Daily Archives: March 17, 2008

Galing Pinoy: Empowered Pinoy

by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – As oil prices skyrocket, people look at biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum diesel. Among them is Filipino American Baltazar Fedalizo, owner of Biodiesel America. Incorporated (BAI).

Three years ago, during a gasoline price hike, when entrepreneur/ teacher /chef Baltazar Fedalizo began to seriously look into biodiesel. He realized he spent an average of over $500 a day on fuel running two Subway restaurants and an adult day care center.

The idea was inspired by Chef Jean Toume, Fedalizo’s co-worker at Le Cordon Bleu, California School of Culinary Arts.

“Biodiesel is used throughout France. I wonder why America hasn’t been on to it,” Toume said.

Fedalizo then contacted people in France about biodiesel. Emails were exchanged and he founded a new business venture – recycling fry oil to diesel or simply, biodiesel – Biodiesel America Incorporated.

BAI company now actively supplies many industries in the country with biodiesel. Among his major customers are the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a move that he hopes will make people realize that “over a short period of time, biodiesel is not only better for the community and their work environment. Moreover, the fuel is consistently less expensive and it betters the environment.”

Fedalizo is a strong advocate of the environment. Many of the seniors in his healthcare center suffer from respiratory and bronchiolitis.

A goal

“It doesn’t matter how I feel all that matters is the goal,” said Fedalizo of his motto. This winning attitude has brought him two Subway restaurants with one store setting a milestone for the highest net sales in the history of LA County.

His Adult Day Health Care was recognized by California Association of Adult Day Services *(CAADS) as being the center with the most efficient operations for restoring the health, strength and soundness to over 300 senior members.

Beginnings

Fedalizo was born on Staten Island, New York. Wanting to follow his dad’s military career, he attended the United States Military Academy at WestPoint, New York. He eventually dropped out and finished college at CSU Long Beach, playing football, enjoying fraternity life, and ending up on academic probation.

In 1986, Fedalizo was sent to the Philippines by his father to check on some of the family’s property. Unfortunately, his father learned about his slacking in school and he was not given a return ticket.

“My dad said, ‘I have your transcripts in front of me, and you’ve been on academic probation for a year and a half.’ He wouldn’t let me come back. I had four years to think over there. I didn’t speak Tagalog at the time. My English was poor compared to theirs. They didn’t understand my American slang. I lived with my Lola in the provinces, and it was just me and the carabao and the chickens. People spoke to me in Ilocano and I had no idea what they were saying. So I just kept a diary,” Fedalizo said.

Fedalizo sent his father 1,200 pages of his repentance during his four years of exile in the Philippines. “You saw entries that were half a page, that grew to a full page, then grew to four or five pages for one day,” he said. Eventually, his father allowed him to return.

Upon his return, Fedalizo enrolled at Dominguez Hills. With his new commitment to completing his education, he set out to earn his four-year degree in two years.

“I looked at it as a business, not an academic setting,” he says. “When students put it in that paradigm, it will maximize their dollar, and they will value what they do in college. Schools are here to make money. So the faster I graduate and maximize my tuition, the more I win.”

Working 35 hours a week and taking 30 units a semester, Fedalizo was able to expedite his degree in the abbreviated time planned, drawing attention from local press and universities from across the country.

“Berkeley, Harvard, and Florida State said they would fly me out there to share my experiences,” he says. “Each one of them said, ‘You’re missing the college experience.’ I said, ‘I needed to get out of college. My job is not to stay there, that time for me is past already. I need to get out into the real world.’

Business shopping

Fedalizo then earned his MBA at the University of Redlands, did his thesis research on the spending habits of “junior seniors,” the boomer generation born in 1946. Once he completed his thesis, he began shopping the data around, selling it to venture capitalists, M.B.A. students at USC, and Molina Health Care.

