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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, March 1, 2018
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OPINIONS

Joanna, Jose Rizal and Ninoy

Ninfa Leonardia

Now it’s Miss Multinational. One can only wonder what other titles will be invented to draw beauties from countries all over the world to participate and gain a title. But I am not really complaining, because the latest reported was won by a Filipina, Sophia Senoron, during the contest held in New Delhi, India. If you haven’t heard about the Miss Multinational yet, it is because this is the first time the contest has been held, so we can say that our girl started it.

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But it seems this is not her first try at beauty tilts because she had also been proclaimed Miss World Philippines, but obviously did not win the world title then. And she is no pushover, either, being an honor student and a member of the San Beda University Debate Society. Of course the judges in the India contest did not know that she is going to the same university that President Duterte also attended. And she is now hoping to go into Law after this contest. What chances did the other candidates have?

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“Gaya-gaya, puto maya”. Is that what U.S. President Trump is being? He has been reported as saying that he wants to deal with their drug problems the way Singapore and the Philippines are doing. Now, there should be no comparison, because in Singapore, they impose the death sentence, I suppose, through the courts, but in the Philippines any cop with a gun could impose it. But Trump must have been misled by some of his whisperers, because he was also quoted as saying in that website that Chinese and Filipinos “don’t have drug problems” because they kill drug dealers. Untrue, untrue. The ones who got killed were mostly poor users and teenagers, the dealers are dealt something else.

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I have no objection at all to the proposal to honor Lapu-Lapu and declare him another national hero, but will this mean another work-free holiday in the country? Seems we have already too many holidays, work-free ones at that, especially with the recent proposal to also declare the EDSA anniversary a national holiday. I may incur the wrath of holiday-loving Pinoys, but maybe I am just jealous because we in the daily newspaper business have to produce even if it a holiday, except for Christmas, New Year’s day, Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

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There are more horror stories coming out from overseas workers, especially those in Middle East countries. It looks as if the worst treatment happened to those in places like Kuwait, where the victims were truly victimized from the word “Go”, that is, when they got there through illegal recruiters, most of whom dismantled their companies after getting enough money from their innocent victims. But now that attention has been focused on them and they will be made to answer for their crimes, let us see if their practices will stop.

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But it is not only the Pinoy OFWs who have experienced abuse from their employers. Another nationality that has also been suffering similar, or worse, treatment are the Indonesians, especially those working in Malaysia. We do not seem to be aware of it, but the Indonesians also leave their countries to work as domestic helpers, and the findings on their conditions could even be worse that what our own OFWs went through. Malaysia is more progressive than Indonesia, which is why they can afford to hire people from it.

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I heard before about the practice of multi-jobbing in Kuwait, which means that a housemaid of a household is often lent to several others, that is, their employers lend them to their relatives, and do not get compensated for it. It was not unusual for a housemaid to be serving three or four households for the pay of one! In Malaysia, the condemned practice, is called trading, which, I understand, means the employer hires out his or her domestic helper to other families and collects pay for it! Nothing goes to the helper, she or he is like a machine being offered for rent.

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I wonder if matters like this are within the ambit of the United Nations, or any other international agency? Slavery is supposed to be a thing of the past, but that is virtually what is happening to these overseas workers. Not only are they overworked, underfed, and maltreated, several have also been raped, not by one male member of their employer’s family, but several. No wonder some have committed suicide. They must have decided to get away from a fate worse than death. Maybe the case of Joanna Demafelis summed it all up. She could be the Jose Rizal of the Spanish era, and also the Ninoy Aquino of the Marcos days. Let’s hope and pray so.*

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