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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, March 2, 2018
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

We, Arab, they camel

Ninfa Leonardia

A top story of our national “tocaya”, the Philippine Star, yesterday said: “DUTERTE: PHL CO-OWNS SCS WITH CHINA”. Oh dear me! Is that our national stand already? The rest of the report said that China has offered a joint exploration with us of the area. More than ever, I am reminded of the story of the Arab and his camel, the camel in this case being China, and we, the Arab, who may soon be driven out of our tent by the shrewd old camel.

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But another interesting piece of news was that released by the Social Weather Station whose latest survey showed that Filipinos have the highest trust in the United States than any other country. The survey was taken only last December, and Canada and Japan were the next two. China was only Number 14, and of course no Middle East country was among those rated. It would have been the height of irony if countries like, say, Kuwait, had made the list.

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But I believe the trust is rather mutual, because our people are among those who are well received and respected in the U.S. But that could be because most of the Pinoys who go there are either professionals or literate ones, and they do not go there to become domestic helpers or servants. Many are professionals who even manage to get jobs that Americans themselves envy. Again, Americans are democratic and are not inclined to abuse those who work for them. And they give opportunities to qualified people of any nationality.

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A personal example is that of my own niece, Peachy, daughter of my brother Pros or Enggol, who migrated there with her family. Shortly after getting there, she was hired by the National City Bank of New York, and in a short while got promoted to vice president for, I think, Communication. Now Peachy is a tiny girl, very pretty and also very bright, if I say so myself, and a graduate of the University of the Philippines. I bet some of her competitors for the post were also college graduates, but she got the job. So one can say that there is no discrimination anymore, and everyone has equal chances. Hence the trust rating.

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As for the poor ones who went to countries like Kuwait, most of them were either unschooled or hardly literate, which is why their employers took advantage of them, and abused them. They did not know, or were afraid to fight for their rights and felt themselves inferior, encouraging their bosses to take advantage of them. They would not do that to professionals who will not let them get away with it. I therefore hope that what happened to Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer will alert our Embassy officials to do a better job of looking out for our overseas workers and be accountable for any harm done to them.

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Meanwhile, the Philippines has a new boxing idol in Jerwin Ancajas, who made short work of his opponent in his latest fight in the U.S. and is being seen as the new baby of noted promoter Bob Arum. Well, Ancajas, who was recently awarded among the three Athletes of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriter Association, should be advised not to let his accomplishments so far, go to his head. I noted during his post-fight interviews that he seemed rather cocky, so different from Manny Pacquiao, who was always humble in victory. I hope, however, that Manny doesn’t let himself be inveigled into fighting again and just rest on his laurels now.

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I admire Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for reacting to her impending impeachment trial by saying that she will face it with “honor, dignity and grace”. That is just what we should expect from someone in that exalted position. And because she is stressing that she is not resigning, she also shows that she believes she will weather this storm in her career. We do not know exactly what are the cases that those charging her are banking on, but she must know how she stands on them. It is not far-fetched to think that there could be elements in her own office who had wished her the worst since she took over, for frustrating their own ambitions. Let the truth triumph in the end.

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That was a strange story about people at a military base falling ill after opening mail or what could have been an envelope with a letter. About 12 people nearby felt ill and developed sore throats. What could have been in that mail? Poisonous or toxic powder? At least it was not fatal, but that shows how ingenuous people with bad intentions can be. Therefore it is better to send your messages by text or email, and even the bad old invention of Alexander Graham Bell, the now innocuous old telephone.*

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