Saturday, May 2, 2009

Images and Impressions of Jobapalooza '09 — A Call Towards Greater Respect for Filipino Workers

2 May 2009

I spent the better part of yesterday, May 1, Labor Day, at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City to monitor Jobapalooza '09.  I did not expect it to be a long process.  

I arrived at the EDSA station of LRT at 10:30a.m. and from there proceeded by bus and on foot to the SMX Center, venue of Jobapalooza '09.  What happened later is now history. 

A crowd estimated anywhere between 20,000 to 30,000 jobseekers trooped to the event, many of them desperate to find jobs that would sustain themselves and their families. 

The initial bottomline -- it was a BIG SUCCESS in terms of attracting jobseekers and a QUALIFIED SUCCESS in giving jobs on site, reportedly, to several thousand people.  But, it was a DISAPPOINTING FAILURE in terms of treating properly the tens of thousands of people, many of them fresh, young graduates, who lined up literally for hours, their bodies pressed against each other, in front, at the side and at the back of the SMX Center.  

Apologies for this monumental crowd management fiasco should be publicly delivered by people responsible for Jobapalooza '09 and that includes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli De Castro (who, I understand, was there in place of the President), Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and whoever else was responsible in planning this aspect of the event. Hindi naman siguro napakalalaki ninyong mga tao para hindi humingi kahit kapirasong paumanhin.

I'll start by apologizing to you who may have read about or learned about Jobapalooza here and who may have suffered as a result of confronting those long lines of people. I'm a total outsider to the planning of Jobapalooza '09 but if reading this blog caused you any consternation as a result, I apologize. I hope the next time our government starts planning something of this magnitude again that it will have the sense to invite inputs from people whom they will involve in the event. 

Things like this should never be taken lightly. Hindi lang po matinding gutom, uhaw, pagod, discomfort, hilo, etc. ang naranasan po ng mga kababayan natin.  Pati rin po matinding sama ng loob.  Inis talo po ang tawag doon. Sobrang inis talo!

This report by ABS-CBN lady reporter Niña Corpuz tells a lot about what happened yesterday. The images will remain with us and with the Filipino psyche for a long time and hopefully, will help start transforming our country in a way that has not happened before. Huwag na po tayong pumayag na maulit pa ang mga ganitong eksena:

If you encounter any problem with the above video clip, please click here.

This is the video clip available from gmanews.tv:

The apologies from the people mentioned, if they have any regard for the feelings and sensibilities of the thousands of people who suffered yesterday, would be a signal that this government somehow is still capable of listening. 

But apologies are only a start.  A lot more needs to be done. 

What we need in the Philippines is a new deal for our workers both for those who are employed locally as well as those who are forced to try their fortunes abroad and who send back dollars and other foreign currencies here that keep much of our troubled economy afloat. 

What we need is a program that will create real jobs here so that people do not have to go abroad. Cut down on corruption so that money lost can be funneled into programs that improve the quality of the lives of our people. 

What we need, for a start, is a workers' summit wherein the small workers and not just the big labor leaders can freely express their views that would ultimately be woven into better policies that give greater protection to our longsuffering labor sector. Workerspalooza anyone?!

I'm saying this on hindsight but those who should listen should listen because a lot of people expected much from all the hype that preceded the event. Our countrymen, especially our poor workers, deserve better treatment!

The terribly long lines, several people deep at places, and sustained for hours with little movement could have been avoided if a NUMBERING SCHEME had been adopted. If the jobseekers were given numbers on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED basis, they did not have to stay rigidly in line and be subjected to its trauma and its indignity. They could have broken off from those long lines with enough confidence to know that when they came back, they have a place that is secured by the number that's been assigned to them. (I'll try discuss these in more detail later.)

This is definitely a work in progress.  More when I return.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Mabuhay ang manggagawang Pinoy!

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