A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy


ABSTRACT Starting from the point of view of the migrant, this study attempts to document the  everyday experience of labor migrants and to analyze the transition that the laborers  experience in their self­concept as a result of the migration process. As one of the key  sending countries, the Philippines is an important case in the discussion of economic based  migrations. Governmental policies encouraging temporary migration and remittance of funds  have been instrumental in creating a culture of migration. Taiwan, newly developing as a  destination for Southeast Asian labor migrants, offers a difficult receiving context where  economic benefits are meager, and opportunity for social integration is almost nonexistent.  This dissertation considers the various social, cultural, political, and economic aspects of  Taiwan as a receiving context and analyzes the lack of incorporation of Filipino migrants,  especially those working in the manufacturing sectors, into Taiwanese society and the  subsequent formation of an ethnic enclave in which their national/cultural identity is  reinforced. The project utilizes a mixed­method triangulation of ethnographic approaches,  including videotaped face­to­face interviews with participants and those familiar with their  circumstances, administration of the Twenty Statements Test, visual documentation of  everyday lives, a comprehensive survey of 389 laborers, interviews with migrant NGO  activists and government officials, as well as reviews of governmental documents, media  reports, and reports provided by participating NGOs. Narratives of exit from the homeland, 

exclusion from the host society, search for a sense of community, and, finally, the  reinterpretation self and identity are discussed.

To my wife, Hui-Jung For her patience throughout This long study and For helping me to remember The individual in larger social processes & To our wonderful son, Ian For whom I’ve struggled to finish As quickly as possible So that we may go outside and play

2 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I’d like to acknowledge and thank a number of people for their support and help throughout this work. My committee chair, Dr. Victor Agadjanian, who has now overseen both my thesis and dissertation projects and has pushed me to be academically rigorous and to set high goals for myself. Dr. Karen Miller-Loessi, whose course on social psychology and writings on cross-cultural research helped me to shape my theoretical perspectives. Dr. Jennifer Glick, who has reminded me of the role of structure and demographics in shaping culture. I would especially like to thank all of the participants  who volunteered their time and life stories for the goal of improving the conditions for  employment of future labor migrants in Taiwan. Special among them was Jenny who  helped to transcribe, photograph, video, and even do a few interviews in Tagalog. Also,  thanks to Virginia for transcription and lending her beautiful voice and guitar playing to  the documentary and “Cassandra” for helping with transcription and sharing her difficult  story. I would like to thank Fr. Bruno Ciceri, and his committed assistants Tessa and  Angela at the Stella Maris International Service Center, for their 24/7 dedication to  helping all migrant laborers in Taiwan, regardless of the personal cost. Finally, to my  parents who taught me to use my skills to serve others, and to my wife Hui­Jung. She has  helped me with so many elements: from translating documents to explaining Taiwanese  culture. She has helped me to maintain a balanced perspective on the issues. She has also 

3 been there for me as I have struggled to define my work and has given her support in  whatever I do.  Thank you all!

4 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page LIST OF TABLES.................................................................................................xiv LIST OF FIGURES...............................................................................................xv LIST OF IMAGES...............................................................................................xvii CHAPTER PART I: INTRODUCTION, THEORETICAL, & METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS 1 INTRODUCTION..............................................................................1 Filipino Workers in Taiwan..........................................................2 Recent & Current Studies of Filipino Migrants in Taiwan..........5 General Studies of Labor Migration to Taiwan...............6 Domestic Workers............................................................7 Factory Workers...............................................................12 Overview of Project.....................................................................13 Overview of Document................................................................17 2 SITUATING THE RESEARCH: THEORETICAL OVERVIEW......20 Cumulative Causation..................................................................21 Transnationalism..........................................................................23 Assimilation.................................................................................25 Social Identity Theory..................................................................30 Social Psychology & the Nature of Self..........................30 A General Theory of Self.....................................32

5 CHAPTER Page Identity: Group Affiliation & Role Identification........................................................32 The Effect of the Migration Experience on Identity....................33 The Nature of Reception & Identities Outcomes.........................35 Interpretivist Paradigm.............................................................................37 3 METHODOLOGY...........................................................................43 Exploratory Nature of Ethnographic Research............................44 Collaboration & Reflexivity........................................................46 Analysis........................................................................................46 Survey Analysis...............................................................47 Interviews.........................................................................47 Twenty Statements...........................................................48 PART II: FILIPINO LABOR MIGRATION TO TAIWAN 4 PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: A PROFILE OF PHILIPPINE LABOR MIGRANTS IN THE SOUTH OF TAIWAN..............................................51 Project Participants......................................................................51 Survey Respondents.....................................................................54 Ethnography Participants.............................................................56 Nan Tze Factory Workers............................................................58 Focus Group (March 11)..................................................60 Jenny (March 2; March 17; June 16)...............................60 Ellen (March 2, March 22)...............................................63 Bea (March 2....................................................................63

6 CHAPTER Page Carolina (March 21..........................................................65 Marivel (April 7)..............................................................66 Ana (April 7, April 30).....................................................66 Lani (April 8, June 6).......................................................67 Mafe (April 14).................................................................69 “Cassandra” (April 15, July 7..........................................70 Virginia (April 25, July 7.................................................71 Linda (April 28................................................................72 Joice (April 29)................................................................74 Gina (May 6)....................................................................75 Flordeliza (May 12).........................................................76 Grace (May 19)................................................................77 Josephine (Interviewed By Jenny, July 31)......................78 Ernelyn (Interviewed By Jenny, July 31).........................80 Kang Shan Factory Workers........................................................82 “Joshua” (April 26)..........................................................82 Raymond (May 4)............................................................84 Jin (May 11).....................................................................86 Edwin (June 15)...............................................................86 Chi Chin Island Ship Builders.....................................................88 Melchor (June 14)............................................................88 Lody (June 14).................................................................91

7 CHAPTER Page Leonardo (June 14)..........................................................94 Rolando (June 28)............................................................95 William (July 5)...............................................................98 Coordinators.................................................................................100 “Analynn” (April 10........................................................101 Rosalyn (May 10..............................................................104 Domestic Workers & Caretakers..................................................105 Mama Linda (April 12.....................................................106 Rosalia (May 9)................................................................108 Charito (May 9)................................................................109 Rosario (June 17).............................................................110 Analy (June 17)................................................................112 Taiwanese Spouses.......................................................................114 Sarah Lin (March 19........................................................115 Mama Angel (May 29).....................................................117 Loisa Tai (June 29)...........................................................119 Authorities on Philippine Migration............................................120 Fr. Bruno Ciceri (February 28, June 18)..........................122 Jonah Lin North Center (June 20.....................................123 Pastor Chris Marzo Higher Ground (June 25).................125 Attorney Rómulo Salud (August 5).................................126 Observations & Informal Meetings.............................................128


5 OVERVIEW OF FILIPINO LABOR MIGRATION TO TAIWAN..............................................................................................130 Demographic & Economic Push Mechanisms............................131 Governmental Policies Maintain Culture of Migration...............134 Taiwan: History of Reception......................................................137 The New Administration & Paper Policy Changes......................145 Conclusions..................................................................................148 6 KAPIT SA PATALIM (“JUST HOLD ONTO THE KNIFE”): THE MIGRANT LABOR SYSTEM IN TAIWAN................................................................149 Becoming Indebted: Placement Agencies....................................152 Prolonging Debt: Taiwanese Labor Brokers................................157 Enduring Debt: Employer Relations............................................165 Factory Workers & Their Employers...............................166 Treated as Chattel: Domestic Workers.............................171 Employer Abuses.................................................172 Sexual Harassment of Workers............................173 Psychological/ Verbal Abuse................................175 Forced Illegal Work.............................................176 Ongoing Debate between Governments & NGOs.......................177 The Issue of Runaways....................................................178 The Failure of Direct Hiring............................................180 Improved Rights & More Government Oversight...........182 Conclusions..................................................................................184


PART III: ASSIMILATION EXPERIENCES & TRANSITIONS IN SELF-CONCEPT 7 ON ECONOMIC NECESSITY, DUTY, ADVENTURE, & THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL TIES...........................................................186 Social Obligation & Economic Necessity....................................188 Adventure & Experience..............................................................193 Social Ties....................................................................................196 Conclusions..................................................................................199 8 RECEPTION EXPERIENCES: LIMITED INCORPORATION, EXCLUSION, ISOLATION, & XENOPHOBIA......................................201 Xenophobia in Taiwan.................................................................204 Discrimination & Racial/Ethnic Stereotyping.................205 Taiwanese Ethnic Nationalism & Protection of Aboriginal Employment...................................................210 Maintaining Class Differences: Government Restrictions on Migrant Integration.................................213 Cultural Barriers & Culture Shock..............................................215 Social & Cultural Exclusion at Work...............................220 Cross-Cultural Dating & the Cultural Taboos of Exogamy..........................................................................223 Linguistic Isolation..........................................................226 Filipinos Indifference toward Chinese Culture............................229 Conclusions..................................................................................231 9 THE SPACE BETWEEN: THE FORMATION OF TRANSNATIONAL COMMUNITIES & THE MAINTENANCE OF HOMELAND CULTURE.................................................................................................233

10 CHAPTER Page Self Identification: Ethnic/Cultural Identity................................234 Language Use as A Measure of Incorporation.............................236 Maintaining Homeland Culture & Ties........................................237 Holidays & Cultural Celebrations....................................239 Media...............................................................................240 Frequency of Contact & Remittances..............................240 Looking Ahead: Future Plans After Return.....................246 Conclusions..................................................................................247 10 COLLECTIVE SOLIDARITY: THE CENTRALITY OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS IN THE PHILIPPINE MIGRANT COMMUNITY......250 History of Christian Churches in Taiwan.....................................251 The Catholic Church & Stella Maris in Southern Taiwan...........252 St. Joseph the Worker Parish........................................................255 Conclusions..................................................................................262 11 BECOMING AN OFW: RENEGOTIATION OF SELF.....................263 Social Role Statements................................................................266 Statements Regarding Personality Traits.....................................268 Other Statements..........................................................................270 Transitions in Self .......................................................................271 Maturity, Independence & Thrift.....................................271 Religious Institutions & Transitions in Identity...............274 Work & Personality Changes...........................................276

11 CHAPTER Page Conclusions: The Self as “Other,” The Self as “OFW”...............277 12 CONCLUSIONS & POLICY IMPLICATIONS..............................281 Cumulative Causation & Labor Migration to Taiwan.................283 Reception Experiences & Lack of Assimilation..........................286 Outcomes: Transnational Enclaves & Shift in Self-Concept.......287 Theoretical Implications..............................................................290 Social Concerns Arising from Inquiry.........................................290 Policy Recommendations.............................................................292 WORKS CITED..................................................................................................296 APPENDIX A GENERAL LABOR CONTRACT FOR EMPLOYERS IN TAIWAN...............................................................................................316 B TRANSNATIONALIZING THE SELF: FILIPINO WORKERS SURVEY....................................................................................................320 C D INFORMED CONSENT...................................................................334 PHOTOGRAPHIC RELEASE FORM.............................................336

12 LIST OF TABLES Table Page

6-1 Worker Complaints with Broker Services.................................................154 6-2 Employer Relations ..................................................................................168 7-1 Reasons for Migration (Survey) ...............................................................187 7-2 Reasons for Migration (Ethnographic Interviews) ...................................188 8-1 Intergroup Relations/Attitudes toward Chinese .......................................229 9-1 Cultural Identity ........................................................................................233 11-1 Summary Table of Twenty Statements Tests Responses ........................263


2-1 Influence of Society on the Concept of Self as Reflexive Process ...............31 2-2 The Mechanisms of the Migration Experience and Revised Self Concept...34 2-3 Identity Outcomes by Mode of Reception ....................................................38 2-4 The Nature of Reception and Possible Identities ..........................................39 4-1 Economic Processing Zones in Taiwan ........................................................52 4-2 Educational Achievement .............................................................................55 4-3 Migrant Workers by Industry ........................................................................57 4-4 Industries in the Nan Tze EPZ ......................................................................59 5-1 Overseas Filipino Workers by Type 1984 to 2002 .......................................132 5-2 Population of the Philippines 1900 to 2000 ..................................................133 5-3 Taiwan’s population growth 1900 to 2000....................................................139 5-4 Taiwan’s Educational Attainment 1976 to 2002............................................139 5-5 CLA Conditions for Hiring Domestic Caretaker ..........................................143 5-6 Timeline of Foreign Employment Policy Changes Superimposed on Number of Filipino Guest Workers in Taiwan ..............................................................144 6-1 Employment Process Flow Chart .................................................................153 9-1 Bicultural vs. Monoculture Strategie.............................................................234 9-2 Distribution of Respondents along Linguistic Assimilation Scale ...............235 9-3 Media Usage by Language ...........................................................................239 9-4 Method of Communication with Friends/Family in Philippines ..................240 9-5 Frequency of Contact ....................................................................................240

14 FIGURE Page

9-6 Plans for Return...........................................................................................245 9-7 Respondents’ Identities on Continuum of Migrant Ethnic/Cultural Identity Outcomes .......................................................................................249 10-1 Church Group Involvement ......................................................................259 11-1 Identity Before Migration with Breakdown of Social Roles ....................265 11-2 Identity During Migration with Breakdown of Social Roles ....................268 11-3 Identity Before Migration with Breakdown of Personality Traits ............269 11-4 Identity During Migration with Breakdown of Personality Traits ............270 11-5 Taiwan Mechanisms of the Migration and Revised Self Concept ............280


1 An especially well-attended service St. Joseph the Worker parish Nan Tze....14 2 “Brain Twister” competition at St. Joseph the Worker Parish..........................19 3 William showing his personal space.................................................................19 4 Sinulog dancers at St. Joseph the Worker Parish..............................................19 5 Checking the equipment at an electronics factory............................................19 6 Virginia helping to record music for soundtrack of documentary....................42 7 Congregation of St. Joseph the Worker Parish.................................................56 8 Virginia shows of the sea of bicycles................................................................58 9 Jenny’s self-portrait with family ......................................................................61 10 Ellen with Father Bruno and Friends .............................................................62 11 Cleaning the equipment after mixing chemicals used in ceramic circuit board components......................................................................................................64 12 The best parts of the lechon at El Shaddai anniversary celebration................81 13 View of Kaohsiung skyline from a water taxi ...............................................89 14 Gathering after work (Chi Chin Island Shipbuilders).....................................91 15 Roland, AKA “Rod” completing the TST at the dorm (Chi Chin Island)......96 16 William shows the local NGOs advertised in the church bulletin..................100 17 Fr. Bruno Ciceri explaining problems with the placement system.................121 18 Attorney Salud explaining an ongoing contract dispute case ........................127 19 Pastora Tessa (or as she prefers Ate Tessa [elder sister or auntie Tessa]).......129 20 Attorney Salud (MECO) addressing the migrants gathered for Independence Day celebrations.......................................................................135

16 21 Working in the production department of an electronics factory....................147 22 Factory worker loading machines used for mixing ceramic materials...........166 23 Meeting of Forum on Undocumented Workers..............................................181 24 Forum Members, NGOs, and Others Protesting at CLA................................182 25 A group of close friends from Nan Tze on a fieldtrip to the Cathedral in Kaohsiung..................................................................................200 26 Domestic workers Rosalia and Charito ..........................................................203 27 A Typical bien dang severed to Chi Chin Island Shipbuilders.......................218 28 William Giving a Tour of the Kitchen ...........................................................218 29 Crab Caught by Workers ................................................................................219 30 “Mama” Angel and her husband.....................................................................226 31 Edwin answering his TST while Julie watches...............................................230 32 “No Laziness” policy posted in the dorms......................................................232 33 A Typical worker’s bunk (Chi Chin Island)....................................................232 34 A Typical worker’s bunk (Green House)........................................................232 35 Nan Tze workers enjoying a meal in their room.............................................232 36 Lantern decorating the streets during Spring Lantern Festival.......................238 37 Original 1950s building of St. Joseph and outside seating area ....................256 38 A group meeting under the shade of trees at St. Joseph’s...............................257 39 A small turn out (due to SARS quarantine) for the ........................................260 40 Teams prepare for the annual basketball competition ....................................260 41 A well-attended service at St. Joseph Church ................................................262 42 Factory workers in Nan Tze in a Taiwanese restaurant..................................295


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In 1996, I became a “foreign worker” in Taiwan when I went there to teach  English in the burgeoning and lucrative market for native English­speaking teachers in  the many Taiwanese bushibans (補習班)1. Unlike the workers described in this  dissertation, I was treated, for the most part, as a privileged guest. I was paid a salary that  was more than twice that of local teachers, provided with a housing stipend, and given  yearly travel funds for returning to the US. Initially recruited in the States, all the paper­ work for visas, work permits, and travel were arranged by representatives of the school in  Taiwan. As a Western professional migrant to Taiwan, my experiences were in direct  contrast to what wai lao2 workers from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries encounter. It was during my first stay that I began to read about the plight of Filipino  laborers in the Kabayan!3 section of the English weekly Taiwan News (財經。文化周刊). I  was surprised by the disparity in treatment between those of us from Western nations and  the workers from developing countries. The Filipino domestic and factory workers, I  read, were subjected to discrimination, mistreatment, strict governmental controls, and 

Bushibans, or cram schools, are private supplementary schools providing general preparation for high school and college entrance exams or subject-oriented courses such as math, sciences, English, etc. For more see: Retrieved April 12, 2004. 2 外勞, Usually used to refer to foreign workers from developing countries 3 This section appears online now at:

2 were paid about half the salary of local workers. Moreover, I learned that they had to pay  excessive fees for the opportunity to work in Taiwan. Awareness of this inequality led me  to want to know more about labor migration, immigrant incorporation and exclusion, and  the transnationalization of communities, families, and individuals. FILIPINO WORKERS IN TAIWAN The process of the globalization of capitalism has lead to the creation of many  international networks of labor migrants (Fawcett 1989; Martin 1993; Stalker 1994;  Zlotnik 1998; Stalker 2000; Chiswick and Hatton 2001). As one of the key sending  countries, the Philippines represents an important case in the discussion of economic  based migrations. The governmental policy of encouraging temporary migration and  especially remittance of funds earned in the exterior (Martin 1993) has been instrumental  in continuing a culture of migration. As Philip Martin notes, this circular labor migration  is both sizeable and historically rooted in the colonial history of the Philippines: The Philippines is probably the world’s second largest source of migrant worker: the 600,000 Filipinos deployed annually are second only to Mexicans, who migrate to the United States for jobs. Emigration has long been a way of life in the Philippines: under Spanish rule in the 1700s, Filipinos went to work in Mexico, and some settled there. Later, Filipinos were recruited to work in Hawaii and California agriculture, and after World War II there was a wave of migration to the United States. (Martin 1993: 642)

3 The economic impact of the more than $5.4 billion US in annual remittances (National  Statistics Office, Republic of the Philippines 2002)4 has been significant in the domestic  economy and is estimated as accounting for approximately 10% of the Gross Domestic  Product (Migration News 2001).  While the majority of the total permanent emigration from the Philippines is  destined for the United States,5  there is an almost equally sizable flow of temporary  workers to the Middle East and Asia (Martin 1993). In 2001, 88% of all Overseas Filipino  Workers (OFWs) were employed in East and Southeast Asia (National Statistics Office,  Republic of the Philippines 2002). The system of overseas employment is highly organized and bureaucratized and is  overseen by an Inter­Agency Committee including the Philippine Overseas Employment  Administration (POEA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the  Bureau of Immigration (BI) and governed by the Migrant Workers and Overseas  Filipinos Act of 1995.6 Martin explains the economics of contract work and the process  by which a contract worker is hired: Filipino workers are screened and then go abroad with special contract

Estimated using the figures in the 2001 Survey of OFW at 55 billion pesos for the six month period from April to September x 2 divided by the April 2001 exchange rate of 1 USD = 49.369905 PHP from the Historical Currency Converter at accessed on June 28, 2002. 5 According to Martin (1993) the US accounted for 1.3 million migrants or 93% of those in core receiving countries in the early 1990s. 6 See full text of the 1995 Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act at :

4 worker passports. Private Filipino recruiters go abroad to find jobs for Filipinos to fill, get the Philippine government to approve the contract, and then find Filipino workers to go abroad. But these recruitment activities and protections come at a cost, which is typically borne by the worker. Since most Filipinos go abroad legally, they cannot escape these costs. However, as labor exports shift to Asia – where salaries are lower and employee-paid recruitment fees are higher-the wedge between gross and net foreign earnings widens to the disadvantage of the worker. (Martin 1993: 643) This gap is exacerbated by the decrease in wages following the Asian economic  crisis of 1996, which resulted in more than a 20% decrease in the value of the Taiwan  dollar relative to the American dollar.7 As a result of this “economic crisis” the minimum  wage for foreign workers has remained the same for over six years. At one point,  according to reporter Belinda Olivares­Cunanan (2001), there was even talk that the  minimum contract wage in Taiwan for OFWs would be decreased by as much as a third. There is historic president for wage cuts and paying workers less than the  minimum. Many employers imposed monetary penalties and restriction that result in  salaries far below the minimum contracted wage. One can see an example of the  restrictive conditions under which a Filipino worker is held in a typical labor contract  (Appendix A). Under the terms of this general contract, workers may be penalized three  days wages for missing one day, or fined up to 20% of their salary (3,000 NT, or roughly  US $85) for breaking any of the company rules. According to worker contracts, OFWs  have may be fined or deported for attempting to form unions or engage in strikes. For 

27 NTD to 1 USD Jan 1996 compared with 35 NTD to 1 USD Jan 2002

5 example, in 1994, 14 OFWs were deported for striking when the factory they were  working for “changed the way it re­paid wage deductions” (Migration News 1995). A  February 2002 Migration News brief, details other conditions that liken labor contracts to  indentured servitude: Migrants in Taiwan usually live in dormitories provided by their employers next to the work site, or in private homes, if they are maids. Migrant policy is controlled by the Taiwan Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), and on November 9, 2001, the CLA allowed employers to include the cost of food and accommodation when determining if migrants are earning the minimum wage of NT$15,840 ($466) a month, set in 1998. Most employers immediately began deducting NT$4,000 (US$116) a month. The CLA said that the cut in migrants' wages would be offset by a new prohibition on Taiwanese brokers charging migrants brokerage fees of NT$30,000 a person, but migrants would still have to pay NT$1,500 to NT$1,800 in "monthly service charges" to local brokers. In addition, brokers in the migrants' country of origin can charge NT$15,840 a migrant, the minimum wage, and Taiwan employers must pay brokerage fees to local agents if they want to employ foreign laborers. (Migration News February 2002) While living conditions in Taiwan may be harsh and economic benefits of  working there quite slim, there is still strong significance placed by the Filipino  government on the workers it sends there. OFWs are repeatedly seen as “modern day  heroes” for the economic support they give their nation and select workers are annually  given an award from the POEA presented by the Philippine president (Department of  Labor and Employment 2003). In 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo addressed  OFWs in Taiwan specifically. The purposive construction of strong ties between sending  and receiving nations is quite apparent in her letter to overseas kababayans:8

Literally townspeople or countrymen in Tagalog.

6 My most cordial greetings to my countrymen in Taiwan on the celebration of the 104th Philippine Independence Day. As Filipinos living in a foreign land, you have the distinct role of serving as our country's ambassadors of goodwill in your host country. You are called upon to serve as agents of our country in fostering stronger, cultural, political and economic ties between our country and Taiwan. (Taipei Times, June 12, 2002) RECENT & CURRENT STUDIES OF FILIPINO MIGRANTS IN TAIWAN There are a great number of researchers currently exploring the topic of  transnational labor migration (Borjas 1988; Sassen 1988 Borjas 1990; Stalker 1994;  Stalker 2000; Valenzuela 2000; Chiswick and Hatton 2001; UN 2002; Castles 2003;  Taran and Geronimi 2003). Likewise, there are many who look specifically at Filipino  labor migration as the Philippines has historically been one of the leading sending  countries (Abella 1993; Martin 1993; Tigno 1994; Saith 1997; Groves and Chang 1999;  Aguilar 2000; Barber 2000; Parreñas 2001; Tan 2001; Asis 2002; Lindio-McGovern 2002; Tyner 2002; Arnado 2003Weekley 2003; Young 2004). Yet, though Taiwan  presently has over 300,000 imported laborers, few academic studies have been conducted  on the country as a receiving context. Little is known then of the social incorporation of  these migrants into Taiwanese society. Currently, the majority of those studies that are  being conducted focus only on domestic workers (Cheng 1996; Lin 1999; Cheng 2003;  Lan 2000a; Lan 2000b; Lan 2002; Lan 2003a; Lan 2003b; Lan 2003c; Lan 2003c;  Loveband 2003). Though fifty­percent of laborers are employed in manufacturing, to  date, only a couple of articles are available regarding contract factory work in Taiwan 

7 (Tseng and Lee 2001; Tierney 2002). Also of interest to researchers of migration to  Taiwan are the growing number of foreign brides, primarily from Vietnam and Mainland  China, but also in significant numbers from Indonesia, Singapore Thailand and the  Philippines (Hsia 1997; Wang and Chang 2002). Though the number of brides has  growing from under 13,000 in 1994 to over 34,000 in 2000 (Wang and Chang 2002),  there are again few studies that compare this class of migrant to labor migrants who have  similar narratives of exit, experiences of exclusion, and development of alternatives to  incorporation such as forming ethnic enclaves and transnational communities. General Studies of Labor Migration to Taiwan A number of reviews have been conducted on the historical and structural factors  that have lead to Taiwan as a destination for labor migration. Factors that have been  studied include: economic growth in Taiwan, low levels of unemployment, policy  changes that have allowed the importation of migrant labor, and the development of the  placement­broker system (Selaya 1992; Tsay 1992; Tigno 1994; Baum 1995; Lee and Wang 1996; Chan 1999; Lu 2000). Roger Selaya (1992) documented the early stages of  transition from an illegal labor migration in Taiwan to that of a limited, but legal,  importation of workers. Jorge Tigno (1994), of the Department of Political Science at the  University of the Philippines, specifically looked at how policy change occurred as a 

8 result of the rapid development and healthy economic conditions in Taiwan during the  early 1990s. Similarly, Raymond Chan (1999) observed the change in social and  economic conditions as Taiwan recover from its rule under martial law. He claimed that  economic prosperity led to a “shortage of manpower” requiring the importation of labor,  first for major infrastructural projects and later to augment the general labor pool. Further  review of the demographic, historical, economic and policy changes that have led to  Philippine­Taiwan migration are undertaken in Chapter 7. Domestic Workers Accounting for over half of all migrants, the study of domestic workers in Taiwan  has presented the greatest number of academic writings. Central issues in these writings  include the rights of workers, the conditions of their employment, abuse of workers,  negotiation of cultural and social differences with employers, transnationalization of  families, gender, culture, and ethnic identity (Cheng 1996; Lin 1999; Cheng 2003; Lan  2000; Lan 2002; Lan 2003a; Lan 2003b; Lan 2003c; Lan 2003d). In 1997, Chin­ju Lin, while in the Master’s program at the University of Essex,  conducted a study of Filipina domestic workers in the Taipei area. Using a mixed  method, ethnographic approach, she drew upon media reports, and governmental  documents as well as “twenty six interviews with Filipina and domestic workers, 

9 employers, brokers, NGOs, Taiwanese maids, and a government official” (1999). Her  work was descriptive in nature and discusses the narrow social space in which the  domestic worker must labor caught between employer, the social system and the demands  of those in the homeland. She detailed “their resistance and strategies for survival in a  gendered, racialized role as a Filipina maid in Taiwan” and offered advice to the workers  to maintain the dignity of their position by identifying themselves as professionals  (following the advice of Dr. Mary Romero from her 1992 book Maid in the U.S.A ). Dr. Shu­Ju Cheng, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently  an Assistant Professor in Sociology at DePaul University, conducted her dissertation  research on the role of the state in the globalization of domestic labor using Taiwan as a  case study. Specifically, in 1999 she conducted six­months of ethnographic fieldwork  (again in Taipei). Like Chin­ju Lin, she drew on a variety of macro and micro level  sources in English and Chinese as well as participant observation in two Filipino  churches and “formal in­depth interviews with 35 Filipina domestics, 12 Taiwanese  employers, 3 government officials, 4 employment agencies, and 5 local labor groups.”  Her 2003 article, “Rethinking the Globalization of Domestic Service: Foreign Domestics, State Control, and the Politics of Identity in Taiwan” in Gender & Society, explored the inequalities of globalized domestic labor. She specifically noted the role of

10 the state, via the employer and broker, in reinforcing these inequalities while maintaining control over foreign workers: State practices of control and exclusion depend on Taiwanese employers and employment agencies for enforcement. Since Taiwanese employers have intimate contact with foreign workers, they bear the responsibility of containing alien labor at home, usually with the assistance of employment agencies. The government imposes on employers the responsibility of ensuring that foreign workers do not violate immigration regulations, for example, by running away or getting pregnant. Specific mechanisms enable and sanction the transfer of power and authority from the state to employers. For example, the employers have to pay a guarantee deposit whose purpose is to defray the living and deportation cost if a foreign worker runs away and is caught. The government returns the whole amount of the deposit to the employers when the foreign workers finish their contracts and return home. The employers lose their deposit if a worker runs away. They also lose their quota for foreign labor and do not regain their quota until the workers are found. Employers are also required to pay a security fee, which is a tax for the employment of foreign labor, held until these workers leave the island (Cheng 2003). Most prolific among researchers writing on the topic of domestic workers in  Taiwan is perhaps Pei­Chia Lan. She graduated in 2000 from the doctoral program at  Northwestern University and now teaches at National Taiwan University. In addition to  her dissertation and conference papers, she has authored more than six published  academic articles on Filipina domestic workers in Taiwan9 Her articles are based on one­ year of field research conducted in 1998­1999. As a volunteer in a Taipei NGO that  services migrant laborer, she conducted 58 interviews with Filipina domestic workers and  42 interviews with Taiwanese households that had Filipina workers.


All are available via her website at:

11 In her 2000 article “Remapping Identities across Borders and at Home: Filipina  Migrant Domestic Workers and Taiwanese Employers” presented at the Fifth Annual  Conference on the History and Culture of Taiwan,10 Lan discussed how domestic workers  and their employers negotiated concepts of class and ethnicity in constructing their social  identities:  Taiwanese employers attempt to validate their newly achieved class status and racial superiority by spending their economic capital to hire foreign maids; in contrast, Filipina domestic workers develop strategies to cope with their downward class mobility when they work as maids overseas. The symbolic struggle around English further illustrates contestation and ambiguity in the process of racial and class formation. Taiwanese employers’ purchase or attribution of class and racial superiority may be challenged by the fact that some Filipina domestic workers possess a higher education or a better command of the linguistic capital of English than their Taiwanese employers. These phenomena, as local consequences of transnational migration and global economic restructuring, present a small piece of the complex picture of identity construction in the contemporary world, a further globalized yet more divided world. Similarly, Lan’s 2003 work “Negotiating Social Boundaries and Private Zones: The Micropolitics of Employing Migrant Domestic Workers” in Social Problems, further delineated the boundary between worker and employee and defined the identity of the worker by the structure of their position. She explained: I have established two typologies to describe variations in boundary work, and identified three major factors to account for why particular employers and workers lean toward a subtype of boundary work: the class positioning of employers and workers; the ratio of care work to housework in the job assignment; and the time-space composition of the employment setting. The employers who would like to showcase their

A similar argument is presented in Lan, Pei-Chia. 2003d. "‘They Have More Money but I Speak Better English!’ Transnational Encounters between Filipina Domestics and Taiwanese Employers " Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power online at

12 advanced position in the class ladder tend to highlight their differences from the maids, while younger generations of employers try to confirm their middle-class identity by downplaying the class hierarchy. Among upper-class employers, those who spend less time at home and have more space in the house are more likely to maintain a distant hierarchy, whereas homemakers who spend a lot of time around the workers often develop a maternalistic relationship. Among middle-class employers, those who hire workers for childcare tend to adopt an attitude of instrumental personalism, while others who seek help with housework only favor a business-like relationship to minimize the time-consuming burden of personal interactions. As her research looks not only at the Filipina domestic worker, but also at the  household in which she works, Pei­Chia Lan has been able to document the transitions in  domestic cultural labor practices. As Taiwan experiences a transition from traditional  roles of filial piety and much proscribed gender­roles and domestic duties, Lan notes that  the importation of domestic work has adapted to fit the cultural needs of the household  structure. Kinship ties determine this structure and responsibilities for which the  domestic worker will be a surrogate member of the family: The first is “filial kin work,” which I define as care work to maintain intergenerational ties in the patrilineal line. The filial duty of serving aging parents is transferred first from the son to the daughter-in-law (gender transfer) and later outsourced to migrant care workers (market transfer). The second is “kin labor,” which is labor provided by extended kin to sustain their ties to other kin members, such as unpaid domestic labor offered by enabled parents to their adult children. Modern daughters-in-law prefer migrant workers to the kin labor offered by their mothers-in-law in order to safeguard the conjugal family from the intervention of extended kin. The third is “fictive kin,” which describes how non-family migrant workers provide family-like care for their elderly clients in lieu of the filial kin work of adult children (Lan 2001).

