American Dreams ...Are Filipino Dreams
By Pol Derilo
Now that America has expressed their overwhelming decision for
leadership change, the reconstruction begins.
Having been elected in the midst of economic disarray, foreign wars,
energy dependence, and a laundry list of other domestic governmental
malfunctions, President-elect Barack Hussein Obama will take on the
torch of new national stewardship.
His victory speech in Chicago tackled these issues head on when he
embraced the challenges by declaring: "This is our chance to answer
that call. This is our moment. This is our time -- to put our people back to
work and open doors of opportunity for our kids, to restore prosperity
and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream..... ."
The most audible battle cry that reverberated during campaign was about
the economy. Its pitch reached the peak when one morning in the fall,
the country have to face and comprehend the abrupt demise of Fannie
Mae, Fredie Mac and Lehman Brothers. It was followed by an economic
rescue package enacted in Congress for 7.5B that promptly enabled the
bail out of AIG, an insurance company giant.
These are the few early casualties of credit freeze/crunch that infected
financial institutions. It resembles the fate of a flourishing/robust vineyard
tree with its main root suddenly snipped and allowed to die. Further
analysis attribute the phenomenon to the loosely regulated market
environment where greedy pundits bundled and peddled excessive
security packages and derivatives. Then the inevitable truth surfaced,
revealing them to be worthless. It can probably be called unregulated
gambling also. Even the former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman was
shocked that this "financial tsunami" will awashed the Wall Street.
On the personal level at Main Street, the phenomenon means job losses,
vanishing retirement and/or home equity, spiraling medical costs, inability
to send kids to college and other scores that threaten the very basic
foundation of American aspiration. It is shaking the bedrock that sustain
the tide of domestic well being.
The realization of one's belief in the principles that in America, everyone
has equal rights and opportunities to seek his/her own destiny is called
American dream. With inherent abilities, hard work and determination, one
can aspire to be someone he/she wants to be, regardless of color, race
and origin. It evolves from the same spirit that the founding fathers
proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, the inalienable rights of
men to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It is the beacon that
attracts those looking for hope, sanctuary for those who are oppressed
and home for those who are about to drop but restart their lives anyway
all over again.
With these settings in the backdrop, the president-elect fittingly declared to
".....reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of the many, we are one; that
while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and
doubt and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that
timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
Time and time again, wake-up call of this intensity re-enforced unity,
summoned ingenuities, unleashed resolves and bound the country as true
In an entirely different settings, Filipino dreams are fundamentally the
same as those of the American dreams. First and foremost among them is
employment. Inherited or prodded by the family elders, a typical
grassroots manpower novice will either be a Juan the Farmer, Juan the
city wage earner or Juan the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). It all
depends on how his elders has jump-started preceding generations.
Stepping back a bit in history, the founding fathers of the Philippines came
from Spain and America. Portuguese explorer F.Magellan dropping their
anchor first in Mactan in 1521 colonize country and 377 years later Adm.
P. Montojo lost it to Comdr.. G. Dewey at the battle of Manila Bay in 1898.
The forefathers may have felt it in their hearts and spirits, for their Divine
Creator may have whispered about their inalienable rights to L., L., and the
pursuit of Happiness in their ears. Nevertheless, they might have been
coached by the Americans in drafting the constitution. In similar gesture,
the founding fathers from Spain jump-started a segment of Filipinos with
their land acquisitions. Not only were they irresponsible disposing their
leftovers and for posterity as well, that altered the natural course of those
rights, it superficially alienated the inalienable.
From the very start therefor, the forefathers started the race from a
crooked line and a rumpled playing field. This situation created an open
gap in the social strata which up to now is leaving those at the bottom
Since dole out appears to be a normal government operation,
irregardless of financial crisis, those at the bottom of the pit should
deserve the golden parachute. It is them whom the rescue package
should be enacted for. Not because they were greedy and irresponsible
but because it is the other way around; for so long and in every election
round their votes have been squandered and profaned. Yet they go
deeper with no end in sight. Job opportunities and employment will be a
dream that will boost their hopes and aspirations. It will diminish the
number of Juan the Farmer and increase the wage earner elsewhere.
And while we are at employment/job aspiration, there is a respectable
corps of breadwinners who are underwriting not only the family budget
but the national budget as well. They are the thousands of Overseas
Filipino Workers.who remit hard-earned wages to their family monthly.
High government officials regard their employment heroic. Undoubtedly, a
lot of dreams are being realized at least partially while on a national scale,
substantially, 13.5% of GDP in 2005.
College education appears not to be one of the broken dream of Juan the
Farmer. Considering the millions of graduates working abroad as well as
those left behind still fantasizing at home. The damper is on the inability of
Juan the Premier. and his counterpart with the other institution of
mandated officials. Their failure to foresee the looming demand for jobs of
the mushrooming population.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize honoree for economics Paul Krugman
recommended 16 years ago that the Philippines should give preference
to export oriented manufacturing, thus boosting real earnings while
creating jobs for the growing number of Juan the wage Earner. Options
for this are either creating our own exportable products abroad, (through
research and capital) or opening plant and factory sites to foreign
The worldwide repercussions of the US economic fiasco will also impact
this segment of the Philippine economy. Central Bank sources estimated
that average monthly remittances from abroad will go down from $1.4B to
$1.2B. With 7M workers abroad, 2M are in S. Arabia, the rest scattered in
29 other countries (US excluded w/4M). Possibilities are a number of
these countries will downsize employment of foreigners.
Jobs/employment is a visible gauge of the state's economy . Other
aspects affect education, health, housing and other basic human needs.
Intertwined and directly affecting one another, the economy seemed to
encompass the interaction altogether. The economy is of paramount focal
point that responsible national government should not takes their eyes off.
Would it not be practical that the national strategy grapple this knotty
challenge in a relentless full assault vs. piecemeal pet projects of every
administration? It might be economically practical with greater visible
impact. Jobs/employment is the eye opener for the dreamers while
providing opportunities for them is for Juan the Premier and his partners.
Realizing the dream need not be passed on to foreign lands and let
Filipino families endure the peril of separation.
It is almost certain that while most dreamers care more about Juan the
Farmer, they also dream and care about Juan the Premier. He probably
dream also that the Philippines be governed by new people. With a new
chief of staff hired from either UP, Ateneo or other elite college and
university, organize a transition team to line up new faces for cabinet
members. There will be new senators and congressmen for the Batasan.
In short, overhaul the entire government from national to the provincial.
Without a dream. reality is unalienable weight to endure. I have to pray for
a divine intervention and hopefully a rebirth of Moses to liberate the ever
growing millions of oppressed people.