Thursday, 06 October 2016 15:16

Duterte a Grossly Misunderstood Leader

Commentary by Yul Baritugo in Vancouver

On October 7, Digong -- as he is known in shantytowns and barrios in Mindanao Island -- marks his first 100 days in office.

 He is a grossly misunderstood Philippine leader. His critics label his penchant for Filipino cuss words as shock politics.  Still others are at a loss as to whether he is the country’s saviour or simply a madman.

 Court records annulling his marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman, his first wife, cited Duterte’s mental incapacity based on a psychologist’s report saying that Duterte suffered from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. The report claimed that Duterte has an “inability for loyalty and commitment, gross indifference to others’ needs and feelings, heightened by a lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.”

The report also described Duterte as “a highly impulsive individual who has difficulty controlling his urges and emotions. He is unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions.”  Duterte himself has said he is “bipolar”.

A Moro President

His rant against U.S. President Barrack Obama labelling him as a “son of a whore”, according to sources, resulted in the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad by the Abu Sayyaf, a self-styled Philippine affiliate of ISIS. The same group beheaded two Canadians earlier after Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to pay ransom money.

According to Southern Philippine sources, Muslims there now believe they have a Moro (Muslim peoples of the southern Philippines) president. The Norwegian release was a gift and no ransom was paid.

Close aides said he personally worked for the release of the hostage since Norway is host to the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Philippine Communist Party, National Democratic Front and New People’s Army to end a bloody 33-year insurgency that has cost over 100,000 lives.

Duterte’s worldview

Duterte is the epitome of a collective desire by a majority of people outside the Philippine capital -- described by outsiders as Imperial Manila -- to end a political dynasty dominated by 10 families that continue to run and dominate Philippine business and politics.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]His worldview is best described as rural, but clearly anchored in the aspirations of the poor and marginalized. His blood lineage with the Maranao tribe made him a leader in the strife-torn Southern Philippines dominated by Muslims, although he is a Catholic.[/quote]

Rodrigo "Rody" Roa Duterte is also a jurist and the first Mindanaoan to hold the office, and the fourth of Visayan descent. He was born in Maasin, Leyte but traces his roots to Danao, Cebu and his mom’s province Agusan.

The family later settled in Davao where his father became governor.  After a short political stint, his father worked with deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the presidential palace Malacanang.

Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, a highly urbanized city, before becoming mayor of Davao following the Philippine revolution in 1986 against the Marcos dictatorship.   

Duterte was among the longest-serving mayor in the Philippines: seven terms over 22 years.

Duterte the Punisher

Filipino Canadians generally support Duterte’s actions because our pet peeve is the endemic corruption in the country.

I covered Duterte’s Ateneo high school classmate, former Congressman Jesus “Jess” Dureza, now negotiating the peace process with rebels as a Congress reporter.   He observed that Duterte is a punisher. He then told the story about a bully who was terrorizing students outside their school. Duterte reportedly hunted down the bully and found him in a café.  He went straight up to the guy and punched him in the face.

I favour the way Duterte is handling the country’s problems.  His pivot to China and Russia has resulted in a halt to the planned Chinese fortified garrison in one of the man-made islands just 150 miles from Palawan.

The country cannot afford to blindly follow a tainted foreign policy influenced mostly by the United States which is currently waging a proxy war against many nations.

(Yul Baritugo is a retired editor with years of experience first as a justice and court reporter, later becoming business reporter and editor.  He also edited a now defunct Filipino Canadian magazine and later a Filipino Canadian newspaper. Yul is spearheading an effort to form a Collective of Immigrant Journalists. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Published in Commentary
Thursday, 30 April 2015 20:24

Trash Talk Stops as Aquino Comes to Canada

With Philippine President Benigno Aquino set to make a state visit to Canada next month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Manila has dropped its demand on the Canadian government to take back the trash that was illegally shipped there two years ago.

Philippine Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the inter-agency government committee, including the DENR, agreed to dispose of the trash in landfills here “for the sake of our diplomatic relations” with Canada.

