Sunday, April 6, 2008


Out of all the lines and words I memorized, this was one of the classics. Not only for its wit but for the reality it represented then.

In 2006, nine Filipino seafarers were left stranded by their employer in Hong Kong. They were not given their proper salary, were instead issued checks that bounced, then were left to fend for themselves.

They approached the Philippine Consulate General in HK but were told that they could not be able to pursue their case. Undaunted though, they sought the help of fellow Filipinos who referred them to the Mission for Migrant Workers (HK) Society (MFMW) or Mission.

Together with the Mission, they pursued their labor claims.

Aside from their labor case, however, they had to contend with the problem of sustaining themselves while their case was heard. Generous members of the community contributed to their needs but it was not enough.

So of course they approached the PCG-HK for assistance again. So of course they were denied again. So of course we rallied … were denied … and rallied again.

It was in one of those actions that a seafarer coined the term “memo-rice” to depict how they had to stare hard at the rice in every one of their meals because they were not sure when and where the next bowl will come from.

I was moved then and it all came back to me now. Will it reach such a point back home?

But in the first place, has it not been happening at all? Even the data of the National Statistics Coordination Board (NCSB) said that 33% of Filipinos live with US$1 a day. That can barely cover daily meals much less other basic needs.

The rice crisis has raised long-standing issues on Philippine agriculture such as liberalization, non-subsidy to farmers, land monopoly, land conversion and even corruption. These are the issues that have brought about the greatest irony in our land – the producers of food are the ones who go hungry.

In the face of rising rice problem, the development GMA boasted of while in Hong Kong sounded more hollow.

It was kinda dramatic that while GMA wined and dined in one of the most lavish hotels in HK, about 2,000 domestic helpers were shouting for some of the most basic things that are usually disregarded in such expensive events – rights, food, jobs and services.

GMA has no problem with memories and memorization. It’s the reality in the ground that she conveniently forgets.

By the way, the stranded seafarers won both of their cases. The PCG-HK was pressured to provide for their needs and, more than a year after, they won their labor claims.

These are the fond "memo-rice" to hold on to.



mas na appreciate ko na ngayon kung ano man meron ako... kung minsan nakakalimutan ko na maswerte pa rin naman ako kahit papano...

bananas said...

could it be not that the rice crisis is, after all, a made-up crisis perpetuated by this government to divert the attention of the people from multimillion dollar scandal to their basic need?

hahahaah...di kaya?
conspiracy theory.
ano pa?

Mugen said...

Hirap ng pinagdaanan nila ah.

About the rice crisis, it's our own doing. Yari na naman si GMA nito.

the donG said...

dami ng issues kaya nalilimutan na rin ang ibang mas malalaking issue.

pambihirang gobyerno. naka ilang rally at coup na pero astig pa rin. kurakot pa rin.

sad to say, parang wala pang nagyayaring improvement.

chase / chubz said...

i never heard of the seafarers delima. .. thanks for the info.

hay naku.. nandito na naman ang another controversy involving gma. hahay.