Thursday, January 17, 2013

Locals and Foreigners Alike

Minneapolis protest against Arizona immigrant ...
Minneapolis protest against Arizona immigrant law SB 1070 (Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue)
Note: This is just my view, but I believe I am right even just to voice out my opinion. No harm intended at all...


It is almost always notable that anybody can be a migrant, and that is the reason why I title my post as such – one day you are a local, and when you travel out of your country, your native land, you become a foreigner. And with this premise, I hereby present my (hopefully) honest and valid assessment of a nation’s state, where I currently reside, starting from 1999 – and hope that my length of stay gives credence to my truthful revelation, as if what I’m going to say isn’t known at all, because while it is, saying anything or doing anything that doesn’t please those in command will get you into trouble. I should say that that is just the norm anywhere you are, so I hope I will say this in plain text and without any ill will or hidden motives.

I myself, with my whole family, am at the crossroads, mulling whether to stay on, or to move out, and become a foreigner (once again) in a new land. So this article is more for me than for anybody else, and in my posting this article, I am simply thinking out loud.

So here goes.

The state of the nation is rooted deep in history.


Back in the 1960s, it was tough for the first leader to bring about a 3rd-world country into its current standing: one of the world’s 1st-world countries, elevated, progressive, rich. It was even harder in that this small city, while slightly smaller than the size of Manila, is home to many and various races of people, having different skin colour and speaking multiple languages. If you would look at Japan, you would learn that to pave the way to progress, that means everybody has to speak the same language – leading to the “killing” of the many other dialects, resulting to the death of its cultures and heritage, the diversity. And look where Japan is now. At any rate, this was not done here, as it would be near to impossible, tantamount to telling the lion to become a tiger, the elephant to become a crow. No, simply, it would not work here.

The other notable factor, not told within the territory, but we openly discuss back at our homeland, is the “compromise deal”, the noteworthy agreement between the leader and the people themselves: I take care of you, and in return, you don’t complain so much. In other words, it could be stated this way: “I provide what you need, but I take some of your rights in return.”

This is now a bold statement I’m making, but I have to say that one of my godfathers, my cousin’s husband, he knows the leader of this country from the time he was shaping and moulding this country – he used to work as a diplomat, moving from one country to the other every two years, leaving that job only when it was time to settle down, and they chose my land of birth - the Philippines. He and my cousin have told me things that is not usually known, or openly told, to the public. But let me caution you again that this is no defamation act I am making, but simply my own view of what could become of my children should we choose to stay here.

Now pay attention to this notable factor, as I’ve said it, coz to me, this is the culprit in many, if not most, of the woes and worries of the locals, up to this day.

A Sense of Entitlement

A local can easily find a job. This is true. If a local needs a job, he can just go in and apply for a job that he likes, and if he is qualified, he gets the job. I should say this is very good, and it makes me think to be a citizen sometimes. Well, I should say that this is true in many other countries. If you would look for a job, migrants would be at the bottom of the list to be entertained, unless a particular job isn’t so suitable for the locals, or it is one that the locals think isn’t fit for the citizens, but one to be done by foreigners alone. Hey, if I could choose a job, I would choose what I like, and what fits me, okay?


Again, in most cases, a foreigner would have a hard time looking for a job that would help him stay on, and eventually, to settle down as one of the locals, a citizen of that foreign land he chose to live in. So between a local and a foreigner, the former is more “mobile” when it comes to jobs, while the foreigners is against all odds every time – not sure if during lean times, he can keep his job, and if he likes another job, can he move without losing his employment pass, or can he bring in his wife, or family, to live with him in this foreign land where he works?

The time when I came, it wasn’t yet that very strict. It was already strict, but unlike today, where changes are made every now and then to the rules and regulations, adjusting every minute to suit the ever-changing temperaments of the world scene and economy. I should say that this is one of the things that I admire in this country’s leaders, being able to make a quick assessment, and even quicker to make changes, and implement them – across the country. Ha!

Abusive employers

As an aside, let me just mention that there are scheming employers, business owners who, knowing the predicament of the foreigner, needing a job but not permitted to work, in most situations, as when a foreigner first steps on this new land, to hire him – tacitly. And these abuse employers break the law knowingly, and even tell the foreign worker to be quiet about it, telling that if he is found, he, the foreigner who works without a valid work permit, will be the one to go to jail, and not the employer. How about that, eh? Scheming, abusive, these are the wolves in sheep’s clothing – and they locals, I tell you. Would a foreigner even think about it?

