Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fil-Am Youth Support the Sentosa 27 Nurses, Decry Education for Exportation

Anakbayan NY/NJ Statement of Solidarity with the Sentosa 27
No Filipino youth is educated to stay in the Philippines.

After signing their contracts with the Sentosa Recruitment Agency, the Sentosa 27 nurses expected brighter futures in the U.S. However, when they arrived and started working under the abusive and exploitative Sentosa agency, their hopes and dreams were shattered. Upon her arrival, Annabelle Capulong described the living conditions, "The staff house was dilapidated, the furnitures and appliances were garbage, and the living spaces were crowded." In addition to horrid living conditions, Archiel Buagas was subject to frustrating working conditions with almost 30-60 patients per shift and constant multi-tasking, doing the job of two to three people. Currently, the Sentosa 27 nurses are facing strong retaliation by their former recruiting agency, which is backed by US and Philippines political figures, in their efforts to stand up for their rights, in protest of the exploitative working and living conditions created by the Sentosa agency.

The Sentosa 27 nurses are a mere percentage of the thousands of nurses that leave the Philippines each year in search of greener pastures, but they are the strong minority that will stand up for their human rights and fight against the exploitation of themselves and other future nurses. Anakbayan NY/NJ, a Filipino youth organization in New York and New Jersey, stands in full support of the Sentosa 27 nurses. These Filipino women and men are the brave heroes that are challenging the current exploitation/exportation of Filipinos.

According to the World Health Organization, fifteen thousand Filipino nurses leave the Philippines in search of better futures all over the world, especially the United States. Filipino nurses are trained to go abroad. There are over 350 nurses training schools in the Philippines where the primary purpose is to export nurses overseas, under the Labor Export Policy that was created during the Marcos regime. Within their classes, the English language is enforced because if they want to succeed in the global market, they must speak English.

Even prior to nursing training schools, the Philippine educational system is being transformed into a global marketing scheme. Students are encouraged by their teachers to take part in the international competition, therefore no longer studying to help the country on a national level. Even curriculum of school has changed to boost the export of workers for this industrial labor market, where math, science, and english are the only important subjects, and other liberal arts i.e. history and social studies are set aside for only one day per week because they are no longer considered necessary. The World Trade Organization help dictates this educational structure and curriculum of the Philippines producing migrant workers, and universities are designed to export workers to concede to the demands of globalization. No Filipino youth is educated to stay in the Philippines.

In the case of the Sentosa 27, we also see the extremities of the "brain drain" turned into a "brain hemorrhage". Elmer Jacinto, one of the Sentosa 27 nurses, scored the highest on the medical board examinations, who was already a doctor in the Philippines but changed his course to be a nurse in the U.S. because he would get better pay. This is the reality that all overseas Filipino workers face. Archiel Buagas said, "I left for the sake of my family." The reason why Filipinos leave is to help support their family back home. On the wider spectrum, overseas workers make the government happy due to the billions of dollars in remittances that boosts the Philippine economy.

The time is now that there must be change in the education system to foster an education that does not dehumanize us to become commodified exports of the world market. As one of Filipino student says, "Hindi tayo dapat mag-aral para magtrabaho, kundi dapat tayo mag-aral upang maging tao." (We should not study to work, instead we should study so that we understand our own humanity.)

On June 3, the Philippine Independence Day Parade, Anakbayan NY/NJ will be marching with the Sentosa 27. We will be meeting at 10:30am at the steps of 41 St and 5th Ave. We invite all Filipino youth and supporters to come march with us in support of the Sentosa 27 nurses.

For more information, contact Anakbayan at ###

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