We prayed again for peace in church today.

The news reports that the 200 Filipinos in Gaza are safe and being evacuated to Jordan. That is good news, although one wonders why they are there: as nurses? or as maids? Drivers? Entertainers?

Filipinos are all over the place, and here one reads about the latest war by finding out one of our citizens has been killed or kidnapped or is being evacuated by the government.

North Korea having problems with South Korean visitors at their showcase resort? There used to be half a dozen Filipino entertainers at that resort.

Kazakhstan having riots between Kazakhs and Turkish workers in their oil fields? Filipino workers were caught in the middle…

Nigerian “rebels” kidnapping oil workers and sailors? Well, they aren’t supposed to be there, but yes, many Filipinos are among the hostages.

And there aren’t supposed to be any Filipinos in Iraq either, but it is an open secret that several thousand work there.

And it seems that half the ships taken over by Somali hijackers have some Pinoys in their crews. The Manila Bulletin brags:

THE alarming rise of piracy in the high seas does not deter Filipinos from working as sailors in dangerous oceans. “It has no effect whatsoever. In fact, most victims, after the attacks, immediately went back to work in the high seas again,” Nestor Ramirez, president of the United Filipino Seafarers association, told The Manila Times.

Ah yes. Workers from the Philippines work hard, are often skilled, and speak English: a perfect worker.

Too bad there are no jobs for them here at home.

The dirty little secret is that people here cannot find good paying jobs (partly because businesses can’t make a profit paying the local salaries, which, although shockingly low, are undercut by cheaper Chinese labor, and partly because the government corruption discourages industries from settling here).

So who pays the school fees for the children? Or Lolo’s hospital bill?

The answer: the husband will work as a driver, or a mechanic, or a teacher, or a factory worker. The wife or older sister will work as a caretaker or nanny or doctor or nurse.

And there are jobs out there: our extended family includes hotel clerks in Calgary, nursing home aids in the UK, nurses in the US (and in the past, in the Middle East), and merchant sailors…other families have factory workers in Korea or health care workers in Japan, electricians in Saudi, drivers in Kuwait…

Ignore all that hype about “brain drain” of medical and nursing personnel. Most of our family are physicians or nurses, and only a few managed to find jobs here. The rest work on and off overseas, in half a dozen countries.

So  the headlines here constantly have stories worrying about the safety of our citizens.

Today’s headlines were about those caught in the crossfire in Gaza.

No one worries about the 30 to 60 000 Filipinos working in Israel, of course. As long as Israel is safe, the government knows that they will be kept safe too.

Like other migrants, they were hired to replace the Palestinians who lost their jobs because Arafat decided war was better than peace, and restarted the war after the failed peace agreement in the late 1990’s.

So instead of good paying jobs for Palestinians who might carry bombs to kill Israelis, Israel instead has hired 200 thousand workers from Africa, China, the Philippines, Turkey and other countries have taken their jobs (half of whom are undocumented workers who were smuggled in or who overstayed their visa).

Lots of articles on line complaining about “human rights abuses” of these workers. Yup. Israel has lots of activists, as compared to some of the horror stories coming out of other Middle Eastern countries that get little or no international attention. So working in Israel is good: Pinoy maids can get someone to help them if they have problems with their employers, instead of losing their lives jumping from windows to escape imprisonment, as happened during the Lebanese war.

The newspapers here tend to echo the elite MSM in the West, and CNN International here is big on “equal time”, so the war in Gaza is showing all sorts of gory photos.

One rarely hears anything negative in our local papers about any Arab or Muslim misdeed: lots stories lamenting the problems of Palestinian refugees from 1948, none about the equal number of Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Arab lands back then.

Besides, too many Pinoys work in the Middle East, so no one wants to make waves or hurt the hand that literally feeds a million Filipino families.

So one never hears about Hamas war of terror in our newspapers.

No, I don’t mean the 5000 plus missiles aimed at civilian targets in Israel, but the war against Gazan civilians (and Fatah members), the execution of traitors, threats of crucifixion, or the constant indoctrination of children to hate. (Mickey mouse the suicide bomber anyone?)

The war has been going on as long as I can remember, so if Obama thinks he can solve the problem, he is delusional: nothing short of nuking Israel will do that.

And the bad news is that even if Israel disappeared, you will still have the 3000 year old ethnic hatred between Iran and the Arabs, and the 1200 year old war between the Sunni and the Shiites to contend with.

But that doesn’t stop the facile statements insisting that peace be restored  by thinking nice thoughts.

The dirty little secret is that some of the local governments pump money into the state run media to promote hatred of Israel; because it is easier to stay in power if your uneducated “hate” the infidel.

The twist in the Gaza war is that Hamas is Iranian backed, and the Arab hatred of Persia goes back three thousand years or so, and has little to do with religion.

So the bad news is that Israel is having an election soon, and if things don’t work out in Gaza, the bets are on Netanyahu, who makes Bush look like a wimp.

And the other bad news is that Iran is having an election soon too: and their economy is tanking as the price of oil hits the basement.

And if Iran gets a bomb, there are a lot of worried Arabs who might just up the ante by getting their own bomb…

As the Chinese proverb goes: May you live in interesting times…

In the meanwhile, 50 thousand Pinoys and 15o thousand Africans, Turks and others are keeping their fingers crossed.

Yes, Israel may be nuked, but the alternative, going home to a life of poverty and joblessness in one’s native village, is not exactly an optimistic alternative.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at MakaipaBlog.

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