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HOWIE SEE IT: The many faces of Filipino resilience

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By Atty. Howie Calleja

Non-essential travel is advised to be canceled and a recommendation of travel ban are among the steps taken by our government to prevent casualties of Filipino citizens in Israel. On the other hand for those seeking employment in Israel, there is no ban on sending overseas foreign workers however, they are advised to take extreme precaution while working in Israel.

No one can argue that Filipinos are known survivors of desperate circumstances and a strong fighter in challenging situations. We succeed to endure from disenchantments, we arise more stalwartly and resolute to face the odds that come. One of the most outstanding values of Filipinos is resilience.

Although Canoy (as cited by Casal, 2019) calls it as “superhuman patience”, I believe that such predisposition is due to the fact that our faith has taught us so — to see every GOOD FRIDAY as way towards EASTER SUNDAY. This is the reason why Filipinos are not self-assured in doing things especially in making big choices that entail his/her own future and family. Filipino spirit is an indomitable spirit, the spirit of resilience, most of all, spirit of triumph. A strong foundation for resilience other than our faith is our family. Since it is the basic unit of society, full attention and love is focused on it, thoroughgoing love to the point of forfeiting one’s own life to provide for the needs and wants of his/her family.

Such face of Filipino Resilience is what I personally witnessed among our compatriots (Kababayans) amidst the continuing conflict in Israel with the Hamas threat in Gaza and Hezbollah in the north vis-à-vis the ongoing tensions among other Arab neighbors. In the midst of all these tensions, a Filipino will only say… “Life Must Goes On”. As a contributing writer for tour and lifestyle for Asian traveler magazine I was fortunate to be in a group of invited journalists. We spent 3 days in Jerusalem, one day in the Dead Sea area; and before flying back we had another 3 days in Tel Aviv.

During our tour in the City of Jerusalem I was glad there where no long lines. Visiting the sites and tourist areas was a breeze. There were no lines which kept me wondering how I busy would it have been before the conflict started? I was told that before the start of the conflict in Gaza, it would take 1-2 hours to be in line but to my surprise and delight it was hassle free. This enabled me to maximize the time to learn and discover the history and culture of a biblical civilization first hand and outside the four corners of an academic discussion.

It also noteworthy to underscore that despite obvious conflict felt in the air by the regular population; everything remained relatively peaceful. Except for a few major sites such as the western wall and the entrance to the Dead Sea, I did not feel nor witnessed any military check point or station, compared here in Manila where every building you enter is subjected to searches by the police, security personnel or military. In the places I visited, a majority had minimal security measures which made our visit less threatening to an already tensed situation.

The resilience of being far away from home to work in a country obviously facing security challenges of its own is what I saw in the eyes of our KABABAYANS working as OFWs in hotels, resorts and restaurants here in Israel. And such resilience is what truly makes them not just O-verseas C-ontract W-orkers but O-ur Contribution to the W-orld which sadly has been torn by War and Socio-Economic & Political Strife. Some of them would say that I was brave to be a tourist in Israel but I would reply that they were braver because they chose not to be repatriated despite the conflict they have to live with.

As a first Time visitor in Israel such a display and “face” of resiliency is an inspiring sight. Braving the challenges posed to overcome the fear of pilgrimage to a country rich in historical discovery; so, come visit, pray and learn in the Holy Land. If our KABABAYANS are brave enough to stay and refuse reparation. I saw that we can be pilgrims once more and visit Israel soonest

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