TYPES OF JOBS DONE BY OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS

JOBS DONE BY OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS

Floyd Whaley wrote in New York Times, According to a Filipino employment agency, “about 1.6 million people left the Philippines in 2011 to work overseas. About 369,000 of them went to work on ships, with the remainder employed in a range of fields, including as nurses, waiters, welders, plumbers and caregivers. But the sector that draws the most people from the Philippines overseas is, by far, household services. In 2011, 142,486 people left the country to work as domestic helpers. Nurses made up the second-largest group, at 17,198.” [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, January 31, 2013]

The scope and the variety of jobs performed by overseas Filipinos is truly astounding. They work as constriction worker, engineers and drivers in the Middle East. They crew merchant ships, work as nurses in American hospitals, perform in circuses in Europe and play in cover bands all over the world. Large numbers of Filipina maids working in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Brunei. In the United States, they work as nurses, accountants, care givers in nursing homes, salesladies and delivery people . Many ships that ply the world have Filipino crews. At the United Nations Filipinos fill clerical positions and serve as translators. At the Vatican, Filipino priests and nuns run many of the day-to-day activities. By one count Filipinos perform 250 different jobs in 170 countries and can even be found in such remote places as Chad and Kazakhstan.

Many Filipino laborers toil in Japan and Korea. At the Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994, 55 Filipinos posing as athletes were deported after they were caught trying to enter the country to work. The phony "athletes" wore fake team uniforms, carried forged identification cards and had bogus stickers plastered on their baggage. South Koreans makes jokes about Filipinos working there. Filipino entertainers abroad make about $1,500 a month, even in a poor country, compared to $350 a month for a teacher in the Philippines.

Thousands of Philippine musicians and singers perform at resorts and hotels from Bali to Tokyo to san Francisco. Around 1 million Filipino workers work in Saudi Arabia, most of them employed in construction jobs. Attention to these workers was drawn when one of the them, Angelo de la Cruz, was abducted by terrorists in Iraq. So many Filipina nurses get jobs overseas, that there are shortages of nurses in the Philippines and health care is in danger of collapsing. Nurses who earn $400 a months in the Philippines can earn $4,000 a month in the UK.

Filipina Hostesses in Japan

Many Filipinas in Japan work as prostitutes or go there to seek a husband. Recruiters find girls for the "the flesh trade" in South Korea, Japan and elsewhere. One recruiter, who finds girls on Mindanao for hostess bars in Japan told National Geographic, "If she's beautiful she makes $1,500 a month."

The recruiter said he buses the girls to Manila, puts them up in a dormitory and teaches them to dance and entertain for four months before shipping them off for three- to six month stints in Japan. The girls are required to pass a dancing test even though their main duty is lighting cigarettes, pouring drinks and flirting with Japanese salarymen. Offering advise on their first weeks in a foreign country, the recruiter said, "You will be so lonely. The only thing to do is work yourself to sleep. And pray, pray, pray.”

Describing Filipinas at the Philippine club in Tokyo, Michael Parfit wrote in National Geographic, "The booths were full. There was a man in each, flanked by one of two Filipino women. They laughed and giggled together. Sometimes they got up and sang in time to a karaoke machine. All the people I talked with assured me that none of the women are expected to go home with the men but also acknowledged that sometimes they do."

Richard C. Paddock wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Many young women who go abroad as entertainers end up working in the sex trade. All over Japan, salarymen come to Philippine pubs to escape the tedium and stress of their jobs. They drink sake and sing karaoke with "japayuki," beautiful, scantily clad young women. [Source: Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2006 ~~]

“In Osaka, the Philippine clubs are concentrated in the crowded Dotonburi district. Many are controlled by Japanese organized crime. Customers spend as much as $500 an evening in one of the better establishments. Large clubs typically stage a brief show in which the women sing a few songs and dance. The rest of the time, they flirt with the customers, pouring sake, feeding them and lighting their cigarettes. They can make more in tips in an evening than they could working for a month as a salesclerk back home. They can make even more if they agree to have sex. "The customers make offers," said Estrella Pumar, 31, who was heading from Manila to Osaka for her second tour. "It's up to the girls to decide what kind of life to live." ~~

