Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, May 21, 2009

YourSay: Guam Deja Vu

Hi Ed,

How are you?

Do you remember our conversation re. recruitment of workers for Guam? The news article brings me back to what I was sharing with you that was forgotten by people in Region 3 and Olongapo-Zambales .

I was sharing with you that my late father, TEOFILO E. HERMOSO from Candelaria,Zambales facilitated the recruitment of workers from Zambales-Olongapo and provinces of Central Luzon and Pangasinan & La Union. Later he became the president of Guam Filipino-Employees Association, a 20,000 member organization of the Filipinos in Guam with whom he fought for equal pay rights as in the mainland USA in Guam being a trusted territory.
The campaign at that time earned a Congressional inquiry from the Philippines and became a banner headline in Phil newspapers. My father used his personal resources to bring the case to the US supreme court but somehow, Pres. Marcos after winning the elections did not push for it anymore after my father campaigned with the 20,000 employees with their families.

At that time having 20,000 voters plus all their families was a huge advantage which is why Marcos got 80% of votes. My father was often with Marcos in his campaign sorties and was used. The Guam employees were the first OFWs from the Philippines. They were the first to have built those houses that were considered "better-off" during those times. Most are gone and delapidated except for a few. They were the two-storey wooden houses whereas most then were one-storey houses. He was responsible in selecting the applicants and took advantage to get 300 workers from Candelaria (his town) San Marcelino (town of my mother) and Subic (where he met my mother) and all the other towns were allocated 200 workers each.
He reviewed and approved their applications and had them to sign their employment contracts with the US Navy who later on blamed him and his team for recruiting "not-qualified" and "without skills". My father often explained to us that he passed them to get the employment contracts in Guam even if they do not have the required skills. Imagine hiring 200 to 300 workers from each town that has no electricity, no water system and practically without motorized vehicles and yet he applied them and passed them on as electrician, plumbers, auto-mechanics, office clerks, skilled laborers and technicians of all sorts. With the US Navy being confronted with so much workers that are barefoot farmers and half-baked technicians and without skilled labor force, he then set to organize with the US Navy in Guam special tutorial classes to train the unqualified and skill less workers. Later they all became skilled and when they came home, they started to set up their shops and made there learned skills as business or later employed in the Philippines being skilled workers already.
Isn't that some kind of patriotic move? I have met some people who were in Guam, many have passed away of course but when I talked to some of them, they remember well and in fact I hired a motor-repair and an auto-mechanic who told me stories how they went to school in Guam and learned the trade with which they were employed as they continued their schooling.

The Filipinos in Guam were the same who later on moved to Hawaii and eventually many became qualified to step in the US mainland.

I thought this could well be a piece of history as once again, Filipino OFWs will re-populate Guam.

I also remember talking to some workers in the PWC in Subic Naval Base who came from Guam with their civilian supervisor named KEITH PARSONS. They all knew about it all.

I remember that a marker was put up in Candelaria to honor his efforts but was soon forgotten. A good research will justify the forgotten history.



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