By Paul Maurillo

I am 18 years old and I am currently working at Kapisanan as a Co-op student from Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School.

Yesterday I went to the “Spectres of In/Visibility: Filipino/a Lives in Canada” at the U of T. It was a big day for the Filipino/a academics in Canada, because it was the first Filipino academic symposium at the university. I arrived later in the day during the lunch break and waited for the next group of speeches to begin. Much like any other large gathering of people I felt out of place, like I was not supposed to be there. Maybe it’s because I’m just anti-social..but I digress.

The speeches after lunch were very monotone and unappealing to me considering I’m not an academic. I thought that they were very informative, but the language was a bit too much for me.The speeches seemed to never end and my eyes barely stayed open, but thanks to my “pinching of the wrist” I managed to stay awake.

What woke me up was the Tita VS Tita, or the “fighting Titas”, Round 1. They were arguing over whether the LCP ( Live-in Caregiver Program ) should be scrapped or not. It was like Pacquiao VS Hatton except Hatton didnt get massacred. The two Titas both made very good points back and forth, but before the final bell rang one of the spectators put an end to the match. The fight had gone on for too long and got a bit personal. It was Filipino drama at its best.

The last speakers before dinner were more interesting to me because they were youth perspectives and took on different angles at speaking. One That stood out to me was Conely de Leon’s “Mas Maputi Ako Sa ‘yo (I’m lighter than you)”. She opened up her presentation with a spokenword/painting performance, which was captivating (though I had paid more attention to the painting). Her speech after the performance also got me thinking. She talked about how Filipinos/as from Mississauga were “soft” and ones from Scarborough or Scompton/Scarlem were “hard”, which I thought was true (being from Scarborough myself).

She also talked about Filipinos/as lightening their skin thinking “white is right”, and the troubles of young Filipinos/as feeling bad for being darker. I thought her speech really spoke to me because it got me thinking about how the darkeness of skin does not determine your intelligence or your opportunities to learn.

The conference had started out a little unappealing to me but towards the end I got more into it. I learned a lot about the troubles that Filipinos/as face when going to other countries and the identity crisis that many filipinos/as have. I don’t regret going at all and I left having a better understanding of the troubles we face as a people.

~ by pmaurillo on October 26, 2009.

3 Responses to “Academianuts”

  1. Good review Paul, I gotta admit I share some of your critiques. It is unfortunate that sometimes academics forget that for their research to make an impact on the lives of everyday people, that they have to speak in a way everyday educated people can understand–and with a little change in tone and pitch every once in awhile…

    I agree that the “Tita VS Tita” incident was the most interesting part of the event, especially as the LCP is such an important issue—-but I’m a little biased here as I am connected to advocacy groups.

    I simply wish that the disagreements from the different camps could be brought out into the open better…

    Are any readers of this interested in the debate? How do you feel about the live-in caregiver program that results in so many of our sisters (and a few guys too) coming to take care of Canadian families?

    Do you think that the program that allows Filipinos to work in Canada should be thrown out? Or do you believe that there should be changes in the law? If the latter then what changes?

  2. Hey Alex, during the morning session, I actually asked the same question you ended up asking that evening which was, what is the Philippine goverment doing to bargain for more decent policies? My suspicion is nothing. My question was misunderstood as well as I was told that what is being done is that there are groups in the Philippines supplying information to approved LCP applicants in order to let them know what they’ve just gotten themselves into. Not exactly the answer I was looking for. Does anyone know for a fact if there are some kind of advocacy groups in the Philippines who are trying to get the two governments together to negotiate a more fair deal?

  3. The LCP program has been a hot topic recently with the regulations imposed on employers and recruiters by Immigration Minister Kenney. It strikes me though as more of a cover up to divert attention away from the real issue, which is Canadian immigration on the whole.

    Many foreign-trained professionals possess the qualities and expertise to perform in Canada, but due to the strict government certification policies, they fall far short and miss out on the opportunity to contribute to Canadian society and make a life for themselves and their family. I’m not sure, but most LCP participants are very educated. Some possess more than one university degree. To come here and be paid below a living wage is unjust. Raising a family’s children or taking care of the infirm and elderly is as essential and dignified a service as any.

    The LCP definitely requires changes to provide a fair opportunity to its participants. However, if immigration officials had the insight to understand that a more open immigration policy would benefit everyone, we wouldn’t even need the LCP. It’s very mind boggling to understand why immigration policy is the way it is, but I know that it’s a very complex issue that can’t be explained in a paragraph or two.

    The LCP issue is only a small subset of the larger network of temporary foreign workers. With the recession, there are many who complain of the influx of temporary workers “stealing” jobs. I can’t comment on that because I don’t know enough but I thought I’d bring it up.

    I’d like to see this discussion continue because I don’t claim to know a lot about this issue and I’d like to keep learning. Props to you Paul for taking an interest and even sticking around through the slower segments.

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