With the proceeds, he was able to invest in Infinite Solutions Adult Day Health Care Center in Long Beach, which he owns and operates with a partner. He acquired a Subway franchise in San Pedro with former classmate Sean Gaultier in 2004, turning the lowest store out of 500 in LA County into the one with the highest net sales the following year, at a 146% increase. Fedalizo also teaches business administration at Pasadena City College, sharing his real-world acumen with students. He also studied Culinary Arts and became a chef and teacher.

Ironically, Fedalizo was recruited into the United States Navy Supply Core Officer Corps, a program for able-bodied entrepreneurs and high-level executives under the age of 40. Officer-candidates are chosen from those who have demonstrated an ability to manage and scale financial challenges while meeting milestones in their own or a corporation’s goals.

“I received a call, and they asked if I would be interested, they had seen my resume on Monster.com,” he says. “They were looking for business managers for their units, and that I would come in as a full lieutenant to help the supply corps, prevent cost overruns, manage supply chains, and to do it with a more entrepreneurial spirit.

Fedelizo hopes to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the Navy akin to what he brought to all endeavours. “I am a believer in doing more with less,” he says. “I think I can bring a different kind of thinking to the table based on what I have accomplished so far.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Pacquiao-Marquez Aftermath

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

The post-fight press conference after the Pacquiao-Marquez battle, in which Pacquiao won a narrow split decision, had as much fireworks as the two guys fighting inside the ring.

Top Rank President Bob Arum (Pacquiao’s promoter) yelled at Marquez’ trainer Ignacio Bernstein for criticizing the judge’s decision prompting Team Marquez to leave the conference feeling insulted by the rebuke.

The temper tantrums began when Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaeffer took the podium questioning the judge’s decision and asked for an immediate rematch. Arum said no, at least not for an immediate rematch.  Arum wants Pacquiao to fight David Diaz, who had won earlier that night, for his WBC Lightweight belt on a proposed date of June 28.

No Backing Off

Four days after the fight, Golden Boy Matchmaker Eric Gomez said they are still asking Arum to reconsider his plans.

“The reason why we [Golden Boy] were mad during the post-fight press conference is because he [Arum] totally shut the door on a rematch,” said Gomez at the Azteca Gym during the Michael Katsidis open media day workout. “Arum admitted that this was the most profitable fight ever for Manny… It was a great fight. I understand [Team] Marquez [for criticizing the judge’s decision]. It hurts to lose when it’s that close.”

Golden Boy to the Philippines

Gomez and members of the Golden Boy staff are preparing for a trip to the Philippines next week. Golden Boy along with ALA Boxing is promoting Gerry Penalosa’s mandatory title defense. The WBO Bantamweight Champion faces off against Ratanachai Sor Vorapin of Thailand at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila on April 6.

The undercard also features members of the Philippine World Cup of Boxing Team that won against Team Mexico last year.

“It is a reunion of the World Cup,” said Gomez. “[Rey] Boom Boom Bautista, AJ Banal, Michael Domingo will all be in the undercard.”

FilAms could watch the boxing event on ABS-CBN or The Filipino Channel. Also, set to make an appearance in the Philippines for that fight is Daniel Ponce De Leon, who bested Penalosa in a unanimous decision win and knocked out Bautista.

“If all things go correctly, we’d like to fight Penalosa then give Bautista another chance,” said Ponce De Leon Advisor Joe Hernandez. “We don’t mind going to the Philippines and fighting any of them.”

Friend of the Filipino

Australian WBO Interim Titleholder Michael Katsidis, the former Philippine World Cup of Boxing Team Captain, defends his title against Joel Casamayor at the Morongo Resort and Casino on March 22. Last year, Katsidis fought against Boholano Czar Amonsot in a brutal battle that left both fighters in the hospital after the match. Since then, Katsidis has grown an affinity for the Philippines and the country’s boxers.

“Filipinos are just great wonderful people,” said Katsidis during the open media day workout in Los Angeles. “I’ve been sparring with some of them at the Wildcard Gym. They’ve been helping me train. If I win, I give them the credit for helping me prepare for this fight.”

