Toronto Filipino progressive groups meet with head of the Philippine Consulate in Toronto

Toronto Filipino progressive groups meet with Consul General Mahilum.

On November 15th 2013- Toronto Filipino progressive groups Anakbayan Toronto (AB-TO) Migrante Canada and Migrante Sectoral Partylist (MSP) met with Consul General Junever Mahilum West appealing to the Philippine government to get its act together when it comes to the relief efforts following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

The current Philippine government have failed to demonstrate the urgency needed to provide the basic necessities to the thousands affected by the Super typhoon. The lack of disaster response coordination coupled with widespread corruption is mainly to blame on the slow response of the state.

The group also handed a petition to Consul General Mahilum asking to abolish the Pork Barrel funds that is unlawfully in the discretion of corrupt Philippine legislators.

Later, Mahilum-West assured the group, “We will convey everything to Manila.”

“As much as you may be seeing us as very critical of policies,” Connie Sorio said, “we also want to work with you in terms of improving more services towards our countrymen,” she told Mahilum-West.

The Consul-General said, “We’re open. If you want to come, let us know. We’ll have dialogues. We’ll have this continuing dialogue.”

The group staged a candle light vigil to show solidarity with the families and victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The vigil lasted for an hour and was attended by other concerned Filipinos and organizations (FMWM-Filipino Migrant Workers Movement, IWworkers, Akdaan Writers group, GABRIELA-ONTARIO, Indigenous group Binnadang and BAYAN CANADA and students from a few universities.

Advertisements

“We dream of a society where families will never be torn apart just for the need to survive”— Toronto Filipino Youth on International Migrants Day 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Jesson Reyes,
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

December 18, 2013Anakbayan-Toronto stands with the millions of migrant workers worldwide who are forced to leave their homes for different reasons: some move away from their families behind in pursuit of a better livelihood, while others flee persecution or seek refuge without having anything left. Is this the kind of society we want?

Over the past few decades, mass migration in the Philippines takes place primarily because of the failure of the government to provide decent jobs, and decent wages to its people. Crippling poverty, persistence of un(der)employment, inequality and the governments inaction are the direct results of neoliberal policies that give priority to the foreign and corporate profits over the welfare of the majority of the people.

The Philippine state continues to be the apparatus to mobilize labor as export to the global enterprise. With almost 5,000 citizens from the country going elsewhere everyday, the Filipin@ workforce has become the most globalized on the planet. How did this start?

From the 1970 onwards, the global crisis is the battering the country’s export-oriented economy, particularly the electronics and garments industries. This means liberalization of trade, services, investment and capital. It also means transnational movements of people in search for better lives. A temporary fix to the country’s balance of payment deficits is the Labourt Export Policy as instituted by the Philippine government by then-president Ferdinand Marcos. It engineered the first outflow of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the Gulf region. This policy is affirmed not by a single act of deployment of people. But through different program thrusts, the numbers continues to increase by ten folds as we the victories and continued struggles of Migrant workers today.

Filipin@ im/migrants are practically located everywhere. Most number of outward migration are women who are forced to leave in search of work to support their families. To date, no tipping point is forthcoming and this migration model is touted as one of the most sophisticated in “institutionalizing and managing migration”.

However, decades of exporting cheap Filipin@ labour have not led to any genuine development: the Philippines is still an underdeveloped Third World country. OFWs continue to experience physical, sexual, psychological abuse, are exploited, trafficked and discriminated against. Their families at home suffer the social burden while the Philippines experiences an unrelenting brain drain

Since 2011, there is a growing population of Filipin@ migrant workers that are coming to Canada. Under the temporary foreign worker program, the Live in Caregiver program is dominated by women. According to the film “End of Immigration?” by Malcolm Guy and Marie Boti, there has also been a growing number of Filipin@ workers being recruited to work in the fast food and service-oriented sector across Canada.

Many of the migrant workers face precarious working conditions in Canada. This is mainly due to their temporary status. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is a system that runs a use-and-abuse cycle. Furthermore, it supplies the need of a Canadian capitalist market as it creates a quick to access source of cheap and disposable labour out of Filipin@ migrant workers.

The Philippine government and it’s implementing agencies pay lip service in protecting its migrant workers worldwide. Though not novel, the Benigno Aquino III administration still uses the term “Bagong Bayani” amongst overseas workers. Rightfully so, the country is the fourth biggest remittance receiving country next to India, China and Mexico. Its economy depend on remittances to keep the economy afloat. Remittances make up 12.5% of the GDP in 2012. For years, it’s been the country’s roughshod exercise in managing its economy.

But these numbers have not translated to either genuine development and better protection for migrant workers. In 2012, several embassies and consulates were closed due to lack of funding in various countries. Stranded OFWs in the Middle East were left to fend for themselves and families as the current administration refuses their demands for a swift repatriation.

The paradox of labor migration is that migrant parents saying parting words to their children “We love you so we need to leave you”. These simple words impact the hundreds of live-in caregivers who, while in the host country such as Canada, face various obstacles with legal, health and consular issues. As they seek help from the Philippine consulate office, migrant workers are asked if they are a member of “OWWA” which is an insurance-like protection package that is offered to all OFWs at their departure. Family separation and reunification also have long lasting impact on children and youth.

