Month: March 2011

Thank you Josh and Mang Rogelio

If you have time, especially to my fellow Filipinos, please watch these videos. These are clips of BBC’s documentary, Toughest Place to be. This episode featured the lives of two people, Rogelio Castro, a Filipino jeepney driver, and Josh West, a London bus driver. The documentary however focused more on the life of Rogelio. The documentary in a nutshell made Josh try the life of Rogelio in six days. Josh actually became more than a jeepney driver. The experience brought Josh painful and touching realizations about being a hardworking Filipino driver.

The first video showed the typical life of Josh in London. How I wish the buses in the Philippines would became like Josh’s bus. Clean, comfortable seats and equipped with state of the art safety features.

This was Josh’s first time to meet Rogelio’s “boss” or his jeepney. Josh also had a first taste of Rogelio’s typical day. The everyday struggle of a Filipino driver and his family are shown in this part.

This part appeared very controversial. In one way or another, the negative effects of the absence of a national family planning program are presented. Reproductive Health Bill vs. the Catholic Church, you know?

To break the seriousness of the population issue, this episode gave me a great laugh. I am particularly referring to the Driving School Instructor. To some extent, I found Mang Rogelio as a better English communicator than the Driving Instructor. Josh’s first attempt to drive a jeepney is also shown in this part.

Sorry for being so mean, but the Instructor’s English made me laugh again. The undisciplined drivers and the dangerous highways of our country are unfortunately showcased here. Josh even said that driving in Manila is one of the scariest things he has tried in his entire life.

Gap between rich and the poor, absence of safety net or health insurance and the access to quality education for every Filipino are the sad realities presented here.

“No matter how hard I try, life seems not to be getting better for us.” I know Mang Rogelio is just one of the millions of hardworking Filipinos who are uttering this at the end of a tiring day..

Josh was given the opportunity to know Rogelio’s family in the province. It was in this part where Josh is exposed to a better environment.

“There’s no work. There’s no industry in the province. He works 12 hours a day to live in box. He can’t afford to live in a place which is better for him.” Thank you for this realization Josh… Thank you for understanding Rogelio’s situation. It’s like understanding the life of the millions of hardworking Filipino.

Another sad reality in the Philippines, the “pagpag” or recycled foods in Tondo. According to Josh, this was the worst experience in life he has ever witnessed…

This was the day! Finally, Josh becomes a Filipino jeepney driver. Could he make it? Watch the end of the documentary!

One of the saddest faces of reality, the truth hurts.. the most. Initially, the documentary appealed to me in a negative way. I felt frustrated because I know that the show will just shout to the world the poverty and harsh realities about the Philippines. We don’t need another Teri Hatcher and Claire Danes to insult us. But as I was watching it, I realized that in one way or another, the documentary highlighted some strengths possessed by Filipinos, represented by Mang Rogelio.

Filipinos could speak and understand English. We may not be equipped with the perfect and eloquent diction. But at the end of the day, we can comprehend and communicate the international language.

We are family oriented citizens. We love our family more than anything else. No matter how hard it takes, we will do everything for our family. Mang Rogelio’s life is not anymore about himself. Mang Rogelio have shown the Filipinos’ way of selfless love for the family.

Filipinos are honest and hardworking. Thank you Mang Rogelio for showing to the world that Filipinos still chose to live a decent and honorable life, despite poverty and the injustices of the society. We may be tagged as a poor nation. But the typical working Filipino lives with integrity and respect.

Not all Filipinos blame their fate to the Philippine government. In the entire documentary, Mang Rogelio never mentioned the failure of the government to support struggling citizens like him. He shed some tears of pity for his family. But Mang Rogelio still and continuously stood up to face his tomorrow.

The documentary is an eye opener. It reveals the best and worst in the Philippines. But most of the time, it showed the country’s face of poverty.

My hope is that people from all over the world who will be able to watch the documentary would be broad-minded enough to understand the situation in my country. The documentary is not all about poverty. It is a testament of how a typical hardworking Filipino deserves to be honored and respected.