“It has been resolved. The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) has strongly recommended it be settled diplomatically,” Paje said in an interview, published in Manila.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said 50 container vans loaded with trash arrived in six batches from June to August 2013 at the Manila port.[/quote]

“We still hold that the best thing to be done is that they (Canada) take it back, but what will be the effect? It will affect our diplomatic relations,” he went on.

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said 50 container vans loaded with trash arrived in six batches from June to August 2013 at the Manila port.

The shipment was passed off as scrap materials for recycling, but customs inspectors discovered it consisted of household waste including adult diapers.

The DENR originally asked the Canadian government to take back the trash, as provided under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The trash had been rotting in the past two years, posing a health hazard at the Manila port and Subic port where some of the container vans were transferred to ease congestion.[/quote]

The Philippines and Canada are among the 180 signatories to the treaty that seeks to prevent developed nations from dumping trash in developing nations.

Paje claimed the trash consisted of “recyclable plastics.” “Therefore if there is nothing hazardous, it can be treated here,” he said.

The trash had been rotting in the past two years, posing a health hazard at the Manila port and Subic port where some of the container vans were transferred to ease congestion.

According to Paje, they are still waiting for clearance from the Manila Regional Trial Court, after government prosecutors last February asked that the trash be disposed of in local landfills while the case continued.

No Need to Hurt Diplomatic Relations

The Canadian Embassy in Manila has been on receiving end of mass actions and public petitions to take back the trash since the illegal shipment was discovered.

The embassy has refused to take back the garbage, saying the issue was a “private commercial matter” between a Canadian exporter and its Philippine importer-partner.

“The issue is as friendly countries, would you insist on hurting diplomatic relations if there is another way?,” Paje said.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canada will also look into their policies to avoid a repeat. They will go after their exporter.” - Ramon Paje, Philippine Environment Secretary[/quote]

“They promised they will prevent a repeat. Canada will also look into their policies to avoid a repeat. They will go after their exporter,” he said. 

President Aquino will undertake a state visit to Canada on May 7 to 9, followed by a one-day working visit to the United States.

Malacañang said he would witness the signing of bilateral agreements on labor cooperation, development assistance and infrastructure development. SFM

Canada is the Philippines’ 21st largest trading partner, its sixth top source market for tourism, and is home to almost 700,000 Filipinos.

In 2014, Canada announced that the Philippines had been designated a Country of Focus for development assistance, and a Priority Emerging Market for Canadian overseas trade and investment.

The two leaders are expected to witness the signing of bilateral agreements on labor cooperation, development assistance, and infrastructure development, which will highlight the vibrancy of people-to-people relations.

The visit is the first state visit of a Philippine president to Canada since the visit of former President Fidel Ramos in 1997.


Re-published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.

Published in The Philippines
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 16:22

Filipinos in Canada: Behind the Numbers

by Noel Tarrazona in Manila

The Canadian government forecasts that there will be one million Filipino immigrants in Canada by 2025, marking a 50 per cent increase from today. If immigration to Canada is a horse race between competing nations, China, India, the Philippines and Pakistan have the inside track, with Filipinos being the current “favourites.”

New Canadian Media decided to partner with the Asian Pacific Post (APP) - Filipino Post to go behind the numbers and see how newcomer Filipinos are doing. We also spoke to three academic researchers who study migration from the Philippines to understand this movement of people and what it means for Canada. Please click on the plus (+) signs to read comments by the researchers. Our main finding based on a few random interviews: While most Filipino immigrants have stayed and embraced Canada as their new home, some of them have gone back to practice their professions.

[toggle_box]
[toggle_item title="Dr. Philip Kelly, York University" active="true"]The Philippines was the #1 source country for immigrants to Canada in 2010 and 2011, but by 2012 it had fallen back to second place behind China.