13 In the 2003 article, “Maid or Madam? Filipina Migrant Workers and the  Continuity of Domestic Labor” in Gender & Society, Lan observed that domestic  obligations of the Filipina wife/mother migrant worker become transnational as a result  of the migration process. She noted that, “taking on domestic work, a feminized  occupation in both the local and global labor market, migrant women become  transnational breadwinners but remain burdened by their gendered duties as mothers and  wives back home.” This international role, moreover, bridges the boundary of public vs. private work and helps to define the identity of the Filipina domestic worker in the global context. In the 2003 article “Political and Social Geography of Marginal Insiders: Migrant Domestic Workers in Taiwan” published in the Manila-based Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, Pei-Chia Lan provided an overview of the Taiwanese labor system and, similar to Shu­Ju Cheng explained how government surveillance and control work to  marginalize the workers. Based on additional research she conducted in 2002, she  established the “social geography” of migrant communities segmented along  ethnic/national lines and occupying separate geographic spaces within the city of Taipei.  Much as I have found in Kaohsiung, she found a “weekend enclave with vibrant business  activity” focused around St. Christopher’s Church. The setting around the church is  reminiscent of what I found in the Nan Tze EPZ: “The surrounding area, called  Chongshan among migrant workers, has acquired nicknames like “little Manila” and 

14 “Filipino town” among Taiwanese. Tagalog characters are seen on many signboards of  Filipino grocery stores, delicatessens, karaoke clubs, and remittance and cargo services.”  Factory Workers Very little has been published in the academic press on the more than 150,000  manufacturing workers in Taiwan. In a broad search of international journals,11 only one  article emerges ­ Winston Tseng and Meng­Fen Lee (2001) “Transnational Migration,  Social Conditions and Foreign Labor Workers: Filipino and Thai Food Processing  Workers in Taiwan.” This study, conducted in southern Taiwan as opposed to Taipei, was  limited to eight ethnographic interviews with Thai and Filipino factory workers. It  outlined the importance of social networks, the socio­political climate of reception, as  well as some of the limited social and cultural impact that resulted from migration.  Contrary to my findings of a growing ethnic community in 2003, they noted an absence  of institutions serving migrant workers. This may be due to the time period in which they  were conducting fieldwork (one month in 2000) or the location (a rural “agricultural and  livestock company”): The growing foreign labor migrant population is transforming the cultural and economic dynamics in Taiwan. Migrant networks within Taiwan and across Asia are growing, but no major migrant community organizations have yet become firmly established by the foreign labor workers in Taiwan. The major networks foreign labor workers in Taiwan primarily

There may be other academic writing that are either forthcoming or in the local Taiwanese journals, but in computerized searches of literally thousands of journals using periodical indexes of leading publishers

15 depend on for social support are extended family and ethnic friendship networks. Currently, only a few formal organizations (e.g., Taiwan government agencies, economic/trade offices representing the countries of origin, and faith-based organizations) provide social and legal assistance (but still very limited) for the foreign workers in Taiwan In addition to lacking support infrastructure and a sense of community, Tseng and Lee’s  study found the workers to be isolated from the Taiwanese population, experiencing  friction with their employers as well as maintaining regular ties with the homeland via  weekly phone calls.  OVERVIEW OF PROJECT I set out then, in this project, to understand the process of labor migration beginning from  the point of view of the migrant. I wanted to understand their every­day lives and how the  experience of migration affected them individually. In this way, I sought to understand  their narratives of exit from the homeland, exclusion from the host society search for a  sense of community, and finally the reinterpretation self and identity that


Image 1 An especially well-attended service at St. Joseph the Worker parish in Nan Tze

they experience. To truly comprehend this progression, then, I decided upon a research  plan that involved immersion in the context of reception, participation within the  community, face­to­face interviews with Filipino migrants and those familiar with their  circumstances, and visual documentation of their everyday lives. Thus, while this  framework essentially utilizes what Miller­Loessi and Parker (2003) call an etic 12 


“The emic approach involves studying behavior from within the system, examining only one culture at a time, discovering rather than imposing structure, and using criteria relative to internal characteristics. The etic approach involves studying behavior from a position outside the system, examining two or more cultures and comparing them, imposing a structure created by the analyst, and using criteria that are considered absolute or universal (Berry 1969). The emic approach has traditionally been used by anthropologists, in their quest for understanding what is unique to each culture. On the other hand, the thrust of both sociology and psychology as disciplines has generally been etic , i.e., to search for general relationships that transcend particular circumstances” (Miller-Loessi & Parker 2003).

17 approach by looking for general principals within the particular individual cases of  migrants’ daily lives, it does contain many of the elements of an emic study, as its  evidence comes from essentially relative and highly interpretive narratives and  reflections from the individuals themselves. The intent was to include the subject as a  participant in the research as much as possible and therefore provide both a depiction of  the general process of identity transition among labor migrants, while not ignoring the  uniqueness of this phenomenon as experienced by the individual.  The umbrella of hypotheses regarding the integration of migrants into a receiving  community has been labeled Assimilation Theory. Application of assimilation theory has  concentrated on the transition of migrants from the linguistic, social and cultural  practices of the home country to those of the receiving context (Park and Burgess 1921;  Gordon 1964; Gans 1979; Portes and Zhou 1993.). Traditionally it has been studied at the  group level (Waters 1995; Kosic 2002), within the life course of individual migrants (Das  Gupta 1997; Min and Kim 2000), and more commonly from a multigenerational  perspective (Rogler et al. 1980; Rumbaut 1980; Waters 1994; Brubaker 2001). Yet, it was  my assertion that the simple contact between any migrant and the host society will result  in a shift within the identity of the individual. Social Psychological studies have  noted  that the process of  acculturation  “concerns the changes that result in both people and in  groups of people as a result of contact among people of different cultures” (Smith and 

18 Bond 1998). Smith and Bond identify three outcomes of cross­cultural contact at the  individual level: • • • rejection of native culture and outright adoption of host culture marginalization in both cultures as migrant is unable to reconcile differences found to be especially strong among returnees reinforced cultural identity and even isolation and ethnocentrism (i.e. enclaves) Likewise, my previous research into the nature of economic, social, familial, and 

symbolic ties to the homeland influenced this project. As Philippine­Taiwan labor  migration occurs within an increasingly embedded global context, it was logical to expect  the development of transnational networks by which goods, services, information, and  individuals would circulate (Kivisto 2001; Portes; 1999; Faist 2000a; Faist 200b). The  study of these networks of multinational ties has been termed transnationalism and has  been seen in some cases to reinforce the immigrant identity through cultural retention  (see Faist 2000b). In other scenarios, they provide greater resources to the immigrant,  allowing them more easily integrate or assimilate into the receiving society.  Documentation of the transnational community of Filipinos in Taiwan was therefore  conducted. Interviews with community leaders, observations of community events,  discussion of community participation and documentation of institutions and  organizations within the community was carried out over the course of my stay.  Armed then with a series of “guiding questions,” and some broad assumptions on  the way in which the nature of reception would affect the shift in self­concept among 

19 labor migrants (See Fig. 2­1), I set out to document and explore this phenomenon. In late  January of 2003, my family and I moved to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for what would be seven  months of data collection. After contacting local relief agencies in Kaohsiung, I was  introduced to the community of factory workers in the Nan Tze Economic Processing  Zone (or NEPZ) in February and made almost daily trips to the area for the next six  months. Over that period, I conducted more than sixty hours of taped interviews with 38  participants, collected 350 images of “objects of importance” from them, recorded  observations of community events, tours of dorms, religious services and festivals,  cultural performances. I was allowed the opportunity to conduct a survey with a large  number of Filipino workers, allowing me to look for more universal experiences. than the  smaller sample of interviewees and focus group members would allow. Finally, as a  peripheral member of the community, I was allowed to participate, for a short time, in the  every­day social life of the workers having many frank conversations about their  experiences in Taiwan. OVERVIEW OF DOCUMENT This dissertation is partitioned into three sections. In the first, theories of  transnationalism, assimilation, acculturation, and the nature of the self are presented  (Chapter 2). Likewise, a detailed methodology (Chapter 3), will explain the techniques 

20 used to gather data as well as the procedures used for analysis. The following section,  gives short biographies on each of the  research participants (Chapter 4), details the  history of labor migration to Taiwan (Chapter 5), and outlines problems with the current  contract­employment system (Chapter 6).  Part III involves analysis based on the first person narratives of thirty­six Filipino  participants, nine focus group members, and the exhaustive survey of 389 laborers. It  focuses first on individual motivations for labor migration and the process of leaving the  Philippines from the viewpoint of the migrant (Chapter 7). Next, I recount the  experiences of reception ad exclusion that they experience in Taiwan (Chapters 8). It is  proposed that this rejection leads to an ambivalent attitude toward Taiwanese and simply  strengthens the national identity of Filipinos (Chapter 9). Following is an examination of  the importance of enclave institutions, principally the Catholic Church, in maintaining  ethnic identity, building solidarity, and creating community (Chapter 10). After that , the  focus shifts to the transitions in self­concept and identity that have occurred as a result of  migration experiences (Chapter 11). The conclusions (Chapter 12) summarize overall  findings, fitting the findings to the broader discourse on transnationalism and immigrant  incorporation and finally present policy recommendations for NGOs, churches, and the  Taiwanese government.

Image 2 “Brain Twister” competition at St. Joseph the Worker Parish

Image 3 William showing his personal space

Image 4 Sinulog dancers at St. Joseph the Worker Parish

Image 5 Checking the equipment at an electronics factory

CHAPTER 2 SITUATING THE RESEARCH: THEORETICAL OVERVIEW This project borrows from the language of a broad range of theoretical traditions.  From migration theory, Cumulative Causation ­ the many economic, demographic,  cultural, and social factors which increase migration flows over time ­ is used to explain  the flow of labor migrants from developing nations to more industrialized countries  (Massey 1988; Massey et al. 1993, Massey et al. 1994). Immigrant assimilation, defined  here as the process by which an immigrant is incorporated into the host society, is  borrowed from a long history of assimilation theories (Alba and Nee 1997; Portes and  Zhou 1993; Portes and Rumbaut 1996; Rumbaut 1994; Waters 1994). Unlike most of  those theories, this project focuses not on the phenomenon as it occurs over the course of  generations, but on the individual migrant’s incorporation (or isolation) as a result of  their reception by the host society. Transnationalism is used to identify the forces that  orient the migrant toward the homeland and toward the host community, as well as the  social space that they created while living in their new land (Portes 1999, Faist 2000a;  Faist 2000b). While assimilation sees migrant incorporations (via straight, bumpy,  segmented lines) as the end result of the process, transnationalism (manifested as  biculturalism, hybridization, blended cultures, etc.) is seen as an alternative to the  possible outcomes. It is perhaps more dynamic that assimilation theories as 

23 transnationalism is much more dependent upon the nature of exit and reception of the  migrant. Importantly this project is situated within the conceptual landscape of Symbolic  Interaction ­ principally, Social Identity Theory (as reformulated by Burke and Stets)  while utilizing the critical poststructural interpretive ethnography proposed by Denzin  (1997). Symbolic Interaction is employed to better understand the transitions in identity  that occur at the micro­level, while Interpretive Ethnography, as the method of analysis  and mode of presenting the findings, is more a multi­voiced narrative reflecting the  experiences of migrants rather than the observations of the outsider. CUMULATIVE CAUSATION The influence of contact between peoples has widely been discussed in the literature. Cumulative Causation Theory (Massey 1988; Massey et al. 1993, Massey et al. 1994), a comprehensive approach to explaining the many types of migrations and the multiplicity of migrant trajectories, combines elements of earlier economic and social theories (wage differentials, push-pull mechanism, migration networks, etc.) explaining migration systems from early short-term labor migrants to long-term settlers. Causation explains that earlier migration experiences create the potential for future migrations by the establishment of strong ties between sending and receiving regions. Massey argues that this process begins at the individual level and extends to the level of the community. He and his colleagues explain:

24 Cumulative causation refers to the tendency for international migration to perpetuate itself over time, regardless of the conditions that originally caused it. At the individual level, this self-perpetuation exists from the fact that each act of migration alters motivations and perceptions in ways that encourage additional migration. Migrants are changed by the experience of living and working in an advanced industrial economy. The knowledge and skills they acquire increase their productivity and raise their value to employers, and thereby elevate their expected wages. Through migration, they also gain valuable information about how to arrive, get around, and find work, thereby reducing the costs and risks of movement. In addition, they acquire tastes for modern consumer goods and new aspirations for socio-economic mobility, thus changing their motivations. As a result of these changes, people who migrate once are quite likely to do so again. Although international migration may begin as a short-term strategy for income generation, one trip leads to another and over time the duration of trips grows and foreign experience accumulates (Massey et al. 1994). Cumulative Causation then attributes some of the eventual migrations to the adoption of consumer practices and development of tastes for the goods and services of the “advanced” consumer host society, arguing that migrants who were initially sojourners may in fact become settlers as they develop preference for these cultural commodities as well as influencing those in the homeland community by sending remittances (thus affording them the ability to purchase new goods) and by returning with these new tastes and imparting them upon others. Culture, in this sense the material culture of the host society, is experienced by individual actors on a daily basis, thus observation of the daily lives of short-term labor migrants should result in evidence of the cultural shift as it is occurring. As Massey et al. indicate this cultural shift begins evidence early on in the migration experience as the migrant is exposed to the new culture. Most importantly this shift in material culture leads to an eventual change in the cultural values and practices (i.e. nonmaterial culture) of individual migrants and whole

25 communities. Massey and his co-authors note that one of the possible outcomes of this cultural shift is transnationalism or the creation of new cultures: One final avenue of cumulative causation that has been discussed in the theoretical literature is culture. According to postmodern theorists, the circulation of people, goods, and ideas creates a new transnational culture that combines values, behaviors, and attitudes from sending and receiving societies to create a new, largely autonomous social space that transcends national boundaries (Georges 1990; Rouse 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992; Goldring 1992a, 1992b). This transnationalization of culture changes the context within which migration decisions are made (Massey et al. 1994). TRANSNATIONALISM Much theoretical debate centered on the nature of transnationalism. Some discuss transnationalism as a unique and new social space distinct from both sending and receiving cultures, while others view it simply as one of the possible expressions of assimilation and acculturation. The concept of transnationalism combines historical concepts of cultural blends and hybrids (Glick-Schiller et al.1995) and includes elements such as biculturalism, bilingualism, reinforcement of national identity in the exterior (i.e. trans-local solidarity), as well as social, political, and economic practices that are transacted by migrant networks across national boundaries (Portes et al. 1999; Vertovec 1999; Roberts et al. 1999). This study (following my treatment of transnationalism in an earlier project) chooses to treat it as a midpoint between the culture of the homeland and adoption of the socio-cultural characteristics of the host society (or some segment therein). In this social space we find several possible expressions of transnationalism. In the case of the migrant or migrant community that is in some way marginalized by the society, we may find evidence of material and non-material culture of both communities,

26 but little in the way of integration into the host society and even possible exclusion from the society of the homeland (thus, what Smith and Bond called the marginalized migrant). Another possible outcome occurs when the individual recognizes the different social spaces in which they operate and then selects from a palette of cultural practices as determined by the social setting. This especially situated form of transnationalism may be expressed as a form of biculturalism, whereby the migrant has internalized the multiple expressions of self and, dependent upon setting, demonstrates unique cultural practices of the immigrant and host communities. Finally, there is evidence as well of “new” expressions of culture that are not entirely that of the immigrant community nor of the host society but something more, an amalgamation or hybridization of cultures (Glick-Schiller et al.1995) or even a new form of culture (Popkin 1999; Nagengast and Kearney 1990; Kearney 1991; Smith and Guarnizo 1998). Thus, cultural outcomes in the context of reception have been treated as a continuum with transnationalism as one of the possible outcomes. Thomas Faist (2000b) explains that transnational activities create distinct social spaces that transcend geographically bound nations. He creates a typology of transnational social spaces based on the kind of social relation and types of activities in which migrants may be engaged: transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits and transnational communities. Transnational kingship groups rely on reciprocity, obligation and familial responsibility for the sending of remittances to members in the home country and the mutual support networks provided to family members newly arrived migrant in the destination country. Transnational circuits also rely on social obligations among co-nationals (based on common language and cultural practices), but may result

27 in the exploitation of the newly arrived by the more established and experienced migrants. According to Faist, transnational circuits often include entrepreneurial activities that offer goods and services for the consumption of co-nationals and may provide them with potential employment (similar to the ethnic enclaves of Portes 1990 and Massey et al. 1994). Transnational communities, on the other hand, are characterized by a collective solidarity in which shared “ideas, beliefs, evaluations and symbols” are demonstrated in a common collective identity. In the US context, this solidarity may take the form of what has alternately been called ‘resilient ethnicity,’ ‘reactive formation’ and ‘reactive ethnicity’ (Portes and Rumbaut 1996; Popkin 1999) as well as a mobilization of resources and individuals around abstract symbolic ties to the home country such as nationalism, religion, and culture (Faist 2000b). I anticipate that short-term labor migrants may be involved in activities that coincide with any or all or the overlapping social spaces outlined by Faist. However, I anticipate that the size of the co-ethnic community, the formal regulation of that population, and the existence of a permanent population (with a higher degree of institutionalization and more formal organizations) will play a large role in the opportunities for transnational activities that may be present in a given locale.13 Likewise, identities expressed within these structures may be distinct. For example, a migrant embedded within an active transnational community may express an identity similar to that of their pre-migration experience or, if she also has regular contact with individuals from the mainstream, she may exhibit a degree of orthogonal biculturalism.

For more on context of reception see Portes, Alejandro and Jozsef Böröcz. 1989. “Contemporary Immigration: Theoretical Perspectives On Its Determinants and Modes of Incorporation.” International Migration Review 23:606-630.

28 All of these expressions of ethnic identity, then, fit within a continuum (or perhaps even multiple continua) of assimilation and acculturation, as mediated by the context of reception and the kind of transnational space and activities available to the migrant. ASSIMILATION In the article “Rethinking assimilation theory for a new era of migration”, Alba and Nee (1997) undertake to detail the history of assimilation theory and how it has been revised to accommodate recent migrant flows to the US context. They explain that many social scientists view assimilation theory as “ethnocentric and patronizing” (826) and do admit that early formulations of the theory did view the dominant culture as superior. However, they assert that assimilation theory is still the best way of understanding the process by which immigrants become part of the host society. Yet, there is some confusion within the literature as to whether assimilation is the process of becoming like the dominant culture (or some subculture within the society) or whether it is simply the degree of incorporation of a people within that structure. This difference is noted by Roger Brubaker (2001) in his article entitled The return of assimilation?: In the general and abstract sense, the core meaning is increasing similarity or likeness. Not identity, but similarity. To assimilate means to become similar (when the word is used intransitively) or to make similar or treat as similar (when it is used transitively). Assimilation is thus the process of becoming similar, or of making similar or treating as similar. In the specific and organic sense, the root meaning is transitive. To assimilate something is to ‘convert {it} into a substance of its own nature, as the bodily organs convert food into blood, and thence into animal tissue . . . to absorb into the system, {to} incorporate’ (Oxford English Dictionary). Assimilation in this sense implies complete absorption. In the general, abstract sense, the accent is on the process, not on some .final state, and assimilation is a matter of degree. Assimilation designates a direction of

29 change, not a particular degree of similarity. In the specific, organic sense, by contrast, the accent is on the end state, and assimilation is a matter of either/or, not of degree. (Brubaker 2001).

According to Alba and Nee (1997) assimilation theory had its roots in the early Chicago school with Robert E. Park and W.I. Thomas. In 1921, Park and Burgess created a formulation of assimilation theory that looked at the social process of becoming part of the mainstream in a very linear and “irreversible” fashion beginning with the initial contact between groups and ending with the minority group becoming assimilated into the mainstream. In the 1960s, Milton Gordon applied assimilation to the micro-level in the development of seven “dimensions” of assimilation. Most important was the distinction between acculturation and structural assimilation. As Alba and Nee explain, acculturation as used in Gordon’s theory is “the minority groups’ adoption of the ‘cultural patterns’ of the host society, [which] typically comes first and is inevitable.” A distinction was made between intrinsic and extrinsic traits of cultural identity. Gordon explained that while intrinsic traits (“vital to group identity” such as religion, musical tastes, etc.) do not readily change, extrinsic characteristics such as language, dress, and outward presentation of self do shift as a result of contact with host culture. I would note here that my own research of the Mexican Community in the Phoenix area showed little distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic traits in this way. Some interviewees showed preference for American mainstream music and food, and joined protestant evangelical movements, while maintaining language and national identity of the homeland, thus blurring Gordon’s distinctions between intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics (Sills 2000).

30 Structural assimilation, on the other hand, was defined by Gordon as the entrance of the immigrant group into the social groups of the host society. Daily interaction leads to a familiarity, eventual acceptance and finally an integration into primary group interaction (including membership in clubs and organizations and even intermarriage). Once structural assimilation had occurred, Gordon hypothesized that the other dimensions of assimilation would naturally follow in this linear process (Alba and Nee 1997). Alba and Nee point out that it was unclear whether this process of assimilation and acculturation occurred at the group level or individual level. The do, however, show that the formulations to follow (Gans 1973; Sandberg 1973; Lieberson 1973, as cited in Alba and Nee 1997) saw assimilation as a “straight line” process in which “generations are the motor for ethnic change, not just the time frame within which assimilation takes place.” Assimilation itself was broken down and studied in its constituent parts including: socioeconomic assimilation, residential assimilation, intermarriage and amalgamation, etc. Criticism over the deterministic and rigid “straight line” theories lead to revisions to accommodate ethnic groups that did not assimilate or did not fit the linear pattern (“bumpy line assimilation” of Gans 1992, as cited in Alba and Nee 1997). It was soon realized, however, that there were very great differences between past migration flows (pre-1965) and those of today. There is greater diversity in the ethnic and cultural origins of those who migrate today. Likewise, today’s population movement is a perpetual feature of the international system whereas previous flows were short lived historic events. Accordingly, “there are likely to be strong incentives to keep ethnic affiliations alive even for the third generation” (Alba and Nee 1997). In addition to

31 maintaining cultures, researchers noted that immigrant groups may not assimilate only toward the dominate culture but also to sub-cultures within a society. As Roger Brubaker (2001) explains: Recent work on assimilation, by contrast, is agnostic about its directions, degrees, and modalities, and ambivalent about its desirability. There is nothing today comparable to the complacent empirical and normative expectancies of mid-century. Of course, this is partly because the notion of a universally acknowledged ‘core culture’ has lost all its plausibility since the late 1960s. This, in turn, has raised the question of the reference population towards which assimilation is said to occur. Characteristic of the newer literature on assimilation is its willingness to consider multiple reference populations and correspondingly segmented forms of assimilation (Portes and Zhou 1993; Waters 1994; Zhou 1997; Neckerman et al. 1999).10 It is no longer true that assimilation (or integration, a term that often, especially in the European context, refers to much the same thing) is ‘inevitably’ conceptualized as occurring ‘into one, single, indivisible (national) “state”, and one, simple, unitary (national) “society” ’ (Favell 2000). These various formulations of Assimilation Theory (straight line, bumpy line, and segmented) recognize the economic, residential, and socio-cultural transitions of migrant groups toward the dominate culture or toward some subculture within a society. Most of these theories agree that the process of assimilation occurs over the period of generations and with the exception of Gordon, look for evidence at the group level. The Brubaker (2001) definition given previously indicates that the theories of assimilation are focused not on identification with the target culture, but either the process by which a people becomes similar to another or the end product of that process. However, Waters (1994) and Portes and Zhou (1993) found that various social factors including social, cultural and human capital, original social class, existence of social networks, and organizational or institutional involvement all affected the degree of assimilation and importantly the

32 self-perception and self-identification of immigrants. Likewise, Waters also found that second generation immigrants adopted one of three different ethnic identities or orientations: that of the host society; that of a hyphenated home-host identity (such as Caribbean-American); or that of an immigrant identity. I believe that this selfidentification may in fact begin with the first generation migrant. I would argue that the individual does experience a reinterpretation of self as a result of proximity to another culture and the designation of “other” within the destination country. Moreover, I believe that it is here in the first generation that we will see evidence of the process of assimilation beginning, perhaps not on the level of integration into the institutions of the social structure so much as that of identification with the culture or a sub-culture of the host community. SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY The transition in identity discussed in this project may be explained to some extent by application of the Social-Psychological perspective, more precisely by the general theory of self as proposed by Burke and Stets. Burke and Stets (2000), in their reformulation of Henri Tajfel’s theory, stress that individuals define themselves in terms of their group memberships. They assume that the self is reflexive and involved in the process of self-construction. This meta-theoretical assumption is central to the methodology employed in this project, as much of the data comes from reflective and introspective interviews.

33 Social Psychology and the Nature of Self  William James (1890) introduced the concept of the individual self as directly influenced by society and thus helped to define identity for the perspective later known as Social Psychology. As he explained, “a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who carry an image of him in their mind… he has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares.” James identified key elements involved in the construction of self such as interpersonal relationships, group membership, the social interpretation of symbols and objects and he importantly defined self as a process that is inconstant and situational. Building upon James, George Herbert Mead, Herbert Blumer, and subsequent  Symbolic Interactionist further refined and enhanced the concept of identity. In addition  to developing a scheme of the stages of identity development, Mead is attributed with  describing the self as active and creative, rather than a passive entity shaped by the social  environment alone. Blumer’s explanation of this concept is best demonstrated in the  following diagram (Fig. 2­1) in which he shows that society influences the individual by  imposing norms, values, roles and statuses that are interpreted by the individual in a  process of self­interaction (reflexivity) that results in a presentation of self that is  influenced by the structure, but mediated by the individual’s own identity. 


35 All of these elements (group membership, interpersonal relations, interpretation of symbols, and self reflexivity) are of importance in discussion of the concept of self throughout the process of migration. For example, as the individual changes geographic place she enters a different social space in which new interpersonal ties are established, group membership is renegotiated, and new symbols and objects are encountered.


Self Interactio n



Figure 2-1 Influence of Society on the Concept of Self as Reflexive Process (Based on Fig 5-1: Blumer’s View of the Individual, Wallace and Wolf )

Likewise, self must be reconsidered in a reflexive process as the migrant encounters the cultural norms and values of the receiving country and undergoes a shift in role expectations and status involved with being defined as the alien or “other.” A General Theory of Self Useful in the analysis of migration and identity is a synthesis of Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory discussed by Jan Stets and Peter Burke (2000) of Washington State University. They state, “in social psychology, we need to establish a general theory of the self, which can attend to both macro and micro processes, and which avoids the redundancies of separate theories on different aspects of the self.” In their formulation, they focus on combining the fundamental aspects of several of the leading theories of self including: bases of identity (social group vs. individual role), identity salience vs.

36 activation, and cognitive vs. motivational processes of identity. This project specifically incorporates the theories on bases of identities. Identity: Group Affiliation & Role Identification Stets and Burke identify two principal bases for the formation of identity within the theories: group membership and social roles. These bases, in this arrangement, act together in a reflexive process. They point out that, “although the basis of selfclassification is different in the two theories (group/category versus role), theorists in both traditions recognize that individuals view themselves in terms of meaning imparted by a structured society.” Social Identity Theory focuses on attachment to a group. Members of social groups, for example, share common identification established through a process of comparison along the lines of in-group versus out-group. In-group identification is viewed as positive to one’s self-esteem and is reinforced by perceived similarities in attitudes, beliefs, norms, language, use of symbols, etc. Inversely, out-groups are those with significant differences and are seen as negative for the individual’s self-esteem and self-concept. Stets and Burke emphasize that groups operate in relation to one another within a structured society. Thus, the relative status of the group with which one identifies may play a significant role in identity formation. Identity Theory, on the other hand, looks at self as occupying a role. Identity is derived from the internalization of role expectations and the performance of that role. Whereas self is defined by similarity to the group in the previous theory, self and other

37 social objects are defined in relation to the social role in Identity Theory. This then is a micro-level mechanism which helps to shape the identity internally. Social hierarchy and position do also have importance as the roles may be determined by the level of control of social objects (resources) that an individual maintains. Identity then is determined by the role one assumes and the relative control of resources inherent in that role. The Effect of the Migration Experience on Identity Migration involves for the individual a complete reinterpretation of self as her  social place has undergone significant change from both micro and macro forces. Firstly,  one’s expected social role as the migrant is transformed from that experienced when  living in the homeland. As the “foreigner,” the “outsider,” and the “other,” in the  receiving context, the individual is forced, even in very similar cultural settings, to  reconsider her reference groups.  For her, the generalized other of Mead has to be adapted and changed so that she  may see herself as the foreign presence. This mechanism of identity construction, though  heavily influenced by the social structure of the receiving context, involves review and  re­assessment of self that occurs in an internal process and thus on a micro­level.  Meanwhile, group membership and the naming of in­group versus out­group, also goes  through a reinterpretation. The migrant may experience this as an initial loss of self­  esteem (as they become the minority out-group) and a process of re-building sense of

38 worth by a strengthening of group identity by a commitment to co-national expatriates. Notably this loyalty to the group does not stop in the first generation migrant, but may even be strengthened in subsequent generations as migrant groups find “voice” within

HOMELAND SOCIETY Understanding of Social Role & clear idea of Group Membership CONCEPT OF SELF



Change in social space = Change in expected social roles and reference groups Reinterpretation of Social Role & Group


Figure 2-2 The Mechanisms of the Migration Experience and Revised Self Concept the social landscape. Portes and Rumbaut (1996) and Rumbaut (1996) call this

phenomenon reactive or resilient ethnicity (following Fordham and Ogbu 1986 “opposition identity”) and explain that it is highly dependent upon such factors as social and human capital, relative size of the migrant population, and the nature of reception in the destination country. The Nature of Reception & Identities Outcomes The way in which a social space welcomes or rejects a particular migrant or migrant group may be seen, at least for heuristic purposes, as a continuum from greater receptivity to greater rejection. Along this line, individual migrants must contend with

39 expected roles (such as stereotypical occupations, abilities, access to resources, etc.) and out-group definitions (often pejorative) imposed on them by the receiving society. If that reception is more inclusive, assimilation and acculturation of the migrant self to the majority culture may be expected. The eventual self-concept that develops among those who are most similar in social characteristics and culture to the receiving population, and therefore the most welcomed, will be logically most like that of the host citizens. For evidence we may look to early 20th century European migrants (Irish, Italians, and European Jews) in America who in a little less than a generation were incorporated into mainstream society and today identify themselves as Americans.14 Conversely, those who are least welcome maintain a sense of otherness” that is pervades their concept of self both in their expected social role and their group membership. This exclusion and rejection may lead to return migration, onward (step) migration, or the formation of an ethnic enclave. It may also lead the migrant to develop a negative self-concept and an eventual rejection of the homeland culture in favor of an attempt at assimilation. This idea is explained in original Tajfel’s theory: Under certain circumstances it may be impossible for members of a group to find a positive basis upon which to compare their group with other groups. This might occur for instance in groups that had low status in society. Under these circumstances, [Tajfel] envisaged that group members would do one of three things. Firstly, they might seek new bases for comparison which would give a more favourable outcome, such as emphasizing the beauty of traditional clothing or the liveliness of the group’s language, an option that he termed social creativity. Secondly, they might leave the group and join another with more positive qualities, an option which he termed social mobility. Individualistic cultures with their emphasis on equal opportunity and freedom of association may provide more opportunities and support for such an option! Thirdly, they

One may also look to “invisible” migrants such as Mainland Chinese in Taiwan, Canadians in the US, etc.