Nonito to the Middle East

Filipino IBF and IBO Flyweight Champion Nonito Donaire defends his title against Hussein Hussein at the Aviation Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 18. Donaire, who was in Las Vegas last weekend as a boxing commentator for GMA, said that he’s excited to fight in front of the many overseas Filipino workers in Dubai.

“I want to fight this for them,” said Donaire, who understands the plight of the many OFW’s. “There’s so many Filipinos working there and not being able to return because there’s no work for them in the Philippines. It’s good to just come out there and put on a good show.”

Pinoy Boxers in the Undercard

Mexican Abner Mares won the WBO NABO Bantamweight title when he knocked down Filipino Diosdado Gabi twice in the second round during the undercard portion of the Pacquiao vs. Marquez match.

Filipino Michael Farenas won by Technical Knockout when his opponent Baudel Cardenas could not continue after being knocked down by a low blow. Referee Tony Weeks gave Cardenas the mandatory five minutes to rest but Cardenas’ trainer threw in the towel giving the bout to Farenas. Before the low blow, Farenas knocked down Cardenas twice in the second round with body shots.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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UNICEF Cites RP Mortality Rate

by Carmie O. Carpio/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — An average of 32 Filipino children (per 1,000 live births) die before the age of five based on a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) report, making the Philippines the 86th among 190 countries with the highest under-five mortality rate.

Overall, more than 27,000 children under the age of five die each day around the world, mostly from preventable causes, based on The State of the World’s Children Report 2008: Child Survival, UNICEF’s flagship publication. It was presented by outgoing UNICEF representative to the Philippines Dr. Nicholas Alipui, after which it was handed over to the Philippine government, last March 14 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“We speak of the children who died because child mortality is a sensitive indicator of a country’s development. It is a telling evidence of the country’s priorities and values,” said Dr. Alipui.

In the developing world, Sierra Leone, Angola and Afghanistan have the highest under-five mortality rate, while Cuba, Sri Lanka and the Syrian Arab Republic have the lowest.

Neonatal causes topped the major causes for underfive mortality, followed by pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and AIDS. According to the report, the Philippines has a neonatal mortality rate of 15 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Dr. Alipui also mentioned that roughly ten Filipino mothers die everyday from giving birth. Out of ten children who die before their fifth birthday, seven are infants. Half of the under-five mortality happens within the first month of life.

“In a country where child mortality rates have steadily declined in the past decade, the alarming number of women and newborns dying during and just after the birthing process belies the progress achieved so far in child survival,” he said.

In the report, the Philippines has a maternal mortality ratio of 170 deaths per 100,000 live births. The lifetime risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth is one in 140.

Recommendations

Dr. Alipui cited the importance of investing in the health of children and their mothers, saying it is not only a human rights imperative but a sound economic decision that could surely lead to a country’s bright future.

In the report, the UNICEF shares strategies in promoting child survival such as supporting families in improving their care practices for children, providing a continuum of care for mothers and their children, and strengthening community partnerships and health systems.

Speci f ical ly, the UNICEF believes that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and correct weaning practices, the use of bed nets to protect children from malaria-carrying mosquito bites, and the use of oral re-hydration salts to fight diarrhea will contribute considerably to the decline in child mortality today.

Timeline

Over the years, the number of child deaths has been halved around the world, from 20 million in 1960 to 9.7 million in 2006. In 2000, under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders declared that they will reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under five in 2015.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who officially presented the government’s response to the report, welcomed UNICEF’s recommendations for the promotion of child survival.

Like Dr. Alipui, he expressed confidence that the country can inch closer towards the MDG for children, especially that the Philippines is one of 60 priority countries whose progress on reducing child deaths would be closely monitored.

After the report’s launching, Dr. Alipui was awarded with citation for the services he has rendered as country representative for UNICEF for four years.

