Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Family

I came across this video and decided to embed onto my blog because it shows the family relations when a loved one is working overseas. There were quite a bunch of videos on YouTube, but many were hard to understand because of the language barrier. This video is in Tagalog, but has the English translation. The telephone and Internet is one way of families communicating. Usually my mom would buy a pre-paid phone card and call our relatives about once or twice a month, sometimes more when there is a birthday in the family.

Families really do benefit when a loved one is working overseas. The sacrifice of being away can be hard on both parties. Birthdays missed, holidays not celebrated together, the lack of ability to be there physically. The money earned helps the family. They are able to have food at the table, afford the goods of life and in the case of the family in the video, save up for higher education.

Fortunately for this family, there is a happy ending. The father is able to return back home because he felt that he has saved enough for the family to be able to survive and even has money to send his son to college. His wife talks about working back home in the Philippines because the conditions are better for them too. I would imagine the five years away was a not easy just because he had family that worried for his health and safety and when I was watching the video for the first time, I wasn’t sure how it would end. There where shakey grounds, like when the son had to go to the hospital but the family ensured that everything will be okay.

In a culture where family is definitely something valued, the homecoming can be something very emotional and good. For the last post of the semester, I thought that I’d end in a happier note because even though there are many injustices and human rights violations happening to overseas workers, there are happy endings. On that note, don’t work in Kuwait.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What started it all?

I tried looking up exactly when and how OFW’s started, but I could not find it in one answer. I began to think about everything I learned from high school and in college because it seems that everything is interconnected. It can all go back to when Ferdinand Marcos was the president during the Martial Law. In this period, the Philippines was in lots of debt because Marcos had the country build many buildings throughout the city, trying to make a third world country look first world. The country borrowed money from international banks bringing them in a very huge debt. Even today, the country is still in that debt.

Just before the Martial Law in 1972, there was the Immigration Act of 1965, many Filipinos were able to leave the Philippines and follow their families to America. This created an opportunity for Filipinos to travel and work abroad. I can see the national connection, but I haven’t found a clear international connection. Many of those who work abroad sends a majority of their earnings back home to their families in the Philippines, not leaving much for them to use as pocket/survival money. With the Immigration Act and the Filipinos able to travel around the world, working and making money is easier than ever.

The debt that accumulated because of Marcos left the country with a very low economy, making jobs hard to find and very huge gap between the elite and lower class. From a previous blog, it said that OFWs provide about $15 million of the income of the country. That’s a lot of money and workers. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo encourages workers to go overseas. I guess I’m being politically bias, but I think she’s just trying to avoid the internal problems of the country.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I began to explore a little bit more and I happened to browse around and stumbled across The tagline of this website is: "News, views, stories for the OFW." The purpose of this site is self explanatoy from the tagline. It provides news on POEA, recruitment agencies, and others stories that may be relevant for people who want to or currently work overseas. There is one main blogger who goes by carmela. What I like about this blog is that it is divided into different categories and it has a lot of information for the global worker.

The blogs for the month of October include ones on potential overseas scams, information about looking for jobs and a network site for OFW's. Two blogs talk about warnings about working in China and Taiwan because of legal reasons and advises workers what to do if they are working in those two counties. The issue with China is with undocumented workers and even though there is a demand for teachers in China, the country is forbidden to hire teachers and even domestic workers overseas. Another blog highlights, a networking site for OWF’s, similar to the ever popular Facebook and MySpace. It just another way for many OFW’s to get to know each other. Carmela states that a really good thing about this website is that the Internet makes brings families who are thousands of miles apart, closer than ever.

I have been looking at several sites and blogs that discussed Kuwait and this blog has information about the country once again. One blog states that there are a lot of illegal workers in Kuwait and another says OFWs are needed in the country. I do wonder how much about Kuwait people know because I am convinced that it is not the safest place to be.

I think that this is a good website because it is able to provide safe information for people who are overseas and their family’s back home. There are a lot of blogs on OFW warnings, showing that the blogger cares about the safety of OFW’s.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sentenced to Death?

The link above posts a story from 1995 about a young Filipina woman Sarah Balabagan was sentenced to death for stabbing her employer to death after he had raped her. This story is unique because she was about 16 years old hen this incident happened. Against her family’s will she fled the Philippines and lied about her age so that she can work in Kuwait and help her family financially. Filipina workers were never treated with equality in Kuwait and its surrounding areas. This can be evident since the 1970s. Sarah’s employer had been giving sexually harassing from the time of her arrival and even was willing to give her gold in exchange for her virginity. Because of her Muslim beliefs, she refused this offer. Later he then took a knife to her neck and raped her. After it was over she was able to get away and used that knife to stab him 34 times. Obviously she did this out of self-defense.
The article recalls of other events where pinay workers have murdered employers in self-defense. One worker was on death row for a double murder in Singapore. This just shows that there are countries that do not have laws that protect employees. There is a great deal of injustice of Filipina women and their rights have been violated. A female employer beaten a Filipina worker to death and she was given a 5 year prison sentence. How is that different from Balabagan’s story? It seems that when workers go overseas, sometimes they would surrender their rights as a human. This is my third blog on Kuwait and they all show stories of injustice and mistreatment of their workers. What gives?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Filipino Workers Struggle Amid Economic Downturn

In this news article, it talks about the declining economy of the world and the effects of Filipinos and OFWs. Its features a woman and her OFW sister who has been working in Hong Kong for 22 years as a domestic worker. The money that the working sister brings home helps pay for the family’s food, bills and everything to be able to survive.
Last year there were about 8 million OFW working overseas, about 10% of the Philippines’ population. They sent over $15 billion USD back home and it greatly helped the Philippine economy. Many Filipinos, both in the country and OFWs are very worried that the jobs OFWs have will not be guaranteed next year because of the economy.
Many citizens believe that the government is not helping out too much and needs to stop up and help the families. They believe to help out the economy in the country, issues need to be solved within the country. If Filipinos are able to work in their own country then they can support their own economy.
I think that this article brings up important points. It shows how much OFWs are helping out the country of the Philippines and its direct impact on the families. Many people want the president Gloria M. Arroyo to be more proactive in supporting families, but I think that with her political affiliation, she will not. I actually heard from a workshop that GMA does encourage many Filipinos to leave the Philippines and work from overseas. Right now the Philippines is in debt from the Ferdinand Marcos regime and any source of income will be very beneficial. With the declining economy, I am worried for my family who are living in the Philippines because they will be deeply affected by everything that is going on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This website is a Filipino site for OFW and for Filipinos interested in working overseas. On this website workers can search on how to obtain a job and get all the proper paperwork, find a job, see what are scams, and advice about living and working in another country.

One of the items that I wanted to focus on my blog is the abuse of Filipina women. I learned that many were physically, emotionally and a sexually abused by their employers. Some employers would even hold on to passports and legal documents so that employees cannot leave the country.

A feature on the website is a Scams portion. In this area, it would post potential job scams around the world. It even gives advice on how to look for jobs and seek out potential scammers. One of the scams that it talks about is one in Veitnam where someone is out to get people’s money.

Another important feature is a job search engine. There are jobs in many different disciplines, from education to medicine to domestic work. Two popular jobs that I have heard about are domestic workers and nurses. These jobs have been labeled as a feminine job so many women would go overseas in to work in those fields.
One other good feature is the Laws and Visas. In this portion of the website, employees can look up information regarding laws in different countries about immigration, obtaining different forms required to work, and even the views on immigration of politicians. Articles also give updates on upcoming laws that will affect incoming workings.

There is a lot of information on this website for employers. With hundreds of articles, this website should be helpful when it comes to looking at potential new jobs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Personal Blog

I thought about my first blogger’s choice and I began to think about my cousin and her experience with overseas Filipina workers. She went to high school in Kuwait while her dad was serving in the military and she told me and my other cousins of how her family housed many Filipinas who worked as domestic workers and were running away from the families that they stayed in. my cousin saw her home as a sanctuary for these women. I cant recall the details, but in general, she told us that the women were being physically abused by their employers and needed to get away from them. Some employers even kept the passports and immigration papers so that the women cannot leave the country.

I remember when I first heard this story; I was very surprised because I did not know much about OFWs at the time and what they were. I heard her story in 2006 and even though I was involved in progressive Filipino groups, I was not familiar with this topic until 2007.

I wanted to look at stories from Kuwait and I stumbled upon a story of a 16 year old OFW that worked as a domestic worker. She was raped by her employer and tried to report it to Philippine Overseas Labor Office through her brother. Her brother tried to get in touch with POLO and the Embassy but was unsuccessfully to get any answers or getting the case investigated by anyone. From the time of that story, the female was still working for the same employer that raped her. I am shocked by this because even though she was helping out her family, she was dehumanized when she got raped and no one would help her out.