There are two reasons for the recent prominence of the Philippines. One is that the numbers arriving in the Live-In Caregiver category spiked quite dramatically around 2010 -- reflecting an expansion in demand for the program around 2007-2008 (caregivers have to spend two years as temporary foreign workers before they can apply for PR [Permanent Resident] status, hence the time lag).The other reason is that the Provincial Nominee Program has expanded hugely in recent years, mainly in Western Canada. This has been a major channel for new arrivals from the Philippines, especially to Manitoba, which has a very large Filipino community.

The other factor that might be added is that language and educational requirements have been increased, which would favour applicants from countries such as the Philippines, where English is widely spoken and tertiary education is geared towards the needs of the global labour market. That said, the expansion in Filipino migration hasn't been in the federal skilled worker category, where such factors are most important, so it's probably not the most significant explanation.  Dr. Philip Kelly, Director, York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), Professor, Department of Geography, York University[/toggle_item]
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This reverse migration is no different from trends for other nationalities, reported by StatsCan as far back as 2006.

Few case studies

Philippine dentist Mike Muin was a university dentist in the southern Philippines when he applied for a family immigrant visa. His family landed in Ontario as immigrants in 2013, but Mike’s credentials as a dentist were not recognized in Ontario unless he took a Dental Challenge Exam. For a year, he never practised dentistry and so he decided to fly back to the Philippines with their youngest son. According to Mike, he is happy working as an associate dentist in a Philippine city.

Muin told NCM-APP that he is still in a quandary whether or not to return to Ontario, where his wife, Rose, and their eldest son still reside. Rose says that for her the Philippines is still an ideal place to raise her children because parents have more time to monitor their children as they grow up. “If I were to choose between Canada and Philippines, I would still choose the Philippines to raise my children where families can spend more time together,” Rose said.

In another case, an assistant professor from the Philippines, who requested anonymity, saw Canada as a potential place for a social sciences academic. He landed as an immigrant in Vancouver in October 2011 and submitted his credentials to the University of British Columbia, Douglas College, Vancouver Community College and Simon Fraser University. Not one of the schools recognized his credentials. He was advised to take bridging courses. The graduate school professor ended up as a labourer for two months in a logistics company on Annacis Island.

[toggle_box]
[toggle_item title=Glenda Bonifacio, Ph.D., University of Lethbridge" active="true"]
Philippines is quite complex to compare with China and India. India has historical ties with Canada as a former  British colony. China is also different as it has historical roots with racialized labour prior to the institution of the points system. Philippines is a postwar (WWII) immigrant source nation for Canada, but has historical ties to US as a former colony. Restrictions faced by those initially planning to go to the US find immigration streams to Canada favourable at some point.

Chain migration is also a feature of Filipino permanent migration in Canada. As well, Filipinos are family-oriented and sponsor family members when they can to the country. By family, it means an extended family and sponsorship implicates many things -- direct sponsorship for parents and qualified siblings, or indirect sponsorship thru offering housing arrangements for relatives and fictive relations. When the path for those extended family members are clear, then another family chain of sponsorship begins. All source countries display similar patterns of chain migration.

Aside from this, Filipinos are highly educated and highly skilled that they most often comply with the independent skilled migration to Canada. They have higher adaptability of integration into Canada since English is the language of education and business in the Philippines, with no need for them to take language classes like other immigrants in Canada. In other words, Filipinos are ready workforce upon entry into Canada. As well, Filipinos are western-oriented into democracy and shared liberal values as coming from the 'showcase' country of U.S. imperialism. In short, Filipinos have higher adaptability to western lifestyle (including shared beliefs in western Christianity, women's empowerment) that enable them to maximize the opportunities in Canada. – Glenda Lynna Anne Tibe Bonifacio, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Research Affiliate, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge, and Collaborator, Pathways to Prosperity Partnership[/toggle_item]

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Feeling demoralized, he flew back to the Philippines and went back to the university he used to teach at. He wrote scholarly publications and his internationally published publications were cited by North American university journals like the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and other best-selling books on security. Canada would have had that honour if the professor was absorbed by one of the schools he had applied to. 

