Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How they see our problem

The following is an essay written by a Korean about the Philippines. It was written years ago but the message is still very relevant.

My Short Essay About the Philippines
Jaeyoun Kim

Filipinos always complain about the corruption in the Philippines. Do you really think the corruption is the problem of the Philippines? I do not think so. I strongly believe that the problem is the lack of love for the Philippines.

Let me first talk about my country, Korea. It might help you understand my point. After the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Koreans had to start from scratch because entire country was destroyed after the Korean War, and we had no natural resources.

Koreans used to talk about the Philippines, for Filipinos were very rich in Asia. We envy Filipinos. Koreans really wanted to be well off like Filipinos. Many Koreans died of famine. My father & brother also died because of famine. Korean government was very corrupt and is still very corrupt beyond your imagination, but Korea was able to develop dramatically because Koreans really did their best for the common good with their heart burning with patriotism.

Koreans did not work just for themselves but also for their neighborhood and country. Education inspired young men with the spirit of patriotism.

40 years ago, President Park took over the government to reform Korea. He tried to borrow money from other countries, but it was not possible to get a loan and attract a foreign investment because the economic situation of South Korea was so bad. Korea had only three factories. So, President Park sent many mine workers and nurses to Germany so that they could send money to Korea to build a factory. They had to go through horrible experience.

In 1964, President Park visited Germany to borrow money. Hundred of Koreans in Germany came to the airport to welcome him and cried there as they saw the President Park. They asked to him, "President, when can we be well off?" That was the only question everyone asked to him. President Park cried with them and promised them that Korea would be well off if everyone works hard for Korea, and the President of Germany got the strong impression on them and lent money to Korea . So, President Park was able to build many factories in Korea. He always asked Koreans to love their country from their heart.

Many Korean scientists and engineers in the USA came back to Korea to help developing country because they wanted their country to be well off. Though they received very small salary, they did their best for Korea. They always hoped that their children would live in well off country.

My parents always brought me to the places where poor and physically handicapped people live. They wanted me to understand their life and help them. I also worked for Catholic Church when I was in the army. The only thing I learned from Catholic Church was that we have to love our neighborhood. And, I have loved my neighborhood. Have you cried for the Philippines? I have cried for my country several times. I also cried for the Philippines because of so many poor people. I have been to the New Bilibid prison. What made me sad in the prison were the prisoners who do not have any love for their country. They go to mass and work for Church. They pray everyday.

However, they do not love the Philippines. I talked to two prisoners at the maximum-security compound, and both of them said that they would leave the Philippines right after they are released from the prison. They said that they would start a new life in other countries and never come back to the Philippines.

Many Koreans have a great love for Korea so that we were able to share our wealth with our neighborhood. The owners of factory and company were distributed their profit to their employees fairly so that employees could buy what they needed and saved money for the future and their children.

When I was in Korea, I had a very strong faith and wanted to be a priest. However, when I came to the Philippines, I completely lost my faith. I was very confused when I saw many unbelievable situations in the Philippines. Street kids always make me sad, and I see them everyday. The Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia, but there are too many poor people here. People go to church every Sunday to pray, but nothing has been changed.

My parents came to the Philippines last week and saw this situation. They told me that Korea was much poorer than the present Philippines when they were young. They are so sorry that there are so many beggars and street kids. When we went to Pasangjan, I forced my parents to take a boat because it would fun. However, they were not happy after taking a boat. They said that they would not take the boat again because they were sympathized the boatmen, for the boatmen were very poor and had a small frame. Most of people just took a boat and enjoyed it. But, my parents did not enjoy it because of love for them.

My mother who has been working for Catholic Church since I was very young told me that if we just go to mass without changing ourselves, we are not Catholic indeed. Faith should come with action. She added that I have to love Filipinos and do good things for them because all of us are same and have received a great love from God. I want Filipinos to love their neighborhood and country as much as they love God so that the Philippines will be well off.

I am sure that love is the keyword, which Filipinos should remember. We cannot change the sinful structure at once. It should start from person. Love must start in everybody, in a small scale and have to grow. A lot of things happen if we open up to love. Let's put away our prejudices and look at our worries with our new eyes.

I discover that every person is worthy to be loved. Trust in love, because it makes changes possible. Love changes you and me. It changes people, contexts and relationships. It changes the world. Please love your neighborhood and country.

Jesus Christ said that whatever we do to others we do to Him. In the Philippines, there is God for people who are abused and abandoned. There is God who is crying for love. If you have a child, teach them how to love the Philippines . Teach them why they have to love their neighborhood and country. You already know that God also will be very happy if you love others.

That's all I really want to ask you Filipinos.

This next one is a letter to the editor written by an Indian national.

This refers to Romeo Encarnacion’s letter titled “With so much talents and skills, why is RP a basket case?

I come from another developing and equally corrupt country, but allow me to put in my two pesos’ worth of opinion on this question.

I am writing this letter because I lived in Manila for about six months in 2005. I was born and raised in India. For the past 10 years I’ve been living in North America.

While in the Philippines, I would start my day with a hearty breakfast. I would usually have some toast, butter (made in New Zealand), jam (made in Australia/United States) and some juice (made in United States/Thailand/Brazil). I assumed the bread for my toast was made in the Philippines.

Compare that with my similar breakfast in India. There I never came upon a breakfast item that was not made in India. The point is, daily needs—be it jam, juice, butter or rice—should be homegrown.

Just like India, the Philippines has a huge pool of cheap labor. The government and the people should insist that basic goods be produced locally. That will create jobs, save precious foreign exchange and protect the nation from external dependencies and threats. So with cars, electronics and household products. The Philippines must set up more manufacturing facilities—with the help of foreign experts if needed—but the country should make sure that the units and parts are manufactured in the Philippines, not merely “assembled” here.

Another thing I noticed, which was so glaring and evident in Encarnacion’s letter—more specifically when he compared the Philippines with America—is the entire Filipino nation’s low self-esteem.

Having lived in India until the age of 26, I could feel the Indian people’s high national pride. Yes, India is as poor as the Philippines; yes, we do have tall, shiny buildings and malls but they are right beside shanties. Indians are complaining all the time about our government agencies but seldom or never do we compare ourselves to America. But in the Philippines, you open any local newspaper and almost every day you read at least one article singing hosannas to America.

Every country has its own culture and way of doing things. There’s no one cap that fits all situations. I believe the Philippines can develop and do things its own way. If China can do it as a communist, if India can do it as a socialist, so can the Philippines, Filipino style.

Many Indians, just like many Filipinos, are going abroad every day, but the Indian exodus has not hampered India’s progress. The Philippines has better infrastructure than India, arguably better quality of English speakers, fairly fertile lands and a vast pool of human resources.

I believe that the day the Filipinos wake up and take charge of their situation and take less pride in being a “balikbayan” [visiting overseas-based Filipino] than in being Filipino, that day when the Philippines will become another “Asian tiger” won’t be far away.


Their observations are both valid. The Korean notes that we don't love our country while the Indian sees that we have a low self esteem as a people. That is essentially why I have this advocacy of love of country. National pride is almost non existent. Our morale is too low. Love of country is just evident only to a few but collectively there is none. As crisis and scandals becomes normal fare in our lives, there is really not much that will make us feel good about ouselves as Filipinos. Yes, there is this
Good News Pilipinas website but its just pampalubag loob. We need to do something about our collective esteem, collective morale, collective pride. Non Filipinos are seeing our problem. I wonder why we don't. Or are we just on denial?

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