Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We are indeed divided

I suppose I'm not revealing anything new here, but the recent news on the Taotao Tano group is a clear display of how racially divided we are on this island. Ambrose Bennett quit this group for reasons he details today. His letter made total sense. He suggested Taotao Tano work with the people attending the public forums being run by Tina Sablan, which has common concerns. Apparently that wasn't a common view in Taotao Tano, as it appears that group is focused solely and exclusively on "indigenous people." Here is one example of that, "Taotao Tano Association president Gregorio Cruz Jr. claims to represent some 600 local people," note the exclusive focus on "local." That is of course their right to do so, but it would be nice if they took a larger view of the island. There are now similar, yet slightly different, petitions going around the island that will go nowhere with the diffusion of interests. I noted before that it was unfortunate to see not that many indigenous folks comparatively at the Public Forum I attended, which is clearly and openly welcoming of all people.

As best I can see, the Filipinos aren't supportive of each other. I've had Filipino friends say this to me on more than one occasion and I believe this to be true: Pinoys are more jealous of fellow Pinoys they see doing well. I see this routinely with things people have done and said to my Filipina wife. I believe Pinoys would turn on a fellow Pinoy before someone not their fellow countrymen. I find this sad.

There is also a palpable sense of racism in the air against Filipinos because they are seen as poor people doing menial labor. In fact, I've read that in Saudi Arabia, the word Filipina literally means maid. This view sickens me. I know it exists. It has to stop. It also isn't limited to this place at all. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia doesn't have a mere air of racism, it has stories that chill the blood. Type in Filipina maids in Saudi Arabia on Google and read the stories. I'm astonished at the general lack of human compassion that exists in the world. This is hardly a problem limited to this place.

The mainland folks are held as somewhat suspect because they tend to be more sympathetic to the Filipinos and more critical of the CNMI's labor practices. George Miller is a white, liberal mainlander after all, as were the majority of the Miss Magazine people, the 20/20 people, Allan Stayman, and other critics like Dengre or even me.

As best I can tell, the Chinese have no voice whatsoever, perhaps that is mostly a language issue, but they are the best at mobilizing and demonstrating. They do not appear much in the local media, other than some pointless story on what Chinese person is being kicked out for "overstaying their visa." I don't know how that is news.

The indigenous folks are afraid of speaking out because they are reliant on bloated, dying government jobs, as evidenced in this statement below. I think they are starting to realize that these government policies over the years haven't helped them all that much, and things could be better.
The Taotao Tano group is having a hard time mobilizing its “more than 1,400
members” because they are afraid of losing their government jobs, according
to its president, Greg Cruz.He said if these indigenous people were working
in the private businesses like him, there would be no reason for them to be
afraid of exercising their democratic rights.Majority of the Taotao Tano
members, he said, are working for the government. He said this is the reason
only a handful of them show up when they hold rallies.Cruz said they were
expecting at least a hundred of their members to attend the meeting at the
multi-purpose center in Susupe on Saturday, but only 20 showed up.

That we are as divided as this is depressing.


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I can see the subtle differences.

Taotao Tano is trying to be an advocacy group, fighting for the rights of the underdog, and the forum group is more of an anti-establishment group trying to change the status quo.

I don't think they have to agree on everyone, but they should be able to put the 5% that makes them different and focus on the 95% that makes them similar.

In the short time that I've been back on this island, I've noticed that can be a difficult thing to accomplish.

Most people agree that we want change; most people just disagree as to what that change should be.

The change most people seek is this:

"I, [insert name], should be in charge of things"


Jeff said...

I think local folks see the Koreans doing well with their businesses, and mainlanders can and do pick up and leave at the drop of the hat and generally aren't suffering, I think most, but not all, aren't concerned about filipinos or chinese. I notice the drive to garner support for special rights for indigenous folks such as a northern marianas casino or something, which is the focus of that Taotao Tano. It's popular, just not right.

Fundamental habits need to change in the people, not just the government: reliance on government when no one wants to pay taxes, work ethic, ambition, education and global competitiveness.

One funny thing about this Republican place. They support the GOP, but love government handouts, which classical Republican philosophy would eliminate completely.


Mr. Turbit,

Casino is not the focus of the TAOTAO Tano. The casino has been brought up by other group members also members of the Taotao Tano CNMI Association. This issue has been brought up during our public meetings not necessary we are agreeing to it 100%. We must make sure that they comply with what they attest. so please don't go be jumping the gun claiming we support such agendas without asking as first. Our blog is open to the public and do feel free to submit your concerns.

For the Koreans? They are the biggest gamblers in the CNMI but they play it smart & live within their means and of course aren't as disrespectful as the others.

Thank you,

TaoTao Tano