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TTAWA - THE federal government is imposing a two-year moratorium on immigration applications from parents and grandparents, starting immediately. But to make up for the restriction, it is creating a 10-year, special visa that will allow parents and grandparents of permanent residents to enter Canada multiple times as visitors and stay for up to two years at a time. Ottawa is also going to allow in more parents and grandparents next year from the existing — very long — waiting list. The government is targeting admis-

The super visa for parents and grandparents will allow holders to make multiple entries over a span of 10 years and stay in Canada for up to two years at a time.

CANADA IMPOSES 2-YEAR FREEZE ON SPONSORSHIP OF PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS

sions of 25,000 people next year, up from a recent annual average of 17,500. As a result, parents and grandparents will make up nine per cent of the total immigrant inflow of about 255,000 next year, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. That’s up from the current six per cent. But with increases for parents and grandparents, as well as previously announced increases in the numbers of foreign skilled workers and white-collar workers with Canadian experience, Kenney is reducing other targets to keep the overall immigrant pool at the same level as in previous years. So in 2012, there will be thousands fewer business-class immigrants, spouses and live-in caregivers, a newly published list of targets shows. The package of moves is part of a broader plan to speed up inflows and cut the backlog, especially of parents and grandparents. Kenney said that by the time the moratorium on their applications is lifted, the wait time

Canada is imposing a two-year moratorium on sponsorship of parents and grandparents in a bid to reduce the backlog of immigration applications. To make up for the restriction, it is introducing a new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which allows members of that group to visit their families in Canada on a temporary basis for up to two years at a time.

for processing should fall to about four years from more than eight years. “We need to change the math” that has led to waiting lists growing relentlessly for years, Kenney told a news conference in Mississauga, Ont. “Taking no action, for me, is not an option.” If the rules stayed the same, the backlog of parents and grandparents waiting to be processed would climb to about 300,000 within the decade from about 170,000 now, Kenney warned. He said he had to impose the moratorium without warning to prevent hordes of people rushing to get applications in under the

old regime. Those people would just go to the back of the queue anyway and

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wait years and years before officials could screen them, Kenney added. Instead, he’s telling those who want to visit their relatives in Canada to use the new visa system. By creating the new multiple-entry visa, Kenney said Ottawa will have time to fix the backlog without penalizing families hoping to be reunited in Canada. The new visa will come into effect Dec. 1.

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It will likely take just eight weeks to process — as long as applicants fill out the forms correctly, buy private health insurance, pass a medical exam and prove they have family in Canada who can support them here. The private health-insurance requirement is key for Kenney. He has frequently spoken about his frustration with older immigrants not contributing much to the Canadian economy while relying on the country’s extensive social system. And that’s why he couldn’t just raise the number of parents and grandparents to really high levels, just to clear the backlog. “To those who say, ‘just admit 60,000 a year,’ I say to them, when’s the last time you were in an emergency ward?” Kenney said. The Opposition NDP welcomed the idea of the new visa and was glad to see higher levels of parents and grandparents will be admitted next year. But immigration critic Don Davies said he is frustrated with the way Kenney is telling the public about his plan for the mix of immigrants for 2012. Kenney is announcing his targets in dribs and drabs that make it difficult to know who is going to get the short end of the stick, Davies said. “Who are the losers going to be?” he asked in an interview. Kenney announced earlier that Canada would accept about 255,000 immigrants overall in 2012. He then went on to announce that he would increase targets for foreign skilled workers, white-collar newcomers with skills honed in Canada, PhD students and refugees. The targets show that Ottawa plans to increase those groups by about 12,000 in total. The targets also show that the business class will be reduced by about 3,500 while live-in caregivers will fall by 3,600. Spouses are expected to drop by about 4,000, but Immigration Canada does not have much control over that number and calls it a “projection” rather than a target. “He is burying the bad news: slashing spousal, caregiver and refugee visas,” Davies said. “That’s wrong.” (Canadian Press) n

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BY HEATHER SCOFFIELD The Canadian Press

TTAWA Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has never suffered from lack of ambition and his latest goal is nothing short of reshaping and rejuvenating the Canadian workforce.

