Friday, August 24, 2007

Malu Fernandez's Dubai trip vs. my cousin's

Malu Fernandez’s Dubai experience vs. my cousin’s

Everyone but the dog is talking about the Malu Fernandez debacle. Well she finally summoned the delicadeza to resign and apologize. Good for her. There can be no forgiveness without repentance and no closure without some form of reparation.

The whole brouhaha started with her story of her trip to Greece via the Dubai airport hub. Her sidebar on her discomfort at mixing in with OFWs in Dubai and her coach seat- flight back to Manila riled up OFWs everywhere. She created more enemies with her first retort.

Funny, recently in Dumaguete, I met up with a long lost relative. She’s a Harvard eye doctor now practicing in the Bay Area. She visited Dubai recently and saw all the OFWs there. Her reaction though was different.

She empathized with the struggle and sacrifice of her fellow countrymen. She wished them a better life with their families. She hoped that they did not have to leave their homes and families to support them. She felt a mix of emotions. She was sad, proud, impressed at their resilience, drive, and courage.

And she wanted to help.

So instead of writing about her trip and whining about traveling discomforts, she visited the Philippines to explore and ask how she can make a difference.

Before she flew in, she attended a talk given by Christopher Crane of Opportunity International, an NGO that facilitates microfinance, microcredit, enterprise development, trainings, etc. in developing countries. In the Philippines alone, they have loaned close to $135 million benefiting 590,947 clients. She’s now looking at how she can work with them in Negros Oriental.

She also attended a dinner meeting with Gawad Kalinga volunteers in Dumaguete to look at avenues of cooperation.

She represents a new elite corps with the right breeding. In Gawad Kalinga, the thesis is that poverty is behavioral not economic. Poverty results from a breakdown of relationships among family members, between neighbors, between social classes, and within society.

Thus, the rich need to become better stewards of their resources, talents, and time. The poor need to regain their dignity, hope, and dreams, and to build capacities. Both can do so by helping each other, working together, and building partnerships. But first we need to build relationships and friendships and go beyond colognes and perfumes.

Two women, two educated women, privileged. They saw and met OFWs in Dubai . Their realizations were vastly different. Their reactions were opposite.

Yet working together and leveraging their talents and networks, they can achieve more in making the Philippines a little piece of heaven on earth.

Why not visit a Gawad Kalinga site today?

Mabuhay ang OFW.

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