By Leandro DD Coronel
President Duterte endears himself to our OFWs when he warns other countries, particularly Kuwait this time, to not abuse Filipinos working there. He deserve kudos for that.
But it’s not enough.
During another presidency, the then incumbent proudly declared that Filipino domestic staff should be trained to be “super maids” before being deployed abroad.
That’s shallow thinking that demeans all Filipinos and the country. It demeans the Office of the President. Besides sending out our able accountants, doctors, and nurses, we should train our people to be super researchers, draftsmen, artists, IT experts, interpreters, caregivers, and other skilled professions.
Let’s not send out any more maids out there, who are frequently abused by their employers. Migrant workers adviser and advocate Susan Ople has said in a TV interview that Indonesia has stopped sending maids to work abroad. We should do the same, no more Filipino maids.
After all, our compatriots who work as maids abroad often are university graduates. How many Filipino teachers, nurses, and other skilled workers are forced to downgrade their skills and degrade their persons by working as service people, a deodorized term for maids and servants?
Every Filipino tourist who’s been to Rome’s Pyramide district or the Catholic churches there, and of course Hong Kong, and all over the world has met hundreds of Filipino professionals working as servants and chauffeurs.
Many had been teachers and even managers here before who, in search of a better life their own country is unable to provide them, swallowed their pride and acceped lowly jobs abroad. The constant threat of abuse and even death makes their situation even more pitiful, deplorable, and sickening.
Our government should expand TESDA and train all Filipinos who would like to work abroad. TESDA should offer skills training that is at par with that offered by universities. Or, even better, make the quality of their training there even superior to what’s offered elsewhere. That is the solution, not training “super” maids.
The government should do this instead of concentrating on an unwinnable “war” on drugs that is falsely seen by government as the nation’s priority problem. It isn’t, it’s poverty.
Poverty, as every OFW knows, is what drives them to seek employment abroad even though the work conditions there are abominable. People are poor because there aren’t enough jobs for everybody.
So, no more dreams of deploying “super maids” to other countries. We either create more jobs here or help working-age Filipinos to acquire skills that are in demand abroad. Since the public and private sectors here have been unable to provide jobs to all Filipino employables, training them in skilled positions is the answer.
Let’s stop demeaning our own countrymen by sending them abroad to be abused and maltreated. Let’s create a super force of highly skilled Filipinos that the world will fight over for their worth as meaningfully employed professionals.
There’s nothing breathtaking or revolutionary about the idea of training Filipinos to be highly skilled professionals. It’s just common sense. Training them as “super” maids and houseboys robs them of their dignity.
Tantum Ergo. Congratulations to the Manila Bulletin’s administration and editorial/news department on the paper’s 118th anniversary, making it the oldest and most durable newspaper in the nation!