Do Filipinos want to continue to be known as the world’s servants?

The latest brouhaha surrounding the diplomatic row with Kuwait that erupted following the going “viral” of a video of a “rescue operation” instigated by Filipino diplomatic personnel there has attracted much debate. The “discussion” surrounding this circus focuses on the minutiae of the debacle the Philippine government finds itself in in the immediate aftermath. What of the more than 250,000 OFWs deployed there now? What happens if the Philippines’ diplomatic mission to Kuwait is crippled? Who’s fault is it that this video was even made and why was it wrong (or right) to spread it over social media?

Thing is, all of those “concerns” miss the bigger conversation that needs to be had. That conversation is easily started with a simple question: Do Filipinos want to continue to be known as the world’s servants?

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It’s a confronting question but it is a valid question nonetheless. The answer is obvious of course. OFWs are a liability. They suck foreign service resources, imperil the nation’s social fabric, depreciate the global image of the Philippines, and weaken the Philippines’ position in most negotiations with foreign governments. The Philippines cannot take its place in the global stage on an equal footing with other nations if it has a master-and-servant relationship with most of these nations. This current situation of pathetic dependence on OFWism is, in fact, worse than being subject to imperialism. As a colony, at least, Filipinos had only one colonial master. As a society with an economy dependent on OFWs, Filipinos are subject to a hundred masters.

Like the fight for “freedom” from imperialism, the fight for freedom from the clutches of OFWism should be regarded as the new Independence movement. The Philippines will never be a truly independent nation if it cannot host the means of livelihood of its own citizens. It is highly-imperative that the nation be completely purged of its addiction to OFWs.

The alternative is the continued self-inflicted emotional blackmail on a national scale that we are seeing today. The national “debate” is completely framed by this emotional blackmail. Politicians, the media, and so-called “activists” pander to the “plight” of OFWs. Indeed, at the centre of the current diplomatic row with Kuwait are bloggers identified with the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte who made names for themselves pandering to OFWs.

Understand this. Soldiers and warriors are heroes. People who invent longer-lasting lightbulbs are heroes. People who risk financial ruin to pursue an unprecedented business venture are heroes. OFWs? These are not heroes. They don’t add to the collective national equity of the Philippines. As can be seen today, they are a mere political bargaining chip pushed back and forth in a dysfunctional “national debate”.

President Duterte is at a crossroads today. He will need to choose between two paths: (1) the safe pwede-na-yan path of upholding a status quo of debilitating dependence on OFWism and (2) the scary path of weaning or quitting the Philippines cold turkey off OFWs. The second path is scary because it is an unpopular path involving big risks and lots of pain. But the payoff, though uncertain, is potentially big. Compare that to the first path which has proven to be no more than a slow death unfolding over several decades. It is not a path truly excellent societies tread. Duterte could very possibly be that rare man for such a job — to lead Filipinos down the scary path that Filipinos need to tread if they truly aspire to build a great nation.

22 Replies to “Do Filipinos want to continue to be known as the world’s servants?”

  1. Do OFWs grow up imagining themselves as servants in another country, with basic human rights taken away? It’s not an easy choice to leave your family and face uncertainties in another country to earn a living. You sound like people have choice. Overpopulation and poverty are the problems that government in the past refused to address rather used as propaganda during elections. Not until Duterte became president that the plight of these OFWs have been highlighted. Part of the problem is Filipinos affinity to dramatics where they think the more sacrifice and suffering they are willing to take, the more their family and the Catholic church will appreciate. That’s the effect of these stupid telenovelas and religion on the psyche of the Filipinos.

    1. Why do you blame the government for the overpopulation? Isnt it me, myself and I who stick my P in someone’s V?

      1. Should coitus always end in pregnancy? Not in the world of the educated. Oh and there’s that implementation of family planning that the Church opposes.

        1. Theresa,
          Coitus doesnt need to result in a pregnancy. All it takes is sex-ed. And that is THE task of the parents. Oh but wait, they (the parents) know diddly shit in PH, right? So lets fgo to a library and get some knowledge. Oh there arent any libraries in PH? Okay, lets go to the internet.

