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Archive for September 12th, 2008

 

In 2007, Discovery Channel aired a controversial documentary about a lost tomb alleged to be the historical tomb of Christ. I’ve posted this fascinating film here.

The documentary was produced by James Cameron (Titanic fame), and was blasted by critics (shall I say Christian critics) as a Hollywood attempt at religious profiteering. Defamer writes:

Though derided (or celebrated, we suppose, depending on your perspective) as “archaeo-porn,” the James Cameron-produced documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which makes the kinds of whimsically blasphemous claims (you know, Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, had a kid, etc etc) that so delight Christian groups already predisposed to think that televisions are devilboxes that flicker with programs broadcast directly from the thorny member of Beezelebub himself, was quietly a big hit for Discovery Channel on Sunday night. 

By the way, just for everyone’s info, The Lost Tomb adds to the ever growing list of documentaries and short films I have amassed in my blog. Check out my Image Therapy webpage for more thought-provoking videos.

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Wikipedia again:

The term Diaspora (in Greek, διασπορά – “a scattering or sowing of seeds”) refers to the forced or voluntary dispersal of any population sharing common ethnic identity to leave their settled territory, and become residents in areas often far removed from the former.

The biblical root of diaspora is decidedly more negative, having to do with Jewish exile. From Deuteronomy 28:25:

The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

As I write this, a good number (probably 1 in every 3) of my acquaintances from grade school, high school and college, are already working as overseas contract workers, some as already migrant workers. The OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) phenomenon has been an accepted term since the 1980s, but now in the 21st century, it seems the world is already actively acknowledging the impact Filipinos have had globally.

Abdullah Al-Maghlooth writes an impassioned and straightforward praise in Arab News, excerpt follows:

Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”

Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them.

Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.

 

 

Echoed just as succinctly by Diana Othman in The Straits Times:

FILIPINO faces are already commonly seen delivering frontline service in restaurants, clubs, and bars here, but they are now popping up in a new arena – the coffee shops. Most are serving drinks and clearing tables, but they come a lot more qualified than their foreigner counterparts doing the same job on work permits. The Filipinos are here on S-passes, typically granted to those with at least a diploma, or employment passes, which are granted to graduates.

They are not complaining, because the job they have and the money it brings are much better than being jobless back home.

That last sentence in the excerpt from Othman’s article is very telling. OFW’s exist pretty much due to economic factors–which override social, cultural, even political values. Filipinos are forced to good to find better opportunities that are not afforded locally.

Just to emphasize the economic factors, I myself wrote about an economic concept known as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in my blog about the Big Mac Index. I’m requoting the study I did here:

The countries I chose specifically for comparison purposes, and to highlight why certain overseas careers are more than just stereotypes such as:

  1. Filipino Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong
  2. Filipino Entertainers in Japan
  3. Filipino Construction Workers in Saudi Arabia
  4. Filipino Caregivers in the UK
  5. Filipino Babysitters in Taiwan
  6. Filipino Nurses in the US

The other side of the economics of the OFW is the benefit they bring to the Philippines through hard currency remittances. According to the Bangko Sentral (BSP) statistics, OFWs are bringing $14 Billion annually–and this is not mere change when you consider that the BSP’s Gross International Reserves are about $36 Billion as of this writing. A better way to say it is: where would it be if those OFWs were not sending any money home?

In a discussion I had with my own brother, who is finishing medical school as of this writing, about his likely prospects as a doctor abroad (vs. in the Philippines), we toyed with the idea of reconciling diaspora with the concept of nationalism. The economics show the double sides of the argument: the low Purchasing Power force many Filipinos to seek better pay abroad, however the net benefit of their remittances close the argument.

My other brother, who finished his own nursing degree just recently, was addressed by a local Supreme Court Justice (who was a family friend) during a party: “Your parents will oppose your practicing your nursing abroad.” Although there were few smiles in the audience during the party, the Justice’s words were met pretty much with silence. And the implications were not lost on us: amongst the older generation, the idea of going abroad was still taken against nationalistic principles–no matter how stodgy, passe, or simply irrelevant those notions may be in light of the present day facts.

