by Heidi M. Pascual
Keep Hope Alive
There is a saying that as long as we breathe, hope is alive. Therefore,
for this coming New Year, I am hopeful that there will be changes for
the better, not only in my native country, the Philippines, but also in the
USA, which is my second home.

What changes do I wish to happen?

*In the area of immigration — People of color are having a bad time
right now because the present Trump Administration of the United
States of A is putting lots of hurdles before any of my kind can come in
as immigrants (temporary or permanent) regardless of visa
classification. Detention centers seem to be focal points where kids
are separated from their parents, creating the most inhumane
treatment for families who thought the USA is a land of hope. The
border wall may be compared to that of Berlin in the past,
when…come to think of it, many lands belonging to Mexico were either
forcefully taken or bought cheap by Americans during those
conquering days.

My hope is for the present immigration policies to change and be
implemented by people with a heart, people who see other people as
human beings and who understand why they come, leaving their
families behind in their countries, or hoping to join them here. My hope
is for my Muslim brothers and sisters to be regarded and respected
as human beings, as well, for the vast majority of them are not

In my native country, the Philippines, there is a surge of Chinese
nationals, who are either legal or undocumented workers. Nothing
seems to be happening here in terms of penalizing or deporting these
“immigrants.” There is also an ongoing joke that the country is now a
“province of China” because of the extraordinary friendship of the
current president, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, with his Chinese counterpart,
and the refusal of his administration to challenge the Chinese
government’s invasion of islands in the South China Sea belonging to
the Philippines.

My hope is for the Philippine administration to have the balls to stand
up and face China squarely and create alliances with Southeast Asian
countries to stop the giant bully from stepping on the Filipinos. The
Philippines has no military might to challenge China this way, but it
has friends who are in the neighborhood, as well as others who are
superpowers, too, and they might not want the bully to be bigger than it
is now.

*In the area of “War on Drugs” — People of color are usually the
victims of big-time syndicates in the US of A. Many of them become
mules, pushers, or addicts themselves. They enter the crime world for
various reasons, most times because of poverty and discrimination in
a society that loves to incarcerate coloreds than others. Prisons have
revolving doors and no amount of rehab programs are enough to keep
them out.

My hope is for our government to create programs that truly make a
difference in the lives of these victims. They must not be treated as
criminals, unless they have committed grave crimes against people
and society. Our youth, especially, must be given chances to change
and be productive members of society. They’ll be future leaders, so let
us not lose hope in them.

In my native country, the Philippines, the current administration has
been criticized for “extra judicial killings” in its war against drugs.
Thousands of lives have been lost, but very few of them are big-time
drug lords. Most of the dead have been suspected pushers or users,
and very few have been given their day in court. Some big politicians
are in the Narco-List of the Duterte Administration, but nobody knows
how their names ended up there. For small towns with big drug
crimes that happened in the recent past, however, people are glad
there are very few drug-related crimes happening these days.

My hope is that the Duterte Administration and the next government be
more careful in identifying people who are in the drug business, by
creating an independent body to do the job other than the police force.
While I respect the men in uniform, many in it are in the business
themselves. Cases have unraveled that policemen have been involved
in recycling drugs that have been confiscated, reporting less than what
was confiscated, and accepting millions in bribes from drug lords

I hope that 2020 would bring a new vision to my native country and my second home, something that would be more godly in ways that will make the
world a better place to live.