          Oh and btw where is that seminar intended for? That seminar which is compulsory before one will marry?

  2. “The second path is scary because it is an unpopular path involving big risks and lots of pain. But the payoff, though uncertain, is potentially big.”

    Pls elaborate on the potentially big payoff, I dont see a big payoff. Not in the short term, not in the long term, unless PH education is changed drastically AND when the total PH poplation will decrease soon and quick.

    1. As if you have taken part in the framing of the Philippine educational system. But, how will you change it? And how are you going to decrease Philippine population?

      1. Aphetsky,
        first you have to establish for yourself if the PH education (I am pointing my fingers at the curriculum here) is up to quality standards compared to …. first world countries or compared to what you think is good enough.
        secondly – but this is very personal – it is about time that PH schools change their names. A lot of them use the word/term university and that is very confusing. My pinay partner graduated from a university (USJ-R) but in no way she showed/shows she had any university acedemical know-how (knowledge).
        It seems like that everybody graduated from a university in the Philippines. Really very confusing, if you ask me.

        How to change all that? Maybe you can start writing letters to your own school (the one you attended) and/or to DepEd and/or to Ched.

        How to decrease PH population? How about start talking with all of your friends and tell them that having kids cost money and does not and will not make you/them rich. In fact, having kids makes you poorer. How much more for the ones who are already dirt poor? And that it doesnt contribute in any sense to the PH economy and/or PH society nor to the global society (pls think about CO2, climate change)

  3. The OFW economy is the “Hacienda Luisita” economy, implemented during the Aquino era. OFWs are like the tenants of Hacienda Luisita; whereby, they toil from dawn to dusk, on the fields. All working capital is loaned by the hacienda owner; to be paid , at high interest at the time of harvest. Basic provisions of the tenant comes from the hacienda owner’s store. The tenant buys on credit; to be paid during harvest.

    Filipino OFWs are our modern day slaves. In the 18th century; we have African slaves, kidnapped in Africa, to be sold as Plantation Workers in U.S. Southern States. Most of the U.S. Southern states, then , had Plantation Owners, with large holdings of lands, planted with cotton. Slaves are worked to death… Slaves are whipped, tortured and maltreated at the slightest mistakes. Women slaves are raped; and made pregnant by the slave masters, to produce more slaves in their household. Slaves are sold in Slave market, like you sell your carabao. The illegal OFW recruiters are like the slave traders of the past.

    So, we can see the plight of the Filipino OFWs. They are maltreated, raped , murdered and placed in freezers. However, the OFW earnings float the Philippine economy. Corrupt government officials steal OFW tax earnings. These are the : blood, sweat and tears of Filipino OFWs.

    Unless, we can create more jobs, here in our country. We will be always be dependent on OFWs, to solve our unemployment problem. We are losing the brains, skills and talents of our country, with this OFW program. It is like Shabu. We are addicted to it.

  4. The Philippines is a truly disgusting repulsive society (apologies to all who will be but hurt). Seeing mothers being pulled away from their children and sent into some slave hell hole to make minimum overseas wage is heart breaking. Professionals cant even make a decent living in the slums of manila.

    Your country is a f***ing disgrace and the laughing stock of the world. Please lose all of this nationalist crap and open your eyes and see what is going on. You need a revolution to overthrow these tyrants who steal everything from you. Instead you have been turned into passive automatons, by your mindless TV religion and lack of education.

    My wife and children are gone from this hell once her visa clears. there is no future in the Philippines for anybody, its going to crash and burn.

    1. Biguns, as a Filipino, I totally agree with this statement. The republic of the philippines is a corrupt, feudalistic, oligarchic, and theocratical sham of a government to its citizens. While most would be offended and this comment would be carpet bombed by the many trolls that would read this, i think this is a staggering truth that most Filipinos do not have the stomach to accept. By refusing to accept the problem, they inevitably refuse to solve the problem/s that come their way. It is only by accepting the problem/s of a country does a people have a better disciplined and innovative chance of changing them.

