The “NuFY” Can Turn “Brain Drain” Into “Brain Train”

by Bobby Reyes

Photo by Ank Kumar via Creative Commons

Part XVI of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series

Some readers opine that the articles in this column that discussed the fielding (between 2022 to 2030, or even earlier) of OFWs — by the millions in North America, Europe, and other developed countries — would increase the Filipino “brain drain.” On the radio and in mini-caucuses in Sorsogon Province when I ran for governor in the 2016 election, I explained that my proposal would energize OFWs and their children, if not the youth, especially the “whiz kids.” Yes, they would instead empower themselves in turning it into a “brain train.”

By definition, in many dictionaries, “Brain drain is a slang term indicating substantial emigration or migration of highly-trained or intelligent people to other countries. A brain drain can result from turmoil within a nation, the existence of favorable professional opportunities in other countries, or from a desire to seek a higher standard of living.”

On the other hand, I coined “brain train” as the fielding of highly-educated and trained (pun intended) workers (beginning with rail workers and railway engineers) — from a country like the Philippines — to design and construct civil works and equipment that turn out into prestige projects like a railroad for the foreign nation(s) where they are assigned or which hired them not merely as workers but also as contractors, if not builders. And I used the word “train” both from the literal and figurative meanings.

The “railroad renaissance” (that this writer also coined) has many downstream projects”

The “railroad renaissance” (that this writer also coined) has many downstream projects. These are new settlements in the towns where there are railroad stations and new seaports (so that the railway system can carry cargoes from vessels to/from factories and/or distribution centers, etc.). Other economic activities will be geared to solve traffic and garbage crises in the National Capital Region and other urban centers in the Philippines. All of these plans are stated in a written summary of a proposal.

In 2014, I summarized the “brain train” into a Facebook Note this proposal called: How Sorsogon Province Can Be the Center of a “PH Railroad Renaissance” at this link.

This paragraph illustrates the use of “brains” among the project proponents, the employees and executives they would recruit, and the foreign partners involved in the project: QUOTE. All the proposed rail engines, cars, and train stations will be “Smart Trains” as components of a planned “Smart City” and/or “Smart Province” with components consisting of “Smart Transportation” and/or “Smart Security” and other computer-based transportation-and-telecommunications features or systems. The “Smart Train Stations” will be the new hub of trade, commerce, and other service industries. UNQUOTE.

An additional innovation is to put solar panels as “roofs” over the railroad tracks to generate more electricity for the “smart trains” and all the needed infrastructures, including housing.

It is public knowledge that there are very few colleges where they can learn railway engineering. So, I included in this proposal this feature: “To back up all these proposed ventures — mostly on public-and-private partnership (PPP), there is a need to set up in Sorsogon a College of Railway Engineering …” In short, even high-school graduates can earn their diplomas on railway engineering and other allied courses via on-the-job training and schooling (as supplemented by distance-learning). Imagine all the students (read, workers) not needing any student loans nor budget for dormitories, transportation, uniforms, and books to complete their studies — as these will all be part of their compensation.

In one way, we can argue that it is not “brain drain,” as we will be molding, nay educating, the fertile brains of the young recruits, that are mostly high-school graduates. This is one of the features of the “New Frontier for the Youth” (NuFY), just as the Western United States was the “new frontier” in the extension of the railway system from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Oceans).

In fact, when you read the said Facebook Note, you may be surprised that a “Research-and-Development (R&D) Center” would be set up in Southern Nevada, as it may become the first state that may sign a contract for the building of commuter trains that would connect its major towns and cities. And eventually extend the commuter service to California, Arizona, Utah, and other adjacent states. We have discussed this proposal (under the PPP model) with a former governor of the State of Nevada, who also sits on the Board of Directors of a Las Vegas-based 5-star hotel resort, a billion-dollar subsidiary in Macau.

… we can argue that it is not “brain drain,” as we will be molding, nay educating, the fertile brains of the young recruits, that are mostly high-school graduates.”

In fact, the venture may also have potential Taiwanese and Mexican partners needed in manufacturing rolling stock and other equipment for the commuter trains in North America and elsewhere. Because, to paraphrase an adage, “Yes, ‘no Filipino is an island.’ But the Filipino abode is now found in many continents.”

Speaking of the Taiwanese and Taiwanese-American potential stakeholders in the “Railroad Renaissance” proposal, please visit — to know our linkages with them — the Facebook Group called SorsoGold (Turning Sorsogon Into “Little Taiwan”) at his link.

I posted in “SorsoGold” (a process that I coined in 2011; it means “the turning of Sorsogon into a land of golden opportunities”) this photo of a fast train in Taiwan with the caption: QUOTE. Taiwan’s high-speed rail may be a “Railroad Renaissance” model that my friends and I wanted to begin in Sorsogon in 2020.
The system is based primarily on Japan’s Shinkansen technology. The line opened for service on 5 January 2007, with trains running at a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), currently running from Nangang to Zuoying in as little as 1:45 hours, reaching almost 90% of Taiwan’s population.UNQUOTE.

As to the participation of Mexican stakeholders, their entry will be negotiated by the founders of the “Pueblo Filipino,” the coming retirement (and recreational/sporting/cultural) center in the Colima Province of Mexico. It is premature yet to announce the terms and conditions of a tri- or quad-venture that will assist in completing the “PH Railroad Renaissance” proposal.

I am a mere journalist who reached my senior year at the Ateneo de Manila College of Law. I have always told the truth that I have no training at all in engineering. But I have been researching and studying the field of railway engineering and railroads. This was my reason for applying for membership in this Facebook Group, National Association of Railway Boosters (Philippines), at this link.

“This column urges all the readers, especially the Filipino youth (and Overseas-Filipino young at heart), that it may be one of the greatest adventures in life to be part of a railroad project.”

I have been called the “Moses of Sorsogon (and of Bicolandia, too).” But with a tint of humor, I have been telling people that for this project, despite all his wisdom and divine inspiration, Moses would not have understood what a railway system was because there was no railroad in Egypt, Sinai Desert, and even in the Promised Land at his time and age.

This column urges all the readers, especially the Filipino youth (and Overseas-Filipino young at heart), that it may be one of the greatest adventures in life to be part of a railroad project. If you have not seen the movie, How the West Was Won, please watch it at this link.

And by the way, as a footnote to this article, more than 40,000 Chinese immigrants played in building the Transcontinental Railroad all the way to California. Like this columnist, some Americans of Chinese descent (including some Filipino-American folks and OFWs in the U.S.A.) might have had relatives of those Chinese railroad-worker contingents. Would it not be historical, if not providential, that some of their 21st-century kin will do the same work? But this time, we will not be mere workers with braun and bravery but also brains. For it will be the result of the Filipino (and Overseas-Filipino) “brain train.”

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1 comment

Roberto M Reyes /AKA Bobby M. Reyes August 22, 2021 - 3:53 pm

This op-ed piece about a “Brain Train” may really push the Filipino people in the right track (pun intended) of choosing their national policy-&-decision makers in May 2022. More data about other proposed ventures in North America for the “New Frontier for the Youth” (NuFY) of the Philippines this coming Wednesday’s edition of this column.

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