Community supports Kenneth Aldovino’s Right to Stay

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By: Lesley Valiente and Sarah Salise

Kenneth Aldovino received a letter in the mail asking him to leave the country before the end of January. Aldovino has been in Canada for 6 months, initially arriving just in time to see his mother, Edna Aldovino, for the last time before she passed away of cancer in July of 2013.

Prior to her passing, Edna worked in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) since 2009 and in 2012, completed the requirements that make her and her family eligible for permanent resident status. Completing these requirements was difficult as Edna was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2011 and continued working while undergoing chemotherapy treatments to ensure that she complete the requirements that would allow her to apply for permanent residency. Edna’s years of hard work and sacrifice, unfortunately, will not fulfill their purpose of bringing Kenneth to live in Canada as the processing of his application stops with the death of his mother, who was the primary applicant on their papers.

Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is geared for Canadian families looking to hire a foreign caregiver because the availability of local workers are lacking. The program is meant for temporary employment but Canada is one of the few countries that promote the LCP to migrant workers as a way for them to work abroad and at the same time earn their permanent residency status.  Live-in caregivers have up to four years to complete the requirement of 3, 900 hours or 24 months of full-time employment to be eligible to apply for permanent residency. In Ontario, live-in caregivers are paid a minimum wage of $10.86 per hour and work for up to 48 hours a week.

A community-led campaign called ‘Let Kenneth Stay’ is now in full swing, with organizers collecting letters of support and circulating online petitions to encourage Minister of Immigration, Hon. Chris Alexander to use his discretionary powers and allow Kenneth’s permanent residency application to process. Having lost his mother so early in life, Kenneth will face great difficulty if forced to return to the Philippines where he will have no family and no financial support. In fact, thousands of young, educated Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday in search for jobs abroad – an illustration of the lack of employment opportunities within the country. If given the chance to stay in Canada, Kenneth has a support group within the community and will have the chance to study and work to build a new life for himself. Community organizers are hopeful that Kenneth’s application for permanent residency will be considered under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Letters of support as well as petition signatures are of great importance at this time in putting pressure on the government to act in Kenneth’s favour.”Let Kenneth Stay” campaign has also been gaining supporters and followers throughout Canada and in the U.S. on Facebook.

According to the Filipino youth organization, Anakbayan Toronto, there is a bigger issue at play in cases such as Edna’s: the lack of status accorded to workers under the Live-In Caregiver Program. Since caregivers are seen as a source of “temporary work” and not as immediate candidates for citizenship, these workers must migrate to Canada alone, undergoing separation from their families. Edna herself left home in 1999 when Kenneth was just five years old and migrated to work in Taiwan, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong before coming to Canada. In addition to the emotional strain of being away from one’s family, live-in caregivers undergo difficult working conditions, finding themselves on call around the clock as the needs of the elderly and of the young for whom they provide care do not end after an 8-hour workday. Such arduous labour takes a physical toll on the body after time, and it is not surprising to find that many caregivers, like Edna, eventually display serious medical problems. While there is an economic pull factor for foreigners to work as a live-in caregiver in Canada, it cannot be denied that the true aspiration for these workers is to eventually live in Canada permanently with their families. In the case of Edna Aldovino, denying her son the right to claim his permanent residency does an injustice to Edna and renders her years of hard work and sacrifice meaningless.

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Toronto Filipino youth group on PH peace process: “Time for true action rather than empty talks”

Reference: Alex Felipe
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

APRIL 24, 2013–This year marks the 40th anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the largest coalition of various economic, social justice organizations and organs of political power within the national democratic movement.

The process of building up a concrete revolutionary movement has been a gradual and complex process since its inception. This was the same period that the Philippines suffered from a serious downturn after years of experiencing positive outgrowth postured by ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos. An era for his vision of a “New Society” was supposedly fostered through the installation of Martial Law. The regime’s move however, created extreme poverty levels, rampant graft and corruption and slowdown of economy until “it was grinding to a halt” in the 80s.

In the midst of the disorder caused by the dictatorship, the NDFP was born in 1973 the day after its program was formalized. Its policy was sought under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to establish unity among patriotic classes, forces and sectors in the Philippines and abroad for genuine national freedom and lasting peace.