He expressed his thanks for all the support UNICEF has gained in its endeavors in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

The launching was attended by various child advocacy groups. TV host Bianca Gonzalez, a child advocate herself,hosted the event.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Human Rights Advocates Unite for ‘Desaparecidos’

By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino Americans and peace-loving citizens from different races united together in solidarity last March 15 at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center in San Francisco to discuss the continued rise of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances.

The gathering also coincided with the month-long US speaking tour of Edith Burgos, the mother of agriculturist and activist Jonas Burgos who is missing.

As of December 2007, almost 900 victims of extrajudicial killings and nearly 300 victims of forced disappearances in the country have been documented since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office. This has been the subject of numerous reports submitted by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, World Council of Churches, the EU Council and EU Parliament and other human rights advocates all over the world.

Last year, professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Reporter on Extrajudicial Killings and Summary Execution, submitted three reports on the Philippines pointing out the military’s direct role in human rights violations against social activists, interfaith leaders, human rights volunteers, community leaders, legislative advocates and civilian communities.

The Arroyo government still has to take significant steps to stop the extrajudicial killings. In August 2006, Arroyo under the guidance of former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, established an investigating commission. A report was completed in January 2007, and determined that the “killings of activists and media personnel is pursuant to an orchestrated plan by a group or sector with an interest in eliminating the victims, invariably activists and media personnel.”

The commission also concluded that there is evidence pointing at some elements and personalities in the armed forces, particularly with General Palparan, as the responsible figure for the killings and disappearances. However, the Human Rights Watch was unable to uncover a single case of apparent extrajudicial killing in recent years for which a member of the armed forces was successfully prosecuted.

Where is Jonas Burgos?

Jonas Burgos, 36, is the son of the late Filipino press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, founder of the popular We Forum and Malaya newspapers, and was a staunch anti-Martial Law advocate. The young Burgos is also a land rights activist who was affiliated with the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon), a local affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, or Peasant Movement of the Philippines).

Jonas was reportedly abducted by elements of the Philippine military in April 2007 in a mall in Quezon City. His case has become one of the highest profiled politicallymotivated abduction cases in the Philippines today. To date, however, his entire family continues to be politically harassed for their advocacy efforts, while Mrs. Burgos has gone to the UNHRC in Geneva and other institutions appealing for international support and intervention on behalf of victims of forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations.

“What did my son do to deserve (this) abduction,” Mrs. Burgos said. “He is a generous person and believed that you can’t share what you do not have.” The Burgos family has endlessly talked to authorities, followed leads and information, but still yet to find one solid truth that can lead them to Jonas’s whereabouts. “They abduct people for the flimsiest reason, to instill fear to all who protest against the government,” she said.

Taking a stand, taking action

Mrs. Burgos also talked about the actions they took on behalf of all those who disappeared and those whose rights were violated. Activities and programs in the past year included “Light a Candle for Jonas,” the 100th Day Walk which marked the 100 days Jonas has disappeared, an artist forum, a concert entitled Huling Balita, and a series of 30-second-documentary films made by various filmmakers.

According to Mrs. Burgos, “Disappearance is the worst violation in human rights because the effect does not only stop on the victim alone.” She also asked others to help by giving a little, by being involved. This includes talking to political figures, writing to them, sending letters to the media and public, to send a petition to stop supporting and funding Philippine government and its military. During the forum, a petition to Cong. Barbara Lee was passed around for the attendees to sign. “Please be heard,” she appealed “in the Philippines, our voices cannot be heard.”

Mrs. Burgos also remarked that the Philippine government is in denial. “They deny that there are disappearances in the Philippines. Arroyo has a burden in responding to us, but she is more concerned about other issues, like the ZTE deal.”

The fight to find Jonas and the other desaparecidos continue. “A mother cannot give up,” she said. “The rule of the jungle is not to get in between a mother and her cub — and it’s a jungle out there.”

