Apology or Reform?

Which of the two should Filipinos demand more? This somewhat rhetorical question popped into my mind when I came across this article depicting yet another one of our country’s tantrums towards the foreigners. Recently, District of Columbia Councilmember Marion Barry earned the ire of the Philippine embassy for allegedly being racist towards our Filipino nurses working abroad.

The Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. has denounced a recent remark made by District of Columbia Councilmember Marion Barry, criticizing local hospitals for hiring Filipino nurses.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia has demanded Barry to apologize to Filipino nurses for his “deplorable” remark.

According to a Washington Post report, the Councilmember was quoted as saying he wanted more District residents from Columbia to become nurses so hospitals don’t have to rely on “immigrants” from the Philippines.

(Source: Link)

Here is an excerpt of what Marion Barry said, something that made Ambassador Cuisia, together with the embassy, yell racism over the councilmember.

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“In fact, it’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines. And, no offense, but let’s grow our own nurses, so that we don’t have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else,” he said.

Cuisia remarked that Barry was being “intolerant” and “narrow-minded.” He then proceeded to defend the allegedly oppressed nurses.

“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence. He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade,” the ambassador said.

Cuisia also argued that it was thanks to our labor market that global healthcare market is kept afloat, away from a looming nursing shortage. Furthermore,

“Filipino nurses are known to be competent, hardworking, caring, and possess good work ethic. These are some of the reasons why most patients prefer and trust them. Like many good citizens, they pay their taxes and contribute to the American economy,” Cuisia pointed out.

Now, Councilmember Barry claimed that he was quoted out of context and that he was only stating a fact, but that’s not really important to the discussion I want to instigate. Barry was also involved in other issues that involve racism which constantly tarnish his reputation, but it isn’t really relevant to what I intend to say either. What I want to emphasize is something that logically follows from what he said; our economic setup is unstable, and most probably unsustainable.

First and foremost, I fail to see anything racist in what he said. As far as the quote is concerned, he didn’t even insult the nurses to begin with. What worries him, however, is how US is increasingly dependent on Filipino nurses, to the point that their own labor market is somehow being compromised. The Filipino nurses are not at fault and must not be blamed nor insulted; and no one did such thing. Barry was concerned about the internal economy of the US regarding its own labor market, not the competence of our nurses.

There was no need for Cuisia to suddenly lash out at Barry and defend the nurses by praising them (although I do not have issues with nurses being praised). There was no need to announce that nurses pay their taxes religiously and that they are law-abiding citizens. In the process, Cuisia, together with the Philippine embassy, is simply showing, once again, how sensitive we can be when foreigners talk, to the point that we react harshly when we are not even supposed to in the first place.

But there is something far more important in this issue, and this Barry inadvertently revealed; our nurses’ jobs are not secure. In fact, should foreign governments decide to do so, a number of them can lose their jobs and be deported back to this country (a drastic protectionist policy), and we can do nothing about it. Foreign countries within the context of the bill of rights have the power to manage their respective labor, and that includes the tenure of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

This shows the sheer instability of our economic setup. OFWs, whose remittances constitute much of our foreign exchange reserves which is majorly responsible for keeping our economy afloat, is practically at the mercy of foreign labor policies. We do not hold any power to tell foreign governments to continue accepting OFWs if they do not want to. Heck, we can’t even stop the Chinese government from executing the unfortunate Filipino drug mules. This is something that we Filipinos, together with the current administration, should deeply think about.

If sending people abroad is the only way to economic prosperity, then every single country in the world should have its respective battalions of overseas workers. Yet so far, most of the people who work abroad are Filipinos. Why is this so? A more important question to be addressed is; how can we cope up if the rest of the world decided to abstain from accepting our labor exports so they can develop their own workers? Know that much of our economy is anchored to OFWs. Isn’t this a ghastly scenario? Doesn’t this make you want to ask our government; are you doing something about our heavily OFW-dependent economy?

Perhaps people should demand fewer apologies from foreign entities to satisfy their egos and demand more from the government. Convince the administration to manage the country’s market structure in such a way that businesses, which are the ones who can produce real jobs, can easily be established. Have the government construct a business-friendly environment that can inspire a healthy competition, which in turn will give jobs to Filipinos, making the notion of going abroad to get a job unnecessary. The government can do so much, if it only has the initiative to really help our dedicated workers gain access to jobs without sacrificing physical familial ties.

Finally, perhaps Filipinos should also demand more from themselves. Dare to question the system; why are there OFWs? Why are they going outside the country instead of staying here? Is it just because they’re in demand in other countries? Or is it because they have no choice but to leave, since there are hardly any decent-paying jobs in this country? What can we do about it? Should we take note of our current market structure?

