Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Philippines

Solidarity with Haiyan’s victims

By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 

On November 10, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, leaving parts of the country in devastation and chaos. Approximately 10,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives during this storm.

Photos of the typhoon’s destruction have brought tears not only to the eyes of those who live in the Philippines, but also to those who are part of the Filipino diaspora around the world.

Both Filipino citizens as well as Filipinos who live in other countries are gearing their efforts to rebuild the nation. Fortunately, they are not alone in these efforts.

Other organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, the World Food Programme, Oxfam, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and others have tried their best to help those in need in the Philippines through relief projects and fundraisers.

The solidarity between these organizations is amazing to witness and this solidarity is growing and will keep on growing. The World Youth Alliance defines solidarity as the “unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good.

It is beautiful to watch how this collaboration is created. Because these organizations each have a different focus, every particular sector of a country’s relief efforts is given proper attention.

Aside from larger projects by these organizations, funds are also being collected by others elsewhere reinforcing the growing solidarity between those with one goal: rebuild the Philippines.

Social media efforts have also risen as a result of this tragedy. Various hashtags have been used to spread the word about the tragedy in the Philippines such as #Stronger PH and #BangonPH, which means, Rise Philippines.

Although various groups and organizations already work day and night to help their fellow kababayans (“countrymen”) with activities such as collecting donations and packing relief goods, there is a lot more we could do here in the United States.

Our efforts can be viewed as two-fold: awareness and action.

Both are essential for us to help rebuild the Philippines and join those who were affected in solidarity. For example, on my campus, I have set up fundraising opportunities to benefit some of the organizations mentioned above in their efforts to bring disaster relief to the Philippines.

I am also helping to plan a talent showcase, an open mic, or a lecture to spread awareness and collect funds for the cause. Whether it is through tabling for donations or collecting donations at events, there are plenty of other ways those who are in the United States can help.

The first step is to become aware of and acknowledge the disaster which inspires us to action. Whether you help out with these events, donate clothing, donate a dollar, or donate twenty dollars, actions at times like these are neither big nor small. Any action is progressive.

At the time it is needed the most, solidarity never fails to arise.

Whether it is a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Haiti or a tsunami in Indonesia, many join in solidarity to help rebuild a nation in need. Any effort is a step towards a united goal to rebuild a nation.

This testifies to the strong spirit of both the nation and the citizens. Solidarity knows no borders. Whether you are in the Philippines, the United States, Europe, or another country, there is always an action which you can take and whatever you do is sure to make an impact.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once said, “Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.” (Though she was pretty silent to the Moslem plight in Burma)

Now it is up to you! Will you join us in solidarity in this time of need?

For ways to help out you can also read this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/09/philippines-haiyan-how-to-help-_n_4247106.html

 By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 

There are currently over half a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  They settled in refugee camps during three major phases:  First, they settled in refugee camps after the “Independence of Israel”, a State recognized my a single and simple majority vote in the UN in 1948, and second, after the 1967 preemptive Israeli war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and third, after the defeat of the Palestinian resistance by the Jordanian monarchy in 1971. 

Already, one hundred thousand Palestinian refugees got the Lebanese nationality, not included in the half a million previously mentioned.  Those who got the Lebanese nationality are of three categories:  First, the mostly Palestinian Christians, in order to re-establish sectarian “balance” when the Maronite Christian Presidents of Lebanon had vast authorities before the Taif Agreement in 1989, and second, Palestinians originating from Lebanon such as those who lived in Northern Israel and the Seven Villages and are mostly from the Islam Chiaa sect, and third, the wealthy and business men Palestinians such as the families of Baidass, Sabbagh, Khoury, Nemr, Nahoum, Faress, Nasr, Kattan, Yutajy, Freij, Gharghour, Oweida, Irathy, Saba and many other families.

It appears that the refugees inscribed in the UNRWA, those residing continuously in Lebanon, number around 200,000 or 5% of the total estimated population in Lebanon.  The remaining Palestinians had managed to settle or work abroad with Lebanese travel documents.

Recent statistics show that over 92% of Palestinian refugees want to return to their Homeland, Palestine.  That is a case closed:  the UN resolution #198 of 1948 guarantees the right of Palestinians to return to Palestine and there is no way to cancel or drop that civic and human right accorded to all refugees who were forced to flee under duress and genocidal treatments.

The US, European Union, and Russia are demanding that the Palestinian refugees drop the right to return before extending compensations.  This is an impossible political condition that cannot be satisfied.  The UN should compensate immediately every adult Palestinian and Palestinian families in refugee camps (without any clause pertaining to dropping their rights for return) so that they decide what to do with that money.  Every State around the world, especially the US and European States, will welcome rich Palestinians capable of owning real estates or establishing businesses.  After two years of paying taxes and valid residency papers, the immigrated Palestinians would be having a recognized citizenship.