To know more about Jonas Burgos and the desaparecidos, log on to http://www.freejonasburgosmovement. com or visit freejonasburgosmovement. blogspot.com

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Pacquiao: World Champ: A close win against Marquez

LAS VEGAS, NV – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao officially added the title “WBC Champion” to his long list of boxing accomplishments by out-pointing Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino last March 15.

Pacquiao captured the World Boxing Council (WBC) and Ring Magazine Super Featherweight title by a narrow split-decision. Judge Jerry Roth gave Marquez a 115-112 decision while Duane Ford scored Pacquiao the winner by the same margin. Judge Tom Miller scored the bout 114-113 for Pacquiao.

It was a hard title earned, probably the most difficult bout in Pacquiao’s distinguished career. The last time the two fought, it ended in a controversial draw.

Similar to the match in 2004, this bloody and brutal battle went the distance in 12-intense-action-packed-filled-rounds. In front of a crowd of 11,000 that was comprised mostly of Mexican and Filipino fans, Pacquiao and Marquez showed those that had the stomach to watch what will and glory is all about.

The bout featured guts and glory, cuts and crosses, heart, redemption and determination. Every Pacquiao lunge was answered by a Marquez right counter punch. Every Marquez shot was answered right away by a Pacquiao punch and back and forth it went.

This was boxing in its truest form. A savage display that had the blood curdling and people waving their fists and dodging imaginary punches in the air as if they were in the ring with the two fighters.

The first round did not display the same type of excitement as their previous match up when Pacquiao floored Marquez three times but the rounds following it certainly did.

In the latter part of the third round, Pacquiao knocked down the Mexican fighter with a wicked left hook to the chin. Marquez immediately got back up on his feet. A few seconds later, Pacquiao threw a right-left combination to Marquez’s head causing him to stumble against the corner rope. He clutched the top rope with his right hand to prevent hitting the ground again. But the bell rang finishing the round before Pacquiao’s barrage could continue. A dazed Marquez began to walk towards Pacquiao’s corner before referee Kenny Bayless pulled him to the other direction.

“I thought it was over after the third round,” admits Pacquiao.

But the fight was only beginning. Marquez would battle back.

In the middle of the rounds, the fight was just about even. The action went back and forth with both boxers trading power punches and combinations. Pacquiao was the quicker boxer using great footwork to set up his punches. Meanwhile, Marquez fought with a slower pace utilizing his right hand to counter Pacquiao’s speed.

An accidental head-butt in the seventh round opened a cut above Marquez’s right eye and later a Pacquiao right cross to the eye opened the gash further.

However, momentum began to change in Marquez’s favor. Like a wounded animal, Marquez did what he was trained to do. He fought back. He changed his strategy. He adjusted to Pacquiao’s quicksilver style.

In the eighth round, Marquez hurt the Filipino with a perfectly timed right cross to the head. The punch opened a cut above Pacquiao’s right eye that would later require 10 stitches. Pacquiao winced a few times as blood dripped from the eye disrupting his vision. Marquez continued to attack. This time Pacquiao was against the ropes and Marquez peppered the Filipino with lethal body shots to the rib cage.

Pacquiao thought to himself, “Knock me out and you win.”

“He hit me a lot but I was still standing and fighting,” Pacquiao said afterwards about the round.

“That’s when I told him to suck it up,” said Roach recalling their conversation in between the eighth and ninth round.

Pacquiao opened the ninth round more cautious. He kept his elbow down guarding his right midsection. Pacquiao landed a few clean combinations jarring Marquez’s head back.

In the tenth, Pacquiao with his senses back brought it to Marquez. He threw another left hook hitting Marquez’s head causing his knee to buckle. He fell against the ropes as Pacquaio overwhelmed him with punches. But he did not fall.

In the 11th and 12th rounds, both men stood their ground. The pro-Marquez crowd fully aware of what is at stake began chanting “Si Se Puede” trying to will their Mexican Champion to give it one more time. The Filipinos responded with “Manny! Manny!” chants.