40 might seek to change the attributes of their group so that it would command more favorable evaluations in the future, an option that he termed social change. (Tajfel 1981 as cited in Smith and Bond 1998) For example, Rosa a middle-aged woman who has lived in the US since she was a teen and married a non-Hispanic white man, says she has purposively discarded many of her cultural practices in an attempt to integrate more easily: She explains, “I am Mexican. Firstly, I was born in Mexico and have family and ancestors in Mexico. My blood is Mexican…my language, more than anything my language…is I have tried to get rid of Mexican traditions a little. If I compare myself with my mother and my sisters [in Mexico] I am completely different.” (Sills 2000). Between these poles of acceptance and rejection lies a social space that includes such possibilities as segmented assimilation or transnationalism. As previously discussed, transnationalism may include various patterns like biculturalism, blended or hybridized cultures, or even the formation of new cultural identities. In these cases, the migrant may have various ‘situated’ selves that are dependent upon the social place that she occupies.When among co-nationals she may have one sense of identity, while among the majority population she may present another entirely separate self. This situational nature of identity is very apparent in an interview with one Mexican migrant in which he says, “I believe I have no real identification... I am able to adapt, from Latino to Hispanic to Mexican-American, depending on the situation and who the people are that I am talking to. Actually, I have been able to take on all of those identities” (Sills 2000).

41 INTERPRETIVIST PARADIGM In dealing with cultural beliefs and values at the level of the individual, I felt that  the Interpretivist paradigm would provide the best approach for analysis. Within this  paradigm, meanings are treated as situated and socially constructed, culture is viewed of  as an abstract built by social interactions and reflection, and evidence of such is found in  the polyvocal narratives of subject/participants (LeCompte and Schensul 1999). As  LeCompte and Schensul (1999) explain Volume One of The Ethnographer’s Toolkit : Interpretivists view culture as both cognitive and affective, as reflected in shared meanings and as expressed in common language, symbols, and other modes of communication. They believe that culture is created in a process as many individuals share or negotiate multiple and overlapping socially based interpretations of what they do and what occurs in local situations. Culture, then, is an abstract “construct” put together or “constructed” as people interact with each other and participate in shared activities (49) This definition recognizes the importance of the social structure (as explained in the previous sections) as well as the characteristics of the individuals as they interact: “shared meanings and constructs are “situated” “that is they are located in or affected by the social, political, cultural, economic, ethnic, age, gender, and other contextual characteristics of those who espouse them.” LeCompte and Schensul (1999) identify the

Figure 2-3 Identity Outcomes by Mode of Reception

Assimilation & Amalgamation
Segmented Assimilation & Transnationalism (Including orthogonal biculturalism, blending of cultures, hybridization, and creation of ‘new’ cultures)

Return Migration, on-ward migration, & Enclave (limited possibility of mobility)

Figure 2-4 The Nature of Reception and Possible Identities

goals of the Interpretivist paradigm as making comparisons of results of similar processes and phenomena (such as identity transition in multiple contexts) and “development of workable and shared understandings regarding regularities in human behavior in specific settings.” Denzin’s Interpretive Ethnography (1997) adds to this a critical edge which questions even the researchers place within the construction of knowledge. His “critical poststructural interpretive ethnography” assumes a postmodernist stance in that: “the writer can no longer presume to be able to present an objective, noncontested account of the other’s experiences. Those we study have their own understanding of how they want to be represented.” LeCompte and Schensul (1999) further explain: Important to interpretive research is that the constructs or meaning systems of researchers, participants, and research partners all carry equal weight, because negotiated meaning cannot occur unless the researcher is a full participant in the process. The nature of this interaction blurs the distinction between researcher and researched, subject and object, bringing all parties together as equal partners in the process of generating and interpreting data.

44 It is, however, important to emphasize the importance of the ethnographer and the “outsiders” perspective in this process of interpretation. Jay Ruby explains that in interpretive ethnographic filmmaking: The move to give greater voice and authority to the subject has now reached a logical, but extreme point. There is an unspoken assumption about the validity of interviews, particularly with those outside the mainstream. These films seem to suggest that what subjects say about themselves and their situation is to be taken at face value. While it is clear that the balance needs redressing and the victims of Western oppression should represent themselves, it should not be assumed that any one group has a privileged insight into its own history. People seldom understand their own motivation. No particular group of people has the corner on being self-serving or adjusting the past to fit the needs of the present. To assume otherwise denies the role of the unconsciousness. What people say about themselves are data to be interpreted, not the truth. (Ruby 1991) LeCompte and Schensul clearly outline the tasks and roles of researcher and participant involved in ethnographic projects in the interpretivist paradigm: • • • • Definition - participant Description - participant Classification/ codification - researcher with checks by participant Enumeration/ correlation/ association/ interpretation - researcher in conjunction with participant

While LeCompte and Schensul demarcate the roles and responsibilities of the ethnographer and participants, Denzin (1997) clearly defines the text or document that may result from such an undertaking. He explains that it would be somewhere between the “messy text” of the ethnographer acting as “scribe for the other” and a moral document in which the researcher acts as “coauthor with the other, producing a joint document, which has long been the tradition in critical, participatory research.” Explaining further the polyvocal nature of these writing Denzin notes that they “are often grounded in the study of epiphanal moments in people’s lives” and that “they attempt to

45 reflexively map multiple discourses that occur in a given social space… they are always multivoiced….” As part of the “text” that this project seeks to produce is a documentary of the lives of individual undergoing transitions of identity as a result of their migratory experiences. The Interpretivist paradigm, therefore, is a good fit for this type of visual ethnography as there is an established tradition of reflexive and subjective documentaries and direct application of this approach in film.15 Denzin notes, that Interpretivist films are unique from more positivistic documentaries as they recognize the nature of film as a simulacrum that is often mistaken as reality: Citing Trinh T. Minh-Ha (1991), Denzin explains that traditional documentary style: “like ethnography, starts with the real world: It uses an aesthetic of objectivity and a technological apparatus that produces truthful statements (images) about the world…. These aesthetic strategies define the documentary style, allowing the filmmaker to create a text that gives the viewer the illusion of having ‘unmediated access to reality.’” However, this technological, positivistic view is false as it is equally constructed and manipulated through the lens of ‘objectivity’ of the ethnographer. All texts of modernist ethnographers, he explains “attempt to capture and re-present, through photographs, transcribed interviews, and audiotapes the authentic, original voices heard, seen, and felt in the field setting” yet fail as they are filtered and reconstructed by the situated viewpoint of the ethnographer. Thus, he explains that “firm claims about truth, knowledge, consequences, causes, and effects can no longer be made.” Rather, by incorporating the subject and researcher as

See for example Richard Chaflen in Crawford & Turton 1992; Chapters 5 & 8 in Loizos 1993; “reflexive” film in Barbash and Taylor 1997; Trinh T. Minh-Ha 1991 in Denzin 1997; Chapter 3 in MacDougall 1998; and finally Chapters 8 & 9 of Ruby 2000

46 participants and writing a pluralistic text that disregards the boundaries between subject and object we arrive a situated truth more akin to a journalistic storytelling. Denzin describes this form of writing as: …local, participatory, civic, journalistic ethnography [that] answers to a new readership – the biographically situated reader who is co-participant in a public project that advocates democratic solutions to personal and public problems… This writer, as a watchdog for the local community, works outward from personal, biographical troubles to those public arenas that transform troubles into issues. A shared public consciousness is sought – a common awareness of troubles that have become issues in the public arena. This consciousness is shaped by a form of writing that merges the personal, the biographical, with the public.

Image 6 Virginia helping to record music for soundtrack of documentary

CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This project relied on a mixed­method triangulation of approaches. It was felt that  a mixed­methods approach would allow for a range of creative solutions to the  difficulties of conducting field research in a foreign country. A variety of research tools  were utilized to facilitate data collection. From social psychology, the Twenty Statements  Test was employed to document the migrants’ shift in self­identities. Follow­up  interviews which discussed the respondent’s statements in great detail allowed for an  understanding of the changes in self­concept that one experiences as a result of  migration. Qualitative survey research (LeCompte and Schensul 1999) was employed to  gather general demographic information and common migration experiences, as well as  to gauge the importance of various community institutions in the everyday lives of  factory workers. A comprehensive survey of laborers was conducted in May at the St.  Joseph the Worker parish. On this occasion 389 surveys were distributed with 355  returned (73% response). Small non­representative follow­up surveys with other  protestant and non­religious groups (N=34) were conducted thereafter. This survey  helped to grasp group level experiences of isolation, linguistic assimilation, religiosity,  and the economic of labor migration (placement fees, broker fees, incentives and salaries,  as well as remittance patterns and daily spending habits). Traditional ethnographic 

48 techniques commonly employed in Sociology (interviews, observations, and content  analysis of periodicals), as well as more innovative visual ethnographic methods (photo­ documentation, video observations, and photo­elicitation) were used to document the  everyday life experiences of the labor migrant and form the bulk of the research  materials. Seven months of immersion with Philippine migrant communities in Southern  Taiwan allowed for direct observations, participation in activities as a peripheral group  member, formal and informal interviews with participants as well as video and  photographic documentation. In­depth interviews with 38 migrant laborers, a focus group  of nine women, meetings with migrant NGO activists and government officials were  videotaped, transcribed, and coded (using Atlas.ti). Additional information came from an  all­day meeting of the Second Annual Diocesan Coordinators Meeting at Stella Maris  International Service Center in July of 2003.  EXPLORATORY NATURE OF ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH As ethnography, the research follows the characteristics outlined by LeCompte  and Schensul (1999) that are common to such projects.16 First, the research is carried out  in a naturalistic setting. It involves face­to­face contact between researcher and  participants. It attempts, through a triangulation of perspectives, to represent a credible 

See also Agar, Michael. 1986. Speaking of Ethnography. Sage Publications, Newbury Park p. 11-13.

49 reflection of the nature of the social phenomenon of acculturation and assimilation. It is  recursive in nature: driven by theoretical concerns yet empirically grounded. It relies on  multiple data sources and multiple methods of collection. It frames the phenomena of  acculturation within the socio­historical context in which it is experienced today. Finally,  this project focuses on culture as evidenced in the everyday lives of the participants. As  LeCompte and Schensul explain: “all ethnographers begin ­an end­ their work with a  focus on these patterns and traits that, lumped together, constitute a people’s culture.  The  result of such a focus is the document we call ethnography.” Another important element of ethnography is its exploratory nature. It is more  than the documenting of a culture. It is the flexible investigation of a social phenomenon  that requires the participation of the ethnographer in the process of discovery. Jay Ruby  explains that ethnography is as much the process as the final document: It is used here to imply both a process and product. I wish to behave like an ethnographer. I plan to participate and observe within the culture for extended periods of time in order to produce an ethnographic account of the relationship of visual communication to culture. Ethnography is a thick description (Geertz 1973). The theory constructs descriptive categories and cannot be separated from the description. Since participant/ observation is the primary method of data generation, the "instrument" is the researcher. (Ruby 1981). This is not only a characteristic of ethnography, but also of a basic premise of the symbolic interaction approach following the methodology outlined by Blumer: Exploration is by definition a flexible procedure not pinned to any particular technique. It begins with broad focus but narrows progressively as the investigator moves toward an understanding of how the problem is

50 to be posed, what the appropriate data and may be, what conceptual tools may be useful, etc. Exploration differs from the “pretentious posture” of working with established scientific protocol which requires the researcher to know in advance, precisely what the problem is and what kinds of data are to be collected; to have a prearranged set of techniques; and to use established conceptual categories. (Stryker 1980) While I have outlined a procedure to be used in data collection, it is flexible  enough to respond to new information learned in the interviews and observations. Guided  by “research questions” it does not pose hypotheses to be proven in empirical tests. I do  not know what to expect in the field, nor the specifics of the data to be documented. Yet,  I do not propose to be quite as “loose” as the methods proposed by Blumer. I do employ a  theoretical lens that gives focus to the issue to be investigated. COLLABORATION & REFLEXIVITY The nature of the research and the Interpretivist paradigm fit well with the  collaborative nature of ethnographic research. I sought to present a product that is  collaborative, yet also reflects my own role in the very social process of creation of a  cultural product. 17 I did not attempt to hide my role as ethnographer and interviewer by  extracting from the research my own participation. Jay Ruby further explains the  importance and deliberateness of reflexivity  in ethnographic work:

“Oral histories are not merely accounts elicited by a researcher with a tape recorder; historyspeaking is a big part of an ongoing social process which creates communities out of groups of individuals…. the term reflexive describes a different role for the investigator who recognizes that they are working within society and history.” (Margolis 1994)

51 To be reflexive is to structure a product in such a way that the audience assumes that the characteristics of the producer’s life, the process of construction, and the product are a coherent whole. Not only is an audience made aware of these relationships, but it is made to realize the necessity of that knowledge. To be more formal, I would argue that being reflexive means that the producer deliberately, intentionally reveals to his or her audience the underlying epistemological assumptions that caused him or her to formulate a set of questions in a particular way, to seek answers to those questions in a particular way, and finally to present his or her findings in a particular way. (Ruby 2000). ANALYSIS This project represents a mixed­method approach to the understanding of a  social­psychological question. As such, a number of analytical techniques were applied to  the information gathered in the field. I feel that by blending methods, I am better able to  provide the thick description and deep meanings contained within the ethnographic  observations and interviews, while also providing some generalizability and an indication  of broader sociological phenomenon by means of statistical analysis of survey data and  psychological tests. Survey Analysis Results from the survey of Nan Tze area workers were keyed into a database  using Microsoft Excel. Matching identification codes on the paper survey and in the  electronic database allowed for continual surveillance of improper entries and data  reliability. This data set was then ported to SPSS 11.0 for descriptive analysis. Descriptive 

52 statistics allowed for presentation of a “portrait” of the community of laborers in Taiwan.  These statistics also provided a metric for comparing ethnography participants and  gauging the “representativeness” of the migrant population. More thorough analysis was  then completed using bivariate and multivariate regression procedures. Interviews Audio and videotaped interviews were transcribed and entered into Atlas.ti for  coding. Primary documents, the transcriptions and observation notes, were marked  following a preliminary coding scheme was devised using the program’s “code in vivo”  and “free coding” systems. The “Autocoding” procedure, used to keyword search the  entire database of transcripts and notes, was also employed to generate quotations  following common themes. As coding progressed, this scheme was collapsed or  expanded as needed refining the concepts and categories that later became the dominant  themes presented in this text. The “QueryTool” subroutine allowed for retrieval of  quotations within these themes. Atlas.ti allowed also for the exploration of the  relationship between concepts by means of the “Network Editor” tool. Twenty Statements Interviewees were provided with a form on which the instructions were provided.  They were given an opportunity to fill out this form before beginning the first interview. 

53 The form was used later in the interview to elicit discussion on the theme of changes that  they had undergone as a result of their migration experiences: There are ten numbered blanks on the page below. Please write ten answers to the simple question “Who am I?” in the blanks. Just give ten different answers to this question. Answer as if you are giving the answers to yourself, not to someone else. Write the answers in the order that they occur to you. Don’t worry about logic or “importance.” Go along fairly quickly for time is limited. Now, answer the same question, but reflect back to when you were living in the Philippines. Who were you then? How were you similar/different to who you are today? Twenty­nine of the thirty­three Twenty Statements Tests were coded according to  the following scheme:18  • Personality Traits (PT) o PT - Negative o PT - Neutral o PT - Positive Social Roles (SR) o SR - Activity Group o SR - Ethnic/Cultural o SR - Non-Religious o SR - Occupational o SR - Relational o SR - Religious Other Categories (Other) o Other - Age o Other - Existential o Other - Geographic o Other - Name o Other - Time in Taiwan o Other - Work Related Physical Descriptions (PD) o PD- General Descriptions

Personality traits were judged to be positive, negative, or neutral. They included  such statements as: “I am... independent,” “I am... a hardworking type of person, ”or “I  was... very lazy.” Social Roles were categorized by those roles that emerged in the  coding. They included ethnic/cultural statements such as “I am... a Filipino citizen,”  religious declarations like, “I am... a member of the family of God,” to relational roles as, 

Four of the respondents misinterpreted the directions, writing instead a short autobiography rather than statements beginning with “I am” and “I was.”

54 “I am... a mother of two kids.” Physical Descriptions included a single case of physical  condition in which the participant declared, “I was... not healthy.” Other categories,  included age or birth date, name, time spent in Taiwan, work related statements (e.g. “we  don't have any O.T.”), and existential statements (e.g. “I am... nobody”). In all, there were  247 “now” statements and 185 “before” statements.


CHAPTER 4 PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: A PROFILE OF PHILIPPINE LABOR MIGRANTS IN  THE SOUTH OF TAIWAN Kaohsiung city, and the surrounding area in Southern Taiwan, is among the  leading heavy industry and manufacturing districts in Asia. Kaohsiung is the second  largest city in Taiwan and its harbor is the third largest container port in the world.19 In  addition to being a crowded and bustling industrial center, it is temporarily home to  nearly 12,000 migrant laborers from other Southeast Asian countries.20 These workers are  employed in construction, factories, shipbuilding and other industries, as well as  domestic servants, caretakers, and nurses. Between January and August of 2003, I lived  in this Southern city interviewing and surveying Filipino workers whom I met through  churches, relief agencies, and through casual contact. The majority of participants were  factory workers from the Nan Tze Economic Processing Zone and attended St. Joseph  the Worker parish. 


Sung, Cecilia (1995) The Southern City of Kaohsiung Travel in Taiwan ( and also Kaohsiung Overview ( Both retrieved on April 12, 2004 20 Employment and Vocational Training Administration, CLA. Jan 2004 Table 13-9 Status of Alien Workers by Area in Taiwan-Fukien Area. Retrieved on April 12, 2004

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS Participants in this study were interviewed and surveyed from early February to  late July 2003. Initial contact was made through migrant NGOs and churches with large  Filipino populations in and about Taiwan’s leading industrial city of Kaohsiung. 

Source: Economic Processing Zone Administration


Figure 4-1 Economic Processing Zones in Taiwan Specifically, interviews, observations, and surveys were conducted in Kang Shan, Nan  Tze, Tang Gang, and Kaohsiung City. Over the course of the months of fieldwork, I  attended church services, cultural celebrations, and social functions in these communities 


Retrieved on April 12, 2004 (

becoming familiar with many of the participants first through informal communications  then in focus groups or formal interviews.  In addition to videotaped interviews, thirty­three of the thirty­six participants  were administered a modified, “before” and “during” migration, Twenty Statements Test.  Statements made on the test were clarified and expanded during the in­depth semi­ structured interview which followed. The videotaped interviews were later transcribed,  coded, and analyzed. Likewise, they were used in the production of the videos that  accompany this document.   Interviews lasted from one to two hours and covered the participant’s educational  and economic background, labor history, family structure, migration history (including  family member’s migrations), labor and social experiences in Taiwan, and plans for the  future. Just over a third of the participants were provided a film or digital camera to  photographically document their lives. Participants were provided the simple directions  to “shoot pictures of that which is most important” in the their lives. In all, over 350  images were captured and appear in a Hypertext  document found on CD#1 (Jacket  Insert).  Short follow­up interviews were conducted with the participants involved in  photo­documentation. Details of the photographs were discussed and the photos  themselves were used to elicit more detailed accounts of their lives in Taiwan. Five  participants were recruited to carry out additional video data collection, detailing their 

living conditions, daily events, and special holiday celebrations. Finally, two  supplemental interviews with non­churchgoing factory workers were conducted in  Tagalog by one of the participants in migrants. The purpose of these interviews was to  explore differences, if any, between non­church going women in the Nan Tze area and  those who had been contacted via church groups. In addition to the interviews and observations, a 101­question survey (see  appendix for full­text) was administered between May and July of 2003 with the majority  of responses from a particularly well attended service (anniversary festival of the El   Shaddai group)22 at the St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Nan Tze, Taiwan. Respondents  from the other churches and dorms were conducted for comparative purposes and were  gathered as non­random convenience samples. Respondents included 355 members of St.  Joseph the Worker Parish in Nan Tze (representing an overall response rate of 73% of  those in attendance), and non­random samples of 10 members of the Higher Ground Free  Methodist Church in Nan Tze (women’s Bible study group), 10 from Jesus is Lord  Fellowship in Kang Shan, 14 non­church members from Green House women’s  dormitory. 


See for general information on this charismatic Catholic movement from the Philippines, retrieved on April 12, 2004.

Survey Respondents As the survey was conducted near the Nan Tze Economic Processing Zone  (EPZ), almost all of respondents (98%) were factory workers. There was a very small  minority of factory coordinators, contract engineers, and foreign spouses of Taiwanese.  Nan Tze’s EPZ hires mainly women as they are considered best for the delicate work of  electronics manufacturing. Thus, most respondents were female (90%). The small  minority of males in the dataset were mostly engineers in the Nan Tze factories, workers  from nearby Kang Shan (where there are more heavy industrial manufacturers), ship  builders and factory workers from Kaohsiung city (including Chi Chin Island), and the  targeted sample of members of the Jesus is Lord church in Kang Shan. While  unrepresentative of workers in other regions and unequally distributed between the sexes,  this survey does provide a clear image of the Filipino population in Nan Tze from which  the majority of ethnography participants were drawn. The average age among respondents was 28 years with a range of 19 to 44 in the  sample. Two­thirds of respondents were never married. While 19% of all respondents had  children, 22% of those with children were single parents. Most respondents were on their  first (47%) or second (42%) trip to Taiwan. 13% have had experience working in other  countries; Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Japan being the most frequent. Most (89%) 

have greater than a high school/vocational school degree (i.e. some college, university or  graduate school) indicating the highly selective labor hiring process. One­forth indicated  that advertisements for positions in Taiwan, placed by labor recruiters in the Philippines,  influenced the choice to go to Taiwan. Another one­fifth said that friends in Taiwan  influenced their decision to migrate, while 13% indicated multiple reasons including  family and friends either in Taiwan or having returned from Taiwan.

50.5% 50%

40% 35.0%





0.5% 0% Primary

1.6% Academic High school Vocational High School College University (BA/BS)

2.9% 0.8% Grad School Other

Figure 4-2 Educational Achievement

Image 7 Congregation of St. Joseph the Worker Parish

Ethnography Participants Most ethnography participants were drawn from the population of workers in the  Nan Tze Economic Processing Zone. In an attempt to balance the 17 individual female  participants and nine female focus group participants from this area, contacts were made  with groups of male workers from the nearby town of Kang Shan and later from the ship  builders at Kaohsiung harbor’s Chi Chin Island. Nine additional males were recruited in  these areas.  While the majority of workers interviewed were from manufacturing industries  (52% of all workers in Taiwan), efforts were made to interview domestic workers and  caretakers as well. These interviews were conducted exclusively at the shelter for 

migrants at Stella Maris International Service Center and included five women who were  seeking assistance regarding employer abuses, repatriation, illegal status, or other  employment problems. Attempts were also made to interview workers via contact with  Taiwanese employers, nevertheless all were refused by employers who did not wish their  workers to speak on their migration experiences. Thus, it is recognized that these  interviews do not reflect the positive relationship between some employers and their  domestic workers. However, most studies by other researchers do cover these domestic  relations. What's more, I feel these cases are still useful in underscoring the extreme  conditions that many workers do face. As “escapees” from harsh working conditions, I  feel they are more likely to represent a greater number of workers who are confined by  the families for whom they work and thus concealed from researchers. These five, then,  are the more fortunate minority who have chosen to bear the financial penalty of early  return rather than tolerate exploitation.

Agriculture (Crewmen) 1%

Social, personal and related community services 40%

Manufacturing 52%

Construction 7%

Figure 4-3 Migrant Workers by Industry (derived from Table 11-3 Alien Workers in Taiwan-Fukien Area by Industry Employment and Vocational Training Administration, CLA.)

Image 8 Virginia in a sea of bicycles (migrants are not allowed to own scooters or cars)

Finally, approximately 15 hours of audio and videotaped interviews were  conducted in order to gain greater understanding of particular issues surround labor

migration in Taiwan. These interviews included multiple sessions with leaders of local  non­governmental agencies, religious groups, and representatives from the Philippine  government in Taiwan. Likewise, to better understand the placement­broker­employer  system, interviews were conducted with Philippine coordinators who, though assigned to  the human resources departments of factories in Nan Tze, in reality work directly for  brokers to oversee the factory workers. Similarly, interviews were conducted with a  number of Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men in an effort to collect information on long­ term assimilation/ incorporation experiences. Nan Tze Factory Workers As previously mentioned, the majority of participants in this project lived in the  vicinity of the Nan Tze Economic Processing Zone often referred to simply as “NEPZ.” I  was first introduced to these workers by Fr. Bruno Ciceri who, among many other duties,  overseas the Stella Maris International Services Center (in Kaohsiung) as well as looks  after pastoral care of the St. Joseph the Worker parish (in Nan Tze). Almost all of the  workers in this area were female; the majority employed in electronics. The Taiwanese  see electronics manufacturing as a “delicate” process requiring “nimble fingers” and  “patience.” Male workers are not perceived of as having these traits. Moreover, educated  Filipinas are especially desired for this industry as many of the readouts, instruction 

manuals, and control panels for machinery require a knowledge of English. From early  March until the end of my stay in August, I frequented church services and social events  at the parish. The focus group interview and many of the one­ 
Industries in NEPZ
45 41 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 1 0 Related Industry International Tradings Chemical Products Manufacturing Precision Machinery Manufacturing Miscellaneous Industrial Products Manufacturing Other industries approved for establishment Warehousing Transshipment Metal Products Manufacturing Garments Manufacturing Machinery Instruments Manufacturing Electricity & Electronic Appliances Manufacturing Information Services 1 3 4 4 4 5 9 15 19


Figure 4-4 Industries in the Nan Tze EPZ (derived from EPZA Statistics on Enterprises by Category)23

on­one interviews were conducted on the tree covered grounds of the parish. However,  for much of June and July, church attendance was greatly diminished as a result of  curfews imposed on workers to limit the spread of SARs. During this period, much of my  data gathering shifted to interviewing male workers, who incidentally were not under  quarantine, in nearby Kang Shan and on Chi Chin Island in Kaohsiung harbor.

Economic Processing Zone Administration 現有區內事業分類統計 Statistics on Enterprises by Category Jan 2004 Available at: retrieved on April 12, 2004

Focus Group (March 11) The focus group interview with nine members of the Legion of Mary at St.  Joseph’s parish, was videotaped  and transcribed, yielding over 1100 lines of transcript  text (roughly thirty pages). The participants were all regular church goers who also  helped in conducting the daily services. Most were also members of the choir, liturgy, El  Shaddai, or other religious and social groups within the church community. They ranged  in ages from 22 to 37 and had worked previously in the Philippines as secretaries, sales  clerks, factory workers, and full­time students. All had post­secondary educations, but,  due to limited opportunities in the Philippines, chose to work in Taiwan where they made  as much as three times their previous salaries. The discussion was unstructured, but  included employment experiences, religiosity, dating, money issues (such as placement  costs, salaries, and remittances), everyday life in the dorms, and difficulties with cultural  integration (dislike of food, problems at work, challenges of communication, etc.).  Jenny (March 2; March 17; June 16) I was introduced to Jenny early in the research process. She was one of the first  participants interviewed and was instrumental in photo­documentation, helping to  videotape church events, assisting in transcription and survey data entry, and also  conducted two interviews in Tagalog. Jenny, 26 yrs old, was only recently married and 

had a one­year old son. She and her husband had met on her first trip to Taiwan (1999 to  2001). She was forced to return to the Philippines at that time due to pregnancy (until  recently considered a breach of contract). She was university educated in Physical  Therapy, but failed her board exam. As she explains she, “got frustrated and I thought I  might as well go to another place.” She finds that working in Taiwan is “degrading  because this is not my line of work. And I get a, I get, a very small salary that’s not, it’s  not, the job is really hard and very tiresome, very heavy.” Forced to live with her sister­ in­law after having her baby, she said life was difficult. “We have little money in the  bank, but most of the time, we have a little money in the bank but we don’t have a very  stable income. So it gets very difficult.” 

Image 9 Jenny’s self-portrait with family

One result of her experiences abroad has been greater self confidence. She  attributed this confidence to the difficulties of living on her own and coping with the  foreign society, as well as her stronger commitment to working in the church: Stephen: You said that you were stronger here then you’ve ever being before. Jenny: Emotionally. Stephen: Emotionally? Jenny: Emotionally, I feel that I am stronger now because, before, because before when I came here to Taiwan before, I often cry and miss home. I don’t now. But now I could say that I am stronger because when things go wrong, you know, when things go wrong I would always say that it happens because it has a purpose. It’s meant to happen to me and there is always solution. I always say that to myself. Money she was earning in Taiwan was being sent home and saved for a family  business: “I'm saving for a business and I'm gonna build my own house. Yes, I have a  husband and baby back home and we'll have money to build our home and have a little  bit like a restaurant. Just a small restaurant. I was planning on having a restaurant near  the school or just something like, just a burger station, like that…”

Image 10 Ellen with Father Bruno and Friends

Ellen (March 2, March 22) I met Ellen on the same day as Jenny. They both took me for a partial tour of  “yellow house,” one of the dorms near NEPZ. It was there that we had our first sit­down  interview. Ellen, also 26 yrs old, was unmarried though she shyly admitted to having a  school “friend” in the Philippines to who she has plans of marrying: “He wanted to get  married, but I don’t like because I still have to help my family.” Though she received a  compute science degree, she said there were no jobs and she needed to find a way to help  her five sisters and one brother. “I heard rumor of Taiwan, once you work in Taiwan you  will be having a salary like that and overtime, and lots of money... So, it’s a fortune for  me because lots of my sisters are studying, so I can help them more, especially financial 

support.” When I met her, she was already into her second contract in Taiwan, having  worker the first three years and recently returned. She too participated in the photo­ documentation portion of the project. Her photos reflect the two central themes in her life  as an OFW: work and church. She explains, “I go home [from work]at almost 4:00 [am].  So, my day shift is in the church. My second shift, I am sleeping. And the third shift is  work, the schedule is like that.” Like Jenny, Ellen hopes to convert her savings into a  business back home, as she explains, “maybe a bakery.” Bea (March 2) Bea participated in a short, yet informative, taped interview in the community  room of the dorm while touring “yellow house.” She was one month away from  completing her second contract and ready to head back to the Philippines. Though in her  late 30s, she looked younger than most workers I had met. She explained that, especially  on her first trip to Taiwan, she found communication with managers and Chinese co­ workers to be problematic. To ease the problems during training she said novices are  assigned to the experienced Filipino workers to learn the machines: “Sometimes, the first  time, it's very difficult for me especially in communication. So, when there's an old  operator in the production, they give the Filipino to the Filipino to teach, especially in a 

production. They [Taiwanese] also teach us ,but it's very difficult for them, we have to  adapt ourselves to that.”  Soon to return, she says money has been a difficulty. While earnings were high on  her first contract, due to a great number of over­time hours, it has been tighter since the  economic down. “We don't have any savings. No money for ourselves, only for our food  and for our, to pay our debts in the Philippines.” Bea goes on to explain that placement  fees are lower today, but earnings are down as well as a result of having to pay their own  room and board in the dorms. 