Brings to mind something my own parents did tell me years ago, about how they were near ostracized by their fellow peers in a community group they once belonged to when they announced that my then graduating high-school brother had decided to take up nursing. What they expected to be congratulatory, even encouraging remarks, turned out to be exclaims of surprise and shock–to the tune of: “why?! how bad are things here that the best thing your children can think of is to leave?” Later even seeming to paint my own parents in an insecure light: how badly did they raise their family that their children were becoming OFWs?

It didn’t help that the aforementioned community was supposedly a Christian group. Christian Nationalists. Who can think of a better oxymoron in this present day and age?

My first, last, and only reaction to that anecdote to this day: nonsense.

Personally, I am happy to be rid of the blind, closed-minded thinking about diaspora, the anti-nationalistic sentiments surrounding it.

Because of diaspora Filipinos are now globally recognized for their talents, the country benefits from the hard currency remittances, and those same Filipinos are finding their calling and rewards pursuing their passions–which remain Filipino passions regardless of where in the world these Filipinos may be.

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In an even more bizaarre bit of news: a young girl advertised on the popular Howard Stern show that she is selling her virginity to the highest bidder to help pay for her studies.

Check out the rest of the news here.

The social and economic ramifications of paid sex have been discussed extensively in various forums. One  interesting bit is that prostitution is not legal in all countries in the world. However, for countries like the Philippines, where the practice is illegal, the prevalence of paid sex continues unabated. Sex tourism is one of the large lures of foreigners to Asia.

Roderick de la Cruz writes in the Manila Standard:

Casas (brothels), which are not considered legitimate establishments, offer sex services at more affordable rates. Then, there are also clubs, bars and KTVs where customers and GROs or bar girls can spend an hour or more at the VIP room with their customers for P1,500 to P2,000 and have sex for another P2,000 to P2,500. Outside the VIP room, a lady’s drink would cost the customer P500 to P600 every 30 minutes. One of these clubs in Quezon City is getting a lot of Japanese and Korean customers, because it is known for employing really young girls.

Another form of prostitution is the so-called escort service, where the call girl accompanies the tourist to the places he wants to visit, including the hotel room where he stays. This has also evolved into a sex tour. In Makati City, some expatriates recruit girls to join them in a party where sex is open to everyone who is present. The escort service trade is highly popular in Puerto Galera, Palawan and Boracay.

Prostitution is known as the oldest profession in the world, in wikipedia:

A variety of terms are used for those who engage in prostitution, some of which distinguish between different kinds, or imply a value judgment about them. Prostitute is generally accepted as the least value-laden term; common alternatives with varying implications include escort and whore. (Not all professional escorts are prostitutes, however.) Prostitution is sometimes nicknamed the “world’s oldest profession”.
 
The English word whore derives from the Old English word hōra (from the Indo-European root kā meaning “desire”). Use of the word whore is widely considered pejorative, especially in its modern slang form of ho’. In Germany most prostitutes’ organizations deliberately use the word Hure (whore) since they feel that prostitute is a bureaucratic term. Those seeking to remove the social stigma associated with prostitution often promote terminology such as commercial sex worker (CSW) or sex trade worker. A hooker or streetwalker solicits customers in public places; a call girl makes appointments by phone.

Why does prostitution create so much controversy? Is it because of the intermingling of sex and money–which arguably are the two most powerful forces in society today?

What does a prostitute symbolize? A perversion of something given to humanity (i.e. the sexual nature)? However, we share this nature with majority of the animal kingdom. Is it then the application of sex to earn money, which is now a human construct and part of society. However, how different is this from selling other human talents for pay? By becoming capitalists, producers, and employees–aren’t we also engaging in prostitution on some level?

The other dimension to prostitution is the health risk–especially with the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. However, many other jobs also pose significant health risks to those engaging in certain professions, especially skilled and unskilled labor. How different is prostitution from them?

The oldest profession in the world raises the oldest questions.

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