When asked if he was willing to return to Canada, the graduate school lecturer said, “Probably, if most universities will start to recognize our credentials.”

Expert advice

Vancouver-based Filipino immigration analyst Manny Noel Abuel observed that Filipino immigrants return to the Philippines when they don’t find jobs similar to work they had before moving. “You must be willing to start a new life -- like a baby -- where you need to learn how to walk your way to success no matter how challenging the road is.

“When I came to Canada in 1988, I only have $1,000 (U.S.) in my pocket, with three children, but I had to face reality and was determined to succeed in this country,” Abuel said. She also head the media bureau of the Filipino Advent Believers in British Columbia and is a practising communications consultant.

The same advice was shared by Evelyn Yadao, an immigration consultant of Grand Migration Canada. She countered that skilled Filipino immigrants who have gone back to the Philippines should consider returning to Canada because in the long run they will appreciate what this country will do for them. Yadao is also the National Convenor of PLS (Progressive Learning Space) for Kids program, a Canada-based program helping educate displaced Filipino children caught in the war in the Southern Philippines.

Immigrants who stayed

While some Filipino immigrants returned to the Philippines, most Filipino immigrants have decided to stick it out. They have embraced Canada as their new home and have decided to pledge allegiance to Canada’s citizenship once they meet their residency requirements.

Working in the Middle East for years, Filipino Edwin Nodora landed in Canada with his family in 2011 and started working as a maintenance crew in a mall in Richmond. But three years later, he now works in a job where he can use his engineering background.  In his first year, he was tempted to return to the Middle East, but he resisted and eventually got the job he wanted.

Edilberto Javier landed the same year with his family and got employed as a cleaner at Lowe’s, a hardware store, but after three years, he was promoted to Product Service Associate.

[toggle_box]
[toggle_item title="Denise L. Spitzer, Ph.D., University of Ottawa" active="true"]Labour migration has been regarded as vital to the Philippine economy for decades, relieving pressure on un- and under-employment in the country and contributing to the economy through the receipt of remittances from overseas workers. The Philippine government has developed a highly sophisticated state apparatus whose aim is to facilitate labour migration. Among its activities, state agencies engage in ongoing surveillance of the global economy to determine emerging markets and to identify the types of skills that will be in demand in order to prepare Filipino labour migrants for overseas deployment.

Furthermore, the state regulates labour recruitment agencies who “sell” Philippine labour abroad and broker employment contracts across international borders. For their part, employers may express a preference for Filipino workers because of their facility in English and their generally high level of education.Denise L. Spitzer, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair in Gender, Migration and Health, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, and Collaborator, Pathways to Prosperity Partnership[/toggle_item]

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Jeanette Co- Lim faced a tough challenge when she landed in Canada in the same year, because she could not find the job she wanted, but in her third year, she finally found the right job as an assistant accountant.

“The toughest challenge is  when employers here doubt your credentials, so we have to prove to them that we can do the job, and from there the employer will assign you the job that rightfully belongs to you,” Co-Lim said.

Top ranking

The Philippines became the largest source of immigrants in 2010 when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) figures show 36,000 Filipino immigrants came to Canada. The next two years have brought 35,000 and 33,000, respectively.

While young Filipino immigrants are helping to replace Canada’s ageing workforce, the Philippine economy in turn also gets over $2 billion (U.S.) in remittances every year.

Further, Tagalog is the fastest growing language in Canada and is the fifth most common non-official language spoken in Canadian households. Statistics show nearly 279,000 people reported speaking Tagalog most often in 2011, up from 170,000 five years earlier.

Canada has also remitted more than $20 million (U.S.) to help rebuild two major cities in the Philippines -- Tacloban and Zamboanga – after they were devastated by a super typhoon and attacked by rebel separatists in 2013.

Noel T. Tarrazona is a Filipino immigrant of Vancouver and is completing his Doctor of Pubic Administration in the Philippines. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Published in National

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