Migrants, women, scholars, and girls

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - March 4, 2021 - 12:00am

Millions of people leave their homes for various reasons, mostly, to provide for the needs of their families/households. These global/national/domestic migrants deserve to always be remembered and honored for their sacrifice.   

The pandemic has heightened the risks/dangers for our migrants. Loss of jobs, lower salary for same hours of work, decreased work hours – these are some of their real, present challenges, not to mention the danger of being directly exposed to the virus and the problem of not being taken to the hospital on time. Repatriation of migrants, sadly including those who died of COVID-19, continues to be a major issue now for countries, including ours.

Our seafarers have to pray for added protection vs pirates, fires/accidents at sea aside from their continuing woes related to their work conditions and terms.

May the welfare and protection of all land/sea-based migrants receive top priority among host and sending countries! May domestic migrants, including refugees and the internally displaced, also be protected always.

Women constitute about half of all migrants. While migrants in general experience danger and difficulties, women experience gender-related problems, such as rape, sexual harassment, lower salaries, and discrimination, among others. Domestic helpers, the Philippines’ biggest group of migrants, urgently/especially need to be protected. So do our health and care providers.

Among our migrants are our students and scholars. Many, if not all, would like to return and to render service back to our country and our people. Those back in our country and those abroad are silently sharing their commendable contributions. They, too, deserve to be honored and celebrated like all our migrants!

In the February 27 online event sponsored by Philajames-Cebu (Philippine Association of former Japanese Ministry of Education Scholars), scholars shared their inspiring journey from Japan to their present designation and work.

In Cebu, Dr. Weena Gera and Dr. Danilo Largo shared about their laudable achievements and contribution to social/environmental science research and the academe, respectively. Dr. Juvy Balingit- Malonjua, Phd in Engineering, is now contributing to the business sector while studying law.

Engineer Morrison Montesclaros shared how he, with his wife and seven children, leapt in faith, left for New Zealand, encountered initially the challenge of not finding a good job (after his privileged position as the highest ranking Filipino CEO of a Japanese company in Cebu) but eventually being hired for a top position in a company, even blessed with consultancy work now during his retirement.

Ryan Pondoc started his scholarship in Japan as an undergraduate student, and with diligence and determination, is now consul at the Philippine Embassy in Chicago.

Sadly, not all migrants have inspiring, happy stories like these scholars. Millions of disadvantaged Filipinos continue to be forced to migrate by an uncaring government that even has the shameless gall to suggest bartering our Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines.

Still, with much faith and prayer, we all continue to look forward to the time when our people can freely choose, not be forced, to migrate.

Meanwhile, we pray that government becomes truly protective of our people- our youth and children included- one that genuine addresses the urgent issue of poverty and hunger among our people , especially now during this pandemic!

A just-concluded DOST-PCHRD report -- “In-depth Assessment of the Causes and Effects of Adolescent Pregnancy in Pangasinan, Cebu and Davao Del Sur in the Philippines” -- by Dr Jaime Galvez-Tan with Annabelle Bonje and Alessandro Perez confirmed increasing cases of pregnancies among adolescents (ages 10-19) mostly from poor families.

An uncaring government has to be stopped from ignoring the needs of the poor. Such act of ignoring leads to further social issues adversely affecting millions of Filipinos -- migrants, women, families, and young girls as well.

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