He envisions a nimble, efficient immigration machine that will help solve Canada’s demographic imbalance and boost the country’s competitiveness

In recent years Canada has let in an average of 254,000 immigrants a year, which is high by historical standards.

CANADA SEEKS

YOUNG, EDUCATED, SKILLED & FLUENT

NEWCOMERS

simultaneously. Kenney says when he is done with his multiple reforms of the system, the flow of newcomers into Canada will be predominantly young, well educated, highly skilled, and fluent in English or French. They’ll be admitted to Canada within a year of applying. And soon after, they’ll start paying taxes because they will have lined up a job prior to arrival or should be able to find one quickly once they land. “Where we want to be in a few years time is a flexible, just-intime . . . system where we admit people within a year of their application,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Where people with pre-arranged job offers are given priority, because they succeed best. Where we continue to see a better geographic distribution of newcomers. And where we can more flexibly change the (acceptance) criteria based on developments in the labour market,” he explained. “That’s where we want to go.” But getting there is no easy amble. His critics don’t disagree with his goal, but they have qualms about how he will achieve it. “It’s like saying ‘we want to have sun in January.’ We all want

Next spring, Immigration Minister Kenney wants to rearrange the point system that allows economic immigrants to qualify. Youth and high-quality education will be worth more, and the emphasis on English or French fluency is likely to be increased. Quantity of education will matter less.

that,” NDP immigration critic Don Davies said in a telephone call from Vancouver. “He doesn’t explain how. He sets the goals but he doesn’t say how we’ll get there.” Kenney foresees a multi-step process that will require changes to many different parts of Canada’s creaky immigration machinery. His department has already undertaken major studies of what kind of immigrant succeeds in Canada and what kind fails. Kenney has followed up with extensive consultations and polling to find out what mix of immigration the public is willing to take. Kenney plans to hold immigration levels steady next year. Ottawa wants to accept between 240,000 and 265,000 newcomers in 2012. That’s the same as this year and in keeping with the annual average of 254,000 over the past few years. While some immigration observers argue that Canada could solve its demographic imbalance, workplace shortages, family demands and backlog issues all at the same time by opening the doors to far more immigrants,

+7 The next batch of immigrants to Canada will be predominantly young, well educated, highly skilled, and fluent in English or French.


NOVEMBER 2011

An artist by trade,Tomas Leonor devised walking the country as a way to help child cancer patients in need of money.

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BY PEPPER MARCELO

FREELANCE artist by trade without a regular income, Tomas Leonor did not allow his modest means to hinder his desire to contribute to a worthy cause and become an inspiration to Filipinos. Through his StepJuan Foundation, and his unique idea to walk the entire nation to raise awareness for children suffering cancer, he has raised approximately Php1.5 million.

The Philippine National Police have provided assistance and security to Leonor.

STEPJUAN: AJOURNEY OF HOPE

In an interview with Planet Philippines, the 29-year-old San Pedro, Laguna native says he was compelled to act by seeing sick children at the Philippine Medical Children’s Center (PMCC) in Quezon City in 2008. “I asked myself, how will I be able to help these kids, knowing they have dreams, and that they are too young for cancer?” he said in the vernacular as he recalled the beginnings of his advocacy. “I have three young nieces and seven nephews, and I’d do anything for them if ever, God forbid, they get

‘I want people to be more curious. Why is this guy walking for others? And to ask questions, to leave the comforts of their lives and extend a hand or a foot for their neighbors. To those who need a little push, a little love, a little help.’

With a patient from the Philippine Medical Children’s Center (PMCC) in Quezon City.

