Sunday, March 11, 2007

Exporting the aetas, the gall!

I was just browsing through TFC when I saw a piece on GMA's program of training aetas in technical and mechanical skills and then providing them with accommodation, similar to what it would be like if they were abroad and separated from their families and then, eventually sending them off to Saudi or UAE or Australia to work as OCWs.

OK so maybe the aetas are tired of living the hard life in the mountains and perhaps want to try living in what we may call as "civilised" environment. But exporting our natives is somewhat going too far.

It's bad enough that our own youth are leaving the country immediately after the first sign of opportunity and professionals seeking greener pastures abroad due to lack of similar opportunities in our own beloved Philippines but to send out these native aetas, who may be leaving their homes because:

a) they're being threatened by military exercises/activities or may be caught in the crossfire of military and "revolutionary" forces;

b) there's nothing left of home to speak of what with cutting all the trees and changing all the forest lands into malls and "subdivisions";

c) they've been given "hot-air filled promises" from the current government that they will have better lives earning dollars abroad and would be able to help their families;

Our natives should be given a huge tract of land to call their own, protected by our government from any form of intrusion or invasion so that they continue to cultivate and pass on the culture that is uniquely theirs and part of our roots as a people. Being the original natives of the land we now know as Philippines, aetas should get special treatment from all of us. They are after all the original owners of the islands we now all inhabit.

Just like the Inuit who Canada gave out a large area of land for them to live free as they are, keeping their unique culture and ways for other "civilised" societies and cultures to see....and those native American Indians who have conservation sites and sacred burial grounds intact and protected by US law...we ought to, in the least be doing the same for our aetas - NOT train them to be electricians abroad!!!

We've really been abusing our aborigines for a long, long time; depriving them of their land, destroying their natural habitat, at some point during the US military bases in Clark and Subic, American forces using them as target-practice, in the all-so-innocent-excuse that they (the soldiers) thought they were wild boars(!); and now this, exporting them as overseas contract workers.

Isn't it enough that one in every family of five has an OCW member that we have to include our aborigines to the list? What next? Kankanaey head-hunters as hairdressers in Kuwait? How about the T'bolis as entertainers? oh, oh and yes, let's use the aetas as domestic helpers and let them send dollars back home so we can declare that the Philippine economy is sound, stable and on the rise....

God, how far does this government think they can go and continue to exploit everyone and still have the gall to say, it's been a successful administration?!?!? Successful for whom?

Enough already! Do we keep into office leadership that would even sell the remaining pieces of culture for a few pieces of silver? When is enough, enough? Where do we draw the line and say, "that's it, we've had it!" When?

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