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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

'Underclass' Filipino-Americans' conditions not dismal

Inquirer
Posted date: October 18, 2006

MANY Filipinos in the Philippines are showing resentment toward fellow Filipinos who have had the choice and luck of going out of the country and living overseas. The "animosity" was further exacerbated when a topnotcher of a medical board exam decided to work as a nurse in the United States; and when the well-known artist-singer Jim Paredes decided to emigrate to Australia.

Michael Tan articulated this resentment in his Sept. 15 column. While the figures he cited were based on an extensive research, Tan's depiction of the situation of Filipinos in America as "dismal and grim" is not reflective of what Filipinos here actually experience, at least based on the economic status of the many Filipino-Americans whom I know well. Not unless owning a beautiful home in upper middle-class communities, or several real estate property, businesses; or sending kids to good schools of their choice, or looking forward to a comfortable life of retirement can be described as "dismal."

Through the United States' orderly electoral process, Filipinos, as Americans here, have the power to influence the promulgation of rules and laws on how their tax money may be used, on how the government may be run and who may run it. Many are in the mainstream holding important political positions in the city, county, state and federal governments. Even as private "Americans," they are mostly employed as engineers or technical experts or health care professionals in big multinational corporations; or they run their own businesses.
It is the Filipinos who came here as "illegal undocumented residents" that, sadly, are helpless, abused and exploited, some by fellow Filipinos themselves.

If Tan's column was meant to paint a "grim" picture of the life here to discourage others from coming, then he might have done a good job. But as far as Filipino-Americans are concerned, Tan and the rest of the "first-class Filipino citizens" in the Philippines should work very hard to change the perception that "in America there is a better chance."

I hope Tan will also take time to write about the positive contributions of the Filipino-Americans to the Philippines and their commitment to share what they have with fellow Filipinos in the Philippines. We, the "underclass" of America, are here for all the "first-class citizens" of the Philippines. Wish us well and give us the chance to share the goodside of our experiences as "underclass" citizens of America. We all have the common yearning that things will get better for the Philippines.

And, by the way, working as a "utilities person" anywhere in the world is a far more decent and dignified job than making a living as a senator or congressman in the Philippines.

ELIZABETH S. DEL ROSARIO, San Ramon, California, USA

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