Pinoy expats: Nation’s backbone
JAYWALKER - Art Borjal () - May 30, 2002 - 12:00am
Benjamin R. Magsino Jr., president of MyFortune.Biz.Inc., wrote to clarify the article which I wrote about his company. In fairness to him, I am reproducing in full his clarificatory letter. Here it is:

"Recently a paid advertisement was published in several dailies and tabloids by FortuneCare and Fortune Insurance Group regarding our company, Philippine STAR, May 21, 2002. So as to enlighten the public, especially our present and future members, we at MyFortune Biz, Inc. would like to state that our company is not connected whatsoever with FortuneCare or the Fortune Insurance Group. Furthermore, we have not in any way tried to mislead the public into thinking that our products come from FortuneCare.

MyFortune.Biz, Inc. is a business duly registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whose name has been approved by SEC. MyFortune.Biz, Inc. is engaged in providing training programs to enhance business skills and providing additional health and insurance packages to our members without necessarily engaging as an agent. We do not and never claimed to be an insurance company.

This statement is being provided to clear up whatever misunderstanding or confusion the public has regarding the two aforementioned companies."
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Through the years, I have traveled far and wide in many parts of the world. And almost always, I have met Filipino expatriates whom the nation can be proud of. They not only earn precious dollars for our country; they also are ambassadors of goodwill for the Philippines and our people, trying their darndest best to erase the unpleasant impressions about our country. In their own way, they are unsung faceless heroes we should all be proud of.
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Retired Ambassador Rodolfo A. Arizala apparently shares my views. Writing from Santiago, Chile, thousands of miles away from his land of birth, he gives accolades to our Pinoy expats. And he agrees that despite formidable problems facing our country, there is no need to despair and give up hope because there are good and caring Filipinos doing their share in erasing the unpleasant misimpressions about our country in foreign shores.
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In his research work, Arizala noted that during the surge of "nationalism" in the 1960´s, because of American colonial occupation of the Philippines, there was a "mis-education" of the Filipinos. According to historians, we were subjected to American culture and way of life, thus, virtually, we were "Americanized." Aside from the alleged "mis-education" of the Filipinos, there were also charges regarding the existence of "diploma mills" in our country.
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"Were we really "mis-educated" by the American system of education in the Philippines? To answer this query, it is relevant to note a recent report on how Filipinos live in the United States of America. According to this report, Filipinos are among the immigrants in the United States, (especially those who settled in the Bay areas of San Francisco where there are about 400,000 Filipinos), Los Angeles, and other communities along the Pacific coast, able to "skirt the poverty trap".
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The study found out that Filipinos in the U.S. have a household poverty rate that is so "shockingly low." Prof. Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California pointed out that Filipinos have "almost negligible poverty". It is lower than many other groups, including Americans with college education.
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What could be the reason for such phenomena? It could be attributed to a "combination of cultural, social and historical safety nets" which kept a majority of Filipino-Americans from falling into severe poverty. Filipino household in the United States are often multiple breadwinners and with more than one family living under the same roof. This reduced household poverty in dollar terms.
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Prof. Myers further observed that on top of these communal self-help strategies, Filipinos have another advantage. Many of them arrived in America with an education. To this could be added their knowledge of the English language.
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While American sovereignty or control over the Philippines was withdrawn in 1946, their influence on education remained strong preparing potential American-based Filipinos for work in the United States. A first-generation Filipino-American Daly City Mayor Michael Guingona explained it in the following words: "We saw education as big equalizer."
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The fact that many immigrants and expatriates Filipinos in the United States are able to skirt the "poverty trap" and have a "slice of the American pie" due to their education under the American influence in the Philippines, is something to ponder about. Was there really a "mis-education" of the Filipinos?
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These Filipino expatriates tutored under American influence or system of education are now doing well in the United States as well as in other parts of the world. So well that the Philippine Government is wooing them to actively participate in the economic and political life of the nation, despite the fact that most of them have already embraced other citizenship.
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A bill is now pending approval in Congress which allows Filipino expatriates to vote in Philippine national elections (Absentee Voting Bill). Also, a bill granting "dual citizenship" to Filipino expatriates so that they could actively engage in the political and economic life of the nation is under consideration by the Philippine Government.
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These expatriates Filipinos remit annually to the Philippines billions of U.S. dollars (between 6 to 12 billion U.S. dollars annually). The passage of the Absentee Voting Bill and grant of Dual Citizenship would be clear recognition that the seven million Filipino expatriates educated under the American system, wherever they may be, are the backbone of the Philippine political and economic stability.
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My cyber pal Dave Murphy, M.D, writing from across the seas, brought this to my attention. The front page of The STAR on Monday, May 20, 2002, featured a picture of three little girls trying to blow flour out of a cup to win a P50 prize at a fiesta in Baclaran. The girl on the right appears to be coughing and holding her hand to her chest. This is one example of how Filipino ingenuity and freedom from regulation can lead to dangerous situations. Inhalation of flour dust is dangerous.
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From the internet, "There are specific areas where dust exposure presents clear health and safety dangers. Organic materials mechanically handled in a raw, un-cleaned state may pose specific health risks," and "Inhalation of flour dust has long been recognized as a danger within bakeries…. Exposure to such dust levels can cause irritation, respiratory sensitization and lead to occupational asthma…
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I know that there is no way that your column can reach all the readers who saw that picture. Still, please get out the word that the game pictured is dangerous, even potentially fatal for someone with asthma, and that it should never be a part of any sponsored event.
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Thoughts For Today:

When you were born, you were crying
and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so that when you die,
you’re the one who is smiling
and everyone around you is crying.
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Love is like the five loaves of bread and two fishes
seemingly too little until you start giving it away.
Have a love-filled day!
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My e-mail addresses: and

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