Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Silent Invasion?

I was in SM Baguio last Sunday when my eyes were drawn to a headline in a magazine:
Korean Exodus
and the subtitle that reads:
Are we ready for them?

I stopped and pondered on that for a while. I asked myself 'Are we' ?

On Saturday last week, my friends and I were discussing about the sudden influx of Korean nationals to the Philippines -- especially in Baguio. We were in a Swimming Resort that day. At about 9AM, a large group of Koreans came and invaded the place. Well, not really... :) That arrival triggered our discussion. According to one, there are about 5,000 Korean nationals in Baguio City. THAT is a big chunk of the local residents. We are not talking about tourists here. These are people who have settled down for good.

As to why they have settled here leads us to just speculations. No one has ever dared to directly asked them to date. One of these speculations is that many of the Koreans here live very luxuriously. The exchange rate is unbelievably on their side. A Korean with an average income in their country would be a millionare here already. Imagine a US$5,000 monthly income. With that large sum of money, they can do a lot of things in the Philippines -- including the establishment of several businesses.

The revolutionist and activist in me started to revolt about the idea of having them here as capitalists. What would happen then to local entrepreneurs? I know of someone who has established a school using a Filipina as a dummy owner. Is it not revolting? Again I know of someone who established an English Tutorial (who by the way stole materials to teach) as a competitor against the locals. THAT is injustice isn't it?

However, the dollar they bring is a boost to economy. We need to strengthen our dollar reserves if we want to be a competitor in the world economy. With these Koreans choosing the Philippines as a place to invest their money, it is not surprising for the government to accept them with open arms -- sadly to the detriment of local financiers.

As a Christian (and as a Pastor at that), how should I respond to this? I believe we should turn to the Bible for answers. I have found two verses that directly answers the question that we are positing.

33 "'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31

The first one is from the Old Testament, taken straight from the "Torah" or Book of the Law. The God of Israel instructs his people to be compassionate as himself. A rough search on the word 'alien' in the Old Testament will take you to passages where the alien is cared for.

The second verse is from the Lord Jesus himself. He was asked, 'of all the laws and commandments which is the greatest?' Again, the focal point of the verse is how we treat others (and that includes aliens living among us).

Both verses speak of the principle of loving others as we love ourselves. This is the higher virtue that Christians must live up to. We must act as the God we serve acts. If he cares for these aliens, so do we. If the Lord Jesus himself cares for the aliens (e.g., the Canaanite woman at Matthew15:26), then we who call ourselves his disciples must care for them, too.

So I told myself, "They are welcome to come... as long as they don't break any law of this land. If that happens, then they have to pay for the consequences."

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