I went to Divisoria twice this week because I needed to buy something that I could not find in malls or garment stores. I saw it before when I accompanied my high school classmates and balikbayans to Divisoria. So I went directly to that stall and I saw the owner, obviously angry, lashing out at the sales clerks. I asked why they were laughing and they said (translated): “He was speaking in Chinese. We did not understand what he was saying, anyway. He can talk like that the whole day and we can’t care less. He is not Filipino.)
There are many such traders in Divisoria and elsewhere—foreigners who employ Filipino workers who are paid Php100-200/day for work from the opening to the closing hours of the store—technically that’s about 10-12 hours/day. Are these traders staying legally here? Do they have proper immigration papers allowing them to engage in such businesses here? Where do all their goods come from and how do they get these goods into the Philippine market? Do they legally pass through our Bureau of Customs? Are they paying proper taxes? Instead of just going after doctors and lawyers, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) may have a good source of tax money here. Are their businesses registered with the Department of Trade and Industry or the Securities and Exchange Commission and the BIR? Who gives them business permits?
The store did not bother to give me a receipt for the stuff that I bought. When I asked for it, they presented me a receipt form bought from a book store, with no business TIN number, and certainly, not the legal receipt required by the BIR. Are they legitimate businessmen? Are they spying on us?
I wonder why nothing is being done about them. They are mostly Chinese from mainland China. One stroll around Divisoria malls and it is easy to identify them—at most they are only able to say the common Tagalog words “ate,” kuya,” “mura.” Or if they are not there and they have somebody standing in for them, those are people who are not able to make decisions in response to customer concerns and will tell you the real owners are not there.
No wonder China is laughing at us. This is happening in broad daylight in busy malls and stores all over the Philippines.
I pray that our government would do something about them and protect our sovereignty right inside our country, at the same time that we are fighting to keep the Scarborough and Ayungin shoals. Let us retake Divisoria, Baclaran and other similar trading places. These places should belong to Filipinos and traders, even foreigners, who are properly documented. If we cannot even do that, how can we retake our shoals?
Let’s talk about killer pollutions in our environment. I heard a news report the other day that the air pollution along EDSA could kill. I say, not only along EDSA, but also in many other main thoroughfares in Metro Manila. I am still lucky that my house is a hundred meters away from the ever busy V. Mapa St. and about a thousand meters away from Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard. Whenever I visit friends living along these main roads, I can literally feel the earth shaking, especially when big trucks pass by. And the noise and air pollution—the cranking sound and emissions of poorly maintained engines, could suffocate.
And I am lucky, indeed, that I have a lush urban frontyard farm. The foliage protects me from all that pollution. But my plants look pathetic with their leaves gathering all the dirt and grime from the environment. Give them a break—even plants need to breathe easy and take in nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the air.