Employer’s headache

And so, one of the side effects of being entitled for an easy employability is the lack of patience and perseverance to hold on to a job, or sometimes to the level of not giving all to do your job, coz if you don’t like it anymore, you can quit and find a new one. If a boss gives you a scolding – quit! If you don’t like the new work schedule – quit! If you don’t like a colleague – quit! Anything that doesn’t suit you – quit! Why this country is full of quitters! And no job is done by quitters. (Now that’s a joke, so lighten up...)


Now what would you learn in your job, if for the slightest reason, you quit? I would remember my Ethics teacher telling us, “Don’t just take a job for the money. Pick a job that would give you continuous education.” Now that is in all facets true. It was true then. It is true even now. It will be even more true in the future, when information is not simply just flooding, like now, but it will be submerging everything that we once knew. So if you learn nothing, what would your job experience be after 5 years? 10 years? Quitting expert, I suppose. And while that may not be the case for all, this is a very prevalent trend, even now.

Education System: at fault?

At the very core of the issue is the education system. This is the very thing that I fear: that my children are engulfed in this very limiting education system that they have here. So I beg that you hear me out first, and keep your peace for now. Again, it is not that I berate their education system, but in my view, this is my view, take note, it is the very reason why all things boil down to citizens are always at war with the foreigners, at least for those who are.

Primary schooling is fine; all things are equal to all schoolchildren. Let’s leave it as that.

Starting from secondary school, students are now to choose, or are made to choose, their ‘specialty’, or their ‘course’ of study, based on their academic standing, the outcome of their grades, as early as 3rd year high school. At year 4 or 5, the selection becomes even more stringent, more limiting, lesser choices, shorter list. And even so because what your son or daughter will take is dependent on what will be decided on by a committee, a group of decision-makers set aside for this special function. I keep thinking to myself, what is that about? Why can’t I let my child decide what he wants to take? Why should somebody decide that for me? And so, the local now thinks of ‘freeing’ himself from this tie that binds, this tie that gags, and leaves the country, to study abroad, and be free to choose and study what he likes. I’m asking this, because where I come from, such is the case, you take the course that you like, nobody decides that for you (okay, could be your mom or dad, but nobody else). And as in a lot of cases, there are late bloomers, who do very well in college and universities, but not while in high school. So they weren’t bound or ‘forced’ to take up something in college because of their wretched performance in high school.

You see, in many cases, what the board decides, the child doesn’t like. How would you expect a good result in return? Unfortunately, I have no factual data to show whether this is the exception, or the norm. I once remember my boss telling of how he interviewed an applicant, and he saw the education, asked about Ohm’s Law, and the applicant replied, “Uhmm, ahh, ...” What, no recollection of the simplest electrical equation?

There is one time in my company where there was a need for some quality assurance on incoming materials, chemicals at that, and while many are available, they don’t qualify. Why? They don’t even know that an acid eats the skin up. Remember that once they choose their ‘course’ in secondary 3, a lot of the general knowledge subjects they no longer take – and that is carried on up to college/university.

And so in my view, the way they run the education system here is the very reason why we have:

  • Graduates having papers but no learning
  • Workers who can show credentials without substance (isn’t that an irony?)
  • Jack of one trade, master of only one (if a master at all)

I stop here, lest I go too far, and break the bounds of my limitation.

To sum it up, I would now make a comparison, or rather, raise questions, and let you answer them. Quietly or aloud, that’s entirely up to you now.

  1. If there would be a job opening, what would you hire, one who can do the job or somebody who can’t? (I don’t even ask who at this point).
  2. If you have a critical job, who would you hire, one who would stay no matter what, or one who can easily bolt out the door at the slightest agitation or difficulty?
  3. On lean times, who has the better survivability, the one who knows a little of everything, or the one who knows only one, if he knows that one thing at all?
  4. Who could take up a job opening, the one who can shift job, or the one who cannot?

I end here, but I don’t expect that with this simple post of perhaps subjective assessment and biased view, there will be changes nationwide. Overnight. I think the whole system will simply collapse if that happens. It just can’t.

The state of the nation is rooted deep in history.

Let’s leave it at that.
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