The Philippines among Asia is the leading source of international labor migration.
This is confirmed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The number of contracts processed forOFW/a> in the year 2015 totaled to more than 2.3 million and 78 percent of whom were land-based occupation and the remaining 22 percent were the seafarers.
According to the United Nations, 104 million out of 244 million international migrants were coming from Asia in the year 2015. This is a lot of the labor force and the Philippines is the highest contributor internationally. Filipinos can be found in almost all of the nation worldwide. This is amazing.
More Filipino women were among the land-based workers in the 2010 record. And fewer women worked on sea-based opportunities.
Age ranges from 25-34 are the most numbers and only 15 percent are over the age of 45. There are 400,000 sea-based Filipino workers and only three percent were women. Sea-based workers are mostly men. This means, a lot of opportunities were given for the men. Though the number of women grew every year and so with the men also.
In the year 2013, there were 271,946 Filipino workers, according to Jonnabelle Asis, Ph.D. In Italy alone on record, 89,742 were permanent workers and 127,814 were temporary workers in the country. Filipinos made up the fifth largest migrant community in Italy after Morocco, Albania, China and Ukraine.
A survey was made and Jonnabelle’s respondents were engaged in domestic work. Concentrating on workers in Brescia, Lombardy, which produces 3.5 percent of Italian GDP. Average age of 55 were males. Most of them were married. Knew someone before they migrate to Italy. With an average stay of 17 years. They spoke of a better pay if they had learned Italian. The important thing is to earn money, a 63-year old woman responded.
This is a good hint for all of us who are planning to work in Italy, learning their language is a plus. So, better start learning now. Enroll online or offline if there are available institutions in your community.
Let’s take a look at the data of the Filipino seafarers. University of the Philippines, Professor Lucia P. Tangi said, Filipino women started working on board a cruise ship was in the year 1980’s. In 2006, women seafarers were 6,436 while the men were 230,586 deployed on board a ship. The number increased Year by year. In 2014, it became 12,435 women and 401, 826 men were on board. It doubled the numbers in a span of 8 years. Women seafarers are growing every year as opportunities also increases.
The most common jobs on board a cruise ship are cabin girls, waitresses, utility, and massage therapists, according to Professor Lucia P. Tangi of the University of the Philippines. She also emphasized that Globalization has shifted the supply of seafarers from traditional maritime nations such as Britain, Greece, Germany, and Norway to developing countries like the Philippines. And the numbers can tell. It has grown so much in just a couple of years.
Before we get to the cost of seafaring, let’s take a look at first, the price and qualifications on board a cruise ship. Applicants must not be more than 29 years of age. With pleasing personality. Stands 5 feet and 2 inches. Fair skin. Must have a youthful look and a smiling face. Basic pay starts at $50 and $150 for cabin girls and massage therapists.
Wow! This is a lot of money friends! If we convert this to Philippine peso, this would be Php 2500 basic pay and Php7,500 respectively. You do the math to compute for the monthly income. I bet you, this is a huge sum of money.
Though, they will work for 16 hours per day, no day off, limited port leave, and no maternity benefits.
Life on board can be lonely. Some of the cost of seafaring women is being on board with a crew of men. Being vulnerable to sexual harassment my male colleagues. Homesickness, being far away from home for four to six months. Battles of homesickness arise by joining their male colleagues in their drinking sessions. To relieve the stress and fight for the loneliness they learn to smoke. Their way of destressing.
Women on board confess their relationship with their family members gets affected. How? Every time they return home from the cruise ship, they experience what they call identity shift. And this is a real challenge for the women. On board the cruise ship they are officers and their male colleagues follow their orders, but when they return home, they are humble servants of their husbands and children’s. The shift is not easy.
The great price and the social cost of seafaring. But for the love of families no cost is enough to hinder a husband or wife, a father or mother to fulfill his or her dream for the family. Amidst the challenge a Filipino overseas worker can always wear a smile on his or her face every time a selfie is posted on the social media. A post of photos of the places they travelled to ease the pain.
Communication to family members is made easier now through our technologies. An update is just a click away, a post away or a call away. Thanks to the technology that bridged the gap. Though, the internet connection of the seafarers is a bit challenging.
The advantage for every Filipino, its beautiful culture of positive outlook in life no matter what. In a flood, you can see Filipinos smiling. On board a cargo ship, a Filipino can still smile. An overseas Filipino worker can always wear a smile. Filipinos are best known of these.
The life of an overseas Filipino worker is not as pretty as it seems. Social media posts are just less than ten percent of the real life of an overseas worker. Nobody took a record of the hard work, long hours, and getting scolded by the employer. The fear of being in a foreign land, no relatives to confide with in times of distress. They don’t talk about their poor living conditions, bad bosses, layoffs, and the physical and emotional exhaustion of working overseas.
Nobody talks about coming from a nurse and actually work as nannies overseas. Nobody has posted on their Facebook status, tenured professional in the Philippines and now working as a factory worker abroad. Nobody has posted came from a doctor, working as a caregiver abroad.
We don’t want our families to be updated of the real drama of our life overseas. Even if this is exactly not the life we imagined. We don’t want to bother our love ones. At least they can think or imagine otherwise.
Overseas Filipino workers contribute much to the Philippine economy. Remittances from our OFWs are huge contributor’s to the country’s economy.
Whenever there’s a financial need in the family, believe me the first person in mind is always the one working abroad. We think of them as banks, believing that money is just an easy thing for the OFW’s. Asking for funding for the child’s baptism, birthday, fiesta and more, believing they always have an extra cash on hand.
We forget to consider the high cost of living abroad and their own financial commitments as well.
Every overseas Filipino worker is thought of by their families as a savior. Because of their love for their own families they are willing to make the sacrifice. It will be very difficult for them to just give it all up and let everyone down just because they are tired. They will do everything they can for everyone else to survive.
Have we heard this from our fellow citizens, “My dream is to go and work abroad”? The ambitious young people, so long as they are paid in a different currency, it won’t matter what kind of work they will end up doing.
Yes, it’s true that many houses are built and children’s education is funded by their overseas Filipino worker family member but we need to know and consider the facts and their sacrifices as well. Let’s be in the know and understand them. Do not them of them as banks, of whom we can easily ask for money.
Life overseas is not as pretty as it seems. It’s a lonely life out there, until you get accustomed with it. But still living far from your family entails a lot of sacrifices.
There is no place like home. For those who left children, spouses behind, no amount of money can replace that lost time, but still they do what is necessary and what needs to be done for everyone else to survive. They are worthy to be called our savior.
If only many overseas Filipino workers will speak up about their own experiences working abroad, more Filipinos won’t think of it as the ultimate goal or dream in life. If they will only speak up so, more Filipinos will know the sacrifices and love they have given to their families.
This could help fix the gap, the mindset we have for our workers abroad. Overseas Filipino worker's life is associated much with flowery images of success and prosperity.