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Filipinos: A conscientious community
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 03 - 2017

THE recent campaign by the Filipino community in Al-Khobar to clean the beach is something that needs to be commended and appreciated. The Filipino community in the Eastern Province city launched a massive cleanup drive of the Al-Khobar Beachside under the banner of ‘All Filipino Community and Sports Commission' (ASFCSCOM) and in cooperation with Al-Khobar Municipality and the city mayor's office. Florante Catanus, AFCSCOM vice president for sports affairs, was quoted in the article published in a local daily that "The cleanup drive was part of their project to keep the beaches of the Eastern Province clean and safe and protect the marine life of the Arabian Gulf."
Eastern province Emir Prince Saud Bin Naif commended the initiative by the Filipino community in cleaning the seafront. He said that this civil and humanitarian drive by the Filipino community and other communities are greatly appreciated by the Saudi people. He said that citizens and expats alike are partners in preserving public properties and keeping them clean. The prince concluded by saying that the strong relationship between the Kingdom and the Republic of the Philippines is beyond diplomatic and trade relations to the mutual respect between the people of the Kingdom and the people of the Republic of the Philippines, adding that "this is your second home."
This drive to clean the seashore of their adopted home is not strange from a community that is known for their discipline and hard work. This is indeed a noble initiative taken by great people. What makes it all the more appreciable is that the community took the decision on their own, sensing the need to be responsible toward the community they live in. All they did was to be aware of their responsibility, act on the social component and deliver on their obligation.
Their positive contribution to society has been evident right through, as we have known the Filipino community contributing positively to our economy with their hard work and conscientious in every act and in every position they are in. What is more commendable that these Filipinos, who have lived here in this country for many years do take such initiatives to give back to society, which is a belief deep-rooted in their culture.
I can positively say that it is love for this country and people that drives them to take such an initiative and to plan and deliver on their resourcefulness. To the Filipino community and other communities that have taken such positive initiatives toward society, I salute you'll.
The cleaning drive by the community is just another CSR activity, but it caught my eye as I am deeply affected by this community. My first job ever in a small architecture company involved me working with a group of ten Filipinos. I was fascinated by the level of dedication and self-accountability at work of my fellow-Filipino colleagues, which actually made me emulate them in being more responsible. I was impressed by their level of commitment toward their job that is to a level that no one needs to monitor their productivity or attendance.
I remember asking my boss at that time, who was in charge of monitoring attendance, on why he was not keeping an eye on the Filipinos as he should be, he replied with a smile that discipline is inbuilt in them and there's no need to watch over them. And my Filipino colleagues lived up to my boss' expectations. I observed their discipline, meticulousness, respect for time and the cheerful attitude toward work and lived and learned.
Now imagine if we have such drives every week, citizens and expats together, to contribute to society in any field, whether cleaning, blood donation or improving the living condition of the poor, then our society would be a finer place to live in. I believe that such drives do exist and people are more aware of it. I recently witnessed Indian expats joining with Saudi authorities in a blood donation drive. I have seen Saudi youth launching drives to clean the beach and deserts from wastes left by careless people. I have seen the large number of plastic bags collected and consigned to garbage, which indicate that the level of ignorance some of the people have toward keeping public places clean.
In an old clip that I had the chance to view recently, I saw a Korean, living in Bahrain, waking up early in the morning every day to clean the neighborhood in which he was living. What the clip revealed was astonishing. This man was a millionaire investor and he did not mind doing this. He dressed in a simple uniform and took pride in cleaning the neighborhood. And he did it of his own volition and also he cared about his neighborhood. He gave himself two names; one Yo and the other one ‘The boss of cleaning.' The acts of such people make us sometimes, if not most of the time, shameful of the lack of action on our part and also on the acts of carelessness.
The problem is that the same people who throw garbage right, left and center here are the same ones who are model people outside the Kingdom, respecting the laws of countries they are visiting and keeping the public properties clean in the country they are in. Why do they become such law-abiding people? Yes there's a reason to that too. The difference is that there is a heavy fine levied on violators and people over there, and others look down at these violators, who show such uncivilized behavior, as inferior to them. The people believe in social values have reached this level because they started from school and each parent taught their kids how to behave at a very young age.
I think the law exists even here that should deter the violators, but we need tougher punishment on those trashing our beaches and public properties and to seriously implement the existing law.
What good are the cleaning drive campaigns if one half is continuously cleaning behind the second that is continuously trashing carelessly? We need to start with ourselves and hope that our actions will teach the careless to at least take a leaf out our book and learn to contribute to the society. Let us do our part and remember, "Cleanliness is from belief."
The writer can be reached at [email protected]
Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng

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