OPINION:  Poverty - A Philippine  ongoing Curse

NEWS & FEATURE :   Scarborough Shoal - A Philippine Win.  But...

NEWS & FEATURE :   people and events , around and about everyday things....

OPINION:   Addressing Millennium Illiteracy with E-Distance Value Education 

Focus: Philippines 

The years following the turn of the millennium saw a phenomenal surge in exodus of Filipinos seeking employment overseas as contract workers.  There was a dramatic increase in  their migration to other locations. As has been the case in the last decades, undergrad or professionals have sacrificed living with their families and traded jobs in the Philippines for overseas opportunities of employment. It was not only that they were seeking higher pay,  they were also drawn by western comforts.   They sought to better quality of life for themselves and their families.  As more people left the country,  the amount of remmitances infused into the country also increased. This also strengthened the  dependency of the Philippine economy on the build-up of annual cumulative OFW remittances.   Many Filipinos eventually looked to the OFW status as an ideal recourse to achieve a desirable place in the Philippine status quo. The sight of balikbayan boxes arriving with regularity to families of OFWs sent by these indentured labourers from overseas, further reinforced the mindset that being an Overseas-Filipino-Worker is the surest way for a Filipino family to progress.

Employment overseas, therefore, has become the most sought route taken by many to elevate their family’s economic standing. OFWs who are employed even in the most unskilled work of domestic helping have been able to substantially provide for their families and their families have even acquired properties and assets with their regular remittances. This was reason enough for professionals engaged in their fields in the country but whose salaries were barely sufficient to provide for their families to give up their professions and work as domestic helpers or manual labourers overseas.

Who can blame them when salaries and wages for labour in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and other Asian countries where OFWs flock, are far higher than compensations for professionals in the Philippines?


Employment overseas not only set a trend of exodus of workers, it also changed the mindset of the younger generation in relation to education and choice of profession. Many of those who pursue college or university education have their sights overseas rather than for local employment even before they get to enrol in their chosen fields. And when they do find employment locally after graduation, it would be temporary while they scour for ways and means to get a job overseas.

The Philippines has become a fountain for human resource export. New graduates get attracted by the high wages offered for skilled services in other countries and would take the first possible chance to leave the country for any job abroad. In that trend, most are employed below their skills' level. The work that most of them get engaged in, render their academic degrees unused, making all those years and hard-earned money spent in college or university wasted.

The best educated, the best trained, the best performers find their way outside the country sooner or later in what became clichéd as ‘Brain drain’. People with valuable employability skills and capabilities in all sectors of the Philippine socio-political-economic life machinery and governance has been getting lost this way.

Overseas-work-contracts shot up in  popularity as the  national government started gaining economic boost as a result of the phenomenal amounts of remittances by OFWs.  While that part of  overseas contracting was good, something within the core of the nation changed.   A downside started to emerge amidst the  positive economic impact. Family separations and parental  break-ups increased.   An inevitable change in social and family values came out as a result of parents living away from their families for long periods. Separations were debunking traditional social mindsets and reformatting established values. There was an arising trend of break-ups in families.   Children and youth were getting negatively affected in more ways than one.

This problem was yet to be given grave concern by the  government.  And when it did, it realized that it must dissuade its citizens from seeking work overseas  and create jobs inorder to encourage human resources to remain within. As it was, the government was far more interested in the billions of infused OFW remittances to boost the country’s economy than it was on preventing families from breaking apart.  As a result, there has been quite a marked  increase in  cases of youth depression and  drug-related juvenile crimes.  There was also an  overall deterioration of social values.  There was an evident degeneration  of the quality of education.

The loss of professionals  with quality capabilities to overseas employment (e.g. teachers trading off their skills with  employment that was way different from their  fields) impact negatively on the quality of education available in schoools.  Educational standards suffered as  teaching and other related school programs requiring qualified expertise were being assigned to staff with unsuitable qualifications.

If such was the extent of disadvantage that the youth in urban areas in the Philippines suffered as a result of  "brain drain" the lack of quality educators had far more devastating repercussions in the isolated  indigenous community groups.  Marginalized children in   remote areas had been wont to be deprived of basic education  due to the non-availability of teachers.

Threat of increased marginalization was posed by the school educational system's failure   to provide reliable foundation training for the youth in career preparation  as well as in their professional growths. Absence or lack of good educators also threatened to widen the chasm between urban  educational standards and that of schools in remote areas. There was significant increase in the number of poorly educated youth, drop-outs and  children who could  not get past high school in the provinces.   The threat was felt more dismally  in the more remote and disadvantaged indigenous areas.

Data on past years’ college entrance tests given to various high schools around the country saw a large number of schools falling below the set passing mark with nil student passing. Many of these schools were remote. There was also a significant rise of juvenile delinquencies among the provincial out-of-school youth. Notably, youth from the provinces and from the more remote indigenous areas who continue higher education in non-urban schools or schools outside the Metropolitan area, may have chances to work outside  their villages  but  they also exhibit lower employability capabilities than their counterparts in urban settings.