Many throughout the country have proudly joined Leonor’s crusade.

afflicted with cancer. So why not for these kids? Children need our help, they are helpless and they are the seeds of our future.” Leonor’s biggest hurdle was how to raise funds for the cancer patients. An unknown painter, he did not have the name, network and resources to put up an art show to raise money for the charity organization Cancer Warriors. “If I had an art exhibit, the only people that would hear about it are those that went to the show, and not everyone has the capacity to buy artwork. Maybe I’ll only be able to sell one,” he said. But Leonor was determined to make things happen. He turned to a proven tactic utilized by ordinary mortals in other parts of the world to gain instant attention and support. An avid outdoorsman and mountaineer, he thought: why not traverse the whole country by foot? “It has to be something that was unique and somewhat unheard of [at least in the Philippines], so that’s when I decided to pursue an old


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daydream of mine, of one day walking the entire country. And so the idea of StepJuan was born. I love walking and the outdoors, so I consider the walking expedition as a vacation.” According to him, his group should not be viewed as a cure for cancer, but as a start to find a solution to battling the dreaded disease. “StepJuan is a journey of hope. Hope for those kids who are dying helplessly because the government can’t support their treatment.” Initially, his friends and family were skeptical that he could accomplish such a massive feat. But he was not deterred, pointing to his own personal experience of being able to overcome physical and health setbacks in childhood. At a young age, he battled allergy and asthma but he vowed that once he got better, he would become physically active. “I said that if my body got stronger I’d really go out – see Mayon, the rice terraces. As early as grade 4, I’ve dreamt of walking through the Philippines. It’s a fulfillment of my dream, and I hope I’m helping to extend the dreams of the kids.” StepJuan was originally conceptualized as a single walk throughout the country. But Leonor decided to break it down into a two-month journey every year. “At first, I had a lot of questions,” he recalled. “Can I sustain 58 days of walking? At 30 kilometers a day? So I did some research and calculations.” He trained inside the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, walking and jogging to build up his stamina. “The fastest I walked was nine kilometers an hour. Jogging or running is like jumping, and the impact on the ground is greater. Walking takes time, but its impact on your body is less. It’s all about pacing,” he explained. Consisting of only a small contingent of volunteers to help Leonor on his journey, one of the main obstacles of StepJuan was logistics, specifically coordinating safety arrangements with local officials of the different towns and cities they would be traversing. “We contacted local government units, different organizations and NGOs for places where I could stay for the night. Not every day would I have some place to stay. Sometimes I stayed at police stations, in churches. It’s okay, I’m used to it.” Eventually, a number of corporate contributors offered to help, like Coca-Cola, which donated a truckload of products and energy drinks. The Armed Forces of The Philippines and the Philippine National Police provided assistance and security. PNP even gave monetary support. Leonor began his odyssey

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To cut down the backlog of applicants, there is a plan to limit the inflow of parents and grandparents of permanent residents. Thus far, StepJuan collected donations worth Php1.5 million from various donors.

He hopes his selfless acts motivate others to explore the world and help others.

Leonor gets personal thrill and satisfaction from pushing his physical capabilities to the limit. in January, 2010, starting from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, in the north to Matnog, Sorsogon, the southernmost tip of Luzon, covering a total distance of 1,294 kilometers in 48 days. One year later, he embarked on his second leg of the journey, this time from Allen, Samar, covering 1,242 kilometers up to Boracay in Aklan in 58 days. In all, StepJuan collected donations worth Php1.5 million from various donors, including the Philippines Mason Temple, Soroptimist International, Lagalag Philippines, Intercontinental Hotel, among others. The money was turned over to the Cancer Warriors Foundation. Using a speedometer, Leonor calculated the ratio between funds raised and his physical pace, and estimated that each of the approximately three million steps he made during the whole trip was worth 50 centavos. “When I realized that, I thought, why are

