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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the Philippines Category

The Hidden Cost of Cruising

February 8th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 4 Comments »

My second day in Manila, I tour squalid sections of a flimsy warren that could be called “rooms” only by the very generous.pict0185_9.JPG Ducking in from the sidewalk, into a gloomy passageway barely big enough for my medium five-foot-six frame, I stumble over a broken board bridging a stream of wash water flowing from a young girl’s public shower into the street.

The girl grins, startled, unaware of how to act in front of a stranger, in spite of the fact that a group of mah-jong playing neighbors sit within sight of her soapy, T-shirt-clad body. pict0136_6.JPGPrivacy is so non-existent, she allows me to take her photo, and laughs when I show her her image in the digital camera.

(more…)

Cruising for Freedom

February 8th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“When you buy mangoes on the street, you have to be careful,” warns Nilo, a 47-year-old Filipino, “because you only see the pretty mangoes on the top, not the rotten ones on the bottom.”pict0093_7.JPG

Nilo is a seafarer, one of the 25 percent of the world’s seafarers who come from the Philippines and work for months at a stretch on cruise ships, tankers, cargo ships. For a year, he was one of those faceless seamen who keep Americans gorging at the endless buffets on cruises.pict0096_7.JPG

After his year-long contract with Holland America ended in Miami, he took his $7,000 of annual earnings and finishing bonus and “jumped ship,” entering America illegally.

“When I saw the first ‘Miami Vice,’ (more…)

Through the Porthole

February 8th, 2008 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“We’re not criminals, we’re seaman!” Alex Quinzo pounds his chest defiantly. When his tanker recently docked in Miami, he wasn’t allowed ashore, as seamen routinely are. Quinzo committed the crime of being from the Philippines, one of the countries on the U.S. Homeland Security’s terrorist list.

“For three days, I couldn’t go to shore because I had no U.S. visa. I could only look through the porthole.” We are standing in his hot boarding house in downtown Manila. Up to 20 seamen between jobs share a room overflowing with bunk beds, paying 2,400 pesos ($60)/month for a room with air conditioning, or 1,400 pesos ($35)/month without. pict0128_6.JPG

Every day, they go down to Luneta Park, where up to 2,000 seafarers vie for jobs in a permanent sidewalk employment market. Two hundred get hired. Seventy-nine agent-employers set up shop in rows of white-tented booths. Young men in crisp white polo shirts mill through the crowd displaying plastic covered xeroxes of job descriptions and salaries.

“They’re floating sweatshops,” says pastor Reynoldo Lopez, of the many cruise ships that hire the unseen workers who make cruises possible – and profitable.

A quarter of the world’s seafarers come from the Philippines; but, they may be allowed to see the U.S. only through a porthole.

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