“The women live six or seven to a room provided by their employers. If they are lucky, they get a day off every two weeks. Many aspire to marry a Japanese man and secure a residency permit. Having a child in Japan ensures residency status after a divorce, which is how 80 percent of these marriages end. Wendy, 37, followed her mother to Japan in the 1990s. A brother and sister moved to Los Angeles. She spent 10 years working in pubs before marrying a Japanese man, having a son and opening her own club in Osaka, the Twin Angels. "It's better to be here than in the Philippines," said Wendy, who declined to give her full name. But someday she'd like to return home and perhaps open a McDonald's. In the meantime, she said, "we have to survive."

Floyd Whaley wrote in New York Times, “Thousands of musicians from the Philippines who are prominent in bars, lounges and clubs around Asia and the Middle East. In 2002 alone, more than 40,000 entertainers left the Philippines to work overseas, primarily in Japan. Musicians, can make as much as $2,000 a month working in five-star hotels, or $800 to $1,500 a month working on a cruise ship, according to performers and government officials. But they are also vulnerable to exploitation, said, and some earn $400 per month.[Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, January 31, 2013 ^*^]

“After allegations of prostitution among some entertainers, however, the Japanese government found that many of the female musicians could not actually play a musical instrument, and that many of the vocalists did not have much of a voice. After the crackdown, the number of performers who left the Philippines to work overseas dropped to 4,050 in 2006, from 43,818 in 2004. The figure now hovers around 1,500 to 2,000 a year, government statistics show, with Japan remaining the top destination, followed by Malaysia, South Korea and China. ^*^

“In the past, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration held auditions to verify the legitimacy of musicians seeking to work overseas, said Celso J. Hernandez, the head of the agency’s operations and surveillance division. After the Japanese crackdown, however, the Philippine government discontinued the practice. These days, the government relies on vetting by licensed recruitment agencies, although it still examines the musicians’ paperwork.“We only allow musicians and entertainers to work in legitimate establishments such as cruise ships and major hotels,” said Yolanda E. Paragua, a senior official with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. “Not in honky-tonk type places.” ^*^

Life of a Overseas Filipino Musician

Floyd Whaley wrote in New York Times, “For more than 30 years, Josetoni Tonnette Acaylar has been singing and playing the piano throughout Asia. He has provided relaxing background music and taken requests for pop and jazz standards in more five-star hotel lobbies and smoky lounges than he can recall, in Brunei, China, Dubai, Hong Kong and other locales. In one job in Japan, he was told to take off his tuxedo and work in the kitchen, washing dishes and scrubbing floors. “Sometimes they would pull me out of the kitchen, give me a jacket and yell, ‘Play the piano!’ and I would have to perform,” Mr. Acaylar recalled with a laugh. [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, January 31, 2013 ^*^]

“Domingo Mercado Jr., who goes by the stage name Jojo, wrote and performed original music when he left high school, as part of a nine-piece band called Music and Imagination. Some of his friends have had a taste of fame, but he went in another direction. “I resigned from the band and took a job in Korea,” said Mr. Mercado, 45. “I gave up on my dream.” Mr. Mercado has performed across Asia as a singer and guitarist since 1994. He recently returned from a six-month job on a cruise ship.^*^

“Although singers and musicians from the Philippines can be found performing in many hotel lounges around Asia, the field is actually quite specialized and highly competitive. “A hotel might need many waiters, cooks and housekeepers,” Mr. Hernandez of the overseas employment agency said. “But they only need one or two musicians.” However musicians from the Philippines are in demand, said Maria Victoria Kinpanar, a booking agent. ^*^