Image 11 Cleaning the equipment after mixing chemicals used in ceramic circuit board components

Caroline (March 21) For Caroline, 26 years old, Taiwan was a big change, socially, occupationally and  religiously. When I interviewed her, she had only been there for seven months. While she 

described herself as being agnostic and irresponsible before, she said now she is a  member of the choir and a responsible, friendly person. She told me that she came to  Taiwan, six years after graduating from college with a BA in History and a minor in  Anthropology, because she had problems maintaining a job and had little money: “  first place the pay there, the salary, it’s very low. And then, aside from that, if I stay there,  I have so many friends and I’m easily tempted. You know, instead of going to work, I just  said okay, let’s go, drink or have fun.” Now, working in the quality control lab doing  failure analysis of circuit board, she says she is much more responsible. She also says  she’s lucky that she got the position in the lab: “We were forty in my batch. Forty, And  the, our HR representative there, the person there interviewed us first. Then he chose  only ten, and after that, the boss at the head of the lab, interview the ten again. And then,  fortunately three was chosen. I was among the three.... the work there is lighter, very  much lighter if compared with the production.” She was also fortunate not to owe  placement fees as she paid cash in the Philippines. She says she intends to invest the  money she earns in Taiwan, or possibly travel to Ireland and then Canada: Stephen: So, you’re hoping that after, after you finish here in Taiwan, you would go then to Canada? Caroline: Ireland, I think. Ireland first, because it’s easier, you know. Stephen: Okay, do you intend on staying in Canada later? Settling there or...? Caroline: Yeah, if I can. Stephen: If you can. Why? Caroline: Better living conditions....That’s what I’ve heard, and I’ve read, I researched. And then the services there also. And ,you know the economic, there is an economic crises in the Philippines. So, I really want to go away from the

Philippines. ‘Cause, I think in Canada, it’s very much better than in the Philippines. Not just Canada, Ireland or other European countries. Marivel (April 7) Less than a year after graduating with a BS in Psychology Marivel, 22 years old,  went to Taiwan at the urging of her college friend. Originally from Cebu, she explains  she graduated in March, worked as a cashier for a short while, then in October made the  trek to Manila to begin the application and placement process. She also wanted to go to  Canada, but the placement fees were too high. Her classmate from college was coming  and her cousin had already worked in Taiwan, so she decided to give it a try. As she  explains, she had to sacrifice herself for the benefit of her six other siblings (aged 11 to  26): “I sacrifice for my family...I'm suffering for them. I sacrifice for them, in order for ,  for my younger brothers to, to, especially, ah, enroll in school. Especially in college,  because college is very high in tuition fees there.” On a monthly basis, she remits about  4,400NT, almost a third of her salary, by a door­to­door courier service to help support  her family. Like many Filipinos, she explains that her extended kin are also living around  the world and sending money back. She has aunts in Canada and England, and cousins in  Japan and Germany.

Ana (April 7, April 30) Ana was finishing her third year in Taiwan when I interviewed her at St. Joseph’s.  While she had also worked in a semi­conductor factory in the Philippines she was  originally trained as a nutritionist in a vocational school. Her family didn’t have enough  resources for her to attend the academic university, so she had attained only a vocational  degree. She was sending about 5,000 NT home monthly to help with the education of her  younger siblings. Like Marivel, she had family in many countries around the world. Her  brother was working in Oman, and she had aunts, uncles, and cousins in Canada,  Australia, England, Oman, and Spain. Contemplating return or onward migration, she  feels there are yet few opportunities for her in the Philippines: “Maybe, I want to return,  because the economics of the Philippines. I don’t know if I have chance to go back here,  because I’m not expecting to make another three years for a contract. But it’s okay. I’ll  just find another job. My aunty is abroad. She told me if you want to go here. I’m telling  her that I want to go with them. They’re in Spain.” She admits though that it will be  difficult to get the tourist visa for Spain. Already, for this trip she had to borrow nearly  US $1,000 from her brother for the placement fees and she has not been able to save. She  does hope, one­day, to emigrate to Toronto. As she says, “there’s many Filipinos there.”

Lani (April 8, June 6) Melanie, aged 23, tells me, “My friends call me Lani,” inviting me to do the  same. She is the youngest of five and describes herself as having been naughty, secretive,  and “attached with material things” when she was still in the Philippines. She graduated  with a major in Mass Communications in Broadcasting: “but I’m not good in this… I  wan to do interviewing, and then I also want the filmmaking. We do the MTVs, but I’m  just, you know, a location designer. Just like doing the back round. I’m not on the  camera. I’m not the interviewer. I’m just the one who sets the place.” She was out of  work, or “vacant” as she puts it, for a year after graduating. During that time she took  care of her parents who are now in their sixties. She explains that through a neighbor she  heard about Taiwan: ...just an accident that my neighbor told about Taiwan. She worked here for three years, the same company. At that time, the company is good. The salary is very high. So, that’s why I was convinced to go here. But, then when I arrived here, unfortunately, the company is getting worse and worse. And then, the salary is, you know, the salary decreases and then even the benefits were cut.” Growing up on a farm in the provinces she says she was not “able to be in touch  with church activities before.” Now, she is involved in many of the church activities and  has even taken a leadership role in the El Shaddai movement. She explains that though 

she was planning to return at the end of her two year contract, she signed on for another  year because of these church commitments.  Lani, also explained the difficulties of relationships in Taiwan. While there are  few men in Nan Tze, they come from factories in nearby Kang Shan and other parts, to  attend church or visit the eateries and shops that cater to Filipinos: Lani: ...For me, I had a boyfriend here for three months, and then, I also invited him to be, to participate here in the church activities, but he, but he already went back. Stephen: Do you maintain contact with him? Lani: (laughin) Oh, too personal! Ah, as of now, we don’t have communication. I found out that I am also one of the victims. You know that I can… Stephen: Is he married or does he have other girlfriends? Lani: What he told me, he has no girlfriend, of course. This is one of the things the man is telling to a woman. Yeah, but then, but I also felt the care, the love and the sincerity when we were together of course. But then, when he went back, that’s the time when… Stephen: Do you think that’s common for women here if they’re dating someone and then they find out, they hear that he’s married or has a girlfriend? Lani: Pardon? Pardon? Stephen: Do you think it’s common or typical? Lani: Yeah, because here, it’s very hard to trace someone. But then, because we’re here, their excuse is that we’re here alone, very far from our families. So, many of us are longing for someone that will take care of us. But then I think it’s just a temporary, hum, aspiration, that we have somebody that will take care of us. I think. But, when you go back to the Philippines, I think that’s the real life. MaFe (April 14) Maria Fe, or MaFe ­ also just “Fe,” was a 34 year old mother of one. She had  earned a “Bachelor of Science in commerce, major in Accounting,” but only found work  as a sales clerk in her native Mindanao. After some time she was able to secure a 

production specialist, and later line­leader, position in a Texas Instruments factory. She  stayed there for eight years, met her husband, and had a son (now aged three). Benefits at  her job were getting worse and many people were being laid off. When offered the  possibility of a severance bonus, she left the company. However, as her husband was also  unemployed at that time she explains that she ended up in Taiwan: “You know, the reason  behind when I, the reason behind when I decided to go here because, when I was in the  Philippines, I looked for a job and nobody will hire me. I decided to go abroad.” It took  over three months to get a placement and she was very much in debt. Her husband  supported the decision for her to work abroad: “he told me that he is not capable to go  here because he is, his educational attainment is not suit for going here. And he accept  that. And, he thinks that I am capable and we have so many accounts.” Once she came to  Taiwan she borrowed money to help pay back debts and help her husband start a small  business in the Philippines. However, she had to surrender her ATM card to the  Taiwanese loan sharks and has to pay back the money plus eight percent interest a month.  She became tearful as she explains that the business ( a motorcycle side­car taxi) failed,  their debts back home remained unsettled, and over the course of  three months she paid  back almost 39000NT on a 30000NT loan in addition to paying on the debt for her 

placement fee. She explains that these loan sharks sometimes get rough if they are not  paid back on time.24 Her friend, in fact, had disappeared:  Fe ...the gossip spread out that the lending people want to shoot my friend if they about to, caught, catch her. Stephen: Do you think that's why she ran away? Fe: She ran away because the lending people forced her. She, she didn't know what to do. She ,but she is, she worked a lot. She worked every time when there are overtime, to pay for it. But sometimes, she also borrow money from Filipinos. “Cassandra” (April 15, July 7) I met “Cassandra” through ‘Pastora’ Tessa, one of the essential Taiwanese staff at  Stella Maris International Center and minister (along with Filipino husband Pastor Chris  Marzo) of the Higher Ground Free Methodist Church in Nan Tze. Though participating  in videotaping and photo­documentation of her life in Taiwan “Cassandra” wished not to  use her real name in the video in part due to the loss of status she feels as a result of her  work in the factory. After teaching general sciences for several years in the academic high  schools, she became dissatisfied with the low teacher’s salaries and decided to try more  lucrative college positions: “In the province. I became a college teacher for one year.  Chemistry. I handled the chemistry subject. Then, I became a librarian for six months.  So, but, you know I am not contented financially.” Facing a separation from her husband,  who had gone with another woman to live in the United States, and needing to provide 


46% of survey respondents indicated having taken a loan from Taiwanese loan sharks or other Filipinos.

for her younger brothers as well as being sole parent for her ten­year­old daughter, she  decided to give Taiwan a try:  Cassandra: 1999 I came to Taiwan for three years. Then, I went back to the Philippines. I decided to go back to school. Stephen: Right. Cassandra: But, it seems that, I cannot, I cannot. The salary is not, is not that high. I cannot, I cannot be contented with it. Especially, I have two college brothers. They're studying in college. Luckily my, my brother, one of my brothers already graduated last March. And the other one will be next March. So... Stephen: So, were you financially helping them out? Were you supporting them or...? Cassandra: Yeah. I am supporting them... Stephen: Was your daughter living with you in the Philippines? Cassandra: Yeah. Stephen: Okay. Cassandra: My daughter is in, at my mother's house right now. Stephen: At your mother's house. Okay. Cassandra: Hum, I want m-my daughter wants to, to stay in our house in Tuguegarao but nobody's taking care of her. So, I transferred her to my mother's house. Stephen: Okay, so you stayed until 2001. You went back and tried to teach another year. But, because of the pay difference, you decided to come back here again. Ah, compare your jobs, being a factory worker here and being a high school teacher there. Have you felt that there was any loss of status or position? Cassandra: Yeah. Stephen: Yeah. How does that affect you? Cassandra: Ah, I feel especially when my, my supervisors are getting angry with me, I feel being degraded. Because you know, not for bragging, because most of the supervisors here didn't, is not, is not well, y-you know what I mean. The... Stephen: Their education is very low. Cassandra: Their educations are very low. But if, if they are getting angry with us, especially when you are committing some mistakes; not that big mistakes; they are getting angry as if you are already committed a very serious crime. So, you are being degraded with that. I feel, ah, my pride is very low because of that. Sometimes I, I want to go home and go back to school. Go back in teaching. But then, I am, ah, in the Philippines I, I cannot, I cannot live doing what, I can no longer live the same, the same life as before. Because, you know, my family's no longer complete.

Virginia (April 25, July 7) Virginia was also a member of Higher Ground Free Methodist Church. She was a  close friend of “Cassandra” and an active part of the church’s gospel choir (singing,  playing guitar, drums, and piano). In the Philippines, she had been a professional singer  in a club. She had grown dissatisfied with pay and working nights and had then spent  time working in Hong Kong as a domestic worker and later in Taiwan for two years in the  factory (2001­2003). She had just returned to Taiwan for a new contract when I met her.  She says that she decided to come to Taiwan after talking with a friend: “I met a friend at  the bar and I told her that I think I’m already fed up with this kind of job. Then she told  me, ‘you want to try Taiwan?’ ‘But I don’t have any experience ?’ I told her. ‘It’s okay,’  she told me. And then, there was an interview that was held back in the city. Because,  mostly Taiwan interviews are held at Manila. And, I tried for interview. And, I’m glad I  was chosen.” When working in Hong Kong she helped her parents in building a new  house and on her first trip to Taiwan, she was able to help them add a second floor and  other improvements. However, during her second year she had an argument with her  Taiwanese supervisor and was not able to renew the contract for a third year: “I had an  argument with my line­leader. I really cannot hold my anger, so I answer her back with a  loud voice also, when she approach me with a loud voice.” 

Linda (April 28) Now half a year into her second trip to Taiwan, Maria Erlinda, or just Linda, had  been there for just over two years on her first trip. Before going to Taiwan, she had  worked in a semi­conductor factory in the Visayas for around twelve years. She explains  that she has worked since she was seventeen years old. As a secretarial student in a  vocational college, she continued to work: “Since, ah, I came from a poor family, I can, I  can't stop working because I am supporting my brothers and sisters. Helping my parents  to support the education, the needs in everyday living.” Growing up in Manila with five  siblings and a father who was often out­of­work, she says life was difficult: “It’s very  hard because, I can remember we have to push a pushcart with all the containers in there.  We'll go to other places where we can find water! In our place, there, there are always  water shortage.” Linda was widowed shortly after leaving her factory position in the Philippines.  With a young son and growing debt, she decided to go abroad:  I'm already a widow that time, but its difficult for me because, ah, um, I am not financially stable. That’s when I decided to apply for a job, here in Taiwan, which my, ah, influence me by my friend, because she told me, um, salaries and wages here are more, um., what do you call this, its it’s, I cannot explain it in, in just one word. Um ha, because ah she just explain the salary is much higher than in the Philippines, you know! You can support your family in a way you wanted it to be.

She paid a Philippine placement agency 45,000 pesos and another NT 118,000 to the  broker while in Taiwan. Just over two years in the country, she found she was pregnant by  a Filipino man she had met there. She was forced to return to the Philippines as  government policy forbids contract workers to have children or get married while in  Taiwan. In fact, at that time, female laborers were given pregnancy tests every six months  and abruptly repatriated if it came up positive: Stephen: Why not three years, you didn't finish your first contract? Linda: Yes, I did not. Um, I've meet my second husband here, and um, I did go home pregnant, that’s why I did not finished the contract. I like to go home because, ah, it’s very hard for me to having a baby here and its not its not... Stephen: It's not allowed? Linda: It's not allowed, that’s why its okay [to go home]. Um, maybe its God's will. Stephen: Um-hum, so did it come up on the 6 month check up? Or did you know about it and then decide to resign ? You know what I mean? Did they find out in, did they give you pregnancy test then deport you? Linda: I have known it before, before the test but I... Stephen: So you chose... Linda: Yes, but I can not escape them. I didn't think of it and I didn't think of any abortion, because ah some [Taiwanese] doctors ah tried to offer me abortion, but um.. I told them I’m a Christian, and I don't like it. Stephen: Um, So you got married? Linda: Yes .... Stephen: How were your family and friends , how did they respond to, ah, she goes to Taiwan, and comes back with another husband Linda: With another husband? Ha! Ha! My friends told me I am lucky because he is a bachelor you know! Because some of the men here are no longer. They already had a family back in the Philippines. Stephen: Right... Linda: That’s why my friend told me “oh! You’re lucky he is single.”

Joice (April 29) Ligaya, known to everyone as Joice (as in rejoice) because her name means Joy in  Tagalog, was a graduate of Nueva Viscaya State Polytechnic College where she earned an  English degree. After completing her degree she worked for a while as a secretary,  helping her parents send her brothers to school. Her father, who had been working in  Saudi Arabia since she was about four or five years old. When her father was  contemplating going back to Saudi for another contract term she decided to travel abroad  instead. She explains: “he's been abroad in Saudi as a construction worker. So, when we  got older, so I think, um, he's asking me because I am the older, right? So, he's asking me  if he can still go abroad, like that. But, I told myself, ‘oh, Pa, no its our, its our time  already. You’re old enough, so you stay with mama,’ things like that. ‘Do anything you  want,’ something like that.” She decided to go to Taiwan because, as she said, “its there easy to come here.”  She would have preferred America, Canada, or Hong Kong, but simplicity of the  placement in Taiwan took her there instead. She had few problems working for her first  three year contract period and was actually “recalled” to Taiwan by the same company  after returning to the Philippines for a short holiday. She explains that “for some reason”  she was able to understand her Taiwanese bosses and quickly became an assistant line­

leader. She has a good relationship with her Taiwanese boss that extends beyond the work  setting: the production because we work, eh, we work hard and in working time no one is, maybe somebody is talking with each other, but not that much. Maybe more on working so my ling-ban [supervisor] every time she go around she looks us working hard so its okay. Then she talks to me sometimes. She ask, she's asking something, then we go out for someone’s birthday. Sometimes we will go to her home, something like that and we celebrate. Gina (May 6) Gina, 32, is on her second contract in Taiwan, first having worked there from  1997 to 2000. She returned before the law was changed permitting two contract periods,  so she is here under an assumed identity. While working in the Philippines as a data  processor for a mining company, she helped support her brother’s schooling. However,  when she broke up with her boyfriend, she decided to try working abroad. A coworker  told her about possibilities in Taiwan and introduced her to a recruiter:  So, my world at that time was not so nice. It's not great. So, ah, I-I easily say, "Okay. I'll try." And before that I have no experience in going to Manila. I just stay there in our place in Mindanao. And so, when he said that he will accompany us, accompany me in going to Manila. And, he will introduce me to the manager of the agency. And so, okay, I'm confident. And so he said that there's an interview. So, we go to Manila and, ah,. have an interview. And luckily, I passed. On her first trip, she worked in a textile mill producing bolts of cloth. She talked  of long working hours, dangerous machines, and a very low basic salary ­ only 11,000  NT. The legal minimum contract salary, then and now, is 15,840NT, however most 

companies get around this minimum by having a lower “basic” salaries, then offering  incentives that bring the total up to a possible 15,840NT. She also said it was “terror”  working for her supervisor:  Gina: Our section chief, a terror. But, um, he loves Filipinos there. Yeah. He loves Filipinos because he knows that Filipinos are hard working persons. Stephen: But in what way was it terror then? Gina: He just keep on shouting. If, ah, your machine is trouble, ah, you have to do it yourself. Imagine the, the, the cotton fibers, just flowing. Yeah, just flying all over you. And ah, our looks also have looks...terrible. Yeah. Because it's very hard. Yeah, it's very hard. Flordeliza (May 12) I met Flordeliza in February when she agreed to an interview; however, she kept  putting off our interview until she finally agreed in May. She was shy and embarrassed  because of an allergic outbreak on her face. This was due to the caustic chemicals she  was exposed to from the soldiering machine she operates. The company had sent her to a  dermatologist, but she explains the medicine they gave her was not very effective. She  said the operators of the same machine on other shifts also have outbreaks. The company,  however, will not install any exhaust equipment and offer her no option of changing  machines. Flordeliza is from Cebu, where her father was a Chemistry professor in the  University of Cebu. Unlike most labor migrants, she had traveled abroad on several  occasions already. She had traveled to Finland to be with her then fiancé, but decided 

after only two weeks that she could not take the cold. She had also been to the US to visit  her brother and sister who work in healthcare in Los Angeles. She is hoping that they will  be able to help her get a student visa after she finishes her contract in Taiwan. After her father died in 2001, she was not able to continue her studies. She had  completed her third year as an Industrial Engineering student, but lacked the funds to  continue. Her relationship with the Finnish businessman she had met in Manila (when  she was 19) was failing; so, she decided to go abroad. Not wanting to work in Saudi  Arabia, because it was too far away, nor Hong Kong, because she didn’t want to be a  domestic worker, she choose Taiwan. Unlike most, she did not know anyone in Taiwan,  nor were any of her family members there. She says she simply went “in the Agency and  apply then after a hour, they call me and I have a interview. So, I go for interview and I  pass the exam so I thank God for it.” Grace (May 19) Grace, short for Graselda, had been in Taiwan for just over a year when I  interviewed her. She went to Taiwan straight from university upon receiving a BS in  Communication Engineering. She explained that she decided to come to Taiwan for the  experience: “...because I want to learn more about electronics, besides, besides I want to  earn money. So, I have to learn more about electronics, because in the Philippines, maybe 

it's hard to get inside a big company. So, I decided to go here.” Three of her sisters had  already been there to work. With their earnings, one was opening a gasoline station,  another was studying physical therapy to go to Canada as a caregiver, and her last is still  working in Taiwan. In the factory, she is working on the process of fitting capacitors and resistors on  the circuit boards. She explained, “It's very easy, but you have to take care because very  danger.... sometimes of you don't have very, don't be careful, sometimes your hands will  be cut or you have, ah, maybe burn.” When there was more overtime before, she said she  liked going with friends to nearby Kaohsiung to shop for clothes and things. Now,  however, she spends most of her time in the church or dorms so she conserve money and  continue sending home about 7000NT a month (about half her salary). She hopes that,  after staying here for a second contract period, she will have enough money for a small  house. Josephine (interviewed by Jenny, July 31) In late July, I asked Jenny, who was then helping to transcribe earlier interviews  and enter survey data, if she would like to conduct a few interviews with women from the  dorm who “didn’t go to church.” My goal was to see in the very small, non­representative  sample if there were any major differences that would emerge between those involved in 

church activities and those who were not. On July 31, Jenny interviewed two of her dorm­ mates in a nearby park. The interviews were conducted in Tagalog. I had provided her  with a checklist of topics, but directed her to allow the interviewees free reign in  directing the conversations to topics that interested them.  Josephine, or sometimes “Jo,” was the youngest of six. After completing college,  she decided to work in Taiwan rather than “just stay at home and sell one peso candy.” As  she explained, she did not want to “get stuck there,” so she decided to follow her college  classmates to Taiwan: “It's not planned. It came to me at a time when I wasn't expecting  I'd be going abroad. Just like that. It's like, what do you call this, an unplanned decision.”  She also attributed the decision, at least in part, to the fact that her parents were strict: Jenny: So it is also another reason… Jo: Yeah. Jenny: That you wanted to go away. Because they're strict. You wanted to go away from them for a while. Jo: Yeah. You know. I want to know how it feels like to make decisions. To decide for yourself Now on her second trip to Taiwan she told of how she had not planned at first to  return, because she could not imagine having to change identities:  I really was not planning to come back. Because I don't want to change my name. Because at that time, you could only come back if you had a change-name. And for me, I don't want to come back in another identity. I felt it odd. Because, in the first place, if whatever happens to you while in Taiwan, it would be very hard to trace you. Second, it would be very uncomfortable using another identity. You could change name but you could definitely change yourself.

When the laws changed to allow former workers to return for a second contract period,  she decided to try her luck. She says there has been less over­time and the incentives now  are not as good as before. She has had a variety of positions in her new company, and  especially likes her position in the office now: Jo: At first, the (big sister) line leader doesn't like me because I was so slow. Because the products were delicate I have to be careful. I was slow in doing the job because I wanted to be sure that everything is okay. I don't want to make mistakes. [Jenny's note: She is assigned in molding. Really heavy work.] Jenny: Yeah. Jo: Yes. And they hate me because of that. Then they transferred me to oven. Then I was thinking at that time that if it goes on and on maybe I would just stay for one year. Because the work is really difficult and very heavy. Jenny: So your work is hard. Jo: Yeah. I always got sick, because the oven is so hot. I have cough and my back aches a lot. I visited the doctor regularly. Then I got lucky. I am in the office now. Jenny: So what are you doing in the office? Jo: Read pocket books. (Laugh). No. We do the shipments. I mean shipment reports. Then we… we update their records. Just like that. Office work, paper work. Everyday. There are… Jenny: So you like you work now? Jo: Of course. While work has been easier for her in the office, she has had economic troubles.  Jenny notes that Jo did not need to borrow money for placement for the second time as  she used her own savings from the first trip. However, while here the second time, she  has incurred significant debts due the frequency and length of the phone calls to her  boyfriend in the Philippines. She calls almost everyday and, not contented with only one  200NT long­distance card, she will often buy three cards for a single call. As a result, she  has sent money home only twice in nine months. 

Ernelyn (interviewed by Jenny, July 31)  Ernelyn, 19 years old, was interviewed by Jenny on the same day as Josephine.  She was from Manila where she completed a two­year Associates in Computer  Secretarial skills. Due to family financial difficulties she decided to work in Taiwan.  Although she is younger than the required age, she was able to obtain a false identity for  15,000 Pesos: “When I bought that name, it includes all necessary documents... All  documents. Passport and birth certificate.” Her aunts assisted her in the travel plans and  arranging the position, one in Taiwan sending money and the other in Philippines helping  with the placement company.  She explained that, at first, working in the company was easy as she learns easily:  “You teach me once and I get it.” However, work quickly became more complicated as  they added more and more tasks to her job: The first time, I only have two machines so it's easy. You only have to check lead frames and heat sink. Then, put it in a magazine, write something on the card, then it's done. It was easy at first. But, after about one month, I was transferred to trim form. A more difficult job. More sensitive and delicate products. And, they also transferred me in "marking". Then after marking, when I learned about marking, I was again transferred to “trim form.” Then after a few days, I do marking and trim form. And now, they added “dejunk.” And now, I have four different machines.

She has had mixed relations with Taiwanese. While she explained that she has  never had problems in public and some of her Taiwanese co­workers were nice to her at  work, there have been a few incidents: Jenny: How about the Taiwanese people? Ernelyn: Taiwanese? Some of them are nice but some are back biters. The others are good. Jenny: They're nice to you. Ernelyn: Yeah. But the others, they are good in front of you, but behind your back they're laughing at you. Just like a few months ago, in the production area, they say that if you change tooling you have to check. The technician said it's okay. So I have to check. The product should be checked in the microscope. The line leader was there that time. They talked about something in Mandarin. And I felt that they were talking about me and laughing. Jenny: But you didn't know what they were talking about. Ernelyn: No. Of course not. I think they were talking in Taiwanese. And my line leader shouted at me. Jenny: And they were laughing? Ernelyn: Yes. And the other Taiwanese were laughing. That's why I can say that some are nice but others are not.

Image 12 The best parts of the lechon at El Shaddai anniversary celebration

Kang Shan Factory Workers In an effort to broaden the pool of participants, I decided to look for male factory  workers. Jenny, who had met her husband in Taiwan on her first trip, recommended that I  visit nearby Kang Shan where many of the metal fabricating plants were located. She  knew of a group of men who would come together at an inter­faith Christian gathering  called Jesus is Lord, or simply JIL. She accompanied me on a first visit to JIL,  introducing me to a Taiwanese women (Julie), who both attended the group and was  dating one of the Filipino men. We had an informal meeting in which she described how  she met and began dating her partner (Edwin), the stigma that they faced in the  community and by her family, and the general conditions of the lives of Filipinos in Kang  Shan from her own perspective. She also introduced me to members of the group and  helped me arrange to return and visit with them on a regular basis. JIL itself was located  on a side alley near the train station in Kang Shan. The neighboring businesses and  residents had an on­going conflict regarding the gospel choir music the members  performed each Sunday as well as the limited space for parking scooters in front of the  narrow four­story apartment­turned­church. 

“Joshua” (April 26) I met “Joshua” on my first visit to JIL. He did not want me to use his real name in  order to protect his identity. He had been in Taiwan almost three years and had less than a  month before his return to the Philippines. He was exited and full of plans for the money  he had saved. When I first met him at the church, he was in the process of packaging  computers he had bought and shipping them back to the Philippines. He had plans to add  onto his existing computer business (teaching computer skills and renting internet  access). He had also been paying towards an educational plan for his son as he had plans  for him to become a doctor.  He had come to Taiwan because of in part due to financial issues. While he had  been living in Manila, and was estranged from his wife for many years, they had recently  reconciled and in fact, she had become pregnant just before he left, giving birth while he  was away: Stephen: Why did you come to Taiwan? Joshua: First, is just an experience and second is financial issues. Stephen: Uh, what about the financial issues, tell me... Joshua: Well, ah, because I have a family of my own. Stephen: Uh-hum? Joshua: So, I have to take care of my family. Stephen: Hmm. Joshua: So, that is the reason why I go to Taiwan to work. Stephen: What were you doing in the Philippines before you came here? Joshua: I used to teach computer subjects and computer short courses. Stephen: Okay Joshua: Then some of my friend asked me, ah, to try to go abroad.