Filipinos can take the likes of Barry as nothing more than racists; people who deliberately demean our society. After all, doing so is remarkably easy. Or they can take such people as signals; signals telling us that we might have to do something about how things are flowing in our economy, instead of babysitting our egos and crying racism over foreign individuals.

Apology or reform; which of the two should Filipinos demand more?

27 Replies to “Apology or Reform?”

  1. Arche,

    Great read!

    1. Barry — It was not a racist statement.
    2. I love how you used this issue to spin into creating QUALITY jobs for our people here instead of forcing them to go abroad.

    That economic policy that first started in the 70s, labor export, needs a long hard look from our economic planners. Hindi na nakakatuwa na ginagawa nating parang kalabaw ang mga kababayan natin.

    In a related crazy idea, how much would it cost to run a hospital abroad? If it can’t create jobs here, maybe the Philippines can export entire services. We have doctors and nurses, right? Let’s send them abroad and build them a hospital. All earnings come back here. Maybe the government should start thinking like Jollibee.

    Anyway, I definitely sound like I could use breakfast.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      Your idea certainly has merit. However, such a venture should not be overdone to the point that the locals have to go abroad for their medication because there are practically no medical personnel left in the country. I believe we should remain focused to generating jobs in the local territory to secure the tenure of our workers.

  2. as aforeigner leaving here in Philippines (and I say happy to be here) I find it strange that so many are angry at this statement when the laws of this country openly deter people from coming here to work and everything is done to make sure it nearly impossible.

    Perhaps if the Philippines made foreigners more welcome here and made it easier for them then they to would receive the same treatment abroad, I know for certain a Filipino working in England does not face the daily racism and abuse I face here

  3. i think this was overblown. barry was the guy convicted and disgraced for smoking crack. anything coming out of his mouth is just garbage. only the ambassador paid attention. which means he did not do his job because he’s supposed to focus on our foreign policy relations in the US specially in the area of security and aid.

  4. Arche, I think a third option is in order. Purge!

    But, seriously, it’s really getting tiring to hear of Philippine officials play the hypersensitive victim card once again. The bottom line is, so what are we doing about the ever-changing global dynamics? We can’t just sit around and do nothing; we can’t afford to be left behind more than we already are.

    It’s already established that should OFW’s be rejected or sent home by their foreign employers, the economy would crash. No amount of sugarcoating will make that sound any better.

    1. Indeed, my friend. Filipinos should stop playing victims and actually do something about how unstable our economy is.

      Instead of nursing our egos, perhaps we should prioritize nursing our country back to health.

  5. yan ang ugali ng mga tao dito sa america ginagamit nilang biro ang paginsulto sa mga pinoy gaya din sa aming trabaho.ang mga pinoy .dahil takot mawalan ng trabaho ay hindi kumikibo ,ako ay marami ng hinamon ng suntukan at ang kasa ma kong pinoy na galing sa gera sa kuwait ay hinamon ng draw ang puti na sinsiraan sya .yung is naman pag hindi nagustohan ang sinabi sa kanya ay sabi niya ay this is descrimination kaya tigil agad sila dapat huwag pabayaan ng mga pinoy ang mga ganitong sitwasyon dahil nawiwili akala nila ay mga tanga tayo .noon nga ay may nagtanong sa akin ng kung san daw ako natutung magsuot ng pantalon dahil nakita niya sa discovery channel na ang tao sa pinas ay nakabahag .

    1. That’s a flawed logic. It’s like you want every Filipino should be worshiped as ‘gods’ or something like that.

      It’s a proof of how onion-skinned people are so annoying. Sa totoo lang, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

      1. Looking at his previous posts, it seems that nelson guy refuse to see the bigger world outside.

        Won’t be surprised if we are douchebags in his pov.

  6. ang mga pinoy ay kinaiingitan ng mga tao sa america dahil malalaki ang bahay ay puro mercedes at bmw ang mga kotse ng mga pilipino ..kaya nilang bumili ito daahil double job sila pag labas sa ospital pasok sa mga nursing home …kayalang halos hindi na sila nagkikita ng asawa kaya ang mga lalaki ay nangbabae o nalululong sa sugal ang mga anak ay napapasama sa masamang barkada ay nakukulong ,ang ibang magasawa ay nag didivorse ito ang ugali ng pinoy dito sa amerika.meron akong napuntahan na bahay ng punoy na nagyayabang na ng nagbalikbayan sya ay nagpapatay daw siya ng isang baka at nag pailitson ng 2baboy eh ang trabaho lang niya ay tiga hugas ng pinggan sa restaurant ng pinoy at umuupa lang ng kuwarto sa apartment na inuupahan ng pinoy ito ang buhay sa america kaya pagmaynagbalik bayan alam na ninyo..

