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Music Man (Pinoy Ako)
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Date Posted: 17:53:57 06/12/07 Tue
Author Host/IP: NoHost/


Sa pagdiriwang ng ating ika 109 taon ng kalayaan...Mabuhay

(In celebrating our 109th Declaration of Independence...Long Live the

A Day Without Filipinos

Let's imagine then, not just California, but the entire world, waking
one day to discover Filipinos have disappeared. I'm talking here about
six or seven million Filipinos currently working overseas in countries
with names that run the entire alphabet, from Angola to Zimbabwe.

Let's not worry first about why or how the Filipinos disappeared; in
it becomes academic whether it's a day or a week. Just imagine a world
without Filipinos.

Think of the homes that are dependent on Filipino housekeepers,
caregivers. The homes would be chaotic as kids cry out for their
Hong Kong and Singaporean and Taiwanese yuppie couples are now forced
stay home and realizing, goodness, there's so much of housework that
to be handled and how demanding their kids can be and hey, what's this
strange language they're babbling in?

It's not just the children that are affected. The problems are even
serious with the elderly in homes and nursing institutions, because
Filipino caregivers have provided so much of the critical services they
need. When temporary contractual workers are brought in from among
non-Filipinos, the elderly complain. They want their Filipino
back because they have that special touch, that extra patience and
willingness to stay an hour more when needed.

Hospitals, too, are adversely affected because so many of the
Filipinos were physicians, nurses and other health professionals. All
appointments for rehabilitation services, from children with speech
problems to stroke survivors, are indefinitely postponed because of
disappeared speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists!

Eventually, the hospital administrators announce they won't take in any
more patients unless the conditions are serious. Patients are told to
follow their doctors' written orders and, if they have questions, to
advice on several Internet medical sites. But within two days, the
hospitals are swamped with new complaints. The web sites aren't working
because of missing Filipino web designers and web site managers.

Service establishments throughout the world -- restaurants,
hotels -- all close down because of their missing key staff involved in
management and maintenance. In Asia, hotels complain about the missing
bands and singers.

In the United States, many commercial establishments have to close
not just because of the missing Filipino sales staff but because their
suppliers have all been sending in notices about delays in shipments.
the shipping industry has gone into a crisis because of missing

The shipping firms begin to look into the emergency recruitment of
non-Filipino seafarers but then declare another crisis: They're running
out of supplies of oil for their ships because the Middle Eastern
countries have come to a standstill without their Filipino workers,
including quite a few working for the oil industry.

Frantic presidents and prime ministers call on the United Nations to
convene a special session of the Security Council but Kofi Annan says
can't do that because the UN system itself is on the edge, with so many
their secretarial and clerical staff, as well as translators, having
disappeared from their main headquarters in New York and Geneva, as
as their regional offices throughout the world. Quite a number of UN
services, especially refugee camps, are also in danger of closing down
because of missing Filipino health professionals and teachers.

Annan also explains that he can't convene UN meetings because the
in New York, Washington and other major US cities have been shut down.
reason? The disappeared Filipinos included quite a few airport security
personnel who used to check passengers and their baggage.

Annan calls on the World Bank and international private foundations for
assistance but they're crippled, too, because their Filipino
and staff are nowhere to be seen. Funds can't be remitted and projects
can't run without the technical assistance provided for by Filipinos.

An exasperated Annan calls on religious leaders to pray, and pray hard.
But when he phones the Pope, he is told the Catholic Church, too, is in
crisis because the disappeared include the many Filipino priests and
in Rome who help run day-to-day activities, as well as missionaries in
front lines of remote posts, often the only ones providing basic social

As they converse, Annan and the Pope agreed on one thing: the world has
become a quieter place since the Filipinos disappeared. It isn't just
silencing of work and office equipment formerly handled by Filipinos;
it seems there's much less laughter now that the Filipinos aren't
both the laughter of the Filipinos and those they served.

I know, I know, I'm exaggerating the contributions of Filipinos to the
world but I'm doing what the producers of "A Day without Mexicans" had
mind: using a bit of hyperbole to shake people up.

As their blurb for the film goes: "How do you make the invisible,
Make them invisible."

As I wrote this column, I did realize I was doing this not so much for
Hong Kong Chinese and Taiwanese and Singaporeans and Americans who
appreciate us enough, than for us, who as Filipinos, are pretty good at
putting ourselves down, at making ourselves invisible.

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