The Philippines and Human Trafficking

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Listening to my favorite radio station on my way to work, I heard a hauntingly beautiful voice that tells us of:

“White lips, pale face
Breathing in snowflakes
Burnt lungs, sour taste
Light’s gone, day’s end
Struggling to pay rent
Long nights, strange men

And they say
She’s in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since 18
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
Cos we’re just under the upperhand
And go mad for a couple grams
And she don’t wanna go outside tonight
And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland
Or sells love to another man
It’s too cold outside
For angels to fly
Angels to fly…”

What caught my attention the most were the words: “And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland.”

Like a thought that gnaws at your conscience, I found myself choked up. For I can’t even begin to imagine the substance abuse and pain that she must have endured as she thinks of home.

I wanted to learn the rest of the lyrics and the title of the song.

I couldn’t hurry enough to get to my office because of the snarled traffic near my exit. But as soon as I arrived and sat in front of my computer, I googled the song and found out that it was written and composed by Edward Christopher “Ed” Sheeran, a 24-year-old English singer-songwriter, who in 2011 broke through commercially with this single that debuted third on the United Kingdom’s chart.

Now and then by happenstance, you find gems of songs such as Ed Sheeran’s A-Team that push the right buttons and touch you in a familiar and deep sense, and in a very emotional way at that.

Recently, I have been reflecting a lot about our country’s involvement in human trafficking. For a small country such as ours to be branded and ranked as one of the top five locations for human trafficking is not only difficult but also very painful to accept.

Many of our women in order to support themselves and their families go where the perceived economic opportunities of the moment are. It strikes me that the reality of abject poverty for millions of our people becomes the very source of how our country moves along, if not, how it financially survives. Today, that means an international market that grades the value of our women as well as men by services rendered and prices paid, legal or not.

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Our role in human trafficking is too profane that I cannot scarcely recall a moment that both our local and OFW women have not been stereotypically marginalized in the public domain, sometimes celebrated on the dais as the new heroines, while at the same time, denigrated as sources of cheap sex and labor.

Theirs is indeed a cold and cruel world “for angels to fly.”

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