It has a profound role in advancing the struggle against the imperialist US government and its peripheral reactionary governments throughout the last four decades. While it continuously pushes for its program, a truly democratic process that serves the needs of the majority of the people remains elusive with the current ruling class still  in power. This naturally gives rise to a yearning for justice, and has pushed the people to wage an armed rebellion.

The Philippine military’s assessment makes clear that the broad mass movement led by the NDFP continues to wield “strong influence” in more than 60 of the country’s 72 provinces. 

According to their own reports, New People’s Army (NPA) units have initiated more than 70 tactical offensives against large-scale mining corporations and agri-business plantations in the first four months of 2013. These activities are coordinated to hold the multinational companies back from exploiting the peoples and the environment. The anti-feudal movement in the countryside continues to heighten its influence up to the regional level, particularly in the southern island of Mindanao.

Despite the incident involving an NPA unit and Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona, Senator Teofisto Guingona III agrees to the need to resume formal GPH-NDFP peace talks. On the other hand, the Malacañang palace orders to “dismantle NPA checkpoints” enforcing its will on the Philippines as having only “one government” and under “one President,” Benigno Aquino III. His demand only seeks to circumvent the process and calls for surrender.

This is just one in a line of the many obstacles to a two-state solution. How can the problem be resolved when the Aquino regime keeps its counterinsurgency campaign and even allows US troops to use the country as a base in the Asia-Pacific region? How can negotiations be pursued if NDFP consultants Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Eduardo Serrano, Edgardo Friginal, Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza, Emeterio Antalan, Renante Gamara, Jaime Soledad, Danilo Badayos, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano and Ramon Patriarca remain in detention? How can we move on to tackle the next substantive issues if the current regime fails to honour previous agreements such as the Hague Joint Declaration, and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)? It is safe to say that a solution of the broader framework is needed.

However, this is a situation that peace-minded masses want to see a resolution to: a sincere engagement in reconciliation work for restorative justice and lasting peace process.

Anakbayan-Toronto only hopes for hastening the resumption of the negotiations in the midst of the pitfalls caused by the Aquino regime’s apparent disinterest. We are committed that the root causes of the armed conflict be addressed fundamentally through an overturning of the semi-colonial, semi-feudal conditions in the Philippines. We rightfully express that the Filipino people deserve to benefit in our goal for genuine land reform, national industrialization, true freedom and democracy.

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“Filipino Pride”

Filipino Pride. 

You hear a lot about it these days and that is good.  But let me play devil’s advocate for a second.

Why are you proud?

Are you proud that a literate and developing civilization was conquered by a small band of misfits from Europe? 

Are you proud that our lands were given the name of a long dead–and if you know your history–fairly inept Spanish king?

Are you proud that the name we call ourselves: “Filipino” was the name for Spanish people born on our islands?

Are you proud that our victory over these same colonizers were sold out to the Americans?  That they “bought” as one newspaper columnist at the time wrote “10 million niggers for $2 a head?”

Are you proud that our victory over the Japanese during World War II only resulted in Americans bombing our economic infrastructure to prevent our development? Read more of this post

Connecting The Dots: Mining, the Philippines, and Canada

I am not a gold person.  This didn’t start with any activism, or with any real reason other than the fact that I’m just not a jewelry person period.  I simply have never felt the desire for shiny that most people seem to possess.

Now that I know how the extractive process affects people (including those that look like me), I consider myself lucky.

But it’s not that easy is it?  Not wearing gold, or diamonds, or whatever doesn’t really change much when that which sparkles is the cornerstone of world economies.  While none in my family live or have ever lived near a large scale mine, in fact most Filipinos I know here in Toronto don’t have family near mines, but whether we realise it or not we remain deeply affected. Read more of this post

Filipino, Canadian, or Filipino-Canadian: We Have a Responsibility

Yesterday was the Anihan Arts and Academic Showcase at the University of Toronto.  There I spoke about our responsibility as Filipino-Canadians to be active in the fight of all Filipinos for respect, cultural pride, and national sovereignty. 

This weekend (starting 15 October) is the beginning of the Toronto portion of the global “Occupy” movement.  I will be there to stand with my kababayans, and with all that realize that we need to create a more just world.

Read more of this post