      1. Pareng Nelson, marami sa nagbabasa sa site na ito ay alam kung papaano ang mamuhay sa Amerika o sa ibang bansa. Kahit nga ang webmaster ng site na ito na si benign0 ay may business at naninirahan sa ibang bansa kung hindi ako nagkakamali.

        Nawa ay maintindihan mo kung bakit itinayo ni benign0, et al ang site na ito…

  7. Nursing is a noble profession that demands passionate and compassionate practitioners. A lot of Pinoy nurses joined the profession more because of a desire to seek employment abroad (ergo – they did it for the money). As such, there is likely a big motivational disconnect among Pinoy nurses in particular, which is critical in a profession that intimately impacts the most vulnerable of human lives.

  8. Why filipino people, especially professionals,tend to go abroad?: of course, first on the list is the pay. but for some, hindi importante yung pay. Yung iba diyan, kuntento na sa konting kita as long as they get enough for their needs. For some, what is important is their PRESTIGE (KARANGALAN) of holding a job title, whatever their job is. But what if this PRESTIGE is being harmed?( for instance, siniraan, nadale sa tsismis, tinitira below the belt) ng mga officemates, boss, subordinates, kapitbahay, kamag-anak, etc.. Karaniwang ginagawa ito sa mga mabubuti at mga umaasensong mga empleyado. Mataas ang ego nating mga Pilipino, minsan hindi mahirap ipagpalit ang mataas na sahod sa KARANGALAN. So the tendency is to get out of the job and look for another local job, and same things takes place in that job environment. That is why, for some filipinos, looking for a job abroad and being an OFW is the best option. You recieve a good pay, at siguradong buo pa ang KARANGALAN mo bilang isang propesyunal. Aside from economic conditions, na karaniwang rason kung bakit dumarami ang OFWs, We are encountering a poor work environment in our jobs/ offices/ work places brought about by the filipino culture of CRAB MENTALITY. I think we should also consider this. Thanx!

  9. The whole thing is a NON ISSUE! We can discuss this all day and not gain an inch of ground! I am American living here and I am discriminated against every day but who cares , nobody is forcing me to stay here! Besides that the blacks in America hate everyone but themselves!! The want want want but don’t work work work! Get over it cause whites in America are in the same boat as you all are! The black leaders are just race baiters and that is the way they make their living! Barry, Obama, Van Jones, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharton! They earn their living by sedition! Not hard to see if you just look! My last thought is this , If all your Ambassadors are like this one no wonder the Chinese are in Scarborough Shoal!!

  10. Gees. The Barry guy was just stating a fact. He even said “no offense”. He didn’t say Filipino nurses are bad. He was just saying that he finds something wrong with the hiring of nurses from overseas.

    That Filipino Ambassador is crazy!

    1. *Sigh*

      I dont think the Filipino Ambassador realized it. He is actually degrading the Philippines by showing such immaturity in the international commnunity.

      True leaders are suppose to raise above the petty foray and not contribute or create them. It’s no wonder other nations dont seem to respect the Philippines as much as before because of “Balat sibuyas”.

        1. Here is another concept of nation building, learning to live with the different worlds and cultures around you…Regardless of whether you are an “instik”,”mumbai” or malay.


          By the way, I only learnt about labels like “instik” and “mumbai(5/6)” here in the philippines.

          Remember this saying:

          “United we stand, divided we fall”

          In the end, we all still bleed the same colour…red.

  11. I see nothing wrong, Mr. Barry just encouraging his constituent or his city to produce professional in their area. Maybe, he noticed why the Philippines can produce registered nurses and their city cannot! We should be proud after all. It’s a indirect praises to all nurses in AMERICA.

  12. Mr. Barry is only concerned on the Job situation in the U.S. It’s not a racist remark. I have cousins and other relatives , who are nurses here in the U.S. They are smart, hard working and capable. More capable than the U.S. educated nurses…so don’t be too sensitive…

  13. It was a statement encouraging his countrymen to develop their own people to be as competitive as the Filipino nurses, which is something that we should be doing. The jobs are in their country therefore the locals should have it. We should stop encouraging and imprinting in our people’s mind that we are studying to work for a foreign country. That is just wrong.

    I actually see it as a compliment that we have competent people being hired abroad. But this should be a wake up call to us as a nation who relies a lot on brain drain. Those jobs abroad, if their people decide to take what is rightfully theirs, we have no call on it. —oh yeah, some will simply cry “injustice” as most of us do not have the correct concept of property ownership. GEEZ!

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