Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MIGRATION AND TOURISM

Filipino community leader Edna Aquino is questioning the involvement of Mina Gabor in the consultations.

Edna, who chairs (and co-founded) the well-known Center for Filipinos in London said apparently Gabor’s involvement in the migrant industry is the POEA’s attempt to temper the lack of understanding by the tourism industry of the plight of Pinoy migrant workers, i.e. make the industry more sensitive and at least understanding of the OFWs presence abroad regardless of their status.

Mina Gabor was once secretary of the Department of Tourism and believes in always projecting a positive image for Filipinos abroad.

According to Edna, however, Gabor should stop there and not peddle the idea that only high flying overseas Pinoys or those who have landed in "lucrative" posts are deserving of honors and acknowledgement.

“Someone who cares a lot about the Philippine image would not necessarily be someone supportive of the cause of migrant workers,” Edna said.

This was never the case. “For a long, long time - nangunguna ang Dept of Tourism including during her term as DOT Secretary in peddling the notion that stories about rape and abuse of domestic workers that hit the headlines in the media abroad is bad for the Philippine image. These assertions may be true and valid, but if lacking of any understanding and empathy to affected individuals, adds more stigma to the situation of abused domestic workers and fuels the discriminatory attitude against them particularly among certain sectors in the Philippine migrant community abroad ignorant about the issue.”

Wala namang problema na dapat mas palitawin ang positive contribution and image of Pinoys abroad to their host countries. Pero kung ang ibig sabihin nito ay itago natin at huwag pagusapan ang mga pang-aabuso sa ilang bahagi ng sektor –all for the sake of keeping the positive image - that's where we have disagreements with people in the tourism industry,” she added.

“Unfortunately, that is still the overriding agenda of the Philippine tourism industry,” Edna said adding “taking care of domestic helpers to improve our image is very superficial.”

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