in their own words

in their own words
Originally uploaded by ulanmaya_deux.

filipino american council of greater chicago town hall meeting, "in their own words: the plight and circumstances of today's filipino healthcare workers." history, personal anecedotes, statistics and law were offered and spelled out to attendees, mainly interested parties and yes, nurses.

like many meetings, organizers lured participants with food (pork and chicken adobo, pancit bihon, vegetables and rice... mmm), and a really cute souvenier item:

little rubber stress dolls. hehe. so if you're a nurse and there's a fellow filipino you cannot get along with in the hospital, you can pretend you're squeezing them to a pulp, instead of staging a drama scene for everyone to see.

the town hall meeting was seeded by a report on NBC5. to describe a suspect found guilty of rape at the alden village health facility in bloomingdale, unit 5 reporter renee ferguson not only broadcast a photo of raynaldo brucal jr., but described him as an "18-year-old filipino."

the tone of her voice as she said it made it obvious - to me - that ferguson doesn't know much about filipinos in chicago. she's one of many, even among filipinos, who don't know their own community.

ferguson did not aim to accuse. but it is unethical in journalism in all forms - print, broadcast, internet - to mention a suspect's nationality in a story, unless nationality is the point of the story.

a story on american indian reservations would require stating which tribes are at odds with each other and the government. a story on a fairly common crime done at a nursing home - rape by a healthcare worker to a patient - does not require the suspect's background mentioned, especially if a photo of that suspect is already aired, posted or printed.

NBC quickly executed damage control, removing the video clip from their web site the night of the broadcast and sending general manager and chicago president larry wert to meet with community leaders.

(i find it interesting that the community leaders went after NBC but not WGN, who they said also mentioned brucal's nationality. as far as i can tell, like NBC, WGN - channel 9 - also said brucal was filipino during only one broadcast. the AP story made no mention of brucal's nationality at all. yay!)

the town hall meeting then shifted to within. why is it that a report of ferguson's caliber still thought it important to mention a suspect's nationality? she would never do that if the person were chinese or south asian. the meeting then cited census data - of all asian groups in chicago, filipinos number the second largest but rank only fourth in visibility.

the reasons for that could be culture. jean paredes shared her experience as part of the first wave of immigration of fully-trained professionals coming to the u.s. in the 1940s. baby abella then told of her experience as part of more recent immigration waves.

it was a great opening for the open forum session. unfortunately, it seemed the meeting branched off to so many points like a thousand islands trying to communicate with each other.

nerissa nabua, an activist and civil engineer in the region of lanao in the southern island of mindanao, offered a slice of her story as a caregiver and nursing aide. she mentioned that the meeting hadn't yet even addressed the ramifications of remittances sent by nurses to the homeland, especially in the countryside. politicans and staff of politicians attended - forrest claypool gave a campaign speech, staff from judy baar topinka's office gave words. politicial views were asserted, such as support for president bush. moderators finally reigned in political views because the event was sponsored by the non-profit filipino american council of greater chicago.

the meeting had to be brought back to the center, that is, the experiences of filipinos in chicago. a nurse recruiter was brought to speak, and that brought out the many horror stories of young nurses being recruited from the homeland to the u.s., but upon plane's landing disappear or decide to work elsewhere.

i was embarrassed, confused and saddened that nurses from the homeland would treat recruiters this way. a speaker said that the trend now in the philippines is for recruiters to pay for everything that the worker will need - plane ticket, papers, lodging, food. recruiters have knowledge of why they want to leave the homeland. the practice of recruitment has become so commonplace that nurses in the homeland identify a fake recruiter if they ask for money up front.

my mother and sister are nurses. my mother made good on her contract to stay at a nursing home for a year and then took an exam to license her to work legally in the u.s. she had to travel from quezon city to massachusettes, and then to her brother in texas, before she took the exam in wisconsin and decide to settle in chicago. my sister went to loyola university chicago. ahaha.

there were stories of a hospital decked out to welcome a new filipino nurse, and they waited, but the nurse didn't show up at the airport. it could be that he or she made sure they avoided their recruiters at the gate. the speaker then said that that particular hospital now does not recruit filipino nurses at all, and tells other hospitals to do the same.

there's another story of a girl who said she didn't know a soul in chicago. the recruiter paid for her plane ticket and papers, and upon arrival, she did meet with her recruiter, but also by a surprise guest - the nurse's aunt, also a nurse. the nurse said she changed her mind, and would like to work with her aunt instead.

the recruiter said she's experienced this several times, but chose to drop their breaches of contract because that's cheaper than to file lawsuits - and that she said she felt sorry for the nurses. she understands their desire to find a better life for themselves.

the meeting then took a personal turn. there were no attacks, however, rather speakers and participants actually communicated with each other. the words sounded like a passionate elder sibling admonishing an adult younger sibling. i remember elder cousins and brave friends taking that tone on me. "have the grumption to say, 'hey, do you think that's right?' you know, when you see something bad," moderator rose tibayan said.

it was totally cool - not to mention refreshing. here is another meeting, no doubt organized by one family, that tries to give assurance to kababayans in chicago that dissolves issues of whether one was born in chicago, or had immigrated there. to the organizers, there's no difference between whether you had just arrived "fresh off the boat" or if you were born and raised here.

they think that way, because like the NBC broadcast said, the suspect was "filipino." no matter where you live, you can't trade or hide your heritage. the meeting painted a community ready for dialogue. it's totally great that, like many families, there are irreconciliable issues but there are also countless ways to make up for differences.

but... and this is really wicked... i left before that image of the community tarnishes in my mind. hehehe.

a version of this piece is scheduled to appear online at the filipino american council of greater chicago web site.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

welcome, and thank you for boarding the ulanmaya transit express. tickets, please. mind the gap as you depart. have a pleasant experience.

05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 /

gromit is curious

Powered by Blogger