there not many people given that chance to do those things? Nobody pays you to walk,” he said. Leonor said his odyssey gave him the chance to meet Filipinos from all walks of life and learn about their admirable capacity to give despite having so little. “The Filipino people in general are warm-hearted and willing to help a stranger in need. There are a lot of hungry, helpless, poor people, and a lot of things to be done for the common Juan.” He had a memorable meeting with a young boy named Patrick, who was suffering from testicular cancer. Patrick’s parents could not afford to pay the hospital fee of Php150,000. They asked Leonor for help. He wrote about Patrick’s condition on the social networking site Facebook and soon after an anonymous donor paid for the hospital bill. Leonor finds the most satisfaction in connecting with people. “I’m networking with people. If you say out loud what your intentions are, people will not hesitate to help. I don’t believe in dole out, even if I have money. I’d rather that more people know about the problem, so they can help.” Leonor said he gets personal thrill and satisfaction from pushing his physical capabilities to the limit. “When I do the walking expedition, I feel that life is so meaningful. Every step is free flowing, because it translates to saving lives.” Next, he plans to walk through Mindanao, from Surigao to Zamboanga City. “I hope that more help would pour in this time. I plan to help more people with what I do, which is to walk.” He hopes his selfless acts motivate others to explore the world and help others. “I want people to be more curious. Why is this guy walking for others? And to ask questions, to leave the comforts of their lives and extend a hand or a foot for their neighbors. To those who need a little push, a little love, a little help. I want the government to invest more on its young people, on health care and on education.” n

CANADA SEEKS YOUNG, EDUCATED,... From page 5

Kenney rejects that idea. “I don’t think realistically we can increase the levels of immigration in orders of magnitude,” he said. “I think it’s important for policy makers to listen to public opinion on immigration and not become disconnected from public opinion, which has arguably led to some of the problems in Western Europe.” Immigrant-related riots in a few European countries over the past three years have become the spectre of what immigration policy makers around the world aim to avoid. Kenney understands the logic in calculations that show Canada would have to at least triple the number of immigrants it lets in every year if it wanted to bring down the average age of its population and resolve expected labour shortages over time. But Canada can’t absorb that many people, he said, nor would Canadians accept that kind of inflow. He points to polling last year done by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. It shows 47 per cent of respondents say immigration levels are just right, and 34 per cent say they are too high. “That, in my view, is in no way a reflection of anti-immigration sentiment, because new immigrants are disproportionately likely to say that,” Kenney said. “So this is just, I think, a sense that Canadians have that there’s a practical limit to how many people can be successfully settled each year. The broad political consensus in Canada is pro-immigration, but the caveat on that is to make sure that we’re able to successfully integrate and employ the people who arrive.” Once the levels of immigra-

tion are decided, Kenney will be turning his attention to getting rid of the enormous backlog of potential immigrants waiting in the queue to have their applications processed. There are about one million names on the list, many of whom have been waiting for years and years for word from Ottawa. He has suggested capping the number of applications in some areas, perhaps starting with the parents and grandparents of permanent residents. That would cut down the backlog, make for a younger inflow, and reduce Canada’s costs for social services. Then, once the numbers are under control, Kenney wants to focus on shaping the quality of the various immigration streams. Next spring, the minister wants to rearrange the point system that allows economic immigrants to qualify. Youth and high-quality education will be worth more, and the emphasis on English or French fluency is likely to be increased. Quantity of education will matter less, the minister says. But this isn’t the first time Kenney has tried to reform the stream of economic immigrants, points out Davies. Kenney has given three major directives over the past few years to limit applications and put certain professions at the front of the queue. The fact that he’s rehashing the system yet again is a sign that his previous attempts have failed, Davies says. It’s not enough for Kenney to simply be the “Energizer bunny” when it comes to shaping Canada’s future workforce and diverse population, he adds. “I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. I think he should slow down.” n


NOVEMBER 2011

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BY RANDY DAVID

HE ISSUE first dawned on me many years ago when, in response to my criticism of billboards that have engulfed the city, people from the outdoor advertising industry told me that without them, Manila would be a very dark and unsafe place. Billboards, they said, are what light up the streets and enliven the cityscape. So, did the city’s dark and unlit avenues make commercial billboards a necessity? Or, has the proliferation of billboards relieved the government of its duty to light up and take care of public space? Which one is cause, and which one is effect?

