by NORMA HENNESSY
COMMUNITY NEWS IN BRIEF:
The general consulate re-opened on the 21st of January after a month break over the 2013 Christmas Season and 2014 new year Holidays. Preparations has since commenced for the Philippine Embassy working mobile-team’s scheduled arrival in Adelaide on Feb 8-9 to process passport applications and to facilitate final process of Filipino-citizenship reacquisition of dual-citizenship applicants.
Australia Day celebration in the 26th of this month saw the Filipino community rising up to challenges with a strong presence in the multi-cultural mainstream. The Filipino community in Port Pirie started off this year with festivities attended by other Kababayans from Adelaide. Fund raising programs by leading Filipino community groups also continued early January for the typhoon Yolanda victims.
Congratulations to our own Marita Macalalad for having garnered the ‘Citizen of the Year’ award for the city of Marion.
We welcome the year 2014 with mixture of anticipation, excitement and sense of foreboding. And in the news, are things that startle, amaze, agitate or even unsettle us. The world around us is reeling dazed. And life pulses in discordant sync with history’s visions and wistful predictions even as the earth spins in the same manner that it had been doing in millions of our years. It does so regardless whether it screams New year in the calendar or whether we change our markers for sunrises and sunsets with Daily Savings Time. We brace our selves for a take off. Or a forward move at least. But so often, the impetus associated with excitement gets a shake and we get dragged back. And we dither when we find that staring at us on the face is a dilemma that shakes the very core of our cultural identity and in our faith in humanity.
Let me digress for a moment and take a glimpse back home. In the news:
“In a remote Philippine village, toddlers played oblivious at a nursery as the house next door became part of a horrifying child pornography ring, with live footage of children performing sex acts being streamed online to pedophiles around the world. Parents sell children for online sex
The depraved scenes in the bungalow were being repeated in many homes throughout Ibabao, a secluded community on Cebu island where Internet child pornography had for some of its 5,000 residents become more lucrative than fishing or factory work.
But police and authorities said that behind the closed doors of the tiny wooden and brick homes, many parents directed their children for sex videos in front of webcams connected via the Internet to paying pedophiles overseas…”
In another news report from BBC
“Public morality: All of the neighbours said they were shocked to hear about the cases but denied they knew what was going on.One said: “How can I know when the house is closed and I did not get inside and see what they are doing?”
But a recent survey indicated that 80 houses in the area were involved in the trade…
The operation followed the arrest of British man Timothy Ford, from Kettering, in Northamptonshire, the same year. He is now serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence in a UK prison.
When detectives analysed his laptop, they found obscene images and records of money transfers to the parents - he had paid to watch the abuse of five of the children.
He paid as little as £13 to watch what he called “a show”.
Officers found he planned to buy property in the area and set up an internet cafe.
Father Shay Cullen, who runs the Preda Foundation - a charity that rescues victims in the nearby city of Olongapo - said: “More and more parents are pushing their children to get involved in this, to make big money.
“There’s a huge growing demand and there’s a growing supply.”
That this is happening in the Philippines (this particular one is in a village in Cebu) demands a serious examination of our cultural conscience. ASAP! Is the Filipino social culture into inward self implosion?
The most devastating tragedy is that parents selling their children are devoid of love for their children. They are self-obsessed and they regard their own children as functional tools for their gratification. These unloved innocent children in turn, get bred to become soulless social parasites and to eventually prey on the next generation of innocents.
In the social cyber network, the news spread like wildfire. Roberto Mella Lastica a colleague and FMCC member from New South Wales posted: “This is another offshoot of poverty. With no opportunities to earn a living, Filipinos are prone to doing it the easy way at the expense of values just to get by. What is sickening is parents now using their children along the way. How does governments or society stop the exploitation of our hapless kabayans without resorting to dole outs and be empowered on their own capacity to live decent lives by providing even the basic needs of their families?”
That we are a ‘Damaged Culture’ in the words of journalist Conrado de Quiros, keeps coming back in reaffirmation. It is so far the simplest articulation of how morally confused we are with who and what we are as a people.
The parents are the ones who took their children themselves to this sex den where they collect the monies in exchange for the ‘services’ rendered by their children. The parents did not have any idea or sense of immoral conscience with regards to what the children were being used for - perhaps because it did not involve unbearable pain or physical beating.
The sense of value - the idea of morality and decency in the act is an abstract thought to them. It is why they can stomach their children being pushed into the trade. Their measure for good or bad is based on whether they benefit materially or financially.
Still, WE are a nation, however culturally damaged we may be. There could NOT be ‘no solution’. Life could not be that totally unfair as to trash a people and glorify another. If we must re-assess our values, then we should. We must do so foremost, as individuals and as a community. Surely, we deserve decency. We should therefore endeavor to nurture a self-respect that flows from within that is not marketable in any currency! We need to value ourselves as people and not as commodities to be used and prostituted at the pleasure and for the pleasure of others! We need to embrace that we are as noble just as those ‘foreigners’ who we are so beholden to, are! We need to GET OVER THE COLONIAL MENTALITY that deters us from accepting and liking ourselves for what we are and in our own right as inhabitants of our own turf of earth!