Saturday, July 5, 2008

FilAM Cross-Border Citizenship 2: Categories of Hometown Change

I’ve attended 2 teleconferences of FilAms trying to discuss how to help the Philippines and both teleconferences went more or less the same directions. I’ve had several conversations with other FilAms and here are my notes on the obstacles faced by FilAms who do want to help.

1. Many feel like they no longer have a grounded impression of the Philippines. That could be correct especially for those who have been away for a couple of years, even if they visit the Philippines for a few weeks every yearly.

2. The problems of the Philippines do seem overwhelming, from cellphone snatchers to corruption to politics. I spoke with a FilAm nurse who mentioned that the government hospitals in the Phils couldn’t even provide NGTs (simple straw-like tubes that pass through the nose used for feeding). "How could bigger problems be fixed when basic tools are absent?"

3. Rivalries between professionals abroad and professionals in the Philippines have to be avoided.

I get the impression that well-meaning Filipinos want to help at different levels also, roughly corresponding to Korten’s levels of development thinking (1982). These levels are:

Type 1 - Dole out - free clinics, free waiting sheds, old books for libraries back home, etc.

Type 2 - Sustainable self-help initiatives - family enterprises, cooperatives

Type 3 - Advocacy, structural change - lobbying for new municipal legislation

Type 4 - Social Movement type - something like the Civil Rights movement in the US

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