It’s more fun in the Philippines?

We recently came back from a one month vacation in the Philippines. My plan was to update the blog while there, but we had much more limited access to the Internet than I thought we would, as well as a quite full-packed time-schedule.

This was my second time in the country, and I just got more aware of the contrasts that exist there. There’s two very different sides of the Philippines, and I have had the privileged to see both of them to some extent.

On one hand we have the Philippines that tourists see; paradise. The parts with all the resorts, white beaches, waterfalls and so on, everything beautiful that the country has to offer. On the other hand we have the lives of the many people living in poverty; in homes that would barely be called homes here in Finland – or even without a home at all – with storms and floods as a part of life, without enough money to feed the family.

The reality of a country with so much natural resources and so much talent saddens me. With a government full of corruption the people who call Philippines their home struggle to stay above the surface, and it breaks my heart. Seeing kids walking around hungry in the street without shoes or proper clothes, hearing how badly workers are treated and how little rights they have, how expensive it is to get your children proper education, and how huge the gap between the rich and the poor is… the list goes on an on.

I love the Philippines. I have family there now, I have friends there, I have friends who have families there, I have people I care about in this country on the other side of the world. The more I love, the more I care, and the more the situation breaks my heart. The people of the Philippines are strong, they always work hard, and they always have a smile on their face even though how bad their circumstances get. They deserve so much better.

I care about human rights…

…and a lot of these rights are ignored or violated every day, all over the world.

That’s why I’m in the local Amnesty group. This Sunday we will have an event in Rewell Center here in town, in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who was murdered the 7th October 2006 for daring to speak the truth. Today, 6 years later, the murder has still not been solved, and in Russia there is no real freedom of speech. Journalists and human rights defenders still have to fear for their lives.

So if you happen to live in Vaasa, or somewhere close, come see us and speak up for the  freedom of speech by signing Amnesty’s petition to the Russian government. We are there from 1 pm.