Nationalism. Democracy. Freedom. These are words. In the Philippines they are important words. Unfortunately more because they are reminders of what Filipinos don’t yet have. [*Current events around this election are perfect example.]
Now that principle photography for the documentary Vince and I are working on is finished we are moving on to the more personal portions of our visit. For me that means getting involved with the issues I believe important for the well-being of the country and it’s people. And yes, that means getting involved in politics.
Politics. Another word. One with a dirty connotation. That’s true in many parts of the world, but here (in the most corrupt country in Asia, and one of the most in the world) even moreso than most.
I believe that it’s important for balikbayans not just to come back and enjoy the pleasant parts of the Philippines, but to also to accept the truth that is their face virtually everywhere: the country is poor and the majority of the people are living difficult lives—even though it’s rich in resources and has one of the highest educated populations in the world. And in realizing this, we should strive to find out why, and to act to fix the problems.
There are elections coming up soon (10 May), and though I don’t have a vote, I do know who I would vote for if I did. And this past weekend I helped do some electioneering for two senatorial candidates that have proven themselves to be on the side of the common Filipino: Satur Ocampo (of Bayan Muna, ie. Nation First) and Liza Maza (of Gabriela Women’s Party).
If you have a vote and still don’t have all your senatorial slots filled (you get to vote for 12), I hope you will consider these two (click on their names above and or see the links at the bottom of this article). *I also support the members of the Makabayan group of Partylists.
The Philippines is economically poor because even after over 50 years of ‘independence’ we remain under the thumb of our former masters and their local pets. We suffer from imperialism, politician/businessmen who use government as a business to enrich themselves, and a semi-feudal system in the countryside.
While helping in Pangasinan with electioneering we spoke to people about the two Liza and Satur and were met with various reactions. From the indifferent (like in Canada, this is the most common reaction), to open support (they would speak of how they saw them as brave and outspoken for the rights of common people like the farmers, fishers, and overseas workers), to dislike.
The ones who dislike them would say that they were activists or that they were always critiquing [‘parating kontra lang yan, walang mangyayari kung pakontra-kontra lang’]. First, what’s the problem with being an activist? There’s something wrong in the world (and not just the Phils) when being active in fighting for a better world is seen as a negative. Secondly, for anyone that actually looks into it they don’t just critique, Satur alone filed 88 bills and had seven passed (considering how few progressive leaders there are that’s pretty good).
Bills passed into law: Anti-Torture law (RA 9745) Rent Control Act of 2009 (RA 9635) Tax Relief for Minimum Wage Earners Act of 2008 (RA 9504) Public Attorney’s Office Act of 2006 (RA 9406) Abolition of Death Penalty (RA 9346) Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 (RA 9189) Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 (RA 9173)
Click here for a full list of bills filed.
Here are some of the bills Liza Maza authored (or co-authored):
Anti-Violence in Women and Children Act (RA9262) Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (RA 9344) Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA9208) Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) Rent Control Act of 2009 (RA 9653) Overseas Absentee Voting Act (R9189) Public Attorney’s Office Act (RA9406) Philippine Nursing Act (RA 9173) Anti-Torture Law (RA 9745)
Personally I feel that having been brought up outside the Philippines doesn’t make us less Filipino—or at least it doesn’t have to. Coming from the outside makes the inequalities so much more evident for us…
I urge you all to take a more detailed look at these candidates. If you don’t have a vote, then I urge you to invite your family and/or friends to check them out.
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