i had to co-organize a meeting with some philippine-australian organized groups, ngo workers, embassy officials and u.p. alumni in canberra regarding the exploitation of filipino workers in canberra. the filipino chefs and restaurant workers figured prominently in australian newspapers, radio and tv. i knew i had to do something to be of help. but given my limited scholarship funds and my terrifying academic time table, my priority is to focus on my dissertation writing and finish on time so i can return to u.p. the soonest. i ended up saying little prayers for the workers and hoped that their issues can achieve some positive resolution.
a few days ago, however, i got an email from caesar barona, a u.p. alumnus and a batch mate of my former students j. paul manzanilla, mykel andrada and reagan maiquez. after graduating from u.p. cswcd, ceasar is now pursuing his second degree at sydney uni. caesar had wanted to link up with canberra-based filipinos in regard to what fil-aussies can do to support the workers. i relayed the message to tita melinda (tria-kerkvliet) who responded promptly and favorably. tita mel used to teach history and philippine studies in diliman and hawaii before she retired to pursue other interests. currently, she co-convenes the a.n.u. philippine studies group and with her networks all over australia, i was certain she can organize a fruitful meeting. immediately, tita mel mobilized connie eugenio (another u.p. alumna), lulu respall-turner (theater actress & officer of numerous fil-aussie organizations) and lorie jalocha (president of the philippine-australian association) to help by inviting people to attend. we decided to meet up in a.n.u. coombs tea room. together with the very capable consul lindy (leandro) lachica (another alumnus u.p. can truly be proud of), the meeting took off with fil-aussie community leaders, the filipino workers and david bibo (branch organizer of the australian liquor, hospitality and miscellaneous union, a.c.t. branch) in attendance.
i could not possibly take myself away from certain issues, especially when the little things we do can go a long, long way. i didn't do much, really. all i did was to look for a venue where people can meet up, discuss and find some resolution to the issues. at the end of the day, we (everybody who attended the meeting) all realized that every filipino in australia can do something positive and constructive. this crazy little world can be a little less oppressive.
i returned to my office ready to go over some dvd interview transcripts again. no longer feeling like a bore (as i had been for the past few weeks). i reckon, something really has to be done about the country back home. government should no longer be encouraging the outflow of workers overseas. if singapore (with its near-absence of natural resources) can go far, there is no excuse for the philippines not to go any further. the philippine economy should be developed from within.