Archive for the ‘jewelry’ Category

In war-battered Gaza, Filipinos mull on the price of working abroad

January 11, 2009

With no end in sight, the red-hot Israel-Palestinian conflict completes its second week on January 11, 2009 with nearly 900 reported dead and many more wounded, about half of them are innocent non-combatants of war. Regardless of which side we may be in the decades-long hostilities, the clear message is that racial intolerance, religious bigotry, and territorial disputes don’t bring any good.

The duplicity in the exercise of diplomacy, the use of terrorism, and the rejection of a two-state solution by hardliners remain as huge stumbling blocks in bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The interference of countries that benefit from an unstable Middle East is partly to blame.

Civilians living in the Gaza Strip are in a crossfire that disrupts their lives and threatens their survival. In the bloody exchanges of a protracted cycle of violence, the innocents bear undeserved suffering. Among them are workers and migrants from the Philippines who come to this troubled part of the world mainly for economic reasons.

We can only sympathize with our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who put their lives on line to seek ways to survive and help their families back home. We can only ask for the cessation of the killings—an immediate ceasefire which is unheaded at this time.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA,) 16 Filipinos have left the war-torn area and arrived in Manila. Of the 121 still left in Gaza, 69 expressed their desire to evacuate, but the fierce fighting prevents them to do so. It is uncertain if this number includes the illegal Filipinos workers who take risky jobs in the shadows.

This brings us to the problem of our government which sorely lags behind in helping the people to be self-sufficient back home. If jobs and economic opportunities exist in the country, then there are few reasons for our kababayans to insist working in dangerous places like the Middle East. The cost to pay for family separations, isolation, and loneliness is incalculable. It’s sad that our cash-strapped government is in a losing policy of sending Filipinos abroad for the money they’ll earn for the nation’s economy. With no sign of stopping, our workers continue to suffer on their own, at times trapped in harm’s way.

Just to land a job, no matter how menial, has been a source of hope and pride among poor Filipinos who ignore the risks of travel outside the country. Yet, this is the reality of our society faces. Adding to the 10 million Filipinos already deployed abroad, a restless stream still wants to leave for the money.

The government must do better than what our officials think is good enough. There will be a season that host countries won’t justly pay for the services of Filipinos. To keep the country economically alive there’ll be a time when going abroad will be one of our most dreaded options. (Photo Credits: Aryty; Rusty Stewart x 7 photos) =0=

===============================================================

For 45,000 Euros, a Fabulous Watch for a Fabulous Filipino in the "Euro Generals Scandal"

November 15, 2008

I laughed away my incredulity when Tyrone Ng Arejola, 35, a rich friend of retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Gen. Eliseo de la Paz testified in the senate hearing on the “Euro General Scandal.” Arejola explained that of the 105,000 euros (6.9 million pesos) confiscated by Russian authorities from Gen. de la Paz last month, 45,000 euros was his. The high-flying wealthy Filipino businessman with unusual liking for gem time pieces said the money was his payment for a watch worth P2.9 million to be bought in Europe— something Filipinos (myself included) find incredible.

I’m bewildered by Arejola’s exquisite interest for jewelry watches. As a long-time resident in America, it’s the first time I hear of such fabulous chronometers like “Roger Dubuis Bi Retro” or an “IWC Portuguese Chronowatch,” the time pieces Arejola loves.

I live close to the jewelry district of New York and I have often walked passed jewelry watches on glass displays. In the last 20 years, I never owned a wristwatch or dream of owning one. But I understand its necessiy—not the costly time pieces which one needs to cover with an insurance or guard against theft with dear life. For checking time, I only rely on my simple cell phone which works just as well.

My ignorance about luxury time pieces is magnified knowing I learn about them from kababayans in Manila who’re at the center of a hideous money-laundering scandal. Life can really be paradoxical sometimes, says my doctor-friend-colleague who learned about Arejola who lives in affluence within a society beset with grinding poverty.

