We’re a very active community, why are we politically indifferent?

Community Opinion & Analysis Feb 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Gaining political influence in Canada (Part 2)

By Rodel Ramos

By Rodel Ramos

If we remain indifferent and not get involved in the voting process we will always be insignificant and as Prime Minister Harper said “invisible”. Politicians do not even care to court our votes because they know we have no value to them. We don’t vote solid and if we do, we vote for the white Canadians anyway rather than Filipinos. We are so divided and a few would pull down anyone among us with ambition or qualified to show that they are better than all of us. We do not realize by doing that we are pulling ourselves and our children down with them.

We are the cream of the crop, screened by the strict rules of Canadian immigration. We are equal if not better in qualifications and experience than many mainstream Canadians and other ethnic groups. Canadian employers and politicians seem to believe on our capacity more than our compatriots. Why is that?

We attended some rallies of provincial and federal political parties in the recent years. While the Pakistani, Indian, Italian and mainstream communities are well represented, we can count less than 10 Filipinos in the crowd.

Why don’t we participate actively in politics? Do we feel inferior to the whites and other ethnic groups? Do we just feel superior when among ourselves? I can’t understand. We love politics in the Philippines and even kill each other for it and all of a sudden avoid it here. Are we contented with the way we are treated here? Is Canada now a heaven compared with what we had in the Philippines? Should we not maximize our gains and potentials? We can now fulfill our dream here better than in the Philippines where we have so much competition and so little opportunities.

While we see other ethnic groups well represented in our parliaments, we don’t even see one Filipino Canadian representing us. Many years ago, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan was an MP in Winnipeg because of the Filipino support but it was the Filipinos there who also voted him out, I was told.

Focused on socials

We are the most active ethnic community with our almost weekly socials, concerts, cultural shows, beauty and fashion contests, summer picnics, sports and religious activities. We have more than 500 organizations excluding religious and sports groups which has chapters in many parishes all over Canada specially the Couples for Christ. We have chapters of Knights of Rizal in almost every area where there are concentration of Filipinos. We even have Filipino Canadians involved in Freemasonry, the Rotary, Lions, Knights of Columbus which are well connected with the mainstream Canadians. They can use their connections just like what Jose Rizal, Manuel Quezon and their fellow Freemasons did to pursue our interest and concerns.

We spend millions of dollars in these activities. We seem to have the fiesta mentality, good only for entertainments and parties. We always find a reason to party and spend our money in one night entertainment that does not improve our lives. If we can only divert 10% of our time, money, talents, efforts and resources to politics, we will have members of those parliaments and councils in a few years.

Christian Churches are filled because of Filipinos. Our buying power is worth billions of dollars and yet we have no say at all in how we are governed and where our taxes go. We buy goods from the Chinese, Korean and Canadian stores but seldom to Filipino business. Where is our loyalty and patriotism? Some of us cry when they sing “Bayan Ko” but do nothing for our people. Are these just crocodile tears?

Our caregivers are discriminated against. All kinds of roadblocks and discrimination are done to our new immigrants and contract workers – our education is not recognized, we have to go back to school, our highly skilled and well educated professionals work serving coffee in Tim Horton and McDonalds. Our women and minorities make less money than men. Why are we not doing something to change these situations? Are we not our brothers’ keeper? Would we rather suffer in silence or are we content on how we are treated in Canada? Is it because we were paid in dollars here?

Fiesta mentality

The Spaniards wanted us to keep on celebrating every fiesta of saints so that we would not have time to revolt against them and remain poor by spending our hard earned money on these occasions. And we continued that tradition for almost 550 years and not questioning why we do not progress as a people. Look at what other communities achieved and compare it with ours. It is not that they are more intelligent than we are or more educated. We are just partying and wasting our money unwisely while they are focused on making money and being wise in dealing with the Canadian government. It is true; the festivities make us happy for a day. But if you analyze how much money we have thrown away in the more than 35 years of parties, it must be in hundreds of millions of dollars aside from our unpaid efforts, talents, resources and time. And what can we show as proof of our achievement except some souvenir programs and our pictures in the small community newspapers. Is this our legacy to our children and grand children? We know we can do better than this.

While the small Vietnamese communities have their restaurants and stores everywhere patronized by the Canadian mainstream, we do not even patronize our Filipino restaurants and convenient stores.

Human resources are our strongest asset. With our numbers, we can make a difference; we can change our image or perception of Filipinos as achievers and professionals, not just caregivers. Ideas, manpower, votes and talents are very important in a democracy or any nation.

(Those who are interested on this topic and might want to get involved in fulfilling this dream, please email the author at rodjalram@gmail .com)