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Oct 04th
Home Sections Ecology and the Environment The Need for a Filipino Version of "The Manhattan Project" and End of the OFW Remittances (Part2)
The Need for a Filipino Version of "The Manhattan Project" and End of the OFW Remittances (Part2) PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Ecology and the Environment
Wednesday, 02 May 2007 09:53

There is the urgent need for the Overseas-Filipino contract workers and immigrants (OFCWI), especially Filipino Americans, to help the Filipino people and their leaders confront and solve the problems the homeland faces. Why? Because the pollutants Filipinos discharge into the air and the sea contribute to global warming. The barren hills and mountains in the Philippines do not produce oxygen for the lungs of the world. The Muslim rebellion and Communist insurgency are roadblocks to the global fight against terrorism. And most tragic of all, the Philippines is slowly becoming less and less the nation that is one of the most-beautiful and relatively-peaceful countries on Earth. It is Paradise slowly being lost because of degradation of the environment, uncontrolled population growth, corruption and the destruction of the Filipino cultural DNA.


I quoted my favorite manang, Yolanda Ortega-Stern, in 2003 in one of my “Reinventing the Philippines” essays. Manang Yo is the president of the Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce ( She said that in 15 to 20 years, the problems in the Philippines would be compounded by a substantial decrease of remittances and Balikbayan boxes from Overseas Filipinos. Why? Because the second- or third- and coming generations of Filipino Americans would not have the same emotional connections to their kin in the Philippines as their parents had. These scions of Overseas Filipinos would not have the same rapport with their cousins and other relatives in the Philippines as their elders did.

On the other hand, Princess Emraida Kiram of the University of Wisconsin has been saying that Overseas Filipinos have to go back to the homeland and help solve the country’s problems. Princess Em, a member of Sultanate of Sulu royal family, says that remitting money and sending Balikbayan boxes do not result into additional clout for the OFCWI with the national and local political, civic and religious leaders. In short, what Princess Em is saying is that for the OFCWI to have a say in the destiny and even in the day-to-day affairs of the homeland, they must be involved in constructive socioeconomic activities in the Philippines.

I say – following the Emraida Kiram dictum – the OFCWI must not only deliver the money, they must also deliver the votes during Philippine elections, both their own absentee ballots and those of their immediate relatives in the Philippines. Then they can be real kingmakers, if not political kingpins themselves.  

And speaking of Balikbayan boxes, Ernie Delfin and I have been saying all along that shipping supplies of canned foods, personal-hygiene effects, new or used clothing, etc., is actually counterproductive. Ka Ernie is the Rotary District 5320 assistant governor and concurrent chair of New Chapter Development. He is also the founder of the Katipunan USA, an Orange County, California-based public-service entity. He says that instead of giving the Biblical fish, the OFCWI must start teaching their kin how to fish by providing them the economic means to become financially independent. Yes, remittances and Balikbayan boxes – as part now of the way of life in the Philippines – are actually promoting mendicancy, instead of economic independence.  What I suggested in my earlier essays was for the OFCWI to convert the Balikbayan boxes into Balik-to-the-Basics initiatives. Instead of sending powdered milk and canned-meat products, the OFCWI must acquire for their kin back home goats and other livestock to raise and propagate. In short, those depending on foreign remittances and Balikbayan boxes can now become the literal shepherds instead of continuing to be the proverbial lost sheep.  

There is, therefore, the need for the OFCWI to get their acts together and use their resources for a socioeconomic “crash program” that would have the same urgency and intensity as “The Manhattan Project” (TMP). The OFCWIs are actually the Middle Class of the country and they have the talents and funds to “reinvent” the Philippines. How? That will be the topic in the third part of this series

If you want to contribute ideas to this “Filipino version of the 'TMP',” please e-mail your thoughts to or post your comments at the end of this article. # # #

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:46

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If a man will begin with certainties,he shall end with doubts;but if he will be content to begin with doubts,he shall end in certainties.-- Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626