The same issue confronts us when we contemplate the role that gigantic shopping malls play in our national life. One can ask which came first: the failure of government to cultivate alternative venues for public culture and recreation, or, the extensive commercialization of private leisure instigated by capitalism. If these malls did not exist, would we find it necessary to invent them? It cannot be denied that malls have become so integrated into the rhythm of our daily existence that it is difficult to imagine how Filipinos would use their free time if other options were made available. Would they be spending more time in museums and libraries? Would they be visiting more historic places and heritage sites? Would they be taking more strolls in wooded parks, gardens and public promenades? Would they go to theaters and coliseums, festivals and public lectures, rather than spend a whole day at the mall gawking at people and dreaming of goods they cannot have? Mall owners would surely say that without the malls, most Filipinos may not know what to do with their time. Their lives would be impoverished and miserable in more than an economic sense. Life in the metropolis would be so drab that, in quest of excitement and the sheer need to break routine, people might instead turn to drugs, gambling, drinking and prostitution. Worse, they could turn to militant mass politics. Indeed, to the extent they promote the illusion of equal access to the good life, shopping malls in societies like ours have become the most effective instruments for the pacification of class conflict. Unlike

‘MALLING’: THE NATIONAL PASTIME

Malls have become so integrated into the rhythm of our daily existence.

Mall owners would surely say that without the malls, most Filipinos may not know what to do with their time. Their lives would be impoverished and miserable in more than an economic sense. Life in the metropolis would be so drab. Worse, they could turn to militant mass politics.

Malls have sprouted partly because the government has failed to provide other options for culture and recreation such as parks, museums, libraries, and public promenades.

We have become a people that fatally equate growth with material acquisition, and fulfillment with consumption. the traditional promise of religious salvation in the afterlife, modern consumerist gratification is instant. The levels of fulfillment it offers are matched with one’s current purchasing power. Inside the malls, the good life is not a pie in the sky. It assumes the form of an overflowing cornucopia of material things, whose real value and connection to our lives we are not prompted to reflect upon or examine. I thought that religion finally acceded to the colonizing power of commerce when Sunday Masses began to be held inside shopping malls. From its pre-eminent perch as the seat of the sublime, religion in the malls became just one of the many events organized by commerce to draw in consumers. In biblical times, the temples of worship drew hordes of vendors and money lenders into their sacred space. Today, it is the other way around.

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These cavernous structures we call malls now host the broadest range of activities one can imagine, attesting to the power of a consumer-driven economy. Here you find not just physicians’ clinics but mini-hospitals complete with laboratories. They operate alongside beauty salons, massage parlors (now called spas), children’s playrooms, bowling alleys, techno-game stations, bingo salons, restaurants, movie houses, fast-food joints, banks, ATM cash dispensers, and a wide array of shops selling virtually everything. The malls are the new cathedrals of the consumerist life form, not only aggregating all entrepreneurial activity within their reach, but also significantly turning every facet of social life into their component. Be that as it may, do we have any reason to complain? Anyone who has ever stepped into these colossal markets, not explicitly to shop but to watch how modern Filipinos have shaped leisure, would be amazed by the manner in which we have constricted the horizons of our being. We have become a people that fatally equate growth with material acquisition, and fulfillment with consumption. This immediately shows in the shallowness of our sense of identity. But, we cannot talk about culture in isolation from the economy. It is certainly not a coincidence that “malling” emerged as a national pastime at around the same time we started to deploy large numbers of Filipinos for overseas work. Sadly, the billions in remittances that our hardworking OFWs send back have not been utilized to capitalize economic production at home. Instead, they have fueled the growth of a consumer-based economy driven by imports. The more workers we send abroad, the more we consume at home. But, since this consumption is primarily based on imports, the more we consume, the more we need to send people to work abroad. The foreign origin of most of the goods sold in our malls—from fruits to clothes to gadgets—betrays the gross disconnect between the nation’s productive labor and its consumption. This is not sustainable. People are formed primarily by what they produce, not by what they consume. It is work that builds their culture and makes them into what they distinctly are. All over the country, more shopping malls are being built, yet everywhere our capacity to produce and supply our needs has steadily dwindled. Surely, there is something fundamentally wrong with this kind of development. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