Since Israelis are entitled to dual citizenship then, it should be so to Palestinians.  For the time being, the UN institution of UNRWA has been caring for the Palestinian refugees in matters of education, health, and survival food since 1948.  The UNRWA budget has been cut frequently while the number of refugees has been increasing dramatically.  Currently, the  UNRWA budget is half a billion dollars; the portion allocated to the refugees in Lebanon is just $70 millions. 

There is a heated debate in Lebanon on how to securing the civic and human rights of the refugees.  There are less than 60 types of jobs that Palestinians are entitled to applying for; and they are denied owning properties, though rich Arabs and foreigners can purchase and own properties. 

The Lebanese have no jobs, no electricity, no potable water, no health coverage for more than 50% of the population, public education neglected for over 30 years, and things are going to hell.  I am pretty sure if Palestinian refugees would consider bartering their UNRWA facilities for a Lebanese nationality card then, most Lebanese would gladly relinquish their stupid cards that are more of a problem than a privilege.

 The UN should establish an international fund to aid and support the Lebanese government improve the infrastructure in the refugee camps and providing health insurance.  Palestinian kids are suffering from diseases due to bad health environment.  The education facilities are deteriorating in the camps.  Camps are becoming hotbeds of insecurity to all the youth not finding an outlet to development and assuring the minimum level of dignity.

The working force in construction, gas stations and sanitation are filled by Syrians, Egyptians, and Bangladeshis.  In-house maids and outside are from Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Madagascar… May be Lebanese and Palestinians should be allocated quotas to work alongside the foreign workers. 

If Lebanon enjoyed an economic and financial boom in its first 30 years of its independence it is mainly because of the flux of Palestinian wealth and knowhow.  Many English-speaking Palestinian refugees worked in the Arab Gulf States and supported their families in Lebanon.  They also made a qualitative development for the American University of Beirut and taught there and constituted the prime English tributary to our economy and finance.

If Lebanon had ever been tad of a State, it would have sustained its financial standing and maintained a modicum of sovereignty.  The Palestinian Resistance Organization (PLO) became a State within a State and even more powerful and more organized since 1972.  The dollar changed for just two Lebanese pounds because of the hard currencies that the PLO poured in our economy; it is currently 1,500 LL

Maid living in the Mistress house?

There are many States that allow private agencies to import foreign maids to serve in private families.  The maid lives in the house with the family and work from 6 am to midnight, always standing and serving, and cleaning until the last member of the family is gone to bed.

The maid in Lebanon cost $150 a month and the entire yearly amount is paid to the agency upfront when the commissioned maid arrives in Lebanon “legally”?  Most of the time, the contract of the hired foreign maid is for two years.

Maids arriving to Lebanon are mostly from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and from other African States.  Workers at gas stations are mainly from Egypt.  Construction workers are from Syria.  Sanitation workers are from Bangladesh.  You have the impression that every foreign State has a specialty work to do in Lebanon.

Lately, a semi-official report from Madagascar’s Minister of Public and Social Affairs, Nadine Ramorson, denounced in the weekly “Jeune Afrique” the ill treatments of the maids in Lebanon and that many returned home dead or badly injured.  The number of maids from Madagascar climbed from one thousand in 2006 to over 7,000 in 2010.

Before the civil war in Lebanon that started in 1975, maids were hired from Syria.  The child maid’s father would show up once a year to cash in his dues and leave without even sitting and talking to his child daughter of less than 13 of age.

When a kid, I never asked the maid to fetch me a glass of water or for any personal needs; it is shameful to see parents considering as legitimate and right for their kids to be ordering maids around for simple tasks they can and should be doing on their own.

I can testify that the Lebanese, in general, are racist with respect to the poorer classes.  It is worse, when this domestic or worker is from a foreign land.  A black colored worker is called Black or coal.  The higher the number of maids the higher the status of a family.  I can see families bringing more than one maids to events and ceremonies in order to wash dishes, take care of every whims of kids, and serve on tables.

There were periods when Lebanese were respectful to older members and had a sense of shame working others overtime.  Social life is going bad.  You may pay a visit to our prisons to witness the carelessness we handle human rights and human dignity.

Many foreign maids are incarcerated for months without any due process, simply because they could not pay to renew their work permit or purchase a ticket home.  Many maids had committed suicides and we never hear of these cases or the follow-up investigations, if any.

Fact is, we the Lebanese are living in a big prison, with no way out if you have not the money to getting out.  Maybe 5% of the Lebanese are well off (mainly the public servants and families of deputies) but the rest of us are living under $150 per month, with a standard of living higher than Paris and London.

