Editorial: Die today, die tomorrow, same die

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

THAT phrase has been hatched over two decades ago, the Filipino humor translating verbatim a Filipino phrase that illustrates our fatalistic attitude: Mamatay ka man ngayon o bukas, pareho lang yan.

That Tagalized English phrase, however, was what popped up after reading the news stories in several newspapers and websites where it said more than 11,000 Filipinos in Libya have opted to stay put instead of take the ferry home on Friday, August 8, amid a brewing civil war. Only 800 have agreed to go home, this despite the carnage and incessant bombings happening there.

In that report, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said on Monday,” “They would rather take the chance. They think they have a greater chance of surviving the war, rather than surviving the uncertainty of being without any work here.”


There are around 13,000 Filipinos working in Libya, most of whom have chose to work abroad because of lack of job opportunities in the Philippines. Of the 13,000, around 3,000 are health workers – workers who have long been waiting to be employed in the Philippines but faced the prospect of very cheap wages, as many hospital and clinic workers are suffering here.

They have found employment there and are being pleaded upon by their hospital employers to stay on simply because 60% of Libya’s hospital staff are Filipinos, Jose said.

The same nurses and caregivers who jumped at the bandwagon of nursing and care-giving course in the early 2000s but have remained unemployed after the demand bubble burst, and thus were left to wait and wait and take up work not related to their course have found their career there, and their sense of achievement.

This is not the first time this has happened. In most of countries in strife that required forced repatriation of Filipino workers, thousands opted to take the gamble and stay on. As many would say, “Kesa naman mamatay kaming nakadilat sa Pilipinas.”

Our hearts can just bleed at the plight of Filipino workers, and how carnage and bombs are better prospects than their life here in the Philippines. That should be a picture graphic enough for all state leaders to understand. But no. They don’t. We will not even be surprised if some Filipino diplomat will even take great pride in the fact that Libya wants our health workers to stay. A government that takes pride in leaving their people in a state of war is a government that doesn’t have much compassion for its people. But then, whoever said there was compassion to start with?

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 06, 2014.


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