  5. OFW – a tag that I once inevitably wore but never really proud of. A few months ago, I came back to the Philippines because I got fed up with working for Arab employers. My set principles, values, and limits does not fit with how my bosses want me to work. To sum it up, I just got tired up with being treated as a “beast of burden.” Unreasonable expectations and multi-tasking, coupled with asking me to lie to some companies we were working with every now and then just to gain some advantage, are just some of the insane work practices I experienced in the Middle East.

    A few weeks before my resignation and flight back to the Philippines, a lot of Filipino (and Indian) friends advised me to reconsider my decision because of the economic situation in the Philippines, i.e., low salary.

    I took note of the advice and arrived at a question: “How much money is worth a man’s dignity?” For me, I’d rather be dirt poor Filipino than be treated as a glorified slave in another country.

    My homecoming is also a sign of protest because of how I was treated in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE to be exact). True, my act may be just another of those that is unnoticed but I think I owe it to myself to say that at least I stopped from being part of it.

    Leaving employment in the Middle East may indeed be scary especially if one is maintaining a “kind of lifestyle,” but I can say there is life after it.

    1. Arnold,
      What would you have done if that happened in your own country (or something similar)?

      We use an expression that goes like this: “Never throw away your old shoes before you bought new ones”.
      What does it mean?
      Couldnt you have found another job/employment/employer in Dubai before you resigned?

      In my country we change jobs for even less. After 5 years, I know my job (inside and outside), I know all of my collegues. And then there is no challenge anymore. So, its time to move on to another experience, another job, a new challenge. But we will NOT resign untill found that new job.

      1. What would have I done if it happened in my own country? Simple. I would have punched my boss(es) in the(ir) face(s) but not resign. Of course I could get into trouble for acting violently but at least here in the Philippines, I can enjoy some sort of “fairness” here than in the Middle East.

  6. The biggest slave drivers would be Filipino themselves. Not only in the case of My Family’s Slave. But also among the moochers OFWs provide for. Especially when the family members or friends goaded the person to become an OFW to become providers for them, while they sit around lazing and spreading gossip, not doing any work.

  7. first and foremost, we filipinos are known to be great at service oriented skills-2nd, you sound like a colonial senor sitting on a butaca , forgetting that not all our OFWs are servants.we have many engineers allover South America as well as the Middle East- caregivers and nurses in Europe.Doctors and professionals in America and Canada and many entertainers in Asean countries-and so many HRM workers on ships meaning we are liked and wanted and KNOWN because of our skills, our capability to speak english and our sincere care for our employers-we also enjoy ” wanderlust”-this combination makes mea proud filipina besides what is so wrong when one is a househelper? it is still as honorable as any joband if i have the opportunity to feed my family and look forward to a future for my children, it surely is more respectful than people making money the easy crooked way-Specially in Europe, filipinos are praised for their service and they have good lives here-

  8. Benign0, it should be noted, though, that not all OFWs are domestic helpers, i.e. “servants”. Many are specialized professionals who simply cannot be accommodated by the Philippines’ career landscape. Whoever related OFWs as mere servants are Filipinos themselves. Add to that the general attitude of Filipinos to be docile and submissive, then you have that “servant image”. Also, most problems and issues normally arise from the sort of level of the domestic helpers and this is what is magnified in the media.

    Just saying.

    1. Yes I understand. There are, of course, a lot of OFWs who are in other lines of work outside of the domestic service field. The tragedy here is that the perception created by the bigger proportion of the OFW community, and, more importantly, that community’s most consistent newsmakers dwarfs whatever positive ways the more skilled of the lot create.

      That’s pretty much the story of the entire society for that matter. The voice of an excellent minority is drowned by the shrillness of the mediocre majority.

  9. 1. There aren’t enough local jobs for Filipinos.

    2. From my observation, the average education (including private schools) is extremely inept and poor and does not equip graduates to be employable. I’ve had college students who had the English grammar of a U.S. 2nd grader — no exaggeration. The poor choice for human resource (bottom of the barrel/”latak”), makes it difficult to run a business and flourish so that they can employ more locals.

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