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BY JERRY E. ESPLANADA

HE MORE than 8.5 million overseas Filipinos scattered all over the globe should be proud of themselves for being a “positive force,” if not “masters of the universe,” in their host countries, according to balikbayan philanthropist, civic leader and lawyer Loida NicolasLewis. “We are good ballroom dancers. We love to share our Filipino food: delicious lumpia and chicken adobo. We love to sing pop hits with the karaoke microphone in our hand,” she said.

Help in development

They could help in the development of their homeland, she said.

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OVERSEAS FILIPINOS SHOULD DO MORE THAN WRITE CHECKS

FilipinoAmericans gather every August for Pistahan in San Francisco, one of the largest Filipino festivals in the US.

Even more, they extend a helping hand to their relatives and friends back in the Philippines by paying the tuition for their schooling, sending money for a baptism or wedding, for hospitalization or a funeral, “even lending money which we know will not be paid to a relative or a close friend,” she said. But Filipinos in the diaspora need to do more, said Lewis, chairperson of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), in a speech at the just-concluded “Global Summit: Diaspora to Development” at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

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“We cannot ignore the abject poverty of nearly 30 million Filipinos, their lack of adequate housing, education, nutrition and other basic human needs,” she said. This will involve more than just writing a check, she said. “We Filipinos seem to have a special something that enables us to go beyond the job description, do something sympathetic and compassionate, something natural in us,” said Lewis. “Either in word or in action, whether in the executive suite as a CEO or as a babysitter in a private home, our being Filipino enables us to anticipate and to feel what the other person in the office or home is feeling. And we would be able to respond positively or to react humanely,” said Lewis who is also an educator, author and

“We should come up with positive and practical solutions that we ourselves would do and actualize with the cooperation of the government. Let us be creative, innovative and resolute. We can bring the change we want to see in our Inang Bayan,” says philanthropist and civic leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis. motivational speaker.

Filipinos are special

A Filipino office worker becomes the favored one “because of our affable and generous personality.”

According to Lewis, Filipinos invariably get along with every ethnic group in the office, without discrimination. A Filipino office worker becomes the favored one “because of our affable and generous personality.” She believes this character trait springs from Filipinos’ deep-seated spirituality, their deep faith “in God’s grace and that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” “This also explains why we take leadership in our communities. Our contemplation or our intimacy with God brings us to action. We are masters of the universe in that sense,” said Lewis. “We should come up with positive and practical solutions that we ourselves would do and actualize with the cooperation of the government. Let us be creative, innovative and resolute. We can bring the change we want to see in our Inang Bayan,” said Lewis. The USP4GG is one of the summit convenors, along with the Commission on Filipinos

Overseas (CFO), headed by Lewis’ younger sister, Imelda Nicolas; the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations; and YouLead, or Youth Leaders in the Diaspora.

Answer to PNoy’s call

According to Lewis, her group joined the summit to answer the CFO’s call to help President Aquino bring about the alleviation of poverty in the Philippines. “Before the May 2010 elections, our main goal was to help the Noynoy Aquino-Mar Roxas tandem win that year’s polls… Today, we’re rooting not just for Noynoy but also the entire Filipino nation,” she said. Lewis said the USP4GG “still strongly believes in President Aquino’s slogan, ‘Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ (no corruption, no poverty). We are convinced that he will be true to his promises. We remain committed to President Noynoy.” “Our group prefers to be something like a watchdog organization, do oversight. We plan to write him, e-mail him and make

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BY DONNA DEMETILLO-MENDOZA • Women’s Feature Service