“But she noted that the improved economy in the Philippines had created some lucrative options for musicians who wanted to stay or return home. “Overseas work is short-term contract work. It’s not stable,” Ms. Kinpanar said. “Some high-quality musicians are now able to find long-term work here in the Philippines.” Indeed, after spending 30 years working across Asia, Mr. Acaylar now has a regular job playing the piano in the lounge of the Hyatt Hotel & Casino in Manila. But he is still uncomfortable with the suggestion that he is a traveling lounge musician. “I don’t categorize myself as a lounge singer or lobby pianist,” he said. “That requires formal training. I just play the piano and sing songs.” ^*^

Overseas Nurses, Many of Them Filipino Doctors

In 2006, Mong Palatino wrote in Global Voices: “The most popular college degree in the Philippines is nursing. More than 100,000 Filipino nurses have left the country to seek better opportunities. According to the Department of Health, 85 percent of the country’s total number of licensed nurses are to be found in the hospitals of other countries. One reason why the Philippines is a top supplier of nurses in the world is that it produces skilled nursing graduates who can speak good English. Ang Blog ni Sayote Queen represents the typical Filipino teenager who aspires for other career but ends up studying nursing in the end. The term ‘second-courser’ refers to professionals, including doctors who go back to school again to study nursing. [Source: Mong Palatino, Global Voices, July 23, 2006]

Richard C. Paddock wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Medical regulations in the U.S. and European countries typically make it very difficult for foreign doctors to work there as physicians. But nurses are in such demand that some recruiters offer bonuses of $15,000, the equivalent of three years' pay for a doctor in Dumaguete. Of 207 doctors in Negros Oriental province, 79 have become nurses and more than 30 are in nursing school. This hospital is supposed to have 72 doctors, but only 43 remain. The Dumaguete district has closed two of its six rural hospitals and may soon have to close a third, said Dr. Ely Villapando, the province's chief health officer. [Source: Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2006 ~~]

"We are worried sick about medical doctors taking up nursing and leaving," said Villapando, 63, who also runs the hospital. "We are losing the most skilled doctors. This is a crisis in healthcare." An aid agency gave the hospital new cardiology equipment, but it sits unused. The hospital's only cardiologist left to become an emergency-room nurse in Chicago. What she earned in a month here, she can now make before lunch. ~~

“Villapando makes the equivalent of $437 a month. Two of his children have become nurses in the United States, one in Bakersfield and one in Texas. They send him money. "My son already has a house of his own," he said. "He has two cars. My daughter is building a house and has two cars. They could not hope to achieve that here." ~~

“To become nurses, the doctors attend classes on weekends for a year and spend 2,200 hours as volunteer nurses at the hospital. Sometimes they do both jobs the same day. "Some of the patients get confused," said Dr. Joyce Maningo, an internist studying to be a nurse. "They say, 'Weren't you a doctor this morning?' " ~~

An ophthalmologist with her own practice, Dr. Eileen Marie Macia is near the top of her profession. Her father was a surgeon and a congressman. He was instrumental in building a new wing of the Dumaguete hospital. But she, too, is giving up. She is in nursing school and weighing whether it would be better to live in Tennessee or Los Angeles. "If I go to the States, I will have to forget I am a doctor," she said as she made her nursing rounds. "I love the Philippines, but it will always be a Third World country."

In 2007, the United States banned some 17,000 Filipino nurses who passed the 2006 nursing examination amid allegations of mass cheating. According to the Pinoy: The United States Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) issued the temporary ban insisting that Filipino nurses retake sections of the June 2006 Nursing Licensure Examination where mass cheating took place. [Source: The Pinoy, February 17, 2007]

The scandal rocked the country’s medical profession and cast a shadow over the quality of its nurses, who are in high demand overseas, especially in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Some 42,000 students sat the nursing examination but only 17,000 passed. All foreign nurses must have a CGFNS-issued VisaScreen Certificate before being allowed to work in the US. “The integrity of foreign licensing systems ultimately affects the health and safety of patients in the United States, a primary consideration of CGFNS in its role of evaluating candidates under US immigration law,” the CGFNS said.