Bloodied and bruised, the two boxers fought and exchanged blows to the last second. As the bell rang, both men raised their arms in victory.

Ring announcer Michael Buffer revealed the judge’s decision for Pacquiao.

Afterwards, a disappointed Marquez and his team questioned the judge’s decision.

“I thought I won,” said Marquez.  “The decision wasn’t correct. The people know who really won the fight. Decisions like this are disturbing. I believe I won the fight.”

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said that the close decision could have gone either way.

“I think the knockdown [in the second round] was the difference,” said Roach.

During the post-fight press conference, Pacquiao wore black shades trying to cover the brutal cut above his right eye.

He said he expected Marquez to be tough for this re-match.

“He moved fast,” said Pacquiao. “He had head movement and more counter-punches.”

Final Compubox numbers revealed that Marquez out punched the Filipino. Marquez connected 172 punches while Pacquiao only landed 157.

The win brings Pacquiao’s record to (46-3-2 34 KO’s) and sets up a possible bout against WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz, who had won earlier in the night.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Filipino Christians Can Now Worship in Qatar

By Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

THE Muslim state of Qatar used to ban churches of  other religions. Thus, Christians of different denominations had to attend underground services until seven years ago when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the ruler, granted permission to five denominations to open churches.

Last Sunday, March 14, the country’s first Catholic church opened with a Filipino, Father Tom Veneracion  serving as parish priest. Careful not to offend the religious sensitivities of the majority Muslim population, St. Mary’s church has no cross, no bell and no steeple.

“The idea is to be discreet because we don’t want to inflame any sensitivities. There isn’t even a signboard outside the church,” Father Tom said.

Five thousand Catholic faithful, many of them excited Filipinos, came to celebrate the historic consecration. The sweeping saucer-shaped building, a 15-minute drive into the desert, is considered a victory, built with the blessing of the current Emir. Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Vatican envoy, flew in to attend its inauguration along with officials from the Qatari Government.

The call for a Catholic church has intensified through the past two decades as waves of migrant workers from the Philippines and other parts of Asia arrived to work in the Gulf. The Filipinos, most of whom are Catholics, used to have underground mass and services.

Built with the donations of the Catholic communities living in Qatar and across the Gulf, the $15 million complex comprises a church with a capacity of 2,700 seats, staff houses, meeting halls and other multipurpose buildings. It is located in Mesaieer on the outskirts of Doha on a land which the Qatari leaders leased out at a nominal fee. The Catholic church will be part of a larger complex, including five more churches of other Christian denominations. Work has already started on the other sites for the Anglican, the Coptic and the Greek Orthodox communities, and an Inter-denomination Christian Church Centre, where 11 Indian churches will converge under a single roof.

The completion of the church was right on schedule as they wanted to be able to hold an Easter service on March 23. But it did not open without any controversy. Critics in the Wahhabi Muslim country have branded it an offence, with one prominent politician calling for a national referendum to determine its fate.

Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, the former dean of the Islamic law school at Qatar University, said that having “places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam”.

An Egyptian Imam at the Islamic Centre Al Fanar disagreed. “Churches can create confusion among Muslims. Christians were tolerated and [they] prayed even before, there was no reason to ask for a church.” Lawyer and former justice minister Najeeb Al Nuaimi also objected to building churches in Qatar on “legal and social” grounds.

“The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha,” wrote columnist Lahdan Bin Eisa Al Muhanadi in the Doha daily Al Arab.

Father Tom told reporters that he was perplexed by the dispute. “We tried to be discreet and I think there’s an atmosphere generally in the Gulf that’s fairly anti-Christian, but that’s mainly to do with what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has nothing to do with us at all.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Filipinos ‘Transform’ Scotland’s Hell’s Hole

by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

SCOTTISH newspapers reported  that the town of Fraserburgh, Scotland, dubbed as the heroin capital of Britain, is slowly being transformed by Filipinos. Fraserburgh has undergone many years of darkness as fishing boat skippers struggled to find crew members who were not high on drugs or too exhausted from the latest binge to even turn up for work. It is the largest shellfish port in Europe and a major white fish port and busy commercial harbour.

