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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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OPINIONS

Eight bridges to cross?

Ninfa Leonardia

The weather bureau has warned about hotter weather this week and has identified Northern Luzon as the part of the country that will be most affected. But even in the past week, we in the Visayas, in Bacolod in particular, have been experiencing very hot weather already. How much hotter could it be in Tuguegarao, the province especially mentioned to be the warmest?

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Strangely, though, despite predictions of hot weather, we still experience sudden rainfall every now and then in our area. No wonder there is the expression “changeable as the weather”. One can never tell precisely how hot the sun will be or when the skies decide to drop some rain. Well, there is now common term often cited by people, which is “Climate Change”. This is probably what we are experiencing now. Let’s just hope that the hot weather will not affect people’s tempers.

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It looks as if it will be some time yet before women become really equal to men in China. Remember those stories in the old days about baby girls not being welcomed there? Maybe that is no longer pronounced nowadays, but discrimination seems to continue even to this day. A report from the Agence France Presse, says that most advertisements calling for workers there stress that they want “Men Only”. Worse, those who do call for women workers emphasize that they want only “fashionable and beautiful” women to work for them. That is surely gender discrimination, but the government does not seem to mind. In fact, the report also said the even ads from the government civil service also stress: “For men only”.

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The report said some brave women filed charges against employers doing that and the courts did entertain their complaints. However, the penalties and fines for the offenders were not enough to discourage others, so the practices goes on. Will there ever be time when China, like so many other nations, also get to elect a woman for president, or Supreme Court justice? They may have the oldest civilization, but in the area of gender equality, they still have a long way to go.

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So Kuwait is complaining against the “rescue” of our overseas workers in their country that I think involve mostly domestic helpers. These are the ones who have reported being maltreated by their employers and want to get out of their contracts. The problem is that some of them are “undocumented”, that is, they have no legal documents authorizing their coming to Kuwait and work there. The Kuwaitis are claiming that Philippine officials are roaming the streets and picking up the Filipino domestic workers to bring them to the Philippine Embassy, for repatriation.

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This could cause a diplomatic problem between our countries, and our officials had better make sure their acts do not go against the law of the host country. The domestics have to prove their claims of maltreatment by reporting them to the local authorities, so, at least, their employers, if guilty, will give in, rather than protest their departure. If I were asked about this, I’d say we ban the sending of workers to Kuwait, or any other country with a bad record, for that matter. And let the undocumented ones solve their own problems.

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There used to be a popular song that, I think was related to a movie. It was called “Six Bridges to Cross”. I remembered it because of the news that our government is planning to build, not six, but eight major bridges, to link our islands, some of them as long as 20 to 24 kilometers! The shortest ones are the ones between Cebu and Negros, which will only be 5.5 kilometers and Guimaras and Negros 5.7 kms. Will this mean that they will be the first to be built? What will this mean to the operators of ocean-going liners?

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The Central Bank, all right, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, or BSP, has announced that banks all over the country are tightening the requirements for real estate loans involving both commercial and housing, supposedly because of a possible “overheating in the economy”. Now that is bad news for people who have lost their homes, not only through natural calamities, but even in war, such as what happened in Marawi. If the requirements are too difficult to meet, and the interest too high, how could the victims rebuild their homes and their lives? I hope a special concession will be given to such victims as a sign of concern and compassion from their government.*

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