Later in the conversation, I learn that there were other reason as well for his  departure. Though he now describes himself as “a born­again Christian,” “a simple man  with a simple dream of a happy family,” and “a lovely citizen,” he previously had been  involved in heavy drinking, brawling, and having affairs. After a public fight he and other  members of his college fraternity were being sought by the police. He attributes this as  an additional reasons for his migration: Joshua: ...some fighting, especially when we, the police they recognize me. So I, I was afraid that they come back and revenge at me. Stephen: Okay. So you came to Taiwan partly to get away from some trouble? Joshua: That 's only one reason. Stephen: Only one reason. Okay, but, there was some potential trouble? Do you think that you face that trouble if you go back now? Joshua: I don't think so. Stephen: You don't think so? Joshua: Because, I will go direct to my province. Stephen: You’ll go to the province, not to Manila. Joshua: Yes. Raymond (May 4) Raymond, though trained as a seafarer, was on his second contract in a Taiwanese  factory making engine parts. He had gone there originally in 1997, in part to help support  his six of his eight other siblings. His mother had died, and father gone to the United  States (sponsored by his two sisters who had married Americans). He borrowed over  65,000 pesos from his brother­in­law (who was working in Taiwan) for the placement fee, 

but notes that it took a year to pay him back as he was also supporting his family at the  time.  On that first trip, he met his wife was working in Nan Tze. He explained that  during their two year courtship, they were only able to see each other twice a month  when they could coordinate their free time. Even then, she had a midnight curfew at her  dorm, greatly limiting their time together. Upon returning to the Philippines, they  married and stayed with her parents for a time in Bulacan.  Now faced with supporting his own family, wife and infant, as well as continuing  to aid his siblings, Raymond decided to go to the United Arab Emirates. While the pay  was lower, placement fees were lower too. Moreover, there were no brokers to pay in the  UAE as all arrangements were made directly with the factory. However, after a few short  months he returned to the Philippines: Stephen: You worked in, ah, the United Arab Emirates for four months. What did you do there? Raymond: Same, a factory worker. Stephen: A factory worker? Okay. Raymond: But then I-I, I quit. I did not stay there for long, because the company did not give us a right. I mean our right and they did not follow the contract. Stephen: They didn't follow the contract? Raymond: Yeah, yeah. They promise us to pay around, about this, they promise us to pay ah, in, in Philippine peso it's around twenty-one, twenty-one thousand a month. Stephen: Right? Raymond: When we still, when we, in the UAE, it's only fourteen. Stephen: So what happened to the rest? Raymond: It's only fourteen thousand. To compare in peso (na). “Oh, my God,” I said. Because I was paying my house. My, my monthly bill [mortgage] in my house. I cannot, I cannot, I cannot pay that anymore. So, I, I decided to ah, make

ah, immediate resignation. They did not allow me to resign. They just, they just promise me to," Oh we just lend you a money. I will lend you a money. And I will, I will....,” and so on and so on. They give for, for possibility just to stay. But my, my will is go back in the Philippines because.... Stephen: So you decided to go back? Raymond: Because they did not follow the contract what there is. Stephen: If, ah, the employer there doesn't follow the contract, is there any way to force them through the law, or the police, or an NGO, or something to get them to follow the contract? Raymond: Maybe there is. But, I don't know. I just make my decision just to cut it off. And, I just, just to go back. Again, he borrowed money, this time from his father in the US, as the problems in  the UAE left him broke. He renewed with the same company as before and returned, with  plans that his wife would soon join him again in Taiwan. However, the SARS quarantine  blocked new hiring from the Philippines and she was not able to find employment.  Finding it hard to manage on his meager remittances, she often sought encouragement  from Raymond: “Maybe there are times that she called me. She crying. She's just telling  me it is okay if you just staying [return] here with me. She's just telling me. So, no we  should go farther I said. I just gave her some encouraging words to uplift her spirit.” Jin (May 11)  Jin, also on his second trip to Taiwan, worked as a forklift operator in a company  that fabricates metal fasteners. He originally went to Taiwan in 1999, after working for a  few years in a bank in the Philippines. He explained that as Computer Sciences graduate  and data processor for the bank, he only made about 5,000 Pesos a month. With a young  son and a wife, who worked in a retail clothing shop, he decided to go to Taiwan where 

he could earn nearly three times his bank salary. While there, he saved for his son’s  education and for plans to open a stall in a fish market when he returns. Jin learned Chinese his first year in Taiwan and was one of few migrants who  really identified with Taiwanese culture. Ethnically mixed, his father, a Chinese man  from the mainland, had helped his mother maintain her household, visiting once or twice  a week while Jin was growing up. As he explained, his family was “illegitimate,” as his  father was already married to a Chinese woman. Yet, he had always wanted to know more  about his Chinese ancestry. He explained that he felt an affinity for Taiwanese friends he  had made: “I whenever they talk to me, some of my friends in Tainan, I feel I can  understand them the way they talk they relate those words to me. I can understand them  that it's not so difficult for me to understand them.” He also said that he likes and  respects the way Chinese look, dress, and especially their work ethic: “I like the way, ah,  attitude in working, working that so hard.” Edwin (June 15) Edwin, 27 years old, was the only male OFW who had been in a relationship with  a Taiwanese woman. After completing his first year of a Mathematics degree, his family  had no more money for him to attend school. His brother, already in Taiwan then, told  him of the good pay and abundant overtime. So, in 1997, he decided to travel to Taiwan. 

While there, he began attending the Jesus is Lord fellowship. Through contacts at another  JIL church in Kaohsiung, he met his girlfriend Julie. They were together for two years  when his contract ended and he had to return to the Philippines. At first, he used his  savings with his family’s business of buying products, like t­shirts and other clothing,  wholesale and then reselling them locally. However, the business failed and he had to  look overseas again. At that time, there was no chance for a second term of employment without  changing one’s identity. Rather than return under an assumed name, he decided instead to  look for work in Korea. He paid his placement deposit, but never found a position. The  laws in Taiwan, however, changed and he decided to return. At the time of the interview  he had only been back for only a short time. At work, he was learning to temper metals in  an extremely hot (2000°c) process. He was also making plans to marry Julie, although they had not worked out the details of visas and future employment in Taiwan. Nor had he met her parents yet: Edwin: I haven't meet her family yet Stephen: why is that? Edwin: um, she is not so ready to introduce me Stephen: okay Edwin: ...and I was not so ready to meet them because I just came here. Actually, just all about many matters and maybe about language also. I cannot express myself and communicate to them

Chi Chin Island Ship Builders During one of the celebrations at St. Joseph the Worker parish in Nan Tze, I was  introduced to Melchor, a visiting Filipino man who is a shipbuilder on Chi Chin Island.  He normally attended the larger St. Mary’s Church in Kaohsiung, as it is directly across  the harbor from Chi Chin Island. Chi Chin acts as a natural barrier between the harbor  and the Straight of Taiwan. A long thin island, it is accessible on one end by a tunnel  below the harbor, and on the other by a constant stream of water taxis. It is the second  busiest container port in Asia, just behind Hong Kong, and third in the world. In this  setting, Melchor, and about sixty other Filipinos are employed to build vessels for local  shipbuilding company. In all, I interviewed five participants at their two dorms and had  informal conversations with a handful of others. In both dorms, they gave me a tour and  allowed me to videotape their living quarters, common rooms, restrooms, and cooking  areas.  Melchor (June 14) Melchor, now on his third trip to Taiwan, has worked previously as a machine operator in  a company producing auto parts, a textile factory worker, and now as a laborer in a ship  building company. He went to Taiwan initially in 1994 and is soon to complete his ninth 

year as a worker there. Seven years ago, he met his wife who was working in a factory in  Taoyuan in the north. He explains, that they have no children and rarely see each other:

Image 13 View of Kaohsiung skyline from a water taxi

Stephen: How often are you able to see your wife? Melchor: Just if we have a time and then we have a rest day and then I go Stephen: um-hum? Melchor: Right now, I think, ah, how many days about, ah, the problem of this place, in Taiwan there is SARS. Stephen: Right... Melchor: So, I think since the SARS is so very [common] in Taiwan, I have not been able to. I don't want also to go there with my wife. She doesn’t wants me to go that place because much, so many in Taoyuan... Stephen: ...right there were many more cases of SARs in Taoyuan. Melchor: More cases in Taoyuan and Taipei. Stephen: So, um, in one year how often, do you see her? Melchor: It depends and I miss her and I miss, ah, by the way I can't right now because I have obligation, a voluntary obligation in the Saint Mary's choir. So sometimes, she can go here 25 Stephen: Okay sometimes she comes here.

I found it significant that Melchor foregoes visits with his wife because of this obligation in the Church.

Melchor: Yeah, but before sometimes, once a month, she come here... Stephen:, so before SARS you were able to see each other about once a month Melchor: Yeah, once a month Melchor has had a number of hardships while living in Taiwan. On an earlier trip,  when he lived in Taoyuan, he was riding his bicycle home when some young Taiwanese  almost ran him over on their motorcycle shouting curses at him. He says, “they want me  to fight but ah I know my situation here.” On another occasion, someone with a baseball  bat hit him. He recounts: “one night I, ah, just finish the overtime and I go out and then  buy something, because I'm hungry. Then, I come back, I didn't notice the motorcycle.”  He explains that he was hit just once, “I think they're afraid, but I'm only one in the street  and also the light did no turn on.”  At the time of the interview, he was also experiencing a labor dispute. It turns out that the managers in production had not communicated with the personnel department. In an attempt to get a ship completed by its contracted date, they had required the workers to put in many hours of overtime. However, their paychecks did not reflect the overtime pay. Melchor says that it has been routine at this company: “the company always do that even, once we have overtime that was I think in July or June the company did not pay us but the we cannot complain because the other people don't want. I want to complain and we want to complain but the other people did not want.” In this case, Melchor and the others went to their broker and threatened to contact the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA). Six weeks later, the company

agreed to pay them the overtime in installments. However, as a result of the dispute, the company has penalized them by not giving them any additional overtime. Melchor, and many of the others who were not interviewed, were very distraught as most of their remittances come from overtime.

Image 14 Gathering after work (Chi Chin Island Shipbuilders)

Lody (June 14) Lody had been in Taiwan for a little over two and a half years. He was there to  help support his three children and to raise more capital for his failing business back  home. It was his first trip to Taiwan, but he had worked previously in a factory in Saudi  Arabia for eight years. He explains that even as a business owner in the Philippines, the 

economy was so tight that he could not make enough to support his family. He also views  going abroad and remitting funds as a kind of civic duty: Lody: Yeah. I have a little, a small business. Like a bakery. Making... Stephen: A bakery? Lody: ...Making bread. Stephen: Okay. Lody: But, ah, it's so difficult for us, the small business, businessman, to compete with big business, big businesses. Capital is the problem. Money. Stephen: Right. Yeah. Lody: So, that's why, I'm trying to come here in Taiwan, thinking that I'll earn more money compared to Saudi Arabia. But, as of now it's reversed. Earning in Saudi Arabia is a little money, a little money, but savings are, saves a lot. Because the environment is so strict. Compared to here in Taiwan, you cannot go around in Saudi Arabia because it's very, it's very far from our place to the cities. Stephen: Right. Lody: So, we go in there to the cities once almost three months or four months, once. Once in four months, once in three months. It depends upon the transportation that is available in our company. Now, I think, I'm thinking about our family because before I have only one children, ah, one. My salary before in Saudi Arabia is enough for my one children and for my wife. And helping to my relatives also, to my father and mother in the province. So, I think it's enough. And then, I'm going back to the Philippines. And then, I have a little business. I produce, I produce, I have a motorcycle. Also earning a little money. Peso. But for the long time, I have already two children. Then going to school. Then, the other one already free and then bigger and bigger. Educational, education is the biggest, the big problem for me right now. Because my elder son is already in college. He's taking information technology. Info. What they call in the Philippines info. And, and then hopefully if the father and mother. I don't like. I don't like that my children experience my, my poverty, ah, my, I don't have money before, when I was still living in my province....So, I'm trying to make a little business like this, like this, and earn a little money. But (unintelligible) is there. There is a, ah, eruption of Mount Pinatubo. It happens also the bombing of the, in our country, the Abu Sayyaf. It's a little bit, kidnapping like this, like this. So, it is a lot of problem in our country. That's why the poverty, the Philippines is suffering the, has a lot of credit in the World Bank. The President in our Philippines, the Philippines. We don't know how to solve the problem. We don't know how can we pay our, our interest we cannot pay. Stephen: Right. Lody: So, as a Filipino, I think that is, that is the only I can help our country. By going abroad. Because, earn money here in other country and sending money to our Philippines. That is the, that is, that is the way I can help our country.

He too was involved in the labor dispute and had become very vocal about the  overtime and other problems with management. As an electrician, he was frequently  exposed to hazardous work conditions. He indicated that while his contract stipulated he  would receive replacement rubberized boots on a regular basis (to help prevent grounding  and shock) his were more than a year old and had holes in the sole. He also explained  when he was injured before (a sever cut on his hand) and out of work for three days, the  company refused to let him see a doctor and deducted his pay for the days missed: Lody: I'm, ah, an electrician here. Ah, working there. [points above] You can see the crane, the bridge crane that is. It’s very high. And I assemble also the panel box. Stephen: Okay. And, ah, is that work dangerous? Is it...? Lody: ...It's too dangerous. Stephen: It's very dangerous? In what way? Lody: Yeah. Because the Taiwan people, there's always say like this. If you come here in Taiwan you work... you work here. You work to earn money. So when I complain, especially our, this rainy days. These few days, ha, these few days that we have, it's a rainy day. For me as an electrician, supposed to be, we have safety first. Use the gloves, the rubber gloves, using the shoes that we have. But no, I'm wearing the shoes that, that is not safety for us. Because there's a lot of holes inside. The water just go inside. So, when I complain this one to our supervisor, the supervisor there's no remedy for him. He can't help us. Because there is a friction between the management and the supervisors. So, I'm always complain in the morning that, "How can I, how can I help the company if you cannot help us, our safety." They say, "We don't know." They don't wanna hear like this, like this, like this, like that. So if we can, if we refuse, they are very angry with me because I'm the electrician. But supposed to be, we are not, ah, our salary is the same with other people. My position is, I, I did not say that I'm, I look down to the other, the other Philippine people. My position is different from them. I tell, I tell to my supervisor that my, my position, my work is different from them. Even your feet is wet, no problem with them. But, for me it's very dangerous for me. Stephen: Right. Lody: Yeah. Even this rainy season I can't, I climb in the, in the crane because there are some kind of trouble. I cannot refuse because this is my work. If I can explain to them that it is very dangerous, they don't care. So, that is a big problem for me everyday.

Lody’s protests had begun to attract negative attention. He told me that because of  his complaints the management had become angry and threatened to send him home:  “Nobody speak. I only speak. I don't like that any Philippine people get hurt  like this.  And, I,I want to awake them. What's happening here this company.” His protest finally  resulted in his being fired and sent home before my second visit to the island only two  weeks later. Leonardo (June 14) Leonardo went to Taiwan in 1999, stayed until early 2002, returning in late 2002  after a “too short” seven­month holiday in the Philippines. It was during this stay that he  married his wife, whom he had met in 1994. He borrowed money from his Aunt in  Canada to make the first trip: “I have an aunt in Canada. I talk to her, "Auntie I want to  go abroad to help my mom, my brothers and sisters." Then, I make sure that the agency is  not illegal. So, she gave me money as a loan. So now, until now, I'm here.” Originally, he  went to Taiwan to help his widowed mother and siblings: “I'm the elder of my family, so I  need to earn money for my brothers and my sisters and also my mom.” However, he  explained that during his first years in Taiwan he wasted a lot of money drinking, going  dancing and going out with women he met there. 

Now married and saving to join is wife, who is working in Korea, he says he only  listens to music, reads his Bible, watches TV, sleeps and goes to the Kaohsiung branch of  JIL when he has free time. Unfortunately, there is too much free time. Because of the  afore mentioned labor dispute, as well as the fact that there is another pending case  against the company, there has not been much overtime. Leonardo and a group of  workers, it turned out, had been hired as a “land­based seafarer” in an attempt for the  company to get around hiring quotas. The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) had discovered the deception and was reviewing each of the contracts of the workers. As a result of the limited overtime, he had very little money after deductions for room, board, insurance, etc. While he had planned to build a house and start a small business, he was contemplating cutting his loses and returning to the Philippines to try and arrange work in Korea nearer to his wife. Yet, they had borrowed a significant amount for her placement, and he was in a way trapped until they could pay down the debt. Rolando (June 28) I had met Roland, who also goes by the assumed name “Rod,” on an earlier trip to  Chi Chen. He had agreed to meet me on the 28th and give me a tour of the dorm as well  as an interview. As foreman and dorm supervisor, he was able to provide further insight  into the ongoing labor dispute, as well as other management issues with the company.  With the exception of one 21­day vacation and two, three­month breaks between 

contracts, he had been in Taiwan continuously since 1997. As this was his third trip, he  had changed his name and assumed the identity of “Rod” so that he could return. Roland, 30 years old, had graduated with an Associates in Computer  Programming, but wound up a welder with a construction company. He explained, that  his monthly income of less than 5,000 Pesos wasn’t sufficient and it became necessary  for him to go abroad so that he could support his family: “actually, I have a work in  Philippines. But, my salary is not enough. So, on my first trip, ah, I have seen some  newspaper that there's a hiring in Taiwan. So, I tried. And then, I'm very lucky to become  one of them to go here... So I decided to come here, because I can support my, not only  my family, maybe my father, my mother and all my family.” A year after he came, Roland  made requested that his supervisor hire his brother. He too was able then to work for a  period as well. Roland had been married 7 years, most of which he has spent in Taiwan. He had a  six­and­a­half year old daughter and a four year old son. He told me, “When my first 

Image 15 Roland, AKA “Rod” completing the TST at the dorm (Chi Chin Island)

year I came here, my daughter is about nine months. Nine months old! And then, when [I  received] my first salary in Taiwan, I just often calling my wife. I think once a week or  four times a month. Something like that. And when my daughter grow up, about one and  a half years I always talk to her on my phone. So my daughter, even by phone, she, she  know me.”  He explained that to help support them, he works a lot of overtime and watches  his expenses. Every month he was able to remit 15,000 NT. However, the recent dispute  with the management over back pay and overtime had him worried: Roland: ...June sixth, we are very surprised. When I get, when we get our salary, it's only forty-six hours they paid. Stephen: I see.

Roland: But, we have about one hundred fifty hours, one hundred eighty hours. Many, many. So, most of the Philippine people are very sad and very angry with that. Stephen: Right. That's only about one-third of what it ought to be.... Roland: Yeah. It's about one-third. Stephen: So what happened then? Ah, You went to the broker? Roland: Yeah. We talked to the broker and then we explained everything. And the broker says they can, ah, make some arrangements on that. After a week,... Stephen: “arrangement.” What does that mean? Roland: It means... Stephen: Does that mean getting paid or does that mean they're going... Roland: Yes. They gonna cooperate with the management and they gonna tell them what happened. They gonna ask what happened. But, after a week we just keep waiting. Nothing, nothing happened. They say just wait for another week. We wait for another week. Then the weeks come, I talk to them again. Stephen: Yeah. Roland: They say we gonna wait for the salary, I think. Stephen: Right. Roland: Yeah. So until now we just wait for our salary. Stephen: But, if you wait too long won't it be too long past and people won't be able to get their money? Roland: Ah, But the, the supervisor promised me, this coming salary they gonna be paid. Because we have two members who already go home. After they go home, they receive the money. Stephen: They received their money. Roland: Yeah. Stephen: Okay. So, so you're saying that your next paycheck, you should receive the overdue payment? Roland: Yeah. I hope so. Stephen: Yeah. Roland: But until now, we don't yet receive any. Stephen: Yeah. Roland: We just... Stephen: What will you do if they don't pay this time? Will you go to the CLA or to MECO or Fr. Bruno...? Roland: Yeah. Maybe. Stephen: Yeah. Roland: We have prepared some documents regarding that. If this coming salary they don't give us, we have to report everything to the CLA or Fr. Bruno. Roland also explained that he often gets caught in the middle in his dual role as  supervisor and foreman. He received no extra pay for the positions, but did see the office 

work as a kind of perk: “It's about an hour a day. I often make a report. It's the only an  advantage for us. ” As dorm supervisor, he had more problems: Roland: Actually, there's some difficulties. Because the management, they conduct some room checking.26 I think every month. And sometimes they found some dirty things out there. They always talk to me. And I can, I relay to my fellow Filipino. I always keep talking with them. But, because we are, we are living about thirty-eight persons here. They have so many different kind of mind and ideas. Sometimes some people are listening, some people are don't. It's very hard for me to handle some people. But, most of the time they can follow me. They just, if I say, "Oh, we have some visitors. We have to clean." They just follow. Stephen: Right. Roland: But on the past few days, when we have so many, many work, we couldn't concentrate on some jobs here in dormitory. But, we always have some group cleaners everyday. Stephen: Right. Roland: Maybe they wake up at five-thirty in the morning. They just clean all the surroundings and the house. Stephen: Yeah. Is it ever, ah, difficult relating with the other workers here if you're in charge? If you're the leader, does that ever cause any problems? Roland: Ah, no. Stephen: No? Roland: Ah, until now, no. Because, I always keep patient with them. Stephen: Yeah? How do you get to be the leader? Are you voted by them or are you selected by the management or...? Roland: Actually, I'm selected by my supervisor. And, my fellow Philippine people, they agree. Stephen: Okay. Roland: They say, no problem with me. And then, I talk to everybody, "Okay, I try my best. If I can." Stephen: Yeah. Does it ever put any pressure on you? Roland: Yeah. A lot of pressure. William (July 5) After the interview and tour of the dorm with Roland, he decided to introduce me  to William and some of the workers from another division from the shipyard. Originally 

See Maintaining Class Differences: Government Restrictions on Migrant Integration in Chapter 8 for more on state surveillance of workers through dorms and employers.

two separate companies, they had merged about a year prior. It was at that point that the  workers said problems began to occur. According to them, the owner and upper­level  management from the new company had communication problems with the mid­level  managers and supervisors of the old company, causing friction as well as oversights that  resulted now twice in the workers not receiving overtime pay.  On July 5th, I returned to Chi Chin and met William at the gate to the actual  shipbuilding area. While the dorm where Roland, Melchor, and Lody lived was outside  the grounds of the company, William’s dorm was on the building site itself. The building  where about thirty workers lived was tucked between administration buildings and the  construction bays for the large sea­going vessels.  In the Philippines, William was an electrical engineer. He had studied for five  years in college for his bachelors and prior to that studied two years in mechanical  engineering program. He had worked in for three years before deciding to go to Taiwan.  He said that while in college he had heard about living in Taiwan and thought that it  might be fun and rewarding, but knew no one there personally. He borrowed money for  placement from a friend and still, two years later, was paying on the debt.  Two years in Taiwan, working as a manual laborer doing metalwork and welding  on the ships, he was contemplating return. He had been helping to support his younger  siblings, he was the oldest of seven, he said the money was not so good since they had 

cut the overtime. However, he was also weighing his social commitments in Taiwan such  as sing in St. Mary’s choir and writing articles for a religious newsletter for OFWs  (santinig). He was also waiting to hear if his girlfriend had received a visa for Canada  before deciding. She had left the Philippines at the same time and he to work in  Singapore as a domestic helper and had recently applied to Canada for a nursing position.  If she got the placement, they planned to marry and have her sponsor his

Image 16 William shows the local NGOs advertised in the church bulletin

migration a few years later under family reunification. Like Lody, Roland, Melchor and the other workers, William was quite upset over  the changes in the company. They were planning to file a protest if things were not  improved. He was especially upset over the recent exchanging overtime for later time off 

instead of pay, as well as new salary deduction such as monthly charges for beds and  sheets. He also talked about how dangerous it was working in the shipbuilding recounting  that another worker had the hook of a crane fall on his foot. Coordinators  After I had been in Taiwan for almost four months, and was beginning to  understand the placement­broker­employer system peculiar to the Taiwanese system, I  decided to look individuals who worked for the brokers. These individuals are usually  hired under the same contract as other factory workers. However, due to their fluency in  Chinese and/or previous experience working as a foreign laborer, they are hired to act as  translators and go­betweens for the broker. Officially, they are working for the company  and are paid the same as other factory workers. Unofficially, it is understood that they  report to the brokers, not the factory, and receive special bonuses and other incentives  that are not production related. The two coordinators that I eventually met through  contacts at the churches in Nan Tze were both fluent in Chinese and enjoyed a higher  status within the labor hierarchy. “Analynn,” for example, while living in the dorms, did  not have to share a room with others and had a lot of free time to spend as she wished. 

“Analynn” (April 10) As a coordinator, “Analynn” wished not to use her real name nor be filmed during  our interview. Our meeting was discreetly tape­recorded and so as not to appear as if she  were surreptitiously “passing secrets,” we met out­of­doors on the grounds of the EPZ  controlled dorm.  On her third trip to Taiwan, it was her first time living in the South of Taiwan. As  a coordinator, she had worked in smaller companies, but was now with a growing  brokerage trying to get more contracts with one of the largest employers on the island. As  a coordinator, she earned the same basic pay as the other workers, but she was not  required to pay placement, broker, or other fees and could make additional money by  teaching English to the broker’s employees and translating documents. She found she had  a lot of free time and few responsibilities beyond managing everyday disputes, collecting  fees, verifying workers were in by curfew, and checking dorm rooms: ... they don’t ask me to go to the factory and interpret. Yeah, I stay in the dormitory, take care of them, you know, if they have a problem, they can approach me. And then, I am also, I’m the one collecting the broker’s fee every month. Yeah, but before, I didn’t do that before. Yeah, this is my first time, yeah, I have to do the collecting of the broker’s fee every month. And what do you call this, pay day. And then, I have to visit their rooms, you know and find out how they are doing, their life and their work. Sometimes I don’t want to ask oh how are you doing? How was your job last night? Because sometimes they have this mentality thinking that you ask that kind of question. It, it leave them to think that there might be a problem with their job. There was this one time that I ask one of my people, you know, how was your job. And, all of a sudden she started thinking, oh how come I asked that kind of question. And, I said,

no, it has nothing to do with your problems in the production. I mean I just want to know. And then, sometimes let’s say if they don’t have the way to communicate with their leaders in the production, they want me to write in Chinese characters so I am also doing that because it’s the only way to settle the you know, the problem. Because in this company they have, there giving incentives to employees. Like performance incentives, but I don’t know how they, how the leader is doing that. Because some employees they don’t get it though they really work so hard. So there was this employee who was telling me how come last month I got this and this month I, Last month I was so, that was my first month at my work, how come I got this incentive, and how come on my second month I did not receive anything? I said yeah why don’t you ask your leader about this because I don’t really know when it comes to work. So, I told her maybe the best way that you know if you cannot communicate with your leader maybe I can write it in Chinese characters and then just give it to your line leader. And if in case she asks you who wrote that, you can tell her that you know, you can tell her it’s your coordinator. Yeah… “Analynn” had learned Chinese at a young age. Her family, having some Chinese  ancestry, had decided to send her to private Chinese schools (primary and secondary  schools), where she learned Fujian and Mandarin dialects. Later, she had attended  university receiving a degree in commerce. She had worked for a number of years in a  family owned import­export company as comptroller, negotiating with banks and  managing the finances of the company. When the son of the owner returned from studies  in the US, he was place in charge of her department. As she put it, he was "new blood"  and a perfectionist, often calling her into his office for "small mistakes." Work became  too stressful, so she decided to look elsewhere:  I decided that, you know, I was, actually, I wasn’t happy anymore, so I was thinking I want to resign. And then, he said, he doesn’t want me to resign. So, and then, there was one time when I was looking at the newspaper, I saw this, this what you call this [advertisement]? They are looking for a guy, a person who can speak Chinese, who can speak

English, who wants to work in Taiwan as, you know, a coordinator. I asked her about what must have been a loss of status from he management position in  The Philippines to her role as the “overseer” for the brokers. She explained: “Analynn”: ...It was entirely different. Yeah, if I’m going to compare my job in the past with the job of coordinator, it’s totally different. The first thing is you know, you’re not busy. And then, I, actually I decided to accept this job because of practical reasons. I have to be practical. I mean when I was in the Philippines, I wasn’t earning that much. I mean you have the high position, you’re wearing a nice dress everyday you know, then you have lot respect from your, what do you call this, subordinates. From our suppliers, our commodities, but money-wise, you’re not earning that much. I mean you don’t save that much because living in Manila is expensive you know. You have to provide your own transportation, your clothing, we don’t have uniforms. Yeah, and then, I can’t be late, I can’t be late because I am also boss, but I have to be practical. Stephen: In your position as a coordinator, how do the Filipinos look at you? “Analynn”: Well, some are looking at me like you know, I’m their boss. Some would call me boss and I hate it. Some will call me ma’am, and some will call me ate [pronounced ah-tay], that means older sister in English. Yeah, I know that it’s a kind of respect to me, but you know, calling me boss or ma’am, I think it’s putting big gap in our relationship. That’s why when people stop calling me boss, I usually tell them, hey don’t call me boss. I mean, I don’t want, I mean we have a gap right now because your superior, but I don’t want it to be you know that big..... Rosalyn (May 10) Rosalyn was a different case, while she was now working as a coordinator, she  had come to Taiwan initially as a foreign bride in 1995.27 She decided, when she was 19  years old and her family was without economic resources, to marry abroad. As she put it,  it was simply for “survival.” She had only completed one year toward a BS in commerce


Because of her separation and current employment as a coordinator, I decided to classify her among the coordinators rather than with the other foreign brides.

in her native Borongan City (in Eastern Samar Province). Her family did not have  funds for her to continue her studies, so she decided (against her mother’s advice) to get  married and thus reduce the burden on her family. She went to a friend of her uncle who  was a professional matchmaker. When asked if she did not consider other options she  replied, “I didn’t have the money to pay the placement fee [to be a factory worker], and I  didn’t have a college degree, so I cannot get a job. It is very hard to find a job if you are  not a college graduate.” Her Taiwanese husband, who paid $350,000 NT (over US $10,000) to the  matchmaker, met her in the Philippines where they spent two weeks together completing  the necessary paperwork before they were married and she moved with him to Taiwan.  When she arrived she said she felt as if she were a “stranger.” She was afraid because, as  she explained, “I did not know what is Taiwan.” She spoke no Chinese communicating  with her husband “only through actions” and pantomime. For the first two years she  stayed in the home, living with her husband and his parents as is tradition in Chinese  society. She had three children with him during this time. After two years, she decided to  work first with him as a manual laborer in construction (earning 500NT, or $15US daily).  Later she worked in the factories. While a permanent resident, she was paid the same as  the imported Filipino contract workers, making not quite half what her Taiwanese co­ workers were paid.

She finally left her husband after seven years of mistreatment and abuse. She  explains that he was an alcoholic and would become violent when he drank: “It was a  very big problem, because when he is drunk, he is very different.” Her Taiwanese in­ laws, however would not say anything to him, telling her that she had to “accept her  husband like that.” Ultimately, she left, taking two of her children with her to the  Philippines on “holiday.” She has returned now only to work to regain custody of her  oldest son. In her position as a coordinator, she has used her experience in the factories  and fluency in Chinese to her advantage. She receives an apartment and is now paid  about US $100 (NT 3000) more than the Filipino factory workers. Domestic Workers and Caretakers While the focus of the project has been on the factory workers in the Economic  Processing Zones, a third of foreign workers are in Taiwan as domestic workers or  residential caretakers for elderly or disabled patients. In an attempt to grasp the  differences between those who live with their Taiwanese employers and those who live in  the enclave environment of the EPZs, I decided to interview a small sample of residential  workers. Through contacts at shelter for migrant workers at Stella Maris International  Service Center, I was introduced to a few domestic workers who were there for  repatriation or mediation for employment disputes.

Much has already been written about the poor conditions of life for the domestic  workers in Taiwan. Educational requirements and placement fees are lower for this  category of labor migrant. As a result, many more of the domestic workers are from the  most impoverished areas of the Philippines. The position in Taiwan, while offering a  substantially greater salary than they may find in the Philippines, is none­the­less dire.  With long hours, and no overtime pay, many of the domestic workers become victims of  abuse and mistreatment.  Mama Linda (April 12) Now in her early fifties, “Mama” became an OFW when she was thirty­four.  Shortly after separating from her husband, a seafarer who was away from home for ten  months at a time, she found herself left with five children and only occasional support  from him. She decided to leave them in the care of her in­laws, with whom she  maintained contact as her sister had married her husband’s brother, and become an  overseas domestic worker.  First, she lived in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, for ten years working  for one family. During that time she learned to speak Arabic (as the family spoke only  limited English), and said she had a good experience. When she began working there her  salary was US $200 a month, rising to only to $300 by the end of ten years. She was able 

to send all of her earnings home, as she had no expenses living with the family. She was  able to manage only three short trips home during the decade in the UAE, and had no  regular day­off.  Upon return to the Philippines in 1994, she only stayed one­month before setting  out again, this time to Taiwan. She explained: “I leaving to my country because of my  children go to school and I want [them] to finish the study. That is my, I want to, that is  my priority to my children.” When she arrived in Taiwan, she encountered her first  problem as a domestic; know how to cook Chinese food and the family complained to the  broker. Luckily, she was not sent home. The broker took her to the market to learn how to  shop and then taught her to cook Chinese dishes. Since then, she said she had been lucky  not to have any other problems with employers. She began going to social occasions at Stella Maris when she was working legally  for the first family. After her contract expired, she stayed on (without legal contract or  papers) working for two more families that she had been introduced to by friends from  the church. When I interviewed her, she was a "volunteer" at the shelter receiving a place  to stay in exchange for supervising daily meals and chores of the short­term residents.  She also worked part­time, earning 200NT an hour (US $5.70), for several Chinese  families and some of the Filipino workers from MECO.

These contacts at MECO also had helped her to arrange factory employment for  her daughter and son. While her son had already returned, and married, her daughter was  still in Taiwan working for a well­known Japanese electronics company. With her  daughter soon to complete her contract, Mama Linda plans to return also to her  homeland. She has never seen her eight grandchildren in­person and plans to return to  her old home, open a small restaurant, and "take care my grandsons and my  granddaughters." Rosalia (May 9) Rosalia, a widowed mother of two who has been working to pay off debts  incurred when her eldest son had a brain tumor removed, had runaway from her employer  a few days before I interviewed her. Emotionally distraught, the interview was paused  several times, but she really wanted her story to be heard.  Though trained as an orthopedic nurse, she had been in Taiwan for six months, as  she said working hard as a “servant,” “housekeeper,” and “tutor.” However, as she put it,  her employer often spoke harshly to her, often putting her down: “...sometimes, I don't  know, maybe she has many problems sometimes, and she speak, the way she speak she  always say, ‘you are servant, you are poor that's why you came here, you become poor 

forever. Even your family and your children.’ That's not good. She can talk to me on the  this way but not include my children.”  At that time, Taiwan was in the midst of the SARS scare. Often acting on  irrational fears, Taiwanese had begun to institute draconian measures to control the  spread of the disease. Not clearly understanding the way it was transmitted, ordinary  people became quite paranoid. Rosalia’s employer, feared that re­heated food could cause  the family to get ill. Although Rosalia was told to be frugal with the food and never to  waste anything, her employ scolded her for serving re­heated food to the son. The  employer claimed that if the son got sick, she would see to it that Rosalia would get in  trouble. Rosalia explained that this frightened her: “Yeah, so I, I'm very scared. I thought,  ‘I have children in Philippines, I like to see my children again. if something happen to her  son, it's my fault maybe they put me in jail. I cannot go home anymore,’ so I ran away.” Rosalia also had other disputes with the employer. For six months, she had not  received a salary, although the employer had sent money to the Philippines to pay some  of Rosalia's debt. She was also being over­charged for her broker’s fees: “in Philippines  we signed, we pay placement fee in Philippines a lot of money, and we came here we  signed 1800 [NT] a month, so this is what we are expecting. But when I came here they  force me to sign 7000 a month.” Likewise her employer exercise unreasonable control  over her. She was not allowed a cell phone. Nor was she allowed to attend church. She 

had no regular day off and was often required to clean the husband’s medical clinic in  addition to working in the home. She claims that she was only allowed to eat what was  leftover from their dinner, but often only had rice with a little soy sauce and water.  This treatment was a real shock to her. She had worked in Hong Kong for a  Malaysian family in the late 1980s. While she was the housekeeper for the family,  because of her educational background, they had also let her help with the office work of  their company. She said she had enjoyed the work and it had helped to pay for their home  in Manila.  Her oldest son was only six when she went to Hong Kong. Soon after her return,  they had another son. At that time, her eldest began to complain to severe headaches. It  turned out to be a brain tumor. An operation saved his life, but left him permanently  disabled. She explained that for the next five years she stayed at home to nurse him.  Hospital bills and medical expenses forced her to sell property she held in the province.  Finally, her husband died and she had no choice but to go abroad again to earn enough to  support her two sons. Forced to return due to the conflict with her employer,  she had  plans of borrowing placement money and trying again in Taiwan or Hong Kong.

Charito (May 9) Charito, while also staying at the shelter, had not had many problems working in  Taiwan. On her second contract as a caretaker for an elderly patient, she was awaiting  reassignment to a new patient for the remainder of her contract period as her previous  charge had died.28 Her previous employer, an old woman who lived alone, had been an  easy assignment. The woman spoke English, treated her in a friendly manner, and needed  only a little assistance: “ah, to take a bath and then ah changing the pampers because she,  sometimes she is sick. And, we will bring to the hospital and then to assist her to take a  bath, only because she still walking, and then, ah, wash her clothes, because we are only  two in her house.” With the family she had been with for the last six months it had been a  different case: “I  signed a contract in Philippines. I am a care taker of old person. But,  when I was came here, I was so surprised because, ah, my job was, ah, all­around  caretaker. So, January my patient was already dead, so the Taiwan government not  allowed to continue my contract with them.” This was not the first country that Charito had worked in; she had, in the mid­ 1990s, worked in Saudi Arabia. She made only $150 a month there, but felt it was better  than her commission only sales job in the Philippines. She said she was unable to find  better employment there as her family had run out of funds after her first year in the 

This is one of the only ways that a worker may find another employer without returning to the Philippines and paying a new placement fee.

teacher’s college. She had six brother and three sisters whom she helped out a little.  Otherwise, she said she was unmarried and saving for a bakery or a small restaurant of  her own. Rosario (June 17) Rosario, a high school graduate, worked as a salesperson and later on her parents  farm before becoming a housekeeper in Malaysia. With her earnings there, she was able  to cover the tuition of her brother. She said Malaysia at that time paid little, but also had a  low placement fee.  After returning to the Philippines and then becoming a single­parent,  she was faced again with finding work overseas. Her experience had been good in  Malaysia, but her aunt, who had worked as a domestic in Taiwan, encouraged her to go  there. She borrowed the placement fee from a “loan shark” and left her son with her  mother. She explained, “actually, I went back to working abroad because of my son. I just  want to have, to give him a better future.” She had worked for almost two years in the four­story school and residence as an  “all­around” housekeeper before she finally had enough of the unreasonable workload  and lack of regular payment. When I met her in Stella Maris, she had badly bruised knees  from daily duties of washing the floors without a mop, and badly damaged hands from  cleaning with bleach without gloves. She explained that daily she had to clean the 

kindergarten on the first three floors as well as the house on the top floor, help the  teachers with feeding the students, and clean the school grounds. She was not allowed to  go outside of the school grounds, nor to make or receive calls. While her employer did not allow her a cell phone, after a year she was able to  secretly buy one and was then able to call her family once a week without the employer  finding out. She had made friends with some other Filipina domestic workers as they had  passed by the school. She talked to them occasionally through the gate. They helped her  initially to post some letters to her family and later to get the phone. They also told her  about MECO and Stella Maris when she was having problems of not getting paid for  months at a time and watching her loan amount increase as a result of a high interest rate. She explained that for her MECO was “very dangerous.” She had filed a  complaint with them when she had not been paid for five months. MECO contacted her  broker and employer to resolve the matter. Instead, she said, her employer shouted at her  and end the end only paid part of her back wages. Finally, deciding she could not bear  anymore, she contacted Stella Maris and went to their shelter. Analy (June 17) Analy was at the shelter after her employer had tried to deport her without paying  her back pay, tax rebate, and overtime. Already heading to the airport, she had protested 

and called MECO. Because of their position as a pseudo­governmental agency, they are  not allowed to intervene directly, but they were able to contact Fr. Ciceri at Stella Maris  who was then able to retrieve her from her broker. Once repatriated, legally or illegally,  migrants are seldom able to recover funds owed to them. Analy had been trained in a two­year vocational college as a radio operator. She  said she did not like the program, but had failed the entrance exam to the teachers  college. After finishing her degree she had worked as a guard in a department store until,  in 1998, she was accepted for placement in Hong Kong as a housekeeper. She said she  enjoyed the position, taking care of a family and their five­year­old child. The father  worked in the Hong Kong immigration service and seemed to understand her situation.  She said, “they treat me like a sister.” She was able to send money to help with schooling  of sister and to help her parents buy a farm. However, when the wife lost her job, they  could no longer afford a housekeeper. Hong Kong does allow foreign workers to seek a  new employer, yet she said she was home sick after the 14 months abroad and decided to  return home. She stayed there on the farm for several years before decided to go overseas  again. Analy had been in Taiwan only eight months. She had been hired as a caretaker  for and elderly patient, but was surprised when she arrived: “he's strong, not bedridden!”  Instead, she was to work 14 hours a day cleaning, cooking, caring for baby, washing 

clothes by hand, walking dogs, and, in addition to her other duties, help pack tea for the  family’s business. She, and the Vietnamese worker the family had hired, slept on floor of  tea packing room. For months she was not paid, or given a day off. She and the  Vietnamese woman had decided that they would stage a protest and both decided not to  work one Sunday as their contract dictated. In the end, after a battle with the employer,  they worked out an every­other­Sunday­off routine, though they still were not paid for the  overtime.  When the employer returned from a trip to the mainland in the midst of the SARS  epidemic, she was placed on in­home quarantine. Fearing for their safety, Analy and the  Vietnamese employee decided that they would move the family to the first floor of the  building while the employer stayed upstairs: So, we decide to stay first in the shop for ten days or fourteen days. So, after that she go home. She's angry, "Why. Why we stay there in the one floor. Who told you that you stay in one floor." I said, "No. Me and Nelly only. We decide that we stay there in, in one floor. Why Madam? If we die, you pay me? You pay me? No. You don't pay." I said.... and then she said, "Okay. You stay in the shop. I don't give you an allowance for the food." So the Vietnamese and me, ah, we have own money, we buy food. And then, the dinner she telephone, "You give me a food here. I don't come down," she said. So, the Vietnamese give a food there. ...And then, another day, she broke a mirror. And then I said, "Nelly what is that?" She said, "I don't know what is that." she said. So I opened the door. Oh, my employer. Already angry. And then she opened the door. She don't use a mask. So, I close again the door. "Madam, excuse me I use first a mask." And then, she said, "Okay. Okay." And then, after I, I wear a mask, I opened. And then she said, "Ana you go down and then you pack your things. I want to send you to the Philippines. I don't, I don't, I don't like you anymore," she said.... And then, it's already in the one floor, she said. "I don't give you a, I don't give you your salary. Because your broker said

you have to pay ah, tax. Thirty-six thousand." And then, I said, "Why thirty-six thousand? I work here only eight months, why I pay thirty-six thousand. I don't have any money." And then, she said, "That is your problem. Not me, your broker said." So, I decide to call a MECO. With the help of Father Bruno, she had recovered her back pay, brokers fees, and  the cost of the plane ticket, but not her overtime pay. She was satisfied as she had enough  to help her parents with some of the renovation of their home, and to pay part of her  placement fee for work in Hong Kong this time. Taiwanese Spouses “Foreign brides,” or Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men, were another special  category of migrant, and were of interest to my project in that they represented the only  long­term settlers with whom to compare the assimilation experience of short­term  contract workers. There were two sub­categories based on the way in which they were  introduced to their husbands: those who came as OFWs and met their husbands while  working in the factories, and those who were “mail­order” brides. These “mail­order”  brides explained their biographies in similar terms as labor migrants: they sought a way  to relieve the economic burden on their families by travel to a country of perceived  wealth. In this case, labor (in the form of domestic, sexual, and procreative services) was  bought by a Taiwanese man who paid a matchmaker for the service of introduction and  arranging all of the governmental paperwork. This system is similar in many respects to 

the placement­employer arrangement for labor migrants; however, in this case, the  “employer” (husband) pays all of the fees. While “permanent” migrants, these women do  not see themselves as a part of the Taiwanese society. As with the case of Rosalyn, many  find their position within the family as little more than domestic servants. Moreover,  many Taiwanese family members have a distrust and fear of the “foreign” bride that leads  to exclusion and isolation. The most successful and well­adjusted brides were those who met their spouses  while working as OFWs or those who had found a niche within the small enclave of  Filipinos in the EPZs. Many of these wives, with capital from their husbands, operated  carts or small stalls that sold Filipino foods or products. As “permanent” residents, 29  these women are legally allowed to work, but often find that employers are unwilling to  pay them the same salaries as local Taiwanese laborers. Thus, if they are to work outside  the home, they must rely on the enclave economy supported by co­ethnics. In this way,  they also provide a vital link to the culture of the homeland. Likewise, as long­term  residents and often being of the few who speak Chinese or Taiwanese, they are often  placed in positions of authority within the church and other social institutions.


“permanent” residents in Taiwan must reapply for visa extensions every few years until they have been in Taiwan for more than seven years, at which point they may apply for the Permanent Alien Resident Certificate.

Sarah Lin (March 19) Sarah went to Taiwan initially in 1997 as a factory worker. She saw a placement  advertisement in a magazine and decided to apply. Before coming to Taiwan she was a  school teacher. However, she had only recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in  History and Economics and taught for only three months. Dissatisfied with the low salary  in the Philippines, she decided to work in Taiwan. The youngest of eight, it was not  economically necessary for her to become and OFW  for the family as much as she  looking for experience and personal opportunity.  In Taiwan, she worked in the molding division of her company making  electronics boards. She explained that it was very hot work and her line leader was  difficult on them. She would not allow them their lunch break sometimes and was very  demanding: “I cried for many years...before, I hate the Taiwanese people, because my  experience was that all the Taiwanese people no good.” Eventually, one of the  supervising managers, the man who would later become her husband, talked with the line  leader and things improved. As an Industrial Engineer, he had started as a managerial  trainee learning to operate the machines in her section about the same time that she came  to Taiwan. As he moved up in the ranks, he also kept his eye on her. While he was  interested in her and helped her out, she said she was not so fond of him at first: “the 

truth was I didn’t like him, but maybe he is very good... but it’s not so easy that he  became my boyfriend. He courted me for years.” While the were dating she taught him  Tagalog, but said they mostly communicated in English.  She returned to work at another company, and continued dating. They decided to  marry, but due to her contract and visa restrictions she had to return to the Philippines  and apply for a tourist visa. While back, she studied cosmetology and cooking so that she  could find work other than in a factory. Recently married, she is waiting now on  residential status and the ability to work. Now, to earn a little extra money, she makes  small Filipino cookies or other delicacies to sell. She is living now with her in­laws and  is learning to cook Taiwanese food and trying to learn to speak and read Mandarin. She  was also learning Tai Chi and Kung Fu in the park with her mother­in­law. However, she  has no Taiwanese friends and still spends a significant amount of time at St. Joseph’s  with other Filipinos. Mama Angel (May 29) In 1992, “Mama” Angle Wu married her Taiwanese husband. As she explained,  she had wanted to become a teacher: “when I was a little child, I want to be a teacher.  But, no money, because I'm also supporting my brothers and sisters in their school.”  When she finished high school, she took a two­month cosmetology course, then began 

working part­time from her home beauty shop while working full­time in a factory.  Working to help to support her nine siblings, she had dated Filipino men, but had never  married. Over the years, she said she had applied to go overseas at various placement  agencies, but had the misfortune of running into fake agencies that took her money or  others that never could place her.  At thirty­one she had given up on going abroad, when a matchmaker (a friend of  her aunt’s family) came by her house. Her cousin, already married to a Taiwanese man a  few years prior, seemed to have had a good experience, so she decided also to give it a  try: I'm willing to come to other countries. Ah, some of the other, some people say that it's just a stepping stone to come to other countries to marry, to get married in other, men in other countries. I don't think that. I think that it is a plan of God.... my mother told me that somebody came to our house and need my picture. And then, they saw my picture. I'm just not, I'm not interested. But, maybe that's the plan of God. Yes. That I'm coming here to Taiwan, to do something. And then, I married my husband. The marriage was arranged by the older sister of her husband, who was also  arranging her own son’s wedding at the same time. They met, were married in a joint  ceremony (in which she was only allowed to invite a few of her relatives due to cost), and  departed for Taiwan in a few short weeks. Her husband had paid over US $12,000 to the  matchmaker for his services and only about US $20 to her family as hong bao (紅包).

 When she arrived in Taiwan, she said she experienced a great deal of culture  shock; missing her family and friends, Philippine food, and spending much of her time  crying: “I cannot understand the language here. I don't know anything. Maybe if my,  maybe if my cousin will not, ah, got married here in Taiwan, I don't know if I will come  here to get married also.” Her first few years were very difficult as well. Her husband  worked as a janitor and twenty­four hour guard for an office building. They had only a  small room behind the property as their apartment. Paid only 29,000NT a month, he was  required to give 20,000NT to his older sister who managed his affairs. These funds, he  was told, were for his share in a rotating credit system. Yet, after three years they had still  not had their turn at receiving the capital. For that time, they were left then with only  2,000NT a month, after making monthly payments on a scooter. During this time, the Philippine wife of her husband’s nephew ran away. Her  sister­in­law, afraid that Angel would do the same, became more of a problem. In the end,  she convinced her husband to change jobs and quit giving money to his sister. Once her  husband changed jobs, Angel was able to begin working and eventually help her sister  come to Taiwan as a housekeeper. She also joined the local church and has since become  a central figure in the community. As one of the few permanent Filipino members of the  church, she has been assigned the responsibility of treasurer and is the lay leader of the  local El Shaddai chapter.

Loisa Tai (June 29) After two years of secretarial school, Loisa began working first as a department  store clerk, then in assembly at a Sanyo factory in the Philippines. She lived in boarding  apartment in Manila and worked three and a half years earning money to help support her  family. Convinced partially by one of her three sisters, who was already working in  Taiwan, and by the fact that she was having problems with her boyfriend. She decided go  to Taiwan in 1995. She says she was lucky to get work in the quality control department for an  electronics manufacturer. The work was light and not too difficult. She also met her  husband, who was a supervisor in the department. In 1997, she left her position and  returned to the Philippines so she could marry him and return as his spouse. While he has  been very supportive, and treats her respectfully, their relationship has not been without  its problems:  Maybe the problem is, I'm far from my family. Like that. And, nobody can help me to take care of my kids. Cause, I'm just the one who take care of them. And, if you feel lonely, alone, you feel lonely, you feel you're just alone. So. you just, you just go out to meet your friends. And, sometimes if have problems, very hard to communicate. Because it, it different, it's different than if you speak same language, you know. While she had no Taiwanese friends, other than Ate Tessa at Higher Ground Free  Methodist Church, she said she had many friends among the other Filipina spouses and 

workers at the church and from her part­time job at a “burger house” that caters to  Filipinos workers. Her children also, she explained, play mostly with other Filipino­ Chinese children.  While living abroad, she maintained strong ties with her family back in the  Philippines. Up until 2002, she would go back to the Phil for 2 months of the year,  however finances have been tighter recently, and she hasn’t been able to go back. She did  explain that she calls two to three times a month and a helped support family back home  with regular remittances. Likewise, she helped support one of her sisters when she  decided to work in Taiwan (in all 5 of the 8 siblings have worked abroad in Taiwan or  Saudi Arabia).  Now, with the backing of her husband, she is planning to open her own  lunch counter. With the help of Ate Tessa, she is looking for a commercial space to rent.  She is also trying to find a partner among the other Filipina wives. Authorities on Philippine Migration Upon my arrival in Taiwan in late January 2003, I began searching for local  experts to interview regarding the status of Filipino labor migrant. My search turned up  the local office of the pseudo­governmental Manila Economic and Cultural Office  (MECO) and the church sponsored Stella Maris International Service Center in  Kaohsiung. Fr. Bruno Ciceri, director of the Service Center, proved most willing and 

helpful in providing me an overview of the history and current condition of labor  migrants to Taiwan. As director of the Service Center, pastor of the Nan Tze St. Joseph  the Worker parish, and coordinator of English masses for all of the churches in the  Kaohsiung area, he was instrumental in connecting me with other “experts” on  Philippine labor migration (Pastor Marzo, the other Diocesan Coordinators, Lorna Kung,  etc.) as well as introducing me to the congregation of his parish.  Southern Taiwan, often seen as more provincial and industrial than the north of  the island, has few resources for migrants. In and about Taipei, on the other hand, there  are numerous international NGOs that provide services for foreign workers. In the south,  there was Stella Maris, and its satellite shelter in Tainan, as well as the Migrant  Counseling Center in Nan Tze (run by the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, PCT) and  MECO. The Counseling Center, sometimes called the “North Center” as it was licensed  to services northern Kaohsiung County, primarily assisted migrants from Thailand and  Vietnam. MECO, alternatively, provided help only to Filipinos, and often coordinated  relief and social projects with Fr. Ciceri.

Image 17 Fr. Bruno Ciceri explaining problems with the placement system

Fr. Bruno Ciceri (February 28, June 18) Fr. Bruno Ciceri was a Scalabrinian missionary30 who came to Taiwan in 1996  after appointments in Australia and the Philippines. Originally assigned to the Stella  Maris Apostolate of the Sea to serve the needs of seafarers on short layovers in  Kaohsiung’s port, he quickly found the unmet needs of migrant workers a great concern: ...when I came here, for example for the shelter, it’s not like one day I wake up and say okay today we start the shelter. The shelters, usually the police they would bring people to the hospital, they cannot keep them in their station and things like that, and after there were two Filipinos that were raped by the broker, one mentally she was really shocked, and I said you cannot keep her in jail, so just let her stay in my place and everything. And so we just start keeping people here. At a certain point I have 12 or 15 people in a room smaller than this one, and we said. ‘oh gosh! I have to do something here you know.’

Fr. Ciceri has since become one of the most vocal advocates for migrant laborers.  He has lead numerous protests, discussions with the government, and is instrumental in  organizing with the other NGO groups in Taiwan to protect the human rights of migrant  workers. He has been singled out by the police and even threatened with deportation for  his involvement in organizing the workers.31 He explained that, in a way, his whole life has prepared him for this position. At  eleven years old he entered the seminary, leaving for a few years in his late teens when he  helped organize a protest over the school’s strict guidelines. While away from the  seminary for three years, he attended university and also joined a leftist student group.  Involved with protests and organizing an independent radio station before decided to  eventually returning to the seminary, he said that the experiences still have an impact on  him: Looking back, I would say the Lord was preparing me for this kind of job. What I did at that time, whatever was put there, was somehow a preparation for this kind of job I think. I don’t know, just looking back now, I think that’s the only reason I find why I have to have these experience with these group and been organizing strikes and things like that. It’s maybe because there was somehow a sort of outline for me. So, I am happy to be here, and I am happy to do this kind of work. I don’t regret. I enjoy this kind of work, working with migrants and helping them.


For more on this incident see “Catholic Human Rights Advocates Threatened To Be Forcibly Deported By Taiwanese Government” Retrieved on April 12, 2004 (

Jonah Lin North Center (June 20) Jonah Lin was the program secretary at the Migrant Counseling Center in Nan  Tze. For the past three years at the center, his job has been to supervise and coordinate  the social services for migrant workers. Prior to this position, he had spent a year in the  Philippines studying at a seminary, both to receive his Master in Divinity (his other  university training was in Administration), and to learn English.  He explained to me that the center provided a number of services for migrant  workers including counseling, pastoral care, healthcare, educational, and social  programs. While they do not have a comprehensive counseling service for mental­health  issues, they did provide mental­health counseling services via group counseling. They  also had Thai and Chinese social workers on staff. They maintained a shelter for  runaways and migrants awaiting repatriation. They offered limited legal services for cases  of employer abuses, though he explained that the procedure took almost two­years, so  were “sometimes almost useless.” They also helped with work­related injuries, assisting  the worker in communicating with the hospitals or negotiating with employers who often  would pocket insurance money rather than pay the premiums, leaving workers in a dire  situation when needing healthcare. Though he admitted that attendance had been poor for  their education and training program, because workers were likely to miss classes for 

overtime work, they did offer English classes, Mandarin classes, Chinese handicrafts, and  Chinese cooking classes. They offered a number of social activities, primarily for  Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese workers, such as a large street­party for the Thai  workers that brought as many as 2,000 workers annually. They also had monthly day­trips  and outings, and maintained a small Karaoke club in the basement of the center. Much of  their work, though, involved labor dispute mediation:  ...usually the worker will bring their salary list [i.e. pay stub], because they cannot understand, sometimes the factory will not provide an English or Thai, only Chinese, so we will explain what is this... one example, happened last week, a Thai worker is going home and the employer did not pay for vacation in the whole year. Because the worker have fourteen days in the year, but he didn’t take it so the employer should pay him. So when the laborer com here we will contact the factory.... sometimes the factory do not know the labor standards law. Because of financial difficulties the center had to severely cut its staffing. They  were no longer receiving the nearly US $500,000 from the government that they had  counted on in the past. Instead they were raising funds only from the Presbyterian Church  and from sales of items at the large festivals and social events.  Jonah’s opinion of the issue of labor migration was mixed. While he believed it  was his duty to assist migrants in need, he felt that the importation of labor to Taiwan  was not a good thing. He felt that by employing migrant workers, fewer jobs were  available for local people. He also felt that having migrant workers had negatively  affected Taiwanese society. He stressed that it was not due to the cultural difference of 

the migrants themselves, but the opportunities they presented to the Taiwanese to take  advantage. He felt that “Taiwanese will not take advantage of another Taiwanese,” but by  simply having people there from another country Taiwanese would forget their humanity  and exploit the workers. Pastor Chris Marzo Higher Ground (June 25) Pastor Marzo, has been in Taiwan since 1997. He met his wife, Pastora Tessa, in  1991 while she was living in the Philippines. They married in 1993 and stayed in the  Philippines while he worked in the church and she taught in a Chinese language school  on the outskirts of Manila. When her mother became ill, they decided to move the family,  now with two children, to Taiwan.  While on a trip to Taiwan, he had seen the need for a church for the Filipino  workers in Nan Tze. Then, upon moving there in 1997, he established the independent  Higher Ground Free Methodist Church, first in a rented space at the local Presbyterian  Church of Taiwan. They were later able to raise capital for the down payment on their  own space by selling long­distance telephone cards to the Filipino workers. He explained  that maintaining the church and membership is difficult though as there are fewer  Protestants from the Philippines and the population they serve is so itinerant: this church is, ah, not, it's different from, ah, common local churches where people are there. I mean they have sustainable jobs. Members are

always there. I mean, our church is a liquid. People are so transient. And, ah, of course you cannot expect a lot of, ah, OCWs to be faithful in their, giving their offerings because there's a lot of complicated problems, you know. For one year, they have to work and not earn a single centavo. Maybe for this. Because all of the money they've been working for a year will be given to the brokers. Since the introduction of the two terms of employment, six years total, he said things  have become more stable. The church is able to recruit new members by word­of­month,  as well as by maintaining a base among returning members. Likewise, the church was  involved in many community activities such as the Filipino basketball tournament.  Pastor Marzo personally has experienced the exclusion from the Taiwanese  community that many of the OFWs feel daily. This may be as subtle as the looks he gets  on the elevator or their hesitation when he opens the front door for one of his neighbors  in the high­rise apartment building. The church has also received complaints by  neighbors over the “noise” of the gospel choir and he has even being told he could not  park his van in the public street spaces as they were for Taiwanese not Filipinos: “At first  I'm always very furious, you know. Why can't I, and they can. I always have this reaction.  So, it's a bad feeling. But, of course you have to understand that you are not from this  place.”

Attorney Rómulo Salud (August 5) Attorney Salud, labor attaché to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in  Kaohsiung, had been in his post for nearly five years when I interviewed him at his  offices. We had met several times at social and religious events in Nan Tze and  exchanged e­mails a few times. He came to his position after being asked by a friend in  the Department of Labor to take the overseas post: “My children were grown up, so I said  why not.” Before that, he had been a member of the management group for the National  Oil Company in the Philippines. He said he knew nothing of Taiwan, much less  Kaohsiung, when he came. His friend was looking for someone he could trust as there, 

Image 18 Attorney Salud explaining an ongoing contract dispute case

“were at that time a lot of problems, internal squabbles in the office and the image of the  office as against the workers.” At the beginning of his tenure, he found it necessary to 

replace the entire staff of the office. He said that all sides were unhappy when he first  arrived, brokers and Taiwanese government as well as other NGOs: “The first time I met  [Fr. Ciceri] he told me ‘I’ll be watching you.’” He said that it took over a year and a half  to regain the trust of workers and others, but now the office has a good reputation in the  Philippine community. Like Fr. Ciceri, Atty. Salud has had his share of problems in his  post. During the first three years, brokers complained to the Chinese government and the  Philippine government when he did not yield to their demands. He also has had his home  raided by the police.  The office has a certain power in the placement­broker­employer hiring system.  Atty. Salud’s position allows him to accept or deny broker requests for workers from the  Philippines. Thus, if MECO or the other NGOs have problems with a particular broker  over employment issues, he may deny their work orders until the situation is resolved.  The office also mediates disputes between workers, brokers, and employers. However,  they not have authority to intervene in cases where the migrant is being forcibly, and  illegally, repatriated by the employer. In these cases, he said, they call Stella Maris to  intercede, “fine, so what we do is pick up the phone and we call ‘Father come pick up the  worker” so we have this kind of relation.” The office also represents workers rights in  negotiations with the government of Taiwan in setting labor standards and rights of  workers. However, he did explain that many of the policies are up to the interpretation of 

local authorities and his office has had difficulty in pressing for enforcement of agreed  upon contracts and regulations. Observations & Informal Meetings In many ways, my daily informal meetings and observations of the community  were just as important as the recorded interviews, tests, and surveys I conducted. By  living in the Kaohsiung area, I was able to attend social and religious events, explore  communities, and conduct every­day activities in the same environment as the  participant. As a “foreigner” myself, I found that there was both an affinity with the  participants, as well as an understanding of their feeling of “otherness”, though limited  somewhat by the deferential treatment Taiwanese gave me due to my nationality.  Some of observations and informal interviews included participation in church  activities at St. Joseph’s, High Ground and JIL as well as attendance of social events such  as celebrations and large gatherings. Informal discussions with non­participant members  of these churches, as well as with Pastora Tessa, a Chinese social worker and wife of  Pastor Chris Marzo, helped me to shape questions in formal interviews as well as to  understand the various perspectives on the issues of labor migration to Taiwan. In the  same way, questions posed to my Taiwanese friends, family members, and my own 

Taiwanese students, gave me insight into the conventional views of Taiwanese toward  workers from Southeast Asian countries.  I was also invited by Fr. Ciceri to attend the Second Meeting of Diocesan  Coordinators on July 3, 2003. In this forum, I heard reports from the missionaries  working with migrant laborers in Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Hualien,  and Kaohsiung and I was given the opportunity to ask questions to these relief workers.  On the same day, an overview of foreign workers in Taiwan was presented by Lorna  Kung, former Director of the Foreign Workers’ Counseling Service in Taipei and an activist working for greater rights for migrant workers

Image 19 Pastora Tessa (or as she prefers Ate Tessa [elder sister or auntie Tessa]).

CHAPTER 5 OVERVIEW OF FILIPNO LABOR MIGRATION TO TAIWAN International labour migration is not new to the Philippines and its colonial history, but the exporting of women workers is. One of the legacies of colonial domination, first by Spain and then the United States (from 1898 until nominal independence in 1946), is the large number of Filipinos who experience poverty, in part because they lack access to economically viable resources and secure employment....While Philippine colonial history clearly plays a major part in creating the preconditions for the mobility of Filipinos in search of “overseas” sequential labour contracts, shifts in the gender, class, and racialized configurations of globalized labour markets are also important. -Pauline Gardiner Barber (2000) According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), over one million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were deployed in 2002. Departures for employment reached 2,640 daily as the government encouraged the record number of unemployed (almost 14% in 2002) to go abroad (“More than 2,600...,” 2002). The OFWs are seen as “economic heroes.” The government claims they ease the strain on the local economy while remitting billions of US dollars. The Philippines has a long history as a sending nation and has become one of today’s leading exporters of migrants (Abella 1993; Martin 1993; Tan 2001). Because of their historical, linguistic, cultural, and political ties with Western nations, Filipinos began to emigrate to Europe, Mexico, and the United States in the late 1800s. In the period from 1900 to the 1930s in particular, labor migrants were recruited from the Philippines to work in farming in Hawaii. Migration slowly increased throughout the mid 20th . By the early 1970s, then President Marcos had begun the “temporary” policy of government driven labor migration “to ease massive unemployment and to bring in foreign currency” (Pei-Chia Lan 2000). By the early 1980s, many Filipinos had

permanently emigrated to the US and other countries and nearly a half million labor migrants were working abroad as domestic servants, construction workers, skilled technicians, nurses, factory workers, and seafarers. The government of the Philippines, seeing the potential in remittances and reduction of unemployment, further encouraged labor migration as one of its official development strategies (Martin 1993; Aguilar 2000; Tan 2001;). In 1982, the government established the POEA to promote and regularize a then mostly illegal labor migration. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, remittances from OFWs accounted for up to 9% of the GNP (Tan 2001; Migration News 2001). DEMOGRAPHIC & ECONOMIC PUSH MECHANISMS There are a number of macro­level explanations for the necessity of Philippine  labor migration. In particular, a combination of economic and demographic mechanisms  has resulted in a very sizeable, young population with high rates of unemployment and a  lack of domestic opportunities. Furthermore, an absence of direct foreign investments, a  weak export market, and considerable foreign debt leave few possible solutions for the  historically unstable government. Finally, protectionist economic policies and a  dependency on export of labor have hindered development of domestic markets. While many Southeast Asian countries have progressed rapidly through the  demographic transition, the Philippines has been slow to reduce fertility rates while life  expectancy has increased (Appleyard 1992; Skeldon 1992; Abella 1993; Asis 2000). In 

the last century, the population has increase more than 1000 percent. As Manolo Abella  of the International Labour Office (ILO) explains: Demographic factors are not helping to ease the problems of unemployment. Whereas the East Asian countries have already gone through the later stages of their demographic transition, total fertility rates in the Philippines have only declined very slightly during the past three decades from 6.61 in 1960-65 to 4.33 in 1985-90. By comparison, neighboring Thailand which had roughly the same fertility rate in 1960-65 now has a rate of 2.60. In 1990 the youth dependency ratio is estimated at 70.9 per hundred workers in the Philippines compared to 51.4 in Thailand and 57.4 in Indonesia (Abella 1992: 254). This rapid population increase has added almost a million new job seekers to the work force annually (Abella 1993). While the high dependency ratio and rapidly increasing population indicate an  urgent need for new employment opportunities, economic conditions and government  practices have not allowed industries to keep up with the demand for jobs. Protectionist  industrial policies, designed to support domestic producers, have been blamed for  limiting development by creating disincentives to upgrading industrial infrastructure  (Abella 1993; Alburo 1993; Habito et al. 1993). Coupled with increasing foreign debt


1,000 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0
19 84 19 85 19 86 19 87 19 88 19 89 19 90 19 91 19 92 19 93 19 94 19 95 19 96 19 97 19 98 19 99 20 00 20 01 r 20 02




Figure 5-1 Overseas Filipino Workers by Type 1984 to 2002 (derived from Philippine Overseas Employment Administration 2003)
Millions 90









0 1900











Figure 5-2 Population of the Philippines 1900 to 2000 (derived from Lahmeyer 2003

(now almost US $56 billion) and lack of incentives for foreign direct investment, the situation has produced a poor export market for goods and an increase in unemployment (“Foreign debt..., “ 2003). According to the Philippines National Statistics Office,

unemployment as of July 2003 was more than 12 percent with underemployment above 20 percent. Thus, the increasing labor pool and high unemployment together with lack of funds from export of goods or investment creates a situation in which the only quick remedy is an export of labor. University of the Philippine researcher Maruja Asis’s study of migrants from four sending communities found that these macro-level causes translate directly to the micro level. “Respondents’ explanations as to why many people in their community migrate were essentially economic: lack of employment opportunities, meager incomes and the desire to improve status compel people to seek work outside the country” (Asis 1995). Abella (1993) further explains how the choice to migrate occurs at the family level as a reaction to macro-level forces: For most Filipino families, emigration is therefore a rational response to the inability of the state to generate growth and employment within the country. The Filipino family has become “transnational” in an effort to protect itself from declining real incomes and standards of living, and to achieve family aims for investment in education and acquisition of other productive assets including land and housing. The opening up of labor markets overseas during the last two decades gave an international dimension to what would otherwise be an internal reallocation of family labor to minimize risks. Since opportunities for complete relocation of the family in the more affluent countries are very limited the large proportion have opted for the only avenue possible by sending one or more family members abroad. Remittances of the migrants are evidently an important element of this adjustment mechanism since the family is still attempting to maximize the welfare of the core household at home through migration. It is argued by the government that export of labor would produce economic returns for the country in the form of remittances and savings brought back to the families remaining in the Philippines. However, Florian Alburo of the University of the Philippines shows that while earnings from OFWS have had very marginal positive

effects on domestic growth, most spending has been on imported consumer durables and improvements to residential properties with less than two percent of remittances going toward small businesses or investment (Alburo 1993). Thus, there is little long-term economic benefit from exportation of labor. GOVERNMENTAL POLICIES MAINTAIN CULTURE OF MIGRATION The governments involvement in organizing and promoting labor migration has created a “culture of migration” that permeates all levels of the society. Overseas employment is highly organized and bureaucratized and is overseen by an Inter-Agency

Image 20 Attorney Salud (MECO) addressing the migrants gathered for Independence Day celebrations

Committee including the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Bureau of

Immigration (BI) and governed by the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.32 Filipino workers are screened and then go abroad with special contract worker passports. Private Filipino recruiters go abroad to find jobs for Filipinos to fill, get the Philippine government to approve the contract, and then find Filipino workers to go abroad. But these recruitment activities and protections come at a cost, which is typically borne by the worker. Since most Filipinos go abroad legally, they cannot escape these costs. However, as labor exports shift to Asia – where salaries are lower and employee-paid recruitment fees are higher-the wedge between gross and net foreign earnings widens to the disadvantage of the worker. (Martin 1993) While the majority of the total permanent emigration from the Philippines is destined for the United States,33 there is an almost equally sizable flow of temporary workers to the Middle East and Asia. According to the Survey on Overseas Filipinos of the Philippines National Statistics Office, more than one million OFWs were legally deployed abroad in 2002. Of those, 93.8 percent were overseas contract workers (OCWs), 76.5 percent working in Asia alone. Unlike other nations, the migrant flows are relatively balanced between genders with 52.5 percent males and 47.5 percent were females (National Statistics Office, Republic of the Philippines 2003). There is strong significance placed by the Filipino government on the workers it sends abroad. Repeatedly OFWs are portrayed as “modern day heroes” for the economic support they give their nation. Annually select workers are recognized by the POEA and presented an award by the Philippine president (Department of Labor and Employment 2003). Similar to the way the USO visits to troops, government officials, famous

See text of the 1995 Act at retrieved on April 12, 2004. 33 According to Martin (1993) the US accounted for 1.3 million migrants or 93% of those in core receiving countries in the early 1990s.

performers, and cultural icons regularly visit OFWs abroad. In 2002 and 2003 alone, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has visited OFWs in the United Kingdom, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Kuwait (“Arroyo to visit...,” 2003). In 2002, she also addressed the “kababayans”34 in Taiwan specifically emphasizing the strong ties between the two nations and the importance of their work their: As Filipinos living in a foreign land, you have the distinct role of serving as our country's ambassadors of goodwill in your host country. You are called upon to serve as agents of our country in fostering stronger, cultural, political and economic ties between our country and Taiwan. (“President...” 2002) Unlike many other sending countries, the Philippines does try to retain its labor migrants, encouraging them to go abroad, but granting them benefits and enticements to return. While working abroad, Filipinos may receive many of the benefits of citizenship such as entitled to sickness, maternity, disability, retirement, death, and 13th month benefits through the Social Security System, as well as absentee voting and dual citizenship ("Social security offered...,” 1999). Thus, governmental policies of encouraging temporary migration, providing services for migrants abroad, helping them to maintain cultural and political ties to the homeland and granting them benefits has created a culture of migration. For almost thirty years, the government has promoted the exportation of labor, creating a constantly circulating population and the expectation that one will go abroad at some point in their lives. As Asis (1995) explains, “migration has become routine and taken-for-granted… woven into the community’s everyday life.”


Literally townspeople or countrymen in Tagalog.

TAIWAN: HISTORY OF RECEPTION Taiwan is in many ways the opposite of the Philippines. A rapid transition from a  total fertility rate of 5.10 in 1964 to 0.7 in 2001 (Chang 2003), as well as rapid  industrialization and development of a robust export market encouraged by government  policy, have placed Taiwan among Southeast Asia’s “Four Tiger” economies (Skeldon  1992). According to the National Statistics Office, Taiwan has a work force of 10 million  and an unemployment rate of only 5.35 percent (Aug 2002).35 Major reasons for the need for importing labor have been slower population growth, an aging population, a gendered division of labor, increased years in education, labor conflicts, and labor costs (Martin 1993; Lee and Wang 1996; Chan 1999). Raymond Chan of the City University in Hong Kong (1999) explains that Taiwan’s diminishing importance of agriculture in the 1960s and resulting growth in labor intensive industry and service sectors led to a greater demand for labor. By the 1980s, the afore mentioned decline in the fertility rate had resulted in slower population growth and fewer available workers. In addition, while female labor participation had increased to 40 percent, there was a well-defined gendered division of labor, limiting women’s entrance into higher paying employment.36 At the same time, the increasing years spent in education delayed entry into the labor market of younger generations. Finally, as workers became better educated and in shorter supply, labor costs began to
35 36 retrieved on April 12, 2004. Taiwanese law allows for employers to specify age and sex of employees desired, thus legally reinforcing the gendered division of labor. This is important later in the hiring of foreign workers where we see essentializing not only of national groups, but also of sexes.

rise. Workers involved in the “3D” occupations (dirty, difficult, and dangerous) had begun to unionize arguing for better working conditions and more pay. This conflict between labor rights organizations and industry has been seen by some as the true cause for importation of foreign labor (Ciceri 2001).37 As it was, by the mid 1980s, up to 100,000 foreign workers were employed illegally in Taiwan. At this point, the government decided, under pressure from industry and growing public concern, to legalized and regulate the importation of foreign workers in designated projects and with strict quotas.
Millions 25





0 1900











Figure 5-3 Taiwan’s population growth (derived from Lahmeyer 2003)


See also: Foreign labor changes the face of Taiwan Sinorama December 1999; & Legislator pushes lower pay for foreign workers Taipei Times July 25, 2003 both retrieved on April 12, 2004.




Percent of Poulation





0 1976 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Primary & below Junior High Senior High & Vocational Junior College & above

Figure 5-4 Taiwan’s Educational Attainment 1976 to 2002 (derived from Educational Attainment of Civilian Population Aged 15 and Over 2002)

While the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) approved legal importation of workers for specific government infrastructure projects it was not until the ‘Employment Service Act’ of 1992 that the government official outlined their policy on importation of labor. Migrant labor activist Lorna Kung, former Director of the Foreign Workers’ Counseling Service in the Taipei Labour Affairs Bureau, describes the policy as being “coercive,” “conservative,” “isolation oriented,” and “marginalizing.” Lee and Wang at the ChungHua Institution for Economic Research (1996) explain that the 1992 policy had four main objectives: 1. 2. 3. 4. To restrict foreign workers to industries with labor shortages To protect the local labor market To prevent permanent migration To control the (perceived) negative social and health problems that may result from migration

By limiting work visas to construction positions on major government infrastructure projects, factory labor jobs, heavy industry, export processing zones and low wage service positions such as domestic workers and nurses aides the CLA has not allowed foreign labor to fully compete with the domestic labor pool. Likewise, by requiring employers in these select industries to first search for local hires before petitioning for foreign labor, as well as setting quotas for each employer with a 30 to 35 percent cap on foreign hires, the CLA has attempted to satisfy industrial demand for workers while attempting to protect jobs for native-born workers. However, as the following article shows, industries are still eager to increase the number of foreign workers (while simultaneously dropping their wages) and labor activist see this as extremely detrimental to local workers: "We need more foreign blue-collar workers, or we will have to move our company to China," said Chuang Feng-nien, the owner of a knitting company. "Youth in Taiwan don't want to work for such dirty, dangerous and labor-intensive industries such as ours. Employing more people from Southeast Asia won't increase the unemployment rate," Chuang said. Labor activists, however, do not agree with Huang. "They are out of their minds," said Lin Ming-hsien, deputy general secretary of Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions. "What Huang said is all bullshit.” According to the Employment Service Act, foreign workers can make up no more than 30 percent of a company's total employees, Lin said. "But Huang is trying to raise this proportion to 50 percent. How can this not damage the rights of Taiwanese workers?" Lin said. Lin is opposed both to reducing foreign workers’ wages and hiring more Southeastern Asians. (“Legislator pushes…” July 25, 2003) In an attempt to thwart permanent immigration due to the importation of labor migrants,38 the government has taken to limiting the period of time a foreign worker may stay in Taiwan. According to the 1992 laws, workers could stay up to two years before

See Maintaining Class Differences: Government Restrictions on Migrant Integration and Cross-Cultural Dating & the Cultural Taboos of Exogamy in Chapter 8.

having to return to their home countries. Today, while workers may stay for up to three years then reapply to return for up to three more years, they are still barred from becoming permanent residents. There is no provision for changing their visa status from contract foreign laborer to resident as Stein (2003) illustrates: The contracts are meant to be short term. Once they have finished, importing nations are eager to ensure that the workers won't find a way to stay… Foreign workers who think marriage to a Taiwanese national is the route to permanent residency are out of luck: Marriage is grounds for immediate deportation (Stein 2003). While there is great fear that the migrant will want to settle permanently in Taiwan (as has occurred in a number of receiving countries39), there is also fear that they bring with them social and health problems. For this reason, workers are require to provide a background check or “certificate of good conduct” from their homeland as well as submit to a medical exam including tests for HIV and other STDs, parasites, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other communicable disease (Lee and Wang 1996). These medical checks are required before departure to Taiwan, as well as bi-annually while residing there. Until 2002, they also included mandatory pregnancy tests to limit births to foreign mothers while in Taiwan. By 1995, the CLA had established the first Foreign Labor Affairs Center to  prepare policy, coordinate and manage agencies involved in the importation of labor, as  well as oversee the paperwork involved in the recruitment of laborers (Chan 1999).  Paradoxically, the Foreign Labor Affairs Center was also to act as mediator for labor 

See for example the argument in Faist (2000) regarding the transition from guestworker system migrant to asylum seekers in the case of Turkish to German migration (p 68-69).

complaints and provide information on rights and responsibilities to laborers (Chan  1999). In 1998, nine more regional centers were established to complete the Nationwide  Foreign Labor Management and Information System. While the objective of this system  is obviously to manage labor migration in a unified and comprehensive manner, the result  is often discordant and even inconsistent. Fr. Bruno Ciceri explains: …it depends on which labor bureau you are dealing. You have a different thing. Sometimes we have a case, I would say, with the Labor Bureau in Kaohsiung, and we deal in a certain way. After, you have the same case with the Kaohsiung Hsien [County], and it’s totally different because the interpretation of the law is different… There is no common interpretation, so it’s really difficult to deal with because it’s all up to the mood of the person there…. There should be a common policy that is implemented from the north to south and south to north. That would be better. But, there’s no such a thing.

Mental illness Dementia Brain damage Para/quadriplegic Serious illness Sever disability Terminal illness/ hospice care Stroke Recognized sever disability Other

Figure 5-5 CLA Requirements for Families Hiring Domestic Caretaker

Number of Filipino Guest Workers in Taiwan
2001 Broker’s Fees Revised

1980s Estimated up to 100,000 Undocumented Foreign Workers

2001 CLA Approves Wage Cut

1989 CLA Legalizes Foreign Employment


2001 Direct Hiring Approved 1995 Foreign Labor Affairs Center Established

1998 Nationwide Foreign Labor Management and Information System

60,000 1980 1990 40,000
1992 Employment Service Act 2000 Foreign Worker Quotas Reduced

2000 Service and Counseling Centers for Foreign Workers

2002 Ban on Pregnancy Test










Figure 5-6 Timeline of Foreign Employment Policy Changes Superimposed on Number of Filipino Guest Workers in Taiwan

THE NEW ADMINISTRATION AND PAPER POLICY CHANGES According to Lorna Kung (2003), the 2000 election of President Chen Shui-Bian led to important policy changes in Taiwan’s importation of labor migrants. The new administration’s goals were to reduce the quotas of foreign workers by 15,000 annually, institute direct hiring of workers in the sending countries, and, in response to international pressure from NGOs, improve human rights. By early 2002, many of these new policies had been made law; however, as Kung claims, little has actually changed. For example, she explains that while it is illegal today for the employer to administer pregnancy tests,40 when they find a worker is pregnant they still send her home, as there is no way for her to change her employment status under the current law. Fortune magazine writer Nicholas Stein agrees: “Though Taiwan recently changed its law to allow pregnant workers to stay, in practice they are typically given the choice of abortion or deportation” (Stein 2003). Forced savings likewise has been illegal since 1998 and reiterated in the new policies, nevertheless deductions in the form of bonds or liens and “voluntary” savings still occur. Changes were made to the broker’s placement fees, wages, and policies regarding direct hiring. The effect however, has been disadvantageous to the worker. The new limits on broker placement fees were intended to work in the interest of the worker and restrict their systematic exploitation. Yet, these changes, while indeed restricting and limiting the placement fee, simply resulted in a legalized “monthly service charge” that


One of the human rights concerns addressed in the Chen policy in response to international NGO pressure to observe the privacy and rights of female workers.

in many cases was greater than the original placement fee. At the same time that fees were increased, real wages were cut as employers were allowed to deduct fees for room and board (once a contractual benefit to the worker). Theses cuts and fees total more than a third of the workers minimum monthly salary. A February 2002 Migration News article outlines these changes: Migrants in Taiwan usually live in dormitories provided by their employers next to the work site, or in private homes, if they are maids. Migrant policy is controlled by the Taiwan Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), and on November 9, 2001, the CLA allowed employers to include the cost of food and accommodation when determining if migrants are earning the minimum wage of NT$15,840 ($466) a month, set in 1998. Most employers immediately began deducting NT$4,000 (US$116) a month. The CLA said that the cut in migrants' wages would be offset by a new prohibition on Taiwanese brokers charging migrants brokerage fees of NT$30,000 a person, but migrants would still have to pay NT$1,500 to NT$1,800 in "monthly service charges" to local brokers. (Migration News February 2002) The change to allow direct hiring also was intended to benefit the foreign worker. Employers were granted the ability to by-pass brokers in Taiwan and placement agents in the sending countries and directly hire employees. However, with very few exceptions,41 direct hiring was not instituted as, according to Kung (2003) the cost to employers in time, money, and resources to negotiate the highly bureaucratized system were too prohibitive. As Stein notes, there are many possible benefits to the importation of foreign labor. “In theory, engaging foreign contract workers is a solution that should benefit all parties: Poor countries reduce their unemployment, wealthy countries get cheaper labor,


Some very large employers such as Chung-Hwa Plastics were able to hire directly from the Philippines and according to Lorna Kung direct hiring of construction workers from Thailand also occurred, but only for major infrastructure projects.

and the workers earn far more abroad that they could at home” (Stein 2003). However, he goes on to explain that in actuality the Philippine –Taiwan labor migration results in abuse and mistreatment. Policies that are intended to protect foreign workers as well as domestic labor markets have often worked instead to further exploitation. Moreover, as Stein explains: Governments are willing to look the other way because of what they get in return: The labor trade means jobs and capital will stay in their countries and not get shipped to China. Nations that import labor also tailor their laws to keep local factories happy. To hold turnover to a minimum, governments allow factories to retain workers' passports, impose curfews, and deduct compulsory savings bonds--or "run-away insurance"--which workers get back only when they have completed their contract (Stein 2003).

Image 21 Working in the production department of an electronics factory

CONCLUSIONS In this chapter, I have shown that demographic and economic push­pull  mechanisms lead to the movement of migrants from the Philippines to Taiwan. Moreover,  the Philippines policy of promoting labor migration and the shift in Taiwan’s policy both  contribute to the normalization and regularity of the migrant flow. The pressure of NGOs  and labor rights groups, also influence governmental policies regarding migration and  have resulted in changes shortly into the first term of President Chen. These changes,  intended to satisfy human rights groups as well as businesses, have contributed to the  problems of the placement­broker system by reducing incomes of migrants.  While Taiwan’s policy was intended to restrict the size of the migrant population  and to minimize the social impact on the populace, it has, by legalizing migrants’ status,  promoted an increase in the number of migrants working in Taiwan throughout the  1990s. By restricting the stay to three year periods, the policy has created a constant  circulation of individuals. Following the theory of cumulative causation, as more  individual migrants are exposed to the destination country, gain social and human capital  in that setting, and then return, the effect will be to promote further migration by those  same migrant and others to whom they have social ties. 

CHAPTER 6 KAPIT SA PATALIM (“JUST HOLD ONTO THE KNIFE”): THE MIGRANT LABOR SYSTEM IN TAIWAN There are many forms of debt bondage. As students of American history can attest, we've seen our share on these shores, from coal miners forced to buy overpriced food at the company store to sharecroppers trapped by the money they owe landowners. Even today many illegal Mexican immigrants are working to pay off debts to the so-called coyotes who smuggled them across the Rio Grande. But unlike coyotes, the Asian labor brokers to whom workers like Mary are indebted operate in the open. Their services are sought by the factories that import foreign workers and sanctioned by the governments that send and receive them. The labor trade they facilitate functions in the name of global competition. -Nicholas Stein “No Way Out” Fortune January 8, 2003 The system for recruiting Filipino laborers for Taiwanese employers is highly bureaucratic and economically exploitive. It involves a number of governmental and pseudo-governmental agencies, as well as labor brokers in both countries.42 There are many claims of systematic abuse because of corruption at all levels of this system. The primary cause of this corruption can be found in huge sums of legal and illegal fees charged by brokers and placement agencies. In addition, the considerable legal and illegal fees charged to workers leads to a cycle of debt. The worker borrows money at high rates of interest to pay for the opportunity to work, and then spends a year or more working to pay off that debt before actually saving money. Often, by the third year of a


For more on the Broker/ Placement System see the following stories retrieved on April 12, 2004:   

170 contract the worker will have saved only enough to live on for the few months they are back in the Philippines awaiting another placement opportunity. Father Eamon Sheridan, a missionary in the Society of St. Columban, and director of the Bishop's Commission for Social Development Concern for Migrant Workers Services,43 explains that this huge industry is extremely profitable for all but the migrants themselves. Employers in Taiwan obtain labor at a rate well below the cost of local workers. Both governments recover funds in the form of legal fees, taxes, and deductions. According to Father Sheridan over $US 1.6 billion is charged to workers by the placement agents in sending countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Philippines) and Taiwanese labor brokers: If you take the fact that just a three year contract, everyone who comes here from these poor countries stays three years, they pay the regular broker's fees and also this illegal fee they pay before coming here…. $1,635,509,592 a total of $1,635,509,592 is what migrants pay to brokers. I mean, I mean, it's obscene! This is the industry that is keeping migration going (Sheridan 2003). Ordinarily, the process of matching Philippine worker to Taiwanese employer begins when an employer contacts a labor broker in Taiwan requesting an employee. The broker, on behalf of the employer, will petition the Taiwanese Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO)44 for permission to hire foreign workers. Once these governmental agencies have officially given their approval, the broker will submit a request to an affiliated labor recruiter in the Philippines. At this


“The main emphasis of this apostolate is Union formation, labor education and analysis of working conditions. A Columban was expelled by the Taiwanese Government for this work in March 1989. Columbans work with local and migrant workers in the Hsin-Chu diocese and staff a migrant center at the International English-speaking parish in Taipei since 1992.” 44 The de facto Philippine consulate in Taiwan

171 point, the labor recruiter (also called a placement agent) requests accreditation of the job order and permits to begin advertising the position from the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The agent is then allowed to conduct a job search and screen potential employees.45 Once applicants have been screened, the agent then forwards select applications and other documents to the potential employer or the broker. The employers, or their Taiwanese brokers, make final selection of candidates and the Philippine agent will then processes the laborer’s Philippines based paperwork (Overseas Employment Certificate, Passport, flight arrangements, etc.). Concurrent with arrangements in Philippines, the broker or employer in Taiwan will submit to the Taiwanese government for visa and employment documents such as the Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). Meanwhile, the placement agent will schedule a pre-departure orientation seminar and exit interview with POEA, and assist the applicant with finalizing the travel arrangements. While the placement agent arranges jobs and the departure from the Philippines, the broker will manage workers affairs in Taiwan. Once the worker arrives in Taiwan, the broker will arrange transportation from the airport, oversee housing, medical care, and be responsible for maintaining their legal status (arranging bi-annual health checks and renewing the Alien Registration Card). They also act as the intermediary in dispute resolution between workers and employers. In an effort to better understand the relationship with placement agents, labor brokers, and employers, I posed questions on the migrant laborer’s experiences in both

It may be noted, however, that often the placement agent has already created a pool of potential laborers who have already paid some fees or deposits to be considered when positions become available.

172 the community level survey of labor migrants in the Nan Tze area and the one-on-one interviews with the ethnography participants. Overall, in the survey, 36% of respondents indicated problems with placement agencies most dealing with the exorbitant fees. Other complaints also included delays in placement, contract discrepancies, and unnecessary charges.46 One respondent even noted having to provide a security bond, “we were required to give collateral such as car registration, tax declaration, blank checks.” Likewise, a third of all respondents in the survey indicated at least one problem with broker services. Problems ranged again from overcharging for services, not properly refunding taxes or overcharging taxes, adding additional fees and surcharges, and being difficult to find when workers had complaints or questions . Brokers were also charged with providing substandard living conditions and maintaining unreasonable limits on the freedom of workers. Finally, a third as well reported at least one problem with employers. Problems with employers ranged from unpaid overtime to verbal abuse. Employer-employee relations varied as well by type of employment. Domestic workers, were subjected to physical and psychological abuse, isolation, and sexual harassment. Factory workers, on the other hand, were found to have better relations with immediate supervisors, but did discuss troubles with favoritism, unfair treatment, and barriers to communication. BECOMING INDEBTED: PLACEMENT AGENCIES Consistent with the literature, participants in this study were routinely  overcharged for services, became indebted in the process of paying fees, and were often 

Often migrants are charged or such items as hats or jackets that promote a particular placement agency.

173 required to wait for extensive periods after paying fees before they were placed with an  employer. While recruitment agencies in the Philippines are allowed to charge roughly 


Taiwanese Employer (or Employment

Requests Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Grants Approval
Taiwanese Employer (or Employment Manila Economic Cultural Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Office (MECO)

Submits the Following Corporate identity papers , Special Power of Attorney , Job order , Employment contract§, Service contract , CLA Authorization, MECO Approval

Philippines Placement
Requests accreditation of the job order & advertising permits
Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)

Philippines Placement
Conducts Job Search & Screens Potential Employees

Grants Approval

Philippines Placement
Forwards select applications & other documents to employer
Taiwanese Employer (or Employment

Selects desired applicant & begins possessing Taiwanese visa documents

Philippines Placement
Certificate, Passport, etc.) documents from Certificate, Passport, on & Figure 6-1 Employment Process Flow Chart (based in partetc.)and Schedules a Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar Belvedere Manpower labor recruiters) 47 (PDOS) & Interview with POEA
Philippines Overseas Employment Retrieved on April 12, 2004 Administration (POEA)

Processes Laborer’s Philippines based paperwork (Overseas Employment

Philippines Placement
Assist applicant with travel

Grants Approval

Complaint Fees greater than legal Additional fees Did not defend interests in dispute Uphold non-contractual conditions Other Percentage of Respondents 25.8% 12.9% 10.3% 11.1% 2.1%

Table 6-1 Worker Complaints with Broker Services

US $450 for placement services, 48 Asis (2000) points out that they “generally pay more.”  Tan (2001) also notes that these fees will range by profession: The placement cost, which includes fare and immigration processing cost, also differ across occupations and destination. The better organized seafarers pay minimal placement fees. Those in high professions who are directly hired by multilateral organizations and multinational corporations also avoid recruitment fees. The production workers in Taiwan receive relatively high wage but pay placement fees to local as well as to Taiwanese agents, which increases the costs of migration (Tan 2001). Survey respondents indicated that they paid on average twice the legal placement  fee in the Philippines and as much as five times the legal allowed amount. In addition,  they paid on average 22,000 pesos for additional fees covering extra documentation,  photos, health checks, promotional materials, etc. Twenty­two percent of respondents  indicated taking some form of loan with interest rates ranging from 0% (family or  friends) to 100% (loan sharks). On average they paid between five to ten percent interest,  often compounded monthly, with monthly payments of NT $5,000 or roughly a third of 

The legal limits for fees are set by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). According to their literature: “The legal placement fee to be collected by licensed recruitment agencies from applicants for overseas jobs must be equivalent to one month salary of the worker as stipulated in the employment contract. The amount, however, does not include documentation and processing costs” Retrieved on April 12, 2004. (

176 their base salary of NT $15,840. Ten percent of respondents indicated that they had  mortgaged properties (either their own or those of relatives) to pay placement fees. Again  average interest rates were between five and ten percent, with monthly payments of NT  $5,000 to NT $10,000.  Such debt limits the options for the labor migrant and compels them to accept  unbearable work conditions. Moreover, governmental agencies do little to regulate  unscrupulous brokers and placement agents, often upholding “side contracts” that add  additional fees to the worker’s monthly deductions. Take for example, domestic workers  Rosalia and Charito. 49 Rosalia is a widowed mother of two who has been working to pay  off debts incurred when her eldest son had a brain tumor removed. Charito, on the other  hand, is a single woman on her second trip to Taiwan saving to open a bakery or small  café in the Philippines. While Rosalia recounts her experiences with mortgaging property  to raise money for placement fees, Charito, who did not borrow money, was able to save  enough on her first trip to help support family members and to return to Taiwan on her  second stay. They both, however, explain that while applying for jobs in Taiwan they were  forced to lie to POEA interviewers when questioned about fees. Stephen: … how much was your placement fee?


Interviewed at Stella Maris while Charito was awaiting reassignment to a new family as her charge had died and Rosalia was to be repatriated after running away from a verbally abusive household that had made claims that she was trying to poison the son.

177 Charito: Ah, the placement fee in the agency is twenty three thousand seven hundred sixty [pesos]. Stephen: I know that's what you are to say when you go to the P.O.E.A. Is that what you really paid? Charito: Ah, all in all we paid, because they said we needed a bond… ah, all in all we gave the agency about, ah, forty-five thousand [pesos]. Stephen: Forty-five thousand, okay. [turning to Rosalia] And, how much was your placement fee? Rosalia: I paid forty-three thousand cash. Stephen: Forty-three thousand cash. Rosalia: Not including medical and other expenses. Stephen: So, you still had further expenses after that? Rosalia: Yes. Stephen: Ah, [turning back to Charito] did you pay yours upfront or did you borrow money, mortgage a property… Charito: …no, that was my money from my three years here in Taiwan, my first time in Taiwan, I paid with my own money. Stephen: Okay, so you already had savings that you applied to the fees, you did not have to borrow money for it… Charito: Yes, I did not borrow… Stephen: I know many people have to borrow… Rosalia: …Yes, like me…. Stephen: So, you had to borrow money? Rosalia: Yes, I borrowed a lot of money from the bank… Stephen: Okay, did you mortgage property or… Rosalia: Yeah, the title to the lot of my house. So, I have to pay this for one year… Stephen: Okay, and what is the percentage rate for that, do you know? Rosalia: Ah, my boss estimate is more than five-six50 Stephen: …More than five six, so you have to pay back… Rosalia: …if you borrow one hundred thousand, maybe in two years [you will payback] two hundred thousand more… Stephen: …wow, a very high interest rate… Rosalia: …yes. Stephen: Right, and if you can't pay that they will take the land? Rosalia: Yes. This high interest rate for loans was discussed in many of the interviews. Most  first time migrants, for example, had borrowed money for at least a part of the placement 

Many interviewees referred to “five-six.” Under this scheme, if one were to borrow money they would pay back the principal of the loan in five equal payments and a sixth payment of interest.

178 costs. Many indicated that they would make no money their first year working as it all  went to repay loans. Lanie, a recent college graduate who could not find communications  positions in the Philippines, applied after hearing from a recently returned neighbor that  they were paying well for factory workers. She was forced to borrow money (from her  cousin) at an exorbitantly high rate, placing a further financial burden on her family  (already saddled with a loan for the father’s taxicab). Lanie: … I [borrowed], from my cousin, fifty thousand with interest. Stephen: You borrowed 80,000 total? Lanie: From different… Stephen: From different places? Lanie: Yeah. Stephen: From your cousin? Lanie: My cousin 50,000, with the interest of 5,000 monthly. 51 Stephen: [shocked] 5,000 monthly? Lanie: Yeah…that’s why I’m working here… for the interest. Stephen: You’re only getting 15,000 a month, right? Lanie: No, I pay… Stephen: How much do you make from your company? Lanie: Fifteen. Fifteen thousand. Stephen: So one-third of your salary is going to the interest. Lanie: That’s why my parents helped me to pay, because I cannot shoulder it….. Stephen: …so how much did you end up paying back total? Lanie: The interest, 45,000 for nine months, because I got money from January, and then I paid until September…or October. Stephen: So in nine months 45,000, plus the 50,000 you borrowed. So you paid back 95,000. It’s almost 100% interest. Lanie: Yeah, I got the money January and then I…I…I started giving her the interest when I got here, May. So,… Stephen: So, you paid back 95,000 within one year. Lanie: Yeah.


Not all family loans are with interest, several other interviewees received loans or even gifts of funds to cover their placement. However, many more must patch together enough for placement from a combination of no-interest family loans and high-interest loans from loan sharks and “lending agents,” often one-in-the same with the placement agents.

179 PROLONGING DEBT: TAIWANESE LABOR BROKERS Brokers in Taiwan help to maintain the indebtedness of labor migrants by  charging monthly service fees while providing little in the way of services for those fees.  In the past, brokers often charged excessive up­front fees for these services. Under  pressure from international non­governmental agencies and the Philippine government,  and following the election of the more socially liberal Chen government, the Taiwanese  laws were changed. Since 2001, Taiwanese labor brokers are permitted to legally charge  the worker only NT$1800 (US $51) a month for their services.52 Yet, many brokers,  possibly in collusion with associates in Philippine placement agencies, have migrants  sign additional promissory notes or “side­contracts” forcing them to pay well above the  legal limit. Attorney Rómulo V. Salud, Philippine Labor Attaché to Taiwan in the  Kaohsiung office of MECO provides an example of an active suit: A case in point is this. I have this case [name deleted], she’s still here and has a good employer, but she’s complaining about NT $107,000. Imagine! Just try to compute it! it’s [looking at notes] NT$107,122 payable through the deduction of ten months. Ten months! You can just imagine! … After all the other deductions she will end up with something around NT$2,000 a month.

“Effective November 9, 2001 the monthly fee paid to Taiwan brokers for transportation and service was adjusted. NT$ 1,800 for the first year, NT$ 1,700 for the second year, and NT$ 1,500 for the third year. The Taiwan broker should also sign a contract with foreign workers for services. The collection of service fee could only be done after the Taiwan broker has itemized the services rendered with the indicated corresponding fee. Before November 9, 2001, the service fee and transportation fee would follow the original ceiling which is NT$ 1,000 monthly.” (p 20 What foreign workers in Taiwan need to know. Published by the Employment and Vocational Training Administration Council of Labor Affairs Executive Yuan Dec. 2002).

180 According to Atty. Salud’s investigation, there is a business arrangement between  the broker in Taiwan and the Philippine agent who required the complainant to sign a  promissory note just before boarding the flight to Taiwan. In this case, Salud has filed  charges with the POEA against the Philippine agent.53 The agent, however, has replied  that the debt was not owed to them, but to a “lending agency” in the Philippines. Atty.  Salud however believes that the lending agency, placement agency and Taiwanese broker  are “one in the same.” Due to the indeterminate status of Taiwan as a renegade province, MECO has no  official recognition as a consulate. Yet, it does wield some tools in dealing with brokers.  As outlined above, a labor broker must petition the Philippine government via MECO  before receiving permission to place a job order with a Philippines­based placement  agent. Fr. Bruno Ciceri explains that this power is used as leverage over brokers to make  sure that they comply when a dispute occurs: MECO, here in Kaohsiung, is really working for the protection of, of the migrant, the Philippine migrant workers. They are not afraid to intervene. In these days, they are not afraid. Also when the broker has a problem with the worker [MECO] has refused to accept job orders… if [the broker] has any case pending with [Stella Maris] or with any other institution here, MECO says “we cannot accept your job order until you solve the problem.” So that is a very good way of dealing because, of course there are some of the brokers who very much want to have the job order approved and to get through. So, they are forced to come to the


As MECO is a pseudo-governmental representative of the Philippine government in Taiwan, it has no legal rights to file complaints in Taiwanese courts.

181 table and to make a stab at the solution of the problem. So, basically, I think [MECO] is on the side of the labor issues. While MECO does then hold some tools in negotiating with brokers, the workers  themselves have have no rights to negotiate their contracts. Instead, all bargaining  regarding labor conditions are settled by the POEA and the CLA with input from  employers, brokers, and NGOs. Likewise, the Philippine government sees bargaining as  the responsibility of the placement agency. This recent Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants  newsletter explains: In Article IV of Memorandum Circular No. 5, Series of 2001 by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the POEA had indirectly stated that their nationals have no bargaining power. Instead it enjoins (placement) agencies to negotiate for better terms and conditions of Overseas Filipino workers bound for Taiwan (Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants 2003a). More insight into the practices of brokers was found in an interview with a  Philippine “coordinator,” Analynn. Brokers often hire Filipinos who can act as a go­ between and translator, collecting fees and managing the day­to­day arrangements in the  dormitories. Sometimes these coordinators are spouses of Taiwanese men or experienced  workers who have learned Chinese after several trips. Analynn, is a second time  coordinator who learned Chinese as a child. In this rather long passage, she explains how  charges for “additional services” are used to circumvent the legally set fees. She admits  that little in the way of tangible services are provided for these special fees:

182 Stephen: What does the employee get for the monthly broker’s fee? Is that NT$1800? Analynn : Yeah, based on the contract that they signed, that was the amount stated there. But, when they arrived here… when they arrived here, the amount was higher than that because they had to add other things like the ARC, the medical, other expenses…. Stephen: So what are they getting for, for the broker fee? What service is been provided for that money? Analynn : It depends on the broker, some brokers they have this concern to the Filipinos. Like, for instance, the broker that I’m dealing with, they’re kind, they’re playing ah, fair, this fair role to the Filipinos. I mean they don’t just collect money. They’re not only after the money of the people and then leave them and they don’t care about them. But the broker that I’m dealing with, is ah, they’re giving a good service, a fair service to the Filipinos. They come here, they visit them you know, and they talk to them one on one. Or sometimes they arrange it by five or six when they have time and talk to them.... Stephen: My question is that it’s almost one month of salary for the employee, are the services, chatting and things like this, worth a month of salary? Analynn : No, no, no… you know, It’s not really enough, I mean the service that they’re giving to Filipinos is not really enough, but the Filipinos here they don’t have the choice....So even if they are aware about this you know, this I mean this huge fees. They still accept it. And they even sign the contract without reading the contract. And then when they come here, they complain. And that’s the problem.... Analynn goes on explains how the labor migrant has no rights to negotiate  contracts for themselves and are often seen as troublesome by the broker if they complain  What is most surprising is that the majority of workers do not complain. While there  have been a few protests organized by migrant NGOs in the past, most workers are  hesitant to risk repatriation. As Pastor Chris Marzo, a Free Methodist preacher and  Filipino community leader explains: Filipinos they prefer not to [complain] because, you see, when you come here you borrowed money to pay for your placement fee. And, it is with interest….and the risk of going home is... is terrible. Y-you will not be able to pay for... for what you have borrowed. And then, it's very hard to come again. And so, most people just, what we call it, (kapit sa patalim).

183 Ahhm... it means, just hold onto the knife. You know, even if your hand is bleeding. And ... there's no way. Thus, debt acts a form of bondage, restricting their ability to voice dissent. When  migrant do complain to their representatives, the brokers themselves, little is done to  resolve the dilemma. Rosalia, for example, was forced to sign a contract for additional  monthly fees upon arriving in Taiwan. However, as she already owed so much to the bank  on the mortgage of her property, she did not have enough to pay the illegal fee required  by the broker. Rosalia: … we pay a placement fee in Philippines, a lot of money, and we came here we signed NT 1800 a month. So, this is what we are expecting. We had NT 1800 a month, but when I came here, they forced me to sign NT 7000 a month. Stephen: … 7000 a month? Rosalia: For ten months. Stephen: What did they say the extra fee was for? Rosalia: Sorry? Stephen: Why so much extra money? Rosalia: I don't know. And then, I talked to the Philippines agency… why they force me to sign 7000, instead of 1800? Stephen: …right. Rosalia: I complained, how can I pay the bank [the money owed for placement]? So they give me discount, NT 5000 every month for ten months and it’s still a lot of money. Astonishingly, the “side contracts” are permitted by the CLA. Often signed under  duress, upon immediate arrival in the country, or even without translations provided in  English or Tagalog, side contracts force the worker into paying fees greater than the law  permits. According to the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, “The CLA still is insisting  that contract substitution or the practice of forcing migrant workers to sign side 

184 agreements is legal. Its only solution to this rampant practice is to suggest that third party  witnesses should be present if ever such agreements are made.” (Asia Pacific Mission for  Migrants 2003a). Fr. Ciceri explains how signing is not optional for the indebted migrant  worker. Even if it’s against the labor law, even it’s against the contract, it’s valid because the worker signed. And, they [the government] don’t realize that means the broker and the employer have many ways to force the worker to sign. Of course they are not going to kill you with the gun, but they [the employer or broker] can say, “Oh, you can go home tomorrow,” to the worker. Does he have any chances? If he goes home, he will only have debts. He has already mortgaged the house or the land or something. For sure, he doesn’t have any other choice but to accept. And the government knows these kind of things, but of course it doesn’t want to, to do anything. When workers pursue recourse with Philippine governmental agencies like  MECO and the POEA, they find that there is little that they are allowed to do under  Taiwanese law. At best, they can negotiate with the broker and find some middle ground,  though it may contradict the terms of the original contract signed in the Philippines. For  instance, Cassandra left a decent, but low­paying, teaching job in the Philippines. She is a  single mother working in Taiwan to support her daughter who is presently in the care of  grandparents. On her first trip, she, along with several other migrants from her company,  filed a complaint regarding exorbitant fees: Cassandra; There was some incident, when I first came here. Yeah. My, my broker would send me home, because I am, I cannot accept that I already paid eighty thousand in the Philippines, but when I came here they wanted me to pay NT$120,000. Stephen: Why?

185 Cassandra: Because the agency, according to the broker, the agency in the Philippines, only gave twenty thousand for the broker. Stephen: So, it's the agency in the Philippines that cheated; but, you are the one that has to pay? Cassandra: Yeah. So I, I went to MECO. Stephen: Right... Cassandra: We went to the MECO. So, we filed the case. So, the owner of the agency came here. They want me to send... five of us, they want to send us home. Stephen: Even though it was not the fault of the employee? Cassandra: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because, because we went to the MECO, some, ah, some brokers and some agencies are, are just saying that, they are just saying some words that would scare you. In order for you not to, to file, file some cases against them. But, then, we are five. We are five. So, so I was not afraid even though they, they are telling me to go home. They are telling me to send me home. We are five, I told them. I am not afraid, provided that you give me back the 80,000 I paid from the Philippines, so, even tomorrow I will go home. But then, they could not give me the 80,000 because they already.... Stephen: … in the end what happened with the case? Cassandra: In the end, when, when the attorney, when the MECO already filed the case, ah, the NT$ 120,000 that we are, that we are supposed to give them decreased to NT $80,000. Stephen: Eighty thousand? Cassandra: Yeah. In the Philippine agency, they returned something like 20,000 pesos, from the eighty thousand. While brokers were identified to be over-charging the workers in a scheme of side contracts, they were also accused of providing substandard living conditions and limiting the freedom of workers. As one worker explained on her survey, “accommodations are not good, we want a little freedom ‘coz they impose early curfew for us.” Curfews were especially apparent during the SARS endemic (in the summer of 2003) in which brokers and employers decided illegally to quarantine migrant workers.54 In an open letter, Fr. Bruno Ciceri addresses Chen Chu, Chairman of Council Labor Affairs: “This forced quarantine imposed unilaterally only on foreign workers by the management of factories, brokers and dormitories without any approval from the Minister of Health or the Center

For more see & retrieved April 12, 2004.

186 for Disease Control (CDC) is illegal, unjust, unfair and is simply another way to control the movement of foreign workers.” The quarantine lasted for a little over three weeks and illustrated how brokers work with employers to limit the rights of workers in favor of the interests of the employers. Likewise, brokers were found not to be supportive of workers in disputes with  employers. In the Philippine­Taiwan labor system, if disputes arise during the  employment, workers are supposed to settle them first through their broker. However, as  brokers receive job orders from the employers, they seldom take the side of the worker.  An example is in the constant struggle over payment for services. Many employers, faced  with the global recession, have begun to substitute overtime pay with days off. Jenny, a  second time worker in a well known international electronics company trying to earn  enough to support her husband and child in the Philippines, finally complained to the  broker over this situation and, although it is against the terms stated in her contract, “the  broker said it’s company policy they don’t have anything to do.” Brokers, at the behest of  the employer, will take those who complain, or in anyway make difficulties, straight to  the airport without due process or a chance to collect tax refunds, bonuses, deposits, or  even final payments. Fr. Bruno Ciceri provides an example:

187 … this morning, I just went to their broker and I just picked up a worker who has been here for one year and nine month and the employer decided to send her home when her contract is for two years. Actually the worker, she has a cyst on her wrist, here [pointing], and the only things that she wanted was to go to the hospital to have a medical check up. And the next things that she knew was that the employer called the broker, and the broker said to her, “you’re going home.” ENDURING DEBT: EMPLOYER RELATIONS  Employer relations varied widely by type of employment. For the most part, employees in  factories experienced only work­related problems like favoritism in giving overtime,  unpaid overtime, unreasonable workloads, and some verbal abuse. That is not to say that  everyone reported such exploitation. Indeed, 86% of factory workers indicated that  relations with their direct supervisors were “all right” to “very good.” Conversely,  domestic workers and caretakers often faced harsh treatment. While frequency of abuse  or mistreatment is hard to gauge in the case of domestic workers, there were many  anecdotal accounts of physical abuse, sexual harassment, rape, wretched living  conditions, and illegal employment.55 The domestic workers and caretakers interviewed  for this project were receiving services from Stella Maris International Service Center,  thus, they all had experienced some form of maltreatment and may not be assumed to be  representative. No other data sources are available to estimate the prevalence of the  exploitation or abuse of domestic workers in Taiwan. Yet, even with these limitations, the 

I have found hundreds of these stories published in the Taipei Times, NGO news bulletins, Magazine articles, etc. See for example the graphic account of a Thai domestic worker and her ongoing legal ordeal as a result of bringing charges of serious physical abuse against her former employer “Flickering Hope Confronts Injustice”

188 accounts of domestic workers interviewed for this project do illustrate the differences in  employer relations as experienced by type of employment. However, due to this extreme  disparity in treatment, the following sections will discuss employer­worker relations of  factory workers and domestic workers separately. employer­worker relations of factory  workers and domestic workers separately.

Image 22 Factory worker loading machines used for mixing ceramic materials

Factory Workers and their Employers According to the Nan Tze survey, a third of the workers experienced some  problem with their employer. The top three problems involved unpaid overtime,  “unreasonable” workloads, and overtime paid as days off and may be attributed, at least  in part, to the globalized system of production that constantly searches for the most cost­  effective ways to produce goods. For many countries, this has meant moving production  to locations where labor costs are the cheapest. Undeniably, this is how Taiwan’s 

189 economy was able to grow so rapidly during the later twentieth century. Today, however,  Taiwan is faced with the dilemma of either moving companies to China, Vietnam,  Malaysia, or another developing nation, or reducing domestic labor costs. These  reductions, as I have shown in the previous chapter, lead to the hiring of over 305,000  migrant workers currently in Taiwan (Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training  2003). However, the global recession has caused companies in Taiwan to seek out more  ways in which to maintain profits. Migrant laborers are unlikely to quit (due to the high  fees they have already paid to work).They are not allowed to form unions, and are  excluded from domestic labor standards. Thus, cutbacks that are targeted to migrants  alone may work for the economic benefit of the company.  One of the best examples involves the recent strategies of companies in regards to  payment of overtime. Although the migrant labor contract outlines the terms of payment  for overtime and the nation’s labor standards provide that “overtime (OT) pay not  exceeding two hours is paid at not less than 1.33 times basic rates. Two to four hours OT  is paid a minimum of 1.66 times basic rates. Maximum OT is three hours per day and 46  hours per month for men; two hours a day and 24 hours a month for women” (Asian  Labour Update 2003),56 most factory workers will put in an additional four to eight hours  for every eight hour shift (provided that the company has enough work in the poor 

See section on overtime at Asian Labour Update – Taiwan Profile retrieved on April 12, 2004.

190 economy). During the boom times of the late 1990s, it was the overtime pay and bonuses  that allowed Filipino migrants to remit significant sums to their homeland and made  Taiwan a profitable venture for them. However, as the economy has slowed down,  employers have replaced regular overtime pay with time off (often at a rate of one hour  worked to one hour off). Consequently, most second time (and clandestine third time)  migrants lamented their decisions to migrate to Taiwan as it is no longer worthwhile  given the high cost of placement and brokers fees. Moreover, employers, rushing to meet  short­term orders and not keep too much stock on hand, have cycled between unpaid  overtime (or this overtime for time off) and mandatory days off without pay (thus  reducing salaries well below the mandated NT$15,840). To date, legal challenges, lead by  migrant labor activists, have failed to win a ruling in favor of laborers over the issue 
Complaint Unpaid Overtime “Unreasonable” Workloads Overtime Paid As Days Off Verbal Abuse Lack Of Rest Breaks Unpaid Days Off (Due To Lack Of Work) Lack Of Full Payment Of Wages Late Payment Of Wage Employment Other Than As Stated By Contract Physical Abuse Percen t 22% 16% 10% 9% 7% 7% 6% 6% 3% >1%

Table 6-2 Relations with Managers, Supervisors, or Line-leaders

of unpaid or swapped overtime, though it is clearly at odds with the terms of the labor  contract. 

191 While employer­employee the company certainly exploits the worker, most  workers responded that on a personal level their individual line­leaders (or their zhu­ zhang) and supervisors were tolerable. Nine percent reported verbal abuse by the line  leader. However, verbal abuse was sometimes hard to clarify. In the case of Lanie, she  “explains away” the negative treatment of her superior, believing it to be a result of her  own errors and the supervisor’s pregnancy. She does however point out their cultural and  religious differences: Stephen: How have your employers been? Your line leaders? Your supervisors? Lanie: They were good. As of now…my new line leader because I was assigned there last December, and we were busy here. Activity is so…I…I had three absences, something like that because I was tired, I wasn’t able to go there to work. So…she got mad of me, but this time, we’re getting close, closer and closer. So…now, she’s good now like other line leaders that I’ve met before. Stephen: What did she, how did she treat you when you have three absences? Lanie: Very, she was very angry with me. Stephen: Like what? Lanie: Like she was scolding me, “you are bu hao [bad]!” You know bu hao? Yeah. So, I just have to cry, to cry in my bed and…I have, I just have to pray, you know the reason why I didn’t go to work, and then just intrusting you in everything. So, I know someday she’ll understand even if we have different faith. We have different religion, I think someday will make a way, she’ll…and now, it’s working, she’s I think closer with me. Stephen: So in what way is she closer with you now? Lanie: Because that time, you know, she’s pregnant, she’s something like three months and maybe the changes, you know, you have a wife. And then changes in emotional feelings, in everything. At that time, we didn’t know about it, and now that I…the time goes by, so now I understand the reason. And she also has a reason why she got angry with me. Because it’s…it’s in the contract that we don’t we have to go to work daily. Cassandra, on the other hand, is clear about the verbal mistreatment. She has  experienced public humiliation by the supervisor as the result of a mistake. She explains 

192 that today she is very sensitive (the interview was interrupted on several occasions by  tears) because of this treatment: Cassandra: ...and because of the experience from Chinese, some Chinese... Stephen: …like what? Cassandra: Like embarrassing me in front of, in front of my co-workers. Stephen: Give me an example of, what, what did she do to embarrass you? Cassandra: Shouting at me. Like some supervisors, if, if, because in my work, if you are writing in the traveler [a document that accompanies the product as it moves through the factory], traveler of the material, you are not allowed to have some erasures. But then, sometimes, I, I forgot the date or something like, I, I, the number is not clear so I have to erase it. And the supervisor must, have t-t- to have some [she makes a stamping motion].... Stephen: She'll stamp it? Cassandra: Uh-hum [nods]. Then, I would go to her. Sometimes she's, she's, she's getting angry. She's shouting at me. Sometimes she's, she's telling me “Ayiiya! Wei se ma? [What for?]” And all my, my co-workers are, are turning their heads at us. So I, I, at first I am not used to that. I always get embarrassed because of that. Because if you are the only one new in the station she's, also some workers are telling me that all new... all new operators she's doing that. So, if you are the only one new in the group, you always get embarrassed. So, y-y-you really, you really feel down because of that. If every day she's shouting at you. Not all participants experienced such humiliation. Edwin is a second time migrant  working a small parts fabrication plant to help his siblings complete their education back  home. He has had good experiences with Chinese overall. On his first trip to Taiwan, he  met began dating a Chinese woman whom he met at his evangelical fellowship.57 At his  company, the managers even have helped to secure extra allowances even when the laws  changed in 2001 to include deductions for room and board. Stephen: How do your employers treat you?


While relationships between Taiwanese men and Filipina women occur with some frequency, there were very few cases of Filipino men with Taiwanese women.

193 Edwin: Ah, my employer's nice, treat us well and, just like what I heard from my co-worker. Before our food expenses, the boss gave us food expenses, we cook in the mornings… Stephen: …right… Edwin: …the, the boss will give us some allowance and now they raised it. They increased it, the boss increased the allowance. Whenever there are some troubles at work, you can go to the managers, and the managers will tell the boss what's your problem about the work, and the boss will make some action about it. In the case of Joshua, the positive personal relationship with his direct supervisor  has become an intense emotional bond. Joshua left a failing computer business and  personal troubles in the Philippines to come to Taiwan. Although hired as a factory  worker, he has been very successful working in the international sales department for his  small family owned company. He has even been invited to return as a regular employee.  He considers his supervisor as he “mother here in Taiwan” and explains that she has  treated him very well, taking him on trips around the island, inviting him to social  gatherings and even giving him unconditional loans when he needed money to support  his now two­year­old son (whom he has never seen in person). Few participants in the ethnography or respondents to the survey indicated such  amicable relationships with their employers. While there were few outright conflicts  other than shouting, respondents did indicate problems that resulted from linguistic  barriers, ethnic/cultural biases, and favoritism. Some workers indicated that they felt  Chinese line­leaders would, if not mistreat them, look down on them and give  preferential treatment to other Chinese workers. One respondent wrote, “Chinese think 

194 they are more superior than us. Sometimes not treating us fair” Unfair treatment in the  form of favoritism was not limited to the supervisors co­ethnics. This treatment would  often have an economic impact as some would receive economic incentives or rewards,  and even overtime assignments were based on personal relations with the supervisor  rather than objective criteria.  Finally, many problems resulted from the language barrier. A survey respondent  explains, “She [her Chinese supervisor] can't understand English. Sometimes we don't  know what she would like to ask or to do. We don't have good communication” Most  employers only spoke limited English and 84% of the workers rated their Chinese ability  as “little knowledge” to “none” with less than one percent indicating that they were  fluent in Mandarin Chinese.  Treated as Chattel: Domestic Workers As explained previously, it is difficult to assess the relations of domestic workers  and their employers due to limited access to this secluded population. Unlike factory  workers, the domestic workers and caretakers in Taiwan are seldom allowed to leave the  homes of their employers. They do not have the close contact with other co­nationals that  the factory workers have in the dorms, clubs, church gatherings, social times after work  and even at the workplace. Fr. Ciceri explains:

195 ... As soon as they arrive, they are taken into the house of the employer, and practically they become property of, ah, of the employer. And, ah, if they are lucky enough and the employer understands them, they will allow them to, to have at least a day-off once a month, or every Sunday if the employer is very good. So, when they arrive, I’ve heard stories of migrant workers who didn't even have the time to put down their suitcase and they have to start immediately to--to work. To attend to the needs of the family. Or to the needs of the person that they have to take care. And from there until they will end the contract there is no time to rest. No time to-to go out or very limited time for them. Because they become property of, of the, of the employer. Issues facing domestic workers are: long work days and poor working conditions;  lack of rest breaks, vacations and days­off; lack of payment; lack of overtime pay; as well  as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Yet, as a result of their isolation, few studies  have been done to gauge the overall prevalence of these conditions. In Taiwan, the  limited research that has been done focuses on domestic workers who have escaped or  runaway from their employers as the result of horrendous mistreatment.  Employer Abuses While there are no reliable measures of employer abuse in Taiwan, the Hong  Kong based Asian Migrant Centre has conducted a survey of domestic workers in that  mainland province. Hong Kong, culturally and economically similar to Taiwan in many  respects, has had a more liberal policy toward migrant labor. Since the 1970s,  importation of domestic helpers has been legal and protected. Rights of workers were  clearly established by the 1980s, with the license to change employers and to stay 

196 indefinitely provided they maintained their employment status. We may presume that  these more moderate labor rights regulations permit workers to seek better employment  when mistreated and, as a result, the overall relations with employers would be better  than that of their Taiwanese counterparts. Nevertheless, the Asian Migrant Centre 2001  report, Baseline Research on Racial and Gender Discrimination Towards Filipino,   Indonesian and Thai Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong, states that 26% of foreign  domestic helpers (FDH) recount at least one incidence of physical abuse. They also  calculate that 4.5% of domestic workers in Hong Kong had experienced “various forms  of sexual abuses, ranging from verbal harassment (obscene language, pornographic  material) up to rape” (Asian Migrant Centre 2001: 38). By conservative estimates, we  can assume that domestic workers in Taiwan a subjected to similar mistreatment.  To be sure, the numbers of domestic workers seeking assistance from relief  agencies and anecdotal reports in newspapers and other media seem to support the  depiction of domestic worker abuse. Fr. Ciceri explains that the level of physical violence  experienced by workers in Taiwan is alarming especially when compared to other  countries. … I have experience working with migrants in other countries, in other nations, but the physical violence in these other country was more exception in the law while here, it’s the law. In many cases, there are really very violent, and sometimes there’s no reason to be so violent. We had a case, this was two years ago, she was working illegally in a pet shop, and the employer ask her to give a bath to a puppy and she used the

197 wrong shampoo. And the employer took the, you know, they have the chain, they call the chain of the dog [dog leash] and start beating her. She was protecting, she was beaten in the head, the legs, the face and everything was terrible. And she was not given enough food, sometimes she was eating the food, you know, this dog food that, and she didn’t have even money to buy food. Sexual Harassment of Workers Sexual harassment is likewise problematic in Taiwan. The Formosa Foundation, a  Taiwan based think­tank, reports that 30% of working Taiwanese women have  experienced sexual harassment (Committee of Women Rights Promotion of Chinese  Taipei. 2002). It is likely that the level of harassment experienced by foreign domestic  workers would be much higher as they are not allowed to move about freely, are in a  subordinate position within the home, and, as they have incurred high levels of debt to  travel to Taiwan, are unlikely to report the problems. Moreover, when they make  accusations of harassment or even rape, the Taiwanese courts have been reticent in  punishing offenders. Migrant who do make this claim have faced years of court battles,  condemnation from authorities, and even blame for the occurrence. Fr. Ciceri explains  that charges of rape are often difficult to substantiate, as the women are not allowed to  visit hospitals, are socially and linguistically isolated, and few social support services are  known or available to them: Unfortunately, ah, sexual harassment is very difficult to prove because a hand that touched a breast or grabbed a buttock doesn't leave any marks and doesn't leave any, any signs. And, ah, rape, ah, also is very difficult to

198 prove because many times these migrant workers, they are [under] the control of the employer. And so, they don't have the time to go and to report the incident immediately. Because, it means, when you have a rape case you should report immediately. You should ah, and they cannot do that because they are held by the employer. And even if they try to ah, to report the case of rape. Many times, ah, they are not believed and, ah, I remember we had a case of an Indonesian worker. And ah, while she was raped by this former policeman, he said, "Anyway nobody's going to believe you. You are a migrant worker." No. So we have this ah, there was another case where this ah, eighty-nine years old man, he assaulted a Filipina. And actually raped her. And the case was filed in court but, ah, when this old man that, ah, usually works in the farm and was very strong when he went to the court. Means they put up a beautiful sceneography and so this old man was carried in by the children. So they were saying how this old man, so weak, how could he, ah, rape this Filipina and everything. And so, ah, the victim became the accused. And, ah, this poor Filipina left without, without anything. Now, so it's, it's very difficult. We had another case, ah, this is maybe the most successful at the moment. Ah, two Filipinas, they were raped by their broker. This is back in 1999, and, ah, until now the case in court has been proceeding. The broker has been sentenced to six years in jail. But, of course he appealed, for, ah, he appealed the sentence. So most probably the, ah, the case will go to the supreme court and I don't know how many years more it will last. Psychological/ Verbal Abuse Much like factory workers, domestic workers are subjected to a variety of verbally  abusive language. For purposes of their study, the Asian Migrant Centre adopted the  definition of  verbal abuse as “abusive/offensive language or shouting  that included  being called ‘stupid, idiot, lazy and a host of more obscene Chinese and English terms’  ” (Asian Migrant Centre 2001). Domestic workers in this study reported that they were  often belittled by their employer, frequently shouted at, and called names. Rosalia: I ran away from my employer. We have, sometimes we have a misunderstanding, my boss. And, my woman boss is sometimes, she speaks very strange, the way she speaks is not good. Stephen: In what way do you mean? Is it very mean or…

199 Rosalia: Yeah, because we know we came here as a servant and we know our job. We can do best like a servant, I can do many things in the house. I can do like a servant, I can do housework, I can do nursing, I tutor their children, I can do many things in the house. She knows that I'm very good to her. But sometimes, I don't know, maybe she has many problems, sometimes, she speak, the way she speaks, she always says, “You are servant. You are poor. That’s why you came here. You become poor forever, even your family and your children.” That’s not good. She can talk to me like this, but not include my children…. According to Dr. Pei­Chia Lan, relations improve for workers whose employer has  spent significant time abroad. More specifically, she explains that as a result of higher  educational opportunities in the US and other Western nations (England, Canada, and  Australia), Taiwanese elites develop a more liberal mentality. Similarly, these employers  develop English skills, which help to smooth communication with the foreign domestic  worker. Fr. Ciceri agrees, but explains it is not the education that works as a mediