SAN FRANCISCO – When Evelyn Ramos and Lydia Capili moved to America a few years ago, they dreamed of a better life.
“Lahat ng Pilipino yun ang expectations kaya akala nila pagdating mo dito you can see the green apple immediately,” Ramos said.
Ramos, who used to be a real estate agent in the Philippines, could only find work as a caregiver in America. She uses most of her $1,800 a month salary to support her grandchildren.
Lydia Capili only earns $1,200 a month as a caregiver. She also sends more of her income to her family in the Philippines.
She has to live in a room in a garage to be able to afford living in San Francisco. She reasoned, “kasi ipinagpapakasakit ko yung sarili ko para sa pamilya ko dahil sa dami ng anak ko," Capili said.
These Filipino caregivers are just among an estimated 46.5 million people in America who are considered poor. President Barack Obama is now making a plea for bipartisan work to combat poverty and declare 2014 as a “Year of Action”.
“We’ve got to make sure this recovery, which is real, leaves nobody behind and that’s going to be my focus throughout the year,” the President said.
Among President Obama’s proposals to combat poverty is to target 20 of the hardest-hit towns in the country and provide them with more funding from the government. In those areas, President Obama proposed to offer tax breaks for companies that set up businesses or hire workers there.
But these Filipino caregivers remind President Obama that there are also struggling people living in rich cities like San Francisco. They said he should try to bridge the gap between rich and poor all over America.
“Masipag ka nga dito kahit anong trabaho, ok lang. Pero ang problema, kailangang tulungan din ng gubyerno ang mga tao, kahit middle class people, para maka-adjust ang buhay dito," Ramos said.
"Dapat talaga magtrabaho sila ngayon. Ipatupad nila yung pangako nila...naka-dalawang term na si Presidente Obama dapat tuparin na niya yun," Capili pointed out.
President Obama said he intends to make good on his promise to give poor Americans a shot at economic success. He plans to talk more about his goals during his State of the Union address on January 28.