NGO

Obviously, the value of life is truly different from what it meant to people now, to what it meant to people before. Not derogating either side, I just truly noticed the extremity of the gap just recently.

The NGO I’m a part of is called the Nameless, with the tagline “WE ARE NAMELESS AND ALL NAMES ARE OURS”. It solely aims to gather, preserve, and publicize these, ‘unsung heroes’, who were mainly activists who fought national freedom and democracy, in times of Martial Law. It assists the Bantayog  ng mga Bayani, in creating their Nameless.org.ph website where relatives, friends, and supporters, of those nameless heroes are able to contribute to the identity of these people.

Truly, the most striking thing for me in being part of the organization was the generation gap. Not looking at the age differences, of course, but looking at how passionate this Nameless group of people are for recognizing the people who fought for our freedom. I can only hope to relate to them on how they were, how they fought for their lives, their independence. People before just wanted/ needed to survive per day, as compared to all the pressure of the future and the great competition I would eventually face in order to just be successful and happy is so much to take up in this moment in time (of course no argument on which is more, but they equally are of value, somewhat, in a more open-minded time aspect to it. Also taking into account that we come from different backgrounds, environments, and, personally, cultures). Also, it is truly evident in the experiences I have had from countless of people, studies, etc, that the gap truly is big, although we learn from one another, there are just too many aspects to take into account and consideration in trying to understand and relate to how it was before.

In relation to that, applying of course what I’ve learned in psychology, we’ve lived, truly, in separate lifetimes. Hard are the times and people that transcend to both, I guess all we really have now are the stories that they have to tell. It would truly take a lot of patience, understanding, and open mindedness to ‘break the gap’, but it’s been an experience seeing such an organization so passionate about what they stand for. Interesting and a hearty experience indeed. 

 

Mercado, Matthew Nigel

Sometimes to build a house, you have to destroy a home.

During the time of Marcos, while our country was experiencing advancement in terms of infrastructure (increase in government expenditure causing GDP to rise), the Philippines was also increasing its foreign debt. Since it is impossible to build roads, bridges, structures, etc, for a country with no capital. Duh.

Employment in the Philippines was not helping pay her debt, so Marcos saw exporting man labor to countries such as those in the Middle East (where oil was discovered) as temporary solution to this indebtedness. However as time went by, Filipinos saw the economic advantage of working abroad instead of here in the Philippines. It became a trend even after the Marcos’ regime that the Philippines had to set up a government agency that would protect the welfare and well-being of Filipino overseas workers. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). It was becoming less of a temporary solution and more of a permanent solution for the economy of the country and the families the OFWs leave in the Philippines.

The thing about OFWs then and now is that it has been feminized. When I say this, I mean that the ratio of male to female coming out of the country is leaning towards the female rather than the male over time. Back in Marcos’ time, other countries lacked blue collar workers that we have as surplus. It is evident even today. When you walk in a supermarket, you’d notice that different from the cashier is a baggage person who is different from the one walking around putting things where they ought to be who is different from the one carrying stuff around. Sometimes, in public markets, you can even hire someone to carry what you buy for yourself for as cheap as P50. You get what I mean.

Why is it that migration of Filipinos has been feminized? The heads of the households, usually the father and the mother, from developing countries, such as Singapore, are pushed to becoming “professionals”. Not exactly professionals. Basta kailangan both have jobs. Good jobs para sabayan ang growing economy of their country. This required them to be at work even if they were mothers at home, even if they had kids to attend to. It is tiresome for them to do both productive and reproductive work (household work) at the same time that they hire someone to do the household work for them. Where can they get domestic care that is of quality and does not require too big a compensation? Of course from the trusty, doting, caring Filipinas.

It is what happened that even the film industry celebrates this phenomenon. We have movies like Anak, Dubai, The Caregiver, etc., to tell stories of what happens to lives of OFWs and the people around them. Why do Filipinas go abroad? Of course, they do it for the family. They want their children to have a better future. Only a few of the Filipino women go abroad for herself. Also, they realize that women can actually get paid for domestic jobs. They get paid for work they do every day at home that is usually overlook until they stop doing it. Until they are not there to do it. Even if they get the lowest rate of salary overseas, they can still send some to their family in the Philippines. The economic lives of their family have improved. It is not only that. The country also benefits from the money sent to the Philippines through remittances.