In Canada, we may be seen as outliers but we are not outsiders. We are not disposable and we cannot easily be dispensed crisis after crises. We hold on to our role in making history as we claim we are the lifeblood of the economy working and paying taxes. We may decide to stay yet continue resisting to be detained, decimated or deported.

As youth and students, along with other progressive organizations, we assert our part in the Filipin@ Diaspora and will continue to speak out that the Philippine state’s brokerage through the Labor Export Policy is unconscionable. We stand firmly that the most efficient way to address the root causes of forced migration is to advance the struggle for a national industrialization in the homefront.

Anakbayan-Toronto will continue to arouse, organize and mobilize with the increasing Filipino migrant community in the region. We will continue to call on the government of BS Aquino through their implementing agencies to ensure the protection and to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipin@ migrant workers in Canada. We will hold the government accountable for all migrant workers whether they have OWWA membership or not as they have the mandate to serve the Filipin@s inside and outside the Philippines.

We will continue to realize our dream of a more just and humane society where the basic needs of the people are fulfilled.

Long live the migrant workers movement!

###

AB-TO Solidarity Message for PAWIS 10th Anniv

A short greeting and solidarity for The Pilipino Association of Workers and Im/migrants (PAWIS) for its 10th Anniversary, to be celebrated on December 19. PAWIS is a Filipino workers’ rights organization that began from a campaign for the rights of immigrant airport screeners in the early 2000s, and continues to work today with caregivers and other low-wage workers.

STP

***

Enough is already known about the horrors migrant workers face, such as unsafe working conditions, non payment of salaries, wage theft or partial payment, extortionate rents for bad accomodation, exploitation, abuse and few provisions for people migrating through both regular and irregular channels.

Yet migrant workers are the lifeblood of the economy, often from bottom up. Migrant workers contribute a huge chunk to the building of wealth in wealth countries, such as the US. Human progress can’t move without you.

We can’t imagine the victories of the campaigns such as the Oakland immigrant airport workers, CA Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and comprehensive support for low-wage Filipino immigrants and workers without your sweat. Full recognition and equal veteran’s status and dignity will not go on much longer without your affirmative action.

A decade is such an awfully short time to waste. That’s about 87,600 of making headway in the fight for the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US, the Philippines and all over the world.

If we enjoy the fruits of your labour, we will not throw in the towel or cool down. We hope you continue to lead the people, the masses and work still better. Get even better organized and in even greater strength. So that for another decade we will ensure that we will achieve greater results to advance the people’s movement. Together, let’s continue to realize national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development.

TORONTO FILIPINO YOUTH: EMBODY THE FIGHTING SPIRIT OF BONIFACIO IN HIS 150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY.

1471228_546074848813492_2049006796_n

The significance of Andres Bonifacio’s revolutionary life story is not lost on history books. Youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-TO) lead the 150th birth anniversary of the working class hero Andres Bonifacio on November 30 in the University of Toronto. Simultaneously, the local chapter also celebrates the first year anniversary together with over a hundred chapters around the world.

Solidarity video messages from BAYAN Canada spokesperson Dr. Chandu Claver spearheaded the action packed day as AB-TO members listened attentively to his militant greetings. Anakbayan-Seattle Chairperson Jennilee Policarpio wished the Toronto group and conveyed the significance of building the first overseas chapter eleven years ago to address the issue of Filipino-American youth to connect them all back to the Philippines. The national situation of the Philippines was reported back by Anakbayan Philippines Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo who enunciated the need for all Anakbayan chapters to organize and mobilize against the incompetent BS Aquino administration.

“Hindi na nating maaring tiisin na magpatuloy ang kahirapan ng ating mamamayan sa ilalim ng isang rehimeng taksil sa taong bayan, at para lamang sa iilan at mapagsamantala” said Crisostomo.

Outgoing Secretary General Jesson Reyes facilitated the discussions in remembering Bonifacio and the revolutionary movement Katipunan, which spearheaded the 1896 Revolution, the first anti-colonial uprising in entire Asia and spawned as well the first republican government in this region.

Under the theme “Continue the Unfinished Struggle,” the gathering brought together youth from different backgrounds and showed a wonderful expression of their fervor for genuine change in society.

Since it was founded in 2012, AB-TO has carried out its mandate to uphold the rights, welfare and interests of the Filipino youth, migrants and workers in the Greater Toronto Area. More so it has continued to empower people from different backgrounds through its real-time and online project Kamalayan by providing short courses on critical Philippine history, identity and questions on national pride. It contributed to researches on the Filipino youth situation, local campaigns like Raise the Minimum Wage in Ontario, extension of consular services in provinces with a growing Filipino population and fundraising initiatives for super Typhoon Haiyan survivors.

Local youth organizer Rhea Gamana, founding chairperson of Anakbayan-Toronto, helped provide a framework on the current situation of Filipino youth in Canada. Gamana shared her insights on why Filipinos leave the Philippine only to find more challenges after arriving in the host country.

AB-TO members all showed earnestness in learning more of their heritage and keeping abreast on both current affairs in the community and in the home front. New members also committed in helping out in realizing the spirit Bonifacio and the Katipunan imbued by serving the people as everyone clapped and chanted in unison.

For more information on how to get involved, visit www.anakbayato.org, email anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com or follow AB-TO on twitter @anakbayanto

###