Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 48 January 12 - 18, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Palani: Jobless and Separated from Family
Palani went to Sabah, Malaysia in 1988 to work as a construction worker. He has
since settled there with his wife and three kids.
had had no problem staying in Sabah since he entered the country legally and had
all the necessary papers. When his working permit expired in 1992, he was
assured that his employers would process his working papers for him.
therefore came as a surprise when the Malaysian police arrested Mohammed one day
for working with an expired work permit. Along with other Filipinos, he was
carted off to jail without being given the opportunity to inform his family of
his arrest. In jail, Mohammed witnessed the indiscriminate brutality of the
police toward Filipino detainees. He too suffered from physical and verbal
abuse, as well as the lack of food and other necessities. Then in September last
year, Palani was put on a jam-packed ship and sent back to the Philippines, with
nothing but the clothes on his back.
journey was only the start of many troubles for Mohammed. With no word about his
family in Sabah, and no relatives whom he could contact in the Philippines,
Mohammed was at a total loss on what to do when he arrived in Sulu. At the
temporary shelter, the conditions were only a little less miserable than on the
ship and in the Sabah jail. Mohammed had no money with which to get himself at
least a change of clothes, and the supply of food for the refugees was meager
and far in between. With nowhere to go, he decided to join friends who
eventually moved in with relatives in Tawi-tawi.
Tawi-tawi, he set himself to work as an extra hand in a construction project at
a school. His plan was to try to earn enough money to go back to Sabah and look
for his family. His luck, however, failed him again, when he injured his hand in
Penniless and unable to work, Mohammed is now helplessly stranded in Tawi-tawi. Worry for the family he left in Sabah consumes his thoughts everyday, and the hope that he will one day be reunited with them is the only thing that keeps him from falling into despair. Bulatlat.com