Filipino Seamen

Richard C. Paddock wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “In neighborhood, three blocks from the U.S. Embassy, a crowded sidewalk serves as an informal hiring hall for sailors. The Philippines produces nearly 25 percent of the world's seafaring workers, more than any other nation. Hundreds of would-be sailors were hanging around in the shade of the leafy narra trees as agents wandered by, holding up signs offering jobs on ships sailing from Germany, Argentina, Los Angeles or Greece. Some sought engineers and first mates for cargo ships. Others needed chefs and waiters for cruises. Merchants offered CDs providing instruction on how to moor a ship, plan a voyage, speak "maritime English" and handle hazardous materials. [Source: Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2006 ~~]

“Freddie Vicedo spent three decades at sea, earning enough to build a house 20 miles south of Manila and send his children to school. Now past the mandatory retirement age of 50, he was seeking one last job. "It's OK to be away if it provides you with a home and a future," he said. "It's better than living all together in poverty."

Overseas Filipina Maids

Many Filipinas also work as domestic servants in Italy. Filipinas are sought after for domestic work because they are regarded as caring, good with children and culturally flexible. Plus they work cheap. There are many more Filipina maids in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East.

There were an estimated 249,000 foreign domestic workers employed in Hong Kong in the early 2000s. These included around 150,000 Filipino maids, the largest non-Chinese group in the city. Most of the others were from Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The Filipina maids are known locally as amahs, or sparrows, because of all the noise they make when they gather together. They generally live at the homes of their employers and have to sleep on a bed in the laundry room or even a mattress in the bath. Most subsist on packets of noodles and cabbage and cheap meat they fix for themselves. When there is a dinner party they are allowed to eat the leftovers.

Many of the women are married, have children and are college educated. Some are escaping an unhappy marriage. One maid told the Washington Post the reason she come to Hong Kong was: "Number is the economic problem. Number two...it's a temporary escape from the harsh realities from married life."

So many Filipina maids gather in the Central District on Sunday, their day off, that several downtown streets are closed. There they speak Filipino and socialize with one another. They sit on plastic mats or old newspapers, chat, sing, braid each other hair, eat Filipino food, read Filipino newspapers and listen

Richard C. Paddock wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “In Hong Kong, Philippine maids gather by the thousands in the city center every Sunday to spend their day off together. They fill the parks and sidewalks and overflow into the streets. Sitting on cardboard or sheets of plastic, they hold prayer meetings, play cards and have picnics. Beneath the festivity is a sense of melancholy. These women spend the best years of their lives serving others. [Source: Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2006]

See Hong Kong, Singapore

Filipina Maids in Saudi Arabia

About about 13,000 maids head to Saudi Arabia every year, of which 9,000 are newly hired and the rest are returning workers who have their contracts renewed. The Philippines has rules on how the maids should be treated, in parts of a number of cases of abuse, and how much they are paid.

In 2011, Associated Press reported: Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Saudi government wants the minimum monthly salary for Filipino maids lowered from $400 to $200. Saudi officials have complained that the Philippine government has imposed other strict measures on Saudi employers, including giving out their personal data and information on their income. In March, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced it was suspending processing of new contracts. [Source: Associated Press, May 21, 2011]

Baldoz said the Philippine government's requirements are mandated by law, including the minimum wage, as part of measures to protect the welfare of overseas workers particularly in Arab countries, where abuse is rampant. "These countries continue to pressure us not to impose the ban, citing their political role in the peace negotiations in the southern Philippines and threats to cut oil supplies," she said. "There is really a wide political repercussion regarding the hiring of household service workers."