ANHIN NATIN ang debate kung patay na ang babae?” asked Lina Bacalando of Pinagsamang Lakas ng Kababaihan at Kabataan, a non-government organization supportive of House Bill 4244, also known as the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. According to the study, The State of Filipino Mothers 2008, more than 4,000 Filipino women die each year from pregnancy-related complications, or 11 women each day. The report was released by Save the Children, an international non-government organization working for the rights of children. “With each day that the RH Bill is delayed, 11 women die. What about those lives?” Bacalando said in Filipino, stressing that the bill should be considered as an emergency measure to save the lives of women and their children. “Mahalaga din ang buhay namin (Our lives are also valuable),” she stressed. Bacalando related the story of Olivia, a resident of Malabon who died from complications during her 10th pregnancy. Olivia left behind Neneng, her daughter, to take care of the younger children.

Surrogate mother

Neneng, now 13 years old, keeps house, cooks, and takes care of her siblings; while her 14year-old brother spends his days

NENENG: AN RH STORY One study found that most unwanted pregnancies occur among the poorest of the poor because of a lack of information and access to family planning methods.

‘Mahirap sa amin subaybayan kung tuyo o basa ang lumalabas sa aming pwerta. At saka, ilang lalaki ba ng nakikiisa sa pagpaplano? Yung iba, bubugbugin pa ang babae kapag tumanggi [makipag-sex].’

Supporters of the RH bill claim that 11 women die each day that the proposal is delayed.

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in the dumpsite, digging through garbage for odds and ends to sell so that he can bring home a few pieces of pandesal or perhaps some instant noodle soup. Bacalando also shared the story of Grace, who used be a scavenger in a dumpsite, where she spent most of her days with her best friend, a male scavenger. She later left home to live with him. Grace is now 12 years old with a baby of her own. Another 12-year-old girl from Navotas, Norma, contracted gonorrhea, Bacalando continued. The girl committed suicide because she did not know that the disease could be cured. Then there is Elsie, a resident of Manila who has had 13 children at the age of 36. Four of her children were given up for adoption upon birth because she had no money for medicines and hospital bills.

Maternal deaths

According to the aforementioned report, the timing and frequency of pregnancy affect the health of mothers and their babies. Women who have too many and too closely-spaced births are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy related complications, it added. “The death of Filipino mothers has many negative consequences to society, among them, compromised child


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well-being. When a mother receives inadequate care during pregnancy, childbirth, and after delivery, her child is more vulnerable to disease and premature death,” the report said. “Newborns who have lost their mothers are three to ten times more likely to die than those whose mothers survive childbirth. Surviving children lose their primary guardian and caretaker, who usually tends to their basic needs or education, nutrition, and health.” According to Likhaan, another NGO lobbying for the RH bill, effective family planning would prevent 200,000 maternal morbidities. One in three maternal deaths can be prevented if women who wanted to use an effective family planning method had access to it. Citing the same study, Likhaan said only half of married Filipino women employ either traditional (14%) or modern family planning methods (36%). Sixteen percent of Filipino married women would also like to space or limit their pregnancies, but are not using any form of family planning method.

Poor have more kids

Studies show that the poorest of women bear more children (six children) than those who are well off (two children). The 2006 Family Planning Survey of the National Statistics Office revealed most unwanted pregnancies occur among the

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Studies show that the poorest of women bear more children (six children) than those who are well off (two children). poorest of the poor because of a lack of information and access to family planning methods. “Mahirap sa amin subaybayan kung tuyo o basa ang lumalabas sa aming pwerta. At saka, ilang lalaki ba ng nakikiisa sa pagpaplano? Yung iba, bubugbugin pa ang babae kapag tumanggi [makipag-sex]. (It is difficult for us to know when we are fertile or not. And how many husbands are involved in family planning? Some will even beat up their wife if she denies him sex)” Bacalando said. Among the poorest 20% of women, according to the survey, over half do not employ any family planning method, and less than a third use any form of contraception.

Lack of access

The survey also found that among the poorest women who want to avoid pregnancy, at least

NOVEMBER 2011

all unwanted pregnancies in the country result in abortion, it is particularly significant that 22 percent of women aged 15-24 have induced abortions.”

