“In the service of the Filipinos” | Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons by ILO/R. Cabangal
Part IV of the Filipino Melting Pot Series
In August 1988, I was the only Filipino media representative present when then-Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Raul Manglapus of the Philippines addressed the Foreign Relations Council (FRC) of Los Angeles in a downtown 5-star hotel. I came in early. I found Minister Manglapus alone with only an aide and another staffer from the Philippine Consulate General of Los Angeles at the hotel lobby. He and his aides came in also early. Too early as I was. And so, I conducted a one-person press conference with him.
Mr. Manglapus (now deceased) and I exchanged many pleasantries, like when I escorted him in a rally in now-Sorsogon City in the 1987 senatorial election under the Cory Aquino Administration. And how I became a close friend with his son-in-law, Atty. Benjamin Maynigo (now also deceased) in San Beda College, where I was a year ahead of Ben. He even asked me if I wanted to work for the MFA as the PCG-LA press officer. I replied, “Why not?” But the formal offer never came. Perhaps, the Office of the President’s Press Secretary eventually nixed the idea as I wrote lots of critical articles about then-president Corazon Aquino. I called her the Filipino Wonder Woman (as she made people wonder if she knew what she was doing.) But then the Aquino Administration was not astute. Because if it allowed Mr. Manglapus to hire me for the LA post, then I would no longer be free to write biting commentaries against the then-president.
I asked Minister Manglapus the gist of his speech at the FRC meeting to deliver less than an hour later. He told me it was the (reverse) Philippine “(educational) foreign aid to the United States.” Readers may like to read my article about the Manglapus speech on the Philippine Foreign Aid to the USA published in 2007 (nearly 19-years later). It was a partial reprint of my 1988 article published in the Filipino Journal of Los Angeles (now defunct). Here is the link to the 2007 article (as updated).
It is a part of what I wrote in 1988: “Then MFA Minister Manglapus said that the “foreign aid” of the Philippines to the United States consisted of educating and training the more-than 500,000 Filipino nurses, the 17,000 Filipino physicians, and the thousands more of Filipino medical professionals (such as dentists, pharmacists, medical technicians, radiologists, dietitians, healthcare workers, etc.) who were then working in the American hospital and healthcare industries.”
“Who would know that more than 2,200-years ago, the prophet Ben Sirach foretold the tender-loving care (TLC) of the Filipino nurses and caregivers in North America?”
Eventually, I upgraded Mr. Manglapus’s figures in the 2000s to more than 600,000 Filipino nurses, 22,000 Filipino physicians, and tens of thousands more medical workers in the US hospitals and nursing homes. Mr. Manglapus and I could not foresee in 1988 that more than 200,000 Filipino licensed caregivers would become the favorite hires of many American nursing-and-retirement centers by the 2010s.
The day after Christmas Day in 2010, I wrote this article about the Filipino “TLC,” and Ben Sirach. as found in this link. Who would know that more than 2,200-years ago, the prophet Ben Sirach foretold the tender-loving care (TLC) of the Filipino nurses and caregivers in North America?
Here is a dramatization of the TLC trait of Filipinos using the words of a Filipino-American caregiver. He explained that “It is not only the salary of $15 per hour that the agency pays me, but I am doing it also for my late father. I could not go home to the Philippines when my father had his fatal illness. My failure to take care of my Dad at his deathbed made me so sad. Now, I see in the faces of the American elderly patients under my care the image of my father. I take care of them as if I was ministering to my Dad and I derive so much emotional satisfaction in serving my patients.”
In 2009, I approached the Los Angeles-based biggest agency of a New York-headquartered life-insurance company. I inquired about joining us in bidding for its LTC (long-term care) subsidiary that it wanted to sell. It tried to dispose of it, as it lost tons of money in fulfilling its contracts with clients who obtained healthcare/LTC insurance. I said that Filipino-American TLC experts were the best bets to provide LTC services. But I was required to convey the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) and the Philippine Medical Association of the USA (PMAUSA) and their equity in the tri-venture. However, my inquiries to them did not even merit a formal meeting with the medical professionals. Perhaps the leaders of the Filipino-American nurses and physicians thought that I was crazy to bid for an LTC unit of a 150-year old NYC-based insurance company when I was only a journalist. Or perhaps they said (after our initial meeting with their leaders), “The nerve of this Bobby Reyes to propose buying a multi-million division of a giant American insurance firm when he has no medical background at all”…
If only the Filipino-American medical professionals evaluated my claim about the TLC being the number-one asset of an LTC facility, they would surely agree that the business idea was viable and bankable. Why? Because even a former president of the PMAUSA got married to an officer of a PNAA chapter. And similarly, many Filipino-American physicians looked for a Filipino nurse for a wife, a Filipino-American cardiologist, who got married to my sister, a nurse.
“I predict further that the Pueblo-Filipino venture in the Colima and Jalisco provinces of Mexico will eventually provide retirement condos for Filipino-American retirees.”
Eventually, my prediction — as the alleged “Sorsoganon Nostradamus” — is that the Filipino-American medical professionals and entrepreneurs will ultimately dominate the nursing-and-retirement industry (and own most of the biggest LTC firms in North America by buying out their present corporate owners).
I predict further that the Pueblo-Filipino venture in the Colima and Jalisco provinces of Mexico will eventually provide retirement condos for Filipino-American retirees. Also, affordable TLC/LTC nursing homes in North America — in a joint venture with at least 4 million nurses and another million physicians, caregivers, medical technologies, pharmacists of Filipino descent.
And retirees and nursing-homes residents will enjoy their “retirement enclaves” that come complete with Filipino majority-controlled hotel resorts with gaming facilities, sports complexes, performing-art centers, museums, and other amenities. (Editor’s Note: The columnist will explain in the next edition of this column why the number of Filipino nurses in North America will be more than 4 million by 2030.)
Perhaps a generation from now, even Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans of Filipino descent would say, Yes, “Reyes, the writer, not only was a Sorsoganon version of Nostradamus but also the modern-day version of Ben Sirach.” But that will be the day when I would probably be in the Blue Yonder.