Philippines Cell Phone Overseas Cash Transfer Systems

On how some OFWs send money abroad with cell phones, Mary Jordan wrote in the Washington Post, “It was 10:33 p.m. when Dulce Amor Bandoy's cellphone beeped with her favorite kind of message. "You have received 1,321.00 of G-Cash," read the text on her phone's glowing screen. That meant her uncle in London had just deposited 1,321 Philippine pesos -- about $26 -- into her Globe Telecom cellphone account, which Bandoy uses like a bank. "My phone is now my wallet," said Bandoy, 29, a cheerful woman with a sparkling smile. [Source: Mary Jordan, Washington Post, October 3, 2006 */*]

“The World Bank estimates that global remittances in 2005 topped a quarter of a trillion dollars, with $13 billion flowing into the Philippines alone. But traditional methods of moving money in small, personal amounts can be slow and costly. Western Union, the world's largest money-transfer business, would charge $22 in fees on a $26 transfer from London to Manila. Banks also demand substantial fees and often take two or three days to complete a transfer. */*

Gen Ashley, who runs a one-room remittance company, Twilight Express, “pointed out that some banks are responding with more competitive prices. And, she said, many people prefer to continue sending money the way they always have; for some, that means paying money-transfer services to have cash hand-delivered to their parents' doorsteps. "People are not used to getting money through their phone," Ashley said. "Some are uncomfortable with the idea. They worry, 'What if I lose my phone?' " */*

The Philippines, noted for embracing cellphone innovations and heavily reliant on remittances, has plowed ahead on its own. For now, however, phone companies are limiting international transfers to relatively small amounts, such as $200. Globe Telecom officials said Filipino workers in 17 countries, including the United States, can now use their phones to send money home. In the United States, they said, the service recently linked up with remittance centers in California, Nevada and Texas.

Using a Filipino Cell Phone Overseas Cash Transfer System

Mary Jordan wrote in the Washington Post, “Eugene Bandoy, 50, is a Filipino architect who lives in London and helps other expatriates buy property back home. When potential buyers want to take a look at condominiums or houses in the Philippines, his niece shows them around. He sends her cash to cover her expenses. But that can be frustrating and expensive, because the fees for wiring small sums can nearly equal the amount being sent. So in November, when Bandoy heard at a Filipino community event that he could send up to $200 through his cellphone for as little as $7, he eagerly signed up. [Source: Mary Jordan, Washington Post, October 3, 2006 */*]

"It's not just cheaper for me," he said, "It's more convenient for Dulce -- she can pick up the money at a shopping mall late at night long after banks are closed." She could also use any of 1,500 other locations, including department stores and licensed pawnshops. Last month, Bandoy needed his niece to go to Quezon City, just outside Manila, to show a condominium to a woman who works in London but was home on vacation and interested in buying. But Dulce, like so many people struggling to get by the Philippines, said she didn't have the $1 for a bus or train ride to meet the client. She called her uncle and told him, "I need money or I can't meet her." */*

“So on the afternoon of Sept. 11, Bandoy walked up the steps to a second-floor office in a stately office building in Kensington, central London. There,Gen Ashley was waiting in the one-room office of her remittance company, Twilight Express. Ashley, a sharp, friendly businesswoman, has thousands of customers, who among them send about $2 million a month home to the Philippines. Recently, she said, several hundred of them have begun asking her to send money through the two giant Philippine phone companies, SMART and Globe Telecom. */*

“In the London office, Bandoy turned over the cash in the pound equivalent of the amount he needed to get to his niece, plus a $7.50 commission (Globe says that it collects 50 cents of that). Ashley began twirling her fingers across her computer keyboard. Bandoy had already registered with her, producing his passport as identification, an anti-laundering precaution. She clicked on his name and up popped his account information. Dulce Amor Bandoy was listed as his recipient, and Ashley scrolled down to her cellphone number and clicked. She typed in the amount he was sending and the day's exchange rate for the British pound and Philippine peso. Then she hit the "send" button to move the order to the phone company. Seconds later, a message appeared on her screen, confirming the transfer. */*