Unsafe abortion

Studies show that the poorest of women bear more children (six children) than those who are well off (two children). 41% do not employ any family planning method because of lack of information and access to services. The Guttmacher Institute pegs the unmet need of poor Filipino women for contraception at 53%. If a family earns P50 a day from scavenging, Bacalando said, they use it to buy food. And for families with 12 children, the amount is not even enough, so how could poor families be expected to even think of buying contraceptives, she said. “It is often the mother who does not eat, who goes to sleep hungry,” Bacalando lamented. Save the Children reports that in the Philippines, death arising

from childbearing and pregnancy complications is most common among women between the ages of 15-19. “Adolescents in this age group are twice as likely as those over 20 to die during pregnancy or childbirth; the likelihood for girls under 15 is five times more,” it said. Complications from unsafe abortions also cause maternal death among young women, accounting for 13% or one in eight maternal deaths worldwide. In the Philippines, almost half (46%) of abortion attempts occur among women aged 13-24. The State of Filipino Mothers report said, “Since one-third of

Another report by the United Nations Population Fund - Family Planning and Young People - states that worldwide, most people become sexually active before their 20th birthday, and that teenage girls account for 14% of some 20 million unsafe abortion procedures, resulting in some 68,000 deaths annually. According to UNFPA, almost half of the women in poor countries marry before they turn 18, and some 14 million children are born to young and unmarried women aged 15-19 across the globe. The Guttmacher Institute says that increased investments in family planning could prevent another 52 million unwanted pregnancies, reducing the number of abortions by 64% worldwide. “With each day that the RH bill is delayed, there will be more deaths from abortion, and more children whose dreams will be shattered,” Bacalando said in the vernacular. “Kung hindi ngayon, kelan pa? Ilang Neneng pa ang magiging ilaw ng tahanan? (How many more Nenengs will be forced to become mothers to their siblings?),” she lamented. n

OVERSEAS FILIPINOS SHOULD DO... From page 9

suggestions that we believe will help him make the Philippines a better place,” she said.

Lewis vowed she would “definitely be a balikbayan on a regular basis.”

Stop faultfinding

The USP4GG has been cited by the CFO for its “firm belief and conviction that Filipinos in America can play an important role and make a difference in the lives of Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world through strong advocacy of good government.” As to how the USP4GG would assess the first 15 months of the Aquino administration, Lewis observed “it is doing very well. President Aquino is not perfect. Of course, nobody’s perfect.” “To his critics and faultfinders, I say, during the previous administration, where were your voices. He’s trying to do his best, so stop all the faultfinding,” she said.

Regular balikbayan

Lewis vowed she would “definitely be a balikbayan on a regular basis.” She comes to the Philippines every two months because of Lewis College, the school she set up in her Sorsogon hometown. She bought a school called An-

Overseas Filipinos have become a positive force in their host countries. nunciation College some 10 years ago and renamed it Lewis College. “We now have around 1,000 students, from preschool all the way to college. And we’re winning various accolades and hon-

ors. Lewis College is now the champion in the entire Bicol for computer programming. In the province, we used to be kulelat (perennial losers) in basketball. Now we’re the champion. We also won in the regional of the

Miss Bicolandia (beauty pageant),” she said.

Paying back

According to Lewis, her family’s involvement in Lewis College is “just one way of paying back.”

“Sorsogon is one of the country’s poorest provinces. And one of the ways, if not the only way to get out of poverty is education,” she said. Of the 300-plus tertiary students in Lewis College, “about 100 are on a full scholarship. Add to that the fact that in Sorsogon, we have the lowest tuition,” she said. “We must never forget that there’s a time to pay back for all the blessings that we’ve gotten in life,” Lewis said. “Whatever the reason we left the Philippines to seek our livelihood abroad, or to follow the dictates of our heart, we are always connected to our motherland by our family, our culture, our history and our faith,” she said. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


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Planet Philippines (Edmonton Edition) November 2011 Issue  

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