However, it is not always a good thing. Some families are left worse off. The mother being abroad loosens the bonds between the mother and child. They take care of children abroad while theirs are left at home yearning for their mother’s sweet caress. There are cases when this causes the children to become irresponsible or the father unfaithful. Oo, nakakapagpatayo nga ang iba ng magandang bahay matapos ang pagtatrabaho ng ilang taon abroad. Pero mayroong mas mahalagang bahay na maaaring mabuwag.

Do you not wonder whether these developing countries have been benefitting more from us than us from them? We allowed them to give their household work to us for them to be productive members of their society while we leave our country unsure of its path.

 

– 2012-58390

ESPANTA, Jereen Andrea

Teach Them How to Fish

“They say that if you truly want to help a person, do not merely offer him fish. Rather, teach him how to fish.”

That was the exact same line that Dr. Noel Lansang, the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Chief of Quezon City, said as we were privileged to have an interview with him last Monday. Touching on the topic of the climate-change issues that the city is currently facing, and the solutions that concerns him, Dr. Lansang expressed his interest on the economic impact of calamities to the society.

“It’s not just about the temporary – about the relief goods,” he said. “It’s about giving people livelihood. It’s about developing the economic parts of a project so that the people won’t have to leave. You give them a housing project but they leave or sell it because they cannot maintain the expenses in the area. We have to focus on the economic part of things too. We have to plan things out.”

I particularly found this part of our interview very interesting. Certainly, the common ideas that we associate with ‘helping’ the victims of a calamity are limited to two words: ‘Relief goods’. But what comes after that? After we have sent plastics of rice, instant noodles and canned goods, do we expect the people to start rebuilding their city all on their own? That somehow, they would find the capital and the means to stand back up without a long-term kind of help from the government?

I am aware that this matter is being given attention now. What remains a riddle to me, however, is how we can develop a plan that can offer this kind of help to the victims.

With Akbayan to make a difference

We were assigned as legal assistant to the legal counsel of Akbayan. It was an intlllectually stimulating job because even though we were given clerical jobs we still enjoyed the talks we had with the attorney that concerns issues that are bellowing around us like the RH Bill, the Cybercrime and such. The Attorney was involved legally in these cases and he gave us insight to these cases that made our look of the world more precise.

After a month with Attorney we were transferred to Akbayan’s counterpart in congress where we researched on how to access the reallocated PDAF funds. We are to make a step by step procedure where the leaders of far flung areas could easily understand and those easily comply and adapt with the changing funding. When I entered congress and was assigned this project, I was enlightened. I thought congress people were a bunch of greedy crocodiles working meticoulusly to get their next larger share of the pie. When I entered the room for Akbayan I was greeted with dedicated people who wanted to make a difference. And that was the same with the project. It made me feel that I am making a difference. What’s a few hours of compiling information across the net if it would mean a CSO could implement their project. I really liked the project and so I worked on it meticoulsy and precisely.

For the two months to come, we are to be assigned in other new PDAF adapting projects and hopefully make much difference as we are doing now.

Raphael Justin A. Jambalos

2012-26860

A reaction on the Human Rights exhibit & forum of the Nameless organization

Nowadays, it is difficult to see how Filipinos give importance to Human Rights, given the numerous cases of murder, rape and other cases of disrespect towards the rights of people. Because these violations are still quite common, it is important to be reminded of what exactly is Human Rights all about and what we can do to continue promoting it. This is exactly what happened in the Human Rights exhibit & forum last December 9, 2013 which was organized by The Nameless Organization along with some sophomore students from the UP School of Economics which included me.

I did not know what to expect at the start of being involved in this event but I was hopeful that I would learn and gain experience from it. Our first task was to profile the Heroes posted on the nameless website. I found it interesting to read about how ordinary people became heroes in their own right particularly during the Marcos regime which we all know was time wherein there was very little respect for human rights. On the day of the forum, my batch mates and I were tasked to set-up the exhibit which turned out to be quite a tedious job given the short amount of time we had to prepare for it.  However, it was great to see the exhibit come together before the forum started.

The forum itself was another experience. I thought it was great that the speakers talked about human rights from different points of views. Some talked about it more subjectively, using historical facts and law provisions in their talks while others were more objective, taking in from their personal experiences. It was interesting to hear how they experienced or witnessed such kinds of violations in their time, it took me back to my Kasaysayan 1 class wherein my professor would also tell us stories about how there was little to no respect for human rights during the time of Martial Law. While I found their talk insightful, I thought it was a bit difficult to relate to. Perhaps it would have been helpful if there were speakers who focused on the violations of human rights that are happening day to day, sometimes without people knowing they are victims of it.

