On Loving Your Own Skin

My dear Filipino friends,

Last year, I have received an email from one of our distributors containing an essay created by a Korean student studying here in the Philippines. My heart melted as I read the essay, thinking that this foreigner in the Philippine soil took pity and gave much love for this country. He emphasized that what the Filipinos lack is not good governance. South Korea, way back 1960’s was battered with war, corruption, and famine. It was once a very poor country. The South Korean President called back their skilled workers abroad to work in South Korea even for a lower salary. They immediately went back for the love of their country. And now South Korea grew to become a promising rich country in Asia. Instead of pushing their skilled workers out of the country, they pulled them in. In the Philippines, it is the other way around. After I read this essay of a Korean student, Mr. Jaeyoun Kim, Iagree with his opinion that the problem of the Philippines is the lack of love for the Philippines. I want to say something more about the Filipinos and the Philippines.

The Philippines is the first democratic country in Asia and the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia as well. It has abundant resources in agriculture, fishing, mining, resorts and versatile cultures. Filipinos belong to the top ten happiest people in the world. The Philippines was expected by most of the countries to be the best country in Asia after WWII. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.

The most important assets of any country are its people, land and sovereignty. The Philippines has good, friendly, happy and hardworking people. It has beautiful land with abundant resources. It has its own sovereignty which those national martyrs sacrificed their lives to get it for the right, dignity, freedom and benefits of ALL their beloved fellowmen — the Filipinos.

Like what Mr. Jaeyoun Kim said, I admired the Philippines very much when I was young. I told myself I would go to the Philippines to see how great this country is. When I arrived in the Philippines two years ago, I was disappointed and frustrated. For the last two years, the Philippines had sent another few millions of its most precious asset, its people, out of the country as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) to serve the people of other countries worldwide. Most of them are doing labour work. The Philippine economy relies heavily on the remittance of the OFWs. Even government officials started to call them the HEROES of the Philippines! I feel sad. I have travelled to many countries and I saw for myself how hard those OFWs work, how they live below their means, saving every penny so they could send home some money. I have heard so many stories about how they have been maltreated, ripped off and abused in those foreign countries. Every Christmas season, when we are celebrating the seasonal holiday with our families, there are over 10 millions of Filipinos outside the country missing their families, crying on the phone! Will they and their families have a peaceful and happy holiday? I don’t believe so! Who doesn’t have brother, sister, daughter, son, wife and husband? If they are OFWs, will you wish them be home with you?
There are many foreign investors coming to the Philippines and trying to get as much resources from the Philippines, especially its mining resources. Do they care about the pollution or environment protection? I don’t know but I do see the polluted rivers, lands and suffering Filipinos. There are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines. Many of them are beautiful and considered among the best resorts in the world. Tourism can be a great resource of fortune for this country. It can develop millions of jobs for Filipinos and bring billions of dollars to the Philippines.

When asked about the governance and its lawmakers, senators and congressmen, 85 percent of those I talked to just said one word “corrupt”. Five percent gave no comment, 10 percent just conservatively smiled. I have met many Filipino businessmen, especially those in their mid-30s to mid-40s, who want to do something to help their country but couldn’t. I could feel their passion and, at the same time, frustration about their homeland.

Not far ago, many people gathered on EDSA to celebrate the anniversary of People Power Revolution. I asked many Filipinos, “Were there many OFWs during Marcos’ regime?”, “Is the corruption better than before?” The answers were negative. What does that mean? In the last few years, this country has sent few more millions OFWs out! The rate of poverty and people in hunger (26 million Filipinos don’t have daily 3 meals) kept going up. During this global financial crisis, the unemployment rate also increased.

I am neither a politician nor an economist. But my feeling is that if this country keeps sending its most precious asset — the Filipinos — out as the biggest labor supplier of the world, I don’t see much chance that the Filipinos’ future will go anywhere better. I can see that the position of Filipinos in the international society is low because most Filipinos working abroad are laborers and are poor. Why would other countries bypass the Philippines and rather go to other Asia countries to invest? One day, a respectful senior Philippine gentleman who loves the Philippines very much asked me “Why would the US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, bypass the Philippines when she came to visit Asia?” Many Filipino friends asked me “When we travel in other countries, why they despise on us when they knew we are Filipino?” We can’t blame anybody because I always believe that how others treat us is because we made them treat us that way! To keep on blaming others or ourselves will not help anything but only make things worse. Three months ago I asked this respectful gentleman who will he vote for the next president of the Philippines? His answer was “I am not interested and I don’t care any more!”

We all know that any country’s economy is the extension of its politics. Recently, there are debates on which one should go first, anti-corruption or anti-poverty? My opinion is neither of them should go first but anti-selfish and anti-greedy! Selfish and Greedy are always together! Are Filipinos selfish and greedy people? I don’t think so because basically friendly people are not selfish or greedy either. Under the long depression and pressure from corruption and poverty (the gap between the rich and the poor is too big), people want to get what they can get and get it soon for themselves and their families. Many Filipinos became near-sighted and no long-term vision. Like Brother Bo Sanchez asked: “How can we as Catholic and Christian go to church every Sunday and said to God that we love HIM but left those 26 million poor Filipinos behind in hunger?”

I came to the Philippines in 2006. During my stay, I traveled to many places, from north to south. I met many Filipinos and I fell in love with Filipinos and the Philippines. Within me grew a passion and desire to do something to help make the Philippines as the best country in Asia as it is supposed to be.

For the last two years, I have found and learned that other than love Filipinos and love the Philippines, we need to be united, too! Unity is power! Let us be united. Let us help and support each other. Let us work together on an economical movement instead of political movement in 2010 to improve the economic situation of the Philippines! Let us create US$24 billion to US$50 billion revenue for the Philippines! Let us bring all our OFWs home and build the Philippines as the best country in Asia as it should be.

Is that possible? Yes, I believe it’s possible if we love each other and unite ourselves.

India, the seventh largest country in the world with a population of 1.17 billion people, became one of the fastest growing economies in the world after their economic reforms in 1991. India will replace Japan as the third economy of the world by 2032 and will replace the United States of America by becoming the second economy of the world by 2050. India started to build their IT industry — they develop and export IT products, support and services, not labor!

Can Filipinos and the Philippines do better than India? Yes, I believe we can as long as we love Filipinos, love the Philippines and stay united! To solve the poverty and hunger, it’s simple and easy, as long as we unite and love each other!

Do we love the Philippines? Do we love our hometown? Do we love our family? Do we love ourselves? Are we willing to love each other as God commanded us? If our answer is YES, please join hand in hand and work together! This is the best timing and opportunity for all of us! Let us build an international business and bring fortune to all Filipinos and the Philippines. We can make it happen! We can create a historical miracle! Please tell everyone you know (families, neighbors, friends, classmates, colleagues, OFWs, government officials, congressmen, senators) and let’s love, support and work together for the bright future and prosperity of all Filipinos, the Philippines, and even the whole world!

My dear friends, if ever I have offended you, please forgive me. God bless and I love you all!

Sincerely Yours,

Joseph T. Ho



One thought on “On Loving Your Own Skin

  1. Pingback: Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs): New Heroes « REFLECTIVE DIPLOMAT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s