Saturday, September 18, 2010

Florida couple pleads guilty to abusing Filipino workers | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

Florida couple pleads guilty to abusing Filipino workers | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

I first saw this headline on FoxNews and then I saw it again on several on-line Filipino newspapers. When I first arrived in the Philippines in 1991 I was immediately made aware that while our U.S. media has its faults in skewing the news, they held no advantage over the rabid newspapers in Manila. One of the most egregious examples were the headlines in all the local papers about an American who murdered his girlfriend and stuffed the parts in the trunk of a car. They termed it a "chop-chop murder." Everyday for weeks there was an article in the papers detailing the crime and ascribing it to the "American."

When the facts came out it turned out that the individual was indeed the son of an American serviceman who left the Philippines before the "American" was born and did not participate in the parenting of the murderer. To top it off, the individual was raised by his Filipino family totally in the Filipino culture and never knew his father let alone visited America. By virtue of American law, he did get an American passport so was technically, I suppose, an American, but about as much an American as I am a German, a Norwegian or a Brit. In other words, not really at all, so I suppose the whole point of the newspaper headlines was not to accurately report the crime but to sensationalize it by ascribing the criminality to a foreigner. It also served to provide the false impression that only foreigners would commit such a heinous crime.

This case is very much the same. The same on-line media that was touting the move of two "Fil-Ams" into advisory positions in the White House and the re-election of another Fil-Am to a state position in Maryland reported on the "Florida couple" who had enslaved Filipino Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs). But they did so while failing to report that these two "Floridians" were also Fil-Ams taking advantage of their own former countrymen. These criminals do, of course, deserve the harshest prison sentence possible for their hard-hearted scheme that prayed on the willingness of good, hard-working OCW Filipinos to travel to far and distant lands for work; and I am reasonably certain that they would get an even harsher sentence in Manila. But they also deserve the shameful notoriety back home in the Philippines so that others might hesitate to follow the same path of profitable criminality. There are many employment agencies that hire and take good care of Filipino workers here in the U.S. but it behooves all to recognize that some are less interested in taking care of their employees than in their own profit. The OCW must always take care not to fall for the lies of a smooth talking recruiter. The salient point is, however, that it is all well and good, even laudable, to highlight the successes of people of Filipino descent who have migrated to other countries, but to purposely avoid mentioning the heritage of individuals who commit crimes when it is inconvenient is a disservice to all. A Fil-Am is a Fil-Am whether they have achieved fame or notoriety for the fame or the notoriety really points to the individual's character rather than their ethnic heritage. It is the character of the individual that counts and not the tint of their skin or the blood that runs in their veins and shame on those who perpetuate anything less.

By the way, lest you think that identifying the ethnicity of the two was too difficult for the news media in the Philippines–after all, there are a lot of Latinos in Florida and the names are very similar–bear in mind that it only took about half a dozen clicks of the mouse to get the information. You can go to:

and see it for yourself.

Follow the link for the story.

1 comment:

Papa Bill said...

I'm happy to note that today on GMA News in Manila--the on-line edition--it does identify the "Florida couple" as Fil-Ams. That is as it should be. But all should recognize that the shame belongs only to these two criminals. What is worse is that the victims in this crime were their fellow kababayans.