Overall, I thought the forum and exhibit ran pretty smoothly however it was still far from perfect. The lack of attendees was noticeable yet also understandable since the event was held on a Monday and the promotion of the event started late. There were also a few problems regarding the program, since it started and ended late because of the delay there was also no time for questions which slightly defeated the purpose of holding a forum. But these setbacks will serve as guides for future events that we may be involved in.  

-Alyssa Santos 2012-24290

The Nameless Exhibit and Human Rights Forum

Our NSTP CWTS group was tasked to assist in the set up of an exhibit informing all viewers about our country’s “nameless heroes”. These people being showcased in the exhibit were those fellow countrymen who made great sacrifices for the good of the Philippines and the Filipino people but were unfortunately left unknown and unpraised by the general public. The Nameless group set up their organization and this exhibit to be able to pay tribute to these unsung “nameless” heroes and reveal to the public (who are mostly unaware) of the deeds these people had done.

Each member of our group was assigned to research on at least five heroes from the Nameless database and create a profile  for them and a summary of the work they accomplished to be able to earn them the title of “nameless hero”. Though it felt like quite a tasking job to read about the lives of people who were generally unaware of, it ended up being quite interesting learning about their lives. Several of them made sacrifices for the country and it feels almost unfair to have them unrecognized by the general public. On the surface, it would seem that this was an “ordinary” or “regular” collection of people – students, lawyers, writers, scientists, teachers, etc. – but in actuality, they had a much bigger impact on those around them than their “job titles” would reveal. What seemed even more unjust was the ways that some of these nameless heroes died. Several died tragic deaths at the hands of those who did not want to see these heroes succeed, and it seems even much more important after learning about their deaths to honor these heroes for the work and sacrifces that they offered either simply for the passion of doing what they loved or for the good of their fellow countrymen.

Learning about the heroes was quite a difficult sounding task at first, but it also apparently made for good conversation whilst setting up the exhibit. As we were sticking tape onto the back of each cutout, we would each randomly share some information about some of the heroes we read and researched about. Later on, we also found ourselves looking through some of the names on the exhibit, reading their profiles and learning more about these unsung heroes.

To cap off the day was a forum on human rights – a proper topic to accompany the Nameless heroes exhibit. Several of these heroes died tragic deaths – deaths that involved the violations of their rights as human beings, and it seemed proper to inform people the importance of these matters. Speakers informed listeners about what human rights were and even gave some experiences on how some of their human rights were violated.

Overall, it was good to learn that there were unsung heroes that worked for the betterment of our country. It helps bring to mind the idea that there may be people out there now, unheard of to the general public, but doing the same for the good of our country. Although this may be so, it should also be brought to attention that the fight for our rights as human beings is also something that we must be aware of. It is a fight that we must all continue to give effort in supporting.

Keep an eye out…

One of the tasks that we have focused on in our assigned non-governmental organization, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), is the Yolanda Relief and Rehabilitation Monitoring. We have all been aware that the typhoon Yolanda has made headlines for several days in numerous news articles because of the monumental devastation that it has caused in the eastern region of Visayas. Leaving a massive destruction in its wake, the typhoon has left thousands of people mourning for all kinds of losses, from the lost properties and basic necessities to the lost loved ones. Right after the onslaught of the typhoon was (and still is) the high time to extend a helping hand to those who were affected by what has been recorded as the deadliest typhoon so far in the Philippine history. Concerns were raised regarding the monitoring of Yolanda relief, rehabilitation, and recovery funds.

Being assigned to make a list of relief and rehabilitation aid sources, I have to admit that comparing and triangulating the data can be quite overwhelming. However, while I compare and triangulate the information from news articles, I truly felt the significance of monitoring whether all donations have reached the victims of the typhoon and that financial aid is not the only thing that should be monitored, we must also keep a close watch on non-cash donations.

In the Philippine society, graft and corruption have sadly been part of lives for decades and obviously, we cannot let these to continue on happening. So I think it is a big deal to start being vigilant. Monitoring both the local and foreign aid is also a crucial task and definitely, cannot be ignored. As Ms Rorie Fajardo of Citizen Action Network for Accountabiliy (CANA) has stated in the first public roundtable on citizen’s monitoring of financial aid for relief and recovery of victims of supertyphoon Yolanda, it is a moral obligation to help ensure things don’t go missing, get stolen, or wasted.

-Ma. Anjellica A. Pucyutan, 2012-38426