Stay and help RP, Nobel laureate advises Pinoys

Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 7, 2008

BAGIO CITY-A NOBEL LAUREATE HAS urged educated Filipinos to shun overseas jobs and stay in the Philippines where their services are needed more.

Professor Aaron Ciechanover, one of the winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry said serving one's country by staying home and empowering others was one of the best ways to boost the Philippine economy and improve the quality of life of Filipinos.

Ciechanover, a chemistry professor in his native Israel, noted that one of the sad facets of the Philippine economy was that educated Filipinos tended to leave the country to serve foreigners at their country's expense.

"People can make an impact in their own countries, why do they have to serve Americans, Europeans or Middle Easterners? The Philippines is the biggest exporter of manpower in the world. We are educating nurses and [then we] send them away? Nobody stays here anymore," Ciechanover told the Inquirer on Saturday.

Ciechanover toured Baguio schools and delivered lectures as part of his Northern Luzon visit.

The International Peace Foundation (IPF) brought Ciechanover to the Philippines under its "Bridges" program which aims at building bridges, through Nobel laureates, to link up with universities and other institutions in Southeast Asia. It wants to establish long-term relationships that may result in common research programs and other forms of collaboration.

Ciechanover, a member of the faculty of medicine of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, shared the 2004 Nobel Prize with professors Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose.

Ciechanover said he understood the economic needs of professionals who pursue careers abroad, but he said the basic sectors in the Philippines, such as in health care, needed the services of their countrymen.

"Money is a legitimate driving force... but on one hand, it is alarming that there are many Filipinos who study nursing and do not stay here," he said.

He said one of the best investments the government could focus on was education, especially on science and technology, to improve the country's economy and Filipinos' lives.

In an earlier press forum, Delfina Camarillo, Cordillera director of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), said even threats and the weakening of the US dollar would not stop man Filipinos from leaving the country.

"Filipinos still insist on leaving and working abroad, even in war-tom countries when [the government had imposed] a ban [on the entry of Filipino workers]," said Camarillo

"We always hear from them that would rather eat bullets than die of starvation in our country"

The weakening of the dollar is not affecting the number of Filipinos who want to work abroad.

"You cannot stop the deployment because employment in our country is still a problem," he said.

BY DESIREE CALUZA (Northern Luzon)