It is no enigma if most Lebanese are servile to their sectarian leaders who were the culprit of this civil war that lasted more than 13 years:  They want to survive and seek political and employment supports.

It is no enigma of this growing racist tendencies when the leaders of the civil wars returned as ministers and deputy after the civil war and have been totally absolved of their genocides by a Parliament of their own.

We have no dignity left to start demonstrations and revolts.  If it were not for Hezbollah’s steadfastness then, Lebanon would have been a State from the past, a non-entity….

I published in my autobiography the following passage:

“At the time it was the custom for well-off family to hire girl child helpers from Syria around Safita.  My family was no exception. The father of any of these children between 10 to 12 years old would visit once a year to collect his money and leave.  Over the span of 6 years, we had 3 child helpers. The first one was named Salimeh and she was my age of 12 but was much taller, robust and all muscles; I recall that I used to box her buttocks, hard as rock.  She was not pretty but she loved us dearly and we got used to liking her cheerful attitude.

The next one was even younger and she used to get lost every time she had to accompany my younger sister Raymonde from school.  Once she lost her way and Raymonde was already at home and she saw Raymonde on the balcony and she hollered to my sister “come down to go home”.

The third helper was short, hard working and pretty and she was in love with me and I was at the age when I could not stand romance and drooping eyes.  I was glad when her father took her away but she was in cry and would not leave.  Mother was hard on the helpers and she made them wake up very early and work all day long for over 13 hours, but mother was meticulous that they keep clean, eating of our own food and wearing decent clothes.  It was hard for me to accept the conditions of these helpers once I became conscious of their alienation, away from their homes for over two years sometimes.”

The late author, Mai Ghoussoub described the life of one these kid helpers in her book “Farewell Beirut” and how she turned out to be a ferocious and fearless fighter during the civil war; most importantly, she never tried to get any revenge on her “masters”, even though the eldest son had raped her and she was confined never to leave the apartment; the girl was just utterly happy to feel free.”

Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket; (Nov. 11, 2009)

If you have lands with no water,

If you have water and no fertile land,

If you have accumulated enough in your Sovereign Fund…

The way to go for States is to invest in foreign fertile lands for agricultural “self-sufficiency”, which means import food at much lower prices. 

Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Saudi Arabia are leading these kinds of joint ventures. For example:

South Korea has acquired a total of 3 millions hectares (three times the superficies of the State of Lebanon); it is growing fields in Russia (500,000 ha), Sudan (700,000 ha), Madagascar (1.3 million ha), Mongolia (300,000 ha), Philippines (100,000 ha), and Indonesia (25, 000 ha).  The Korean agency for international cooperation (State owned) is creating private and public enterprises to invest into agribusinesses by loans or direct governmental investments. Leases of fertile lands are for 60 years and an extension of another 40 years. In return, Korea will extend technologies and development planning.  It appears that South Korea is projecting unification with North Korea and the flooding of North Korean refugees soon.

China has invested for a total of 2 millions hectares.  It has 1.25 millions in South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos), in Mozambique (800,000 ha), in Russia (80,000 ha), in Australia (45,000), and in Cuba (5,000 ha).

Japan has acquired a total of one million hectares in Philippines (600,000 ha), USA (225,000 ha), and Brazil (100,000 ha).

India has acquired a total of 1.7 millions hectares in Argentina (600,000 ha), Ethiopia (370,000 ha), Malaysia (300,000 ha), Madagascar (250,000 ha), Indonesia (70,000 ha), and in Laos (50,000 ha). 

The Indian government has extended loans to 80 agribusinesses to purchase 350,000 ha in Africa.  Ramakrishna Karuturi (the king of rose production in 4 millions hectares) is leasing the hectare for two dollars a year in Ethiopia!

Saudi Arabia has invested in Indonesia (one million ha), Senegal (500,000 ha), and in Mali (200,000 ha). 

The Arab Gulf Emirates has invested in Pakistan (325,000 ha), and in Sudan (400,000 ha).

Egypt has invested in Uganda (850,000 ha). 

Libya has invested in Ukraine (250,000 ha), and Liberia (5,000 ha). 

Qatar invested in the Philippines (100,000 ha).

Africa is the remaining poorest continent with vast fertile lands and plenty of manpower to exploit for agribusiness enterprises. Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket in this century.

We hope that the world community will pressure these investors to grow food slowly and not ruin the remaining land with fertilizers and pesticides.

We hope that the African can enjoy what the lands are producing for their daily staples…

We hope the African people get first cut at the distribution of food produced and receive first priority to ward off recurring famine…

Note: You may read the follow-up post https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/the-worlds-food-basket-africa-is-heaven-for-agro-business-investments-part-2/


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October 2020
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