Arejola, an avowed “born-again Christian” like de la Paz, can possibly afford such expensive European watches whose names twist my tongue. Yet, I wonder why he asked the PNP officer to illegally carry his money in a foreign travel to pay for them. It’s the 21st century. Why can’t he use modernity’s regular perks like a money transfer, a credit card, or a bank remittance?

(Noveau?) rich Filipinos like Arejola make me forget the country is poor. At that price of 45,000 euros, the watch is surely tops at the end of the price scale. Who can fault humility and hubris coming together? It’s the same thought that may have crossed Sen. Manuel Roxas’ mind when he directed his quizzical comment to Arejola in the senate meeting:

So 45,000 euros…Parang ang bigat suotin po nyan eh. Parang bahay na po yan. Yung akin Timex ah, $30. Personal na pera niyo yan kaya wala akong masabi (That would be quite heavy to wear. That’s like a house. My watch is a Timex, worth $30. In any case, that’s your personal money so I cannot say much),” Inquirer, (11/15/08, Kwok, A)

A question to ask Gen. de la Paz: “How can you, a law officer put your integrity in line and that of the country by agreeing to be a courier of Arejola’s money?”

In accordance to the law, every traveler has to declare money beyond $10,000 dollars, why didn’t de la Paz do it as he passed the customs? Even Filipino maids traveling for the first time in the airport know this rule by heart.

If Arejola is telling the truth, he should be decidedly affluent, but nonetheless awkwardly dirt cheap and stupid to put Gen. de la Paz and the country in hot water. He admitted that Enviroair, one of his companies, get juicy contracts from the PNP.

From here, I can only ask the reader to think and make your own theories and conclusions. I think investigators have uncovered some raunchy details of this scandal rocking the military, but they aren’t focusing on the right questions hard enough—the what, how, where and when of the 105,000 euros in the PNP officer’s possession.

It’s not so important that the Russian customs authorities have “absolved” him through some dubious diplomatic channels. The PNP officer has yet to explain, among others, why he has that huge money brought in the Interpol conference in St. Petersburg with his wife. He has to explain the illegal huge amount of money he carried abroad against conventions of international travel.

The “zarzuelas” and inanities of corrupt citizens go on in the Philippines. The people can only sigh in angst and anger thinking how many more rapacious scandals they have to endure in their lifetime. In Manila, one hears the poor street protesters yelling,“Tama na! Sobra Na!” while the PNP officers with their guns look on. =0=

PNP Gen. Eliseo de la Paz

Photo Credit: ABSNews; AP; Bullit Marquez

RELATED BLOG: “Euro Generals” from Moscow and the “zarzuela” that awaits them in Manila Posted by mesiamd at 10/21/2008

Brazen thieves & their love for jewelries

November 3, 2008

Wowowee, the popular ABS-CBN TV show is most remembered for the Ultra stadium stampede which resulted to the gruesome deaths of 74 game show spectators and injured more than 800 others on February 4, 2006. I still feel a sense of great loss and sadness for the victims. With similar sadness, I read that noontime Wowowee program host Willie Revillame lost P3 million worth of personal stuff to akyat bahay thieves in a well-executed robbery in his home in Corinthian Hills Garden in Quezon City on Monday, November 3, 2008.

“Suspects gained entry through the house comfort room by destroying its back window and carted away with assorted jewelries approximately worth P3 million,” said Senior Supt. Magtanggol Gatdula, Quezon City Police District. Inquirer..net (11/03/08, Aurelio, JM)

I can imagine the brazenness of robbers when economic crisis roils on. Revillame must be an attractive target of theft— for as a TV celebrity he must have much jewelry and expensive items to keep. He suspects the early dawn theft to be an “inside” job which is a cautionary reminder of the increasing difficulty in protecting private property. It is unclear if he will ever go far from just reporting the incident to the police.

High walls, security cameras, guards, barbed wires, watch dogs, and caretakers don’t provide perfect protection. That’s why some rich people opt not to have jewelries at all. Besides, keeping valuables entail expenses in terms of covering them with adequate insurance. (Photo Credit: C4Chaos; lightweavers) =0=