“It was 3:32 in the afternoon in London -- 10:32 p.m. in Manila. At that moment, 7,000 miles away, Dulce Amor Bandoy was sitting in the rented room she shares with three other women. At 10:33 p.m., her own phone, sitting on her bedside table, pinged with the much-anticipated message. Ashley's order in London had flowed over a computer network to a Globe Telecom office in the Philippines. There it generated the local text message to her phone. "I was so relieved when I read that the money had arrived," she recalled. "I was thinking, 'What am I going to do if it doesn't?' " Next morning, she tucked her phone into her cream-colored cargo pants and headed to Robinsons Mall, walking past a supermarket advertising that customers could pay for their groceries via their phone accounts. She walked into the glitzy Globe phone store, where customers can browse the flashiest new phone models and pick up G-cash, as the company calls money transferred via phone. The music and lights of the place were much more to Bandoy's taste than the numbing silence of a bank lobby, she said, noting that this store stayed open as late at 10 p.m., while many banks close at 3. */*

“She quickly wrote her name, phone number and address on a "cash-out" form and handed it to the clerk. She would take out only 1,200 of the 1,321 pesos and use some of the remainder to pay her phone bill. The clerk looked up her account on his computer and then sent a text message to her phone that read, "To Cash out 1,200.00 of G-Cash from Globe Robinson's Place, Reply with your MPIN." She typed her four-digit mobile personal identification number into the phone pad and hit reply. The clerk had the confirmation he needed. Less than five minutes after arriving at the store and after paying 26 cents -- a 1 percent fee -- she walked out with about $24 worth of Philippine pesos. She hurried out of the mall and hailed a taxi to rush her to the train station. By 10:30 a.m., she was walking a potential buyer through new condominiums in a middle-class area of Quezon City. "She loved it! She signed the contract!" Bandoy recalled later. */*

Globe GCASH Overseas Cash Transfer

GCASH is an internationally-acclaimed micro payment service which transforms a mobile phone into a virtual wallet for secure, fast, and convenient money transfers at the speed and cost of a text message. Since GCASH launch, GXI has established a wide network of local and international partners that includes government agencies, utility companies, cooperatives, insurance companies, remittance companies, universities, and commercial establishments which have agreed to accept GCASH as a means of payment for products and services. GCASH users may access GCASH via their mobile phone or via the internet. [Source: moneytransfersfyi.blogspot.jp]

GCASH Mobile is the faster, more affordable, and secure way to send & receive money, buy load, pay bills, and do a lot of money related transactions, anytime, anywhere using your Globe or TM mobile phone. All these you can do anytime, anywhere at your convenience just by texting!

Send GCash to Phone (option 1): Person-to-person money transfer or P2P allows you to send GCASH to any Globe or TM subscriber at the speed of a text message, anytime, anywhere. To send GCASH, go to the Globe Postpaid or Globe Prepaid Menu in your mobile phone and select GCASH and select Send GCASH. Or you can text: AMOUNT4-digit PIN and send to 2882+10 digit mobile phone number of the recipient.

Send GCash to Phone (option 2): 1.) Go to Globe center or in SM Department Store customer service / billing center. 2.) Fill out the form (important details to fill: your complete name, address, birthday, contact number, and exact amount to send; complete name, address and contact number of the recipient.) 3.) The representative will guide you on how to send the GCash money to the recipient (they'll give you the format). 4.) After sending, the recipient will receive a confirmation (that amount of *** was sent by ***) through text. No need for tracking number.

GCASH Click! is a new payment facility that integrates online payment via SMS with a pick-up and delivery service. A first in the Philippines, GCASH CLICK aims to make online shopping safe, affordable and hassle-free! GCASH Online is a web-based facility for hip GCASH subscribers who want to send money via GCASH and check their GCASH balances even while online using their computer and an internet connection.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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