My little adventure to state of Israel, specifically to Jerusalem, can be summarized in one word: bitin. Although it took so much of my time and energy to get there as there is no direct flight to Tel-Aviv from Manila, I absolutely had no regrets about coming there. (Read: Manila-Hongkong-Bangkok-Amman-Tel Aviv). I managed to survive the 22-hour and 30-hour flights (back and forth) thanks to the dandy iPad.
I attended a conference on the relationship between diasporas and homelands sponsored by the Israeli government. The Philippines, being one of the big migrant-sending countries, of course, had a lot to share about its own experiences in protecting hordes of migrating Filipinos, and mainstreaming migration and development within government agencies.
There were, I think, about eighty or so participants who flew in to Jerusalem from forty countries. That’s a bit handful, and I got to hand it to the organizers for getting bringing together that diverse a crowd. Technology is really something else. Imagine calling every single participant over the telephone. That would have been such a nightmare. Thank God for e-mails.
Suffice to say, it was a great get-together. I definitely took home very important insights, which I can share, and model. I observed a lot, mind you, I am not much of a talker in person, and managed to engage some in lively discussions. I also presented one of our flagship programs on donations from overseas Filipinos, and I got to say (in my very biased opinion) that my listeners looked impressed at the service we do for our diaspora. Listening to the plenary speakers, I also thought with pride about we are far ahead in terms of according rights and privileges. Our biggest challenge now, and I believe we are also making some headway through our new projects, is to engage them to participate in activities that would help develop the country. But this is not going to happen overnight. We must all work hard for this to happen and for the results to be felt. I hope to attend again the next conference (if there will be any), and this time, I also wish for the event to have output-oriented workshops, which is lacking in this one. But as it is, the conference was really successful.