Newspapers reported that after years of gloom, the fishing port is enjoying a cautious revival after adopting a radical solution to ensure its boats no longer have to rely on drug-addicted locals — by recruiting Filipinos from the other side of the world, known for their clean living and strict Roman Catholicism.

There are now up to 100 Filipino fishermen in Fraserburgh alone, while dozens more are working on trawlers based in Peterhead, Eyemouth and other ports in England. In total, it is estimated that there are between 300 and 700 Filipino fishermen working in Britain.

While the ports used to be filled with muscular, tough-looking Scots who manned its boats, the slight and slim figures of Pinoy fishermen in the ports is now becoming an increasingly common sight.

“I came here to work, not to be happy,” says 42-year-old Pampilo Bagaubthe  Philippines. “I want to earn money to send home to my family, not to buy whisky.”

As young Filipino men arrive in increasing numbers in the fishing ports that were written off as economic hell holes with no future, the face of Scottish fishing is being transformed.   The churches in Fraserburg have also seen a marked uplift in attendances, with one church reporting getting minibuses to collect the Filipinos from their boats every Sunday. Even the local college has benefited: 12 out of 16 students attending its Saturday morning net-mending course are now Filipinos.

Peter Willcox,  who has three Filipinos among his five crew, says that their impact cannot be exaggerated. “We wouldn’t be able to put out to sea without them,” he says. “They are great workers, but most of all you can trust them. They won’t come home drunk or off their faces.”

Pointing to neighbouring boats in the harbour, he adds: “He’s got three, there’s two in that one and another four there. With some boats, it’s very nearly all Filipino crew.”

The local shipyard is now so busy that it has a two-year backlog on new boat orders while, in a symbolic gesture of confidence, Fraserburgh’s harbour commissioners resurrected their annual dinner and trophy presentation last month for the first time in 17 years. It did not go unnoticed that one of the winning boats had Filipino crew members.

Although some are paid as little as £270 (P22,500.00) per month, for the more experienced Filipino fishermen – trawl masters or engineers – the salary rises to £620 (P61,648.00). Almost all are employed through Super Manning, a Philippines-based agency that arranges fixed 10-month contracts with British-based fishing vessels.

The trawlers also pay them a “catch bonus” depending on the amount of fish they land, as well as return flights home and board and lodging on the boats. Even when the vessels are tied up in harbour, they sleep on board.

“In real terms they’re not that much cheaper because we pay for their flights home, for their food and to keep the electricity running when the boat is in harbour,” said Willcox.

“When I picked them up from the airport our first stop was to get them fleeces and survival suits because they had turned up with completely inappropriate clothes – shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops.”

According to immigration regulations, the Filipinos only require UK transit visas to work on British-based fishing boats, so long as the vessels spend most of the time operating in international waters – at least 12 miles out to sea.

Ross Middleton, fish sales manager at Fraserburgh Inshore Fishermen, a co-operative of 14 boats, said that the move to employ Filipinos had begun within the past year.

“The skippers were complaining that they couldn’t find good crew and we heard that there was someone on the west coast who had been using them. They are hard-working and relatively cheap. They are good guys,” he said.

Although a few locals have expressed resentment towards the Filipinos, most have been happy to accept them.

For Ryan Latis, 32, who arrived in Fraserburgh last year and sends two-thirds of his wages back home to support his wife and 10-year-old son, the future is bright. He previously worked on Japanese and Indonesian trawlers, where conditions were harsh by comparison.

“It’s cold here but I like the people,” he says. “I don’t have a house in the Philippines. I hope that if I stay here for maybe five years, then I can buy one.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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