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Poster designed by Ysh Cabaña

*** The below was delivered as a spoken endorsement at the “Formal Launching of Electoral Campaign in Toronto: Migrante Partylist and Teddy Casiño” ***

I’ve been giving thought as to what to say tonight in support of Migrante Sectoral Partylist (#96 on your ballot) and Teddy Casiño of Bayan-Muna for Senator (#6).

I considered talking about how human rights violations are still rampant in the Philippines.  How over 1300 extrajudicial killings have taken place since the regime of Gloria Arroyo and have not slowed during the term of Mr ‘Matuid Na Daan’ Aquino.  Included here is the killing of Christina Jose just a couple weeks ago.  She was a human rights defender fighting for the rights of the survivors of Typhoon Pablo, survivors so neglected that they were forced to bravely take actions to claim the relief goods owed to them.

I considered talking about the fact that illegal detention, disappearances and torture are still rampant in our country.

I considered talking about how the fact that there is no national industrialization policy and mass poverty are combining with all the other factors to drive our people out.

Both partylists are established grassroots, people first candidates.  And both have the deserved reputation as true agitators for the rights of the majority.  With Teddy, he also has a clear track record in his time as a congressperson.

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This was what I considered saying about why we should vote, or if we don’t have a vote to tell our relatives to vote for Migrante Sectoral Partylist #96 and Teddy Casino for Senator #6…

…but lets be honest.

Those of us who are Canadian citizens and those of us who reasonably hope to become one mostly believe that we have escaped all that.

I myself, who am I to tell you to vote in the Philippine elections?  I’m a longtime Canadian citizen having come here with my parents when I was two.  We were able to sponsor our extended family within less than a half decade.  I have no childhood recollection of the Philippines, and no personal experience with the hardships of family reunification.   And I’m an example of a ‘lucky’ immigrant—why should any of this matter to me?

I know that a lot of other Fil-Cans think that they are detached from the big problems faced by so many, so many thousands of kilometres away.

So though it may be impolite for us to say this out loud: How does any of this #96 MSP, #6 Teddy business really matter to our lives, and to the lives of our children?

Bluntly: It still matters, it matters a lot.

The reality is that what happens in the Philippines still affects us Filipinos with a Canadian citizenship, it affects us decades after the fact of migration, it even affects us well past the memory of a Philippines called “home” into the second and future generations.

Let me give you three examples.

ONE:  In the most basic, when we look in the mirror we still see a Filipino (no matter how much whitener you use), and when Canadians look at us they see the same.  And as you all very well know, Filipinos have the reputation of being good “low skilled” workers that come from a backward country.  And it doesn’t matter how much success you might personally achieve, your face is the face of a people.  As long as those people, the people of the Philippines, remain the world’s servants, that is the face others will see in you too.

TWO: Being Canadian doesn’t save you, and neither does Canada do anything to save the Philippines, in fact it profits from our poverty.

ImageCanada benefits through the intertwined effects of mining, militarization, migration, and outsourcing.  Over 70% of the world’s mining companies are traded in the Toronto Stock Exchange.  And the Philippines has one of the highest concentrations of valuable mineral ores in the world.  To access this ore requires militarization and this necessarily brings with it the violations of people’s rights.  This of course displaces people from their land, and in turn help displaces people from their nation through the undeclared Labour Export Policy which ships out 4500 OFWs as cheap labour implements worldwide—the nation’s biggest export by far.  In return the Philippines gets Canadian outsourced jobs.

At the end of the day low skilled jobs in Canada go to Filipinos willing to work for less in order to make the rich richer.

These days the Philippines is the number one source country for migrants, mostly temporary foreign workers.  This is a disaster for Filipinos forced to leave their families behind to work under precarious conditions.  And this is a disaster for Filipinos in Canada as this helps drive up Canadian unemployment—which again benefits only the rich.  As the Globe and Mail states, a 1% increase in unemployment leads to a 6-7% drop in overall salaries.

All this helps pit the working class of Canada, against working class Filipinos.  This results in more discrimination (including both in the workplace and in terms of racism) that affects all Filipinos in Canada—no matter what your citizenship card says.  And point TWO feeds into point ONE above.

It’s lose-lose for Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians, and a win-win for Western capitalists.

THREE:  This one is the toughest.  For so many of us we are willing to bear through our personal hardships, we tell ourselves that we’re doing it for our children.  Sure those in the first generation may come in with the highest educational attainment than all other immigrants, though still make on average $5000 less than other immigrants ($10,000 less than Canadians).  But most of us comfort ourselves with the thought that though we may face discrimination, we believe that through our penitence, our children will find success.

I’m sorry to inform you, but all indicators show us that this is an illusion.

Through statistics found through the Canadian census, research has discovered that the second generation actually performs worse than the first.  They have a lower average level of educational attainment than their parents.  They earn less money than their parents—which is a sad statistic unique to Filipino migrants in Canada—and due to choice of work, our male children end up working lower skilled jobs and earn less than female children.

These facts should be disturbing.

I’m not telling you all this so that you can feel sorry for yourselves, or for those of us who are lucky to have more opportunity, to feel sorry for your unfortunate kapwa Filipinos, but because this is the reality we face.

We must be conscious Filipinos.

Being a conscious Filipino doesn’t mean to feel ashamed.  She doesn’t beg for pity.  Being a conscious Filipino means that you know full well that we are intelligent and capable.  One that knows we have a rich national patrimony that is simply being exploited by others.  Being a conscious Filipino means that we know this and that we are confident enough to say “ENOUGH.”

And THAT, is why we at BAYAN-Canada endorse the campaigns of Migrante Sectoral Partylist (#96 on your ballot) and Teddy Casino for Bayan-Muna Partylist for Senator (#6).  Because we know that a vote for them is really a vote for us.  These partylist candidates were chosen from the people to speak our words, our thoughts, our aspirations—not chosen due to fame or family name. 

These partylists groups are not examples of the usual personality politics, but are instead a manifestation of the hopes of the people.

Conscious Filipinos know that what we are owed has been stolen from us.

And I hope you agree with us when we say: We intend on taking it back.

alex felipe  ~  BAYAN-Canada, Toronto Spokesperson  ~

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* the above is a video podcast from the weekly radio show that I co-produce/co-host.

Interview from 17 Feb 2013. We spoke with Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada and the fourth nominee of MSP, Jonathan Canchela, regarding the campaign and how this will affect Filipinos outside the Philippines.

Tune in to Radyo Migrante on CHRY 105.5FM every Sunday at 9-10pm EST (every Mondays at 10-11am Philippine time). CHRY 105.5FM / Bell Fibe 973 / Rogers Digital Cable 945 / or internationally on www.chry.fm

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Above:  Teddy Casiño: A Rappler Profile

MANILA, Philippines – In 2010, Representative Teodoro Casiño served as campaign manager for the senator campaigns of Bayan Muna representatives Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo.

Today, he calls his campaign for senator a challenge, an act of history. “It is the first time a progressive candidate, let’s say from the left, is running for the Senate with a chance to win.”

In this video by Rappler reporter Patricia Evangelista, Casiño, who calls himself the voice of the ordinary man, talks about elitists, elections, the armed revolution and the standards for justice when it comes to killing ordinary men. – Rappler.com

(Writing and editing by Patricia Evangelista. Video by Geric Cruz, Patricia Evangelista, John Javellana, Adrian Portugal and Dennese Victoria. Score “Pagbabago Para sa Karaniwang Tao” by Karl Ramirez.)

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Contact me at: alexfelipe.photographer@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter:  alexf_ramblings

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