why not create a level playing field where meritocracy reigns?

Would it not be a wonderful surprise if leaders shift their campaign focus to welcoming our OFWs home? Their success in governance should be measured in terms of reverse migration and brain gain through job generation.

Print ed: 07/10


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