Evidently, inadequate education was contributory to  the glaring high level of unemployment.  It also led to  youth discontent and could escalate youth delinquencies. Overall, quantity and quality of education impact greatly on the youth's  general responsiveness to their commitments and  responsibilities.  Lack of either  weighed upon the community.   Studies indicated that  while financial difficulties may be reason for discontinuance of studies among the youth, a less-than satisfactory quality of education along with  inadequate educational resources may have equally adverse effects leading  to disillusionment  and susceptability  to negative influences including propensity to delinquency.  Good education relies on good teachers.  Good teachers turn out good graduates  Good graduates become valuable and reliable  members of the community.

A case in point was call out for donations on Facebook (on line social network) by the radio station DZPA in Abra to various Abrenian networking groups in late 2011. It was for the purchase of athletic shoes for Abrenian high school athletes who were to represent the province in a regional athletic meet in Kalinga, Apayao. That such be a situation of a school team in a regional sports meet, illustrates the:

a) Extent of difference between the youth in remote areas with those in urban locations. The Abrenian athletes alternated on the use of shoes, using them only for their events.

b) That opportunity for a ‘fair go’ and for opportunity to grow and progress in the area of sports is nil In another outreach educational program conducted a few years ago – an essay competition was offered to senior and junior high school students of one provincial high school. Only two were submitted as entries. It was not for lack of interest but for the submitted entries having been deemed inadequate or way-below-par by the principal.

Taking into account the aforementioned instances and the above causative reasons for low productive outcome in terms of youth employability or character building, it is paramount to find ways how the mind set of youth from disadvantaged and indigenous sectors or remote disadvantaged locations can be moulded, guided, supported and boosted. The need to address this issue is getting more vital as technology continues to evolve at a faster rate.

However, even if a program to electronically orientate the youth in the remote areas were to be put into effect immediately, it would take longer and longer for them to catch up with even just the practical tail end of technology from decades ago. Still, starting late at least provides a chance for the isolated youth to grow in knowledge, to acquire coping capabilities with life skills in the wider world, and to be equipped with learning  to use for opportunities that come at hand.

It is therefore vital that a program to this effect must be developed and immediately put into effect. Such a program must deliver value education and generic life skills suitable in various environment settings to senior and junior high school students n order to:

a) Boost the indigenous youth standing to a level at par with their urban counterparts relative to their character productivity;

b) Enable them to adapt to new environmental settings relative to whatever pursuit (i.e. tertiary education) or undertaking they intend to do (i.e. employment in urban settings) and

c). Mould mindsets against brain drain and boost self-determination, self-dependency and commitment to develop available resources in pursuit of higher sense of personhood.





LIGHTEN UP!  Go to Humour Page


I was in a dilemma about my 'title'. I was torn between ‘gossamers’ and ‘cobwebs’ to pair off with ‘flying ants’ . It would have been easier to make a decision if it was in Pilipino. It would have been plain and simple Samut-samot, Simot-simot. The syntax would have worked well with the cadence. And the significance of the meanings perfectly complemented the wonderment evoked by the combined usage of the two. Should it be ‘gossamers’ or ‘cobwebs?’ A gossamer is a piece of flimsy spider-web that connotes  exquisiteness, elegance and fragility. A ‘cobweb’ is just that.  It's an artless  mesh spun by an arachnid – a huntsman, a red-backed or… what if it was a black widow?

The word cobweb brought visions of forgotten corners, dusts and neglect. It was therefore much easier  to pick the ‘gossamers’ and pair it off with a word that stokes the mind to wonder.  Both then stir the imagination to roam. I initially thought of fireflies. But while fireflies, invoke thoughts of romance, (winged knights strapped with luminescence and shining armors in search for the damsels in distress), it did not quite hit it right. And so Idecided on ‘flying ants’. The reason was personal.   It stirred a  sublime longing for yesterday.  The nostalgia conjured up visions of  a life that fill up a screen at theback of my mind.  It's a movie and it starred the child that wa me.   There was the scene of  the first rainy days of summer.  And there was  the old ancestral home in my mother’s hometown. It was night time.   Flying ants swarmed  around the kerosene lamp (Coleman) that grandfather had hung on a ceiling hook to bring the whole house interior into light. We  filled up big basins with water and  then held up  the basins close to just beneath the light.   Flying ants  buzzed around in frenzy.  And then blindly, they flew into the water.   I was told that that  was the method of catching  ‘simut-simot’ in hordes.  The wings fell away from the bodies as  the creatures fell in. They floated and covered the surface of the water and so it was easy to pick off the wings from the catch.  We sifted the antas out of the basin and  toasted them a big wok. This was as a delicacy in the Ilocos region, where my mother was born and raised.  The wok was heated before we put  the flying ants in and  toasted them dry.  The trick, I learnt was to stirring constantly until the bodies are brown and crunchy.  The dish tasted nutty. It  made  a good viand for steaming aromatic rice from the most recent harvest of rice for the year.