17 March 2009
On March 17, 1995, fourteen (14) years ago to this date, Filipina domestic helper Flor Contemplacion was hanged by authorities in Singapore while the entire Filipino nation, helpless to the point of despair, silently prayed and wept. It was a calamity of untold proportions for Flor Contemplacion, her family and the Philippines. The Filipino spirit had taken physical, psychological and spiritual beatinga from mightier nations before, like Spain, the United States and Japan -- but this was the tiny-nation state of Singapore!
The furor over the apparent helplessness and negligence of the Philippine government in somehow allowing Flor Contemplacion to be hanged forced the hand of then President Fidel V. Ramos who, on March 20, 1995 issued Executive Order No. 231 creating the Presidential Fact-Finding and Policy Advisory Commission on the Protection of Overseas Filipinos, more popularly known as the Gancayco Commission. There's nothing like a united public outcry led by migrant worker groups and women's groups like Migrante and Gabriela to compel even an excessively contemplative President to act quickly.
The creation of the Gancayco Commission because of tremendous public outrage and its aftermath including the passage of Republic Act 8042 (the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995) was meant to ensure that the lives of OFWs would change for the better. As to just how much better, is still a subject of debate.
But one thing is clear, Flor Contemplacion's death forced a nation to come to grips with the harsh realities engendered by Filipino labor migration, the Filipino diaspora. Whether she wanted it or not, Flor Contemplacion stands as our nation's symbol of sacrifice for family and for people.
From where I stand, this generation of Filipinos should establish a memorial to honor the life, death and legacy of Flor Contemplacion. I don't know how long it will take for that dream to be realized but when the Flor Contemplacion Memorial or monument is established, the Filipino nation that helplessly grieved and wept in 1995 will slowly cease to exist and in its place, a Philippines united in caring for our OFWs will emerge, a nation that truly knows how to look after its very own!
Even as I write, heaven seems to be shedding its own tears in memory of Flor Contemplacion. And since we speak of a memorial or monument, the pictures below will show you that it's raining right now (10:03 am) at the Monumento area.
Proof, I am sure, that Somebody up there is watching intently and He is planning something good for the OFWs and the Philippines. For that to happen, He expects us not only to pray but to join our hands in earnest effort and collective action. Then, and only then, will true blessing come to the Filipino nation.
Filipina heroine Flor Contemplacion is dead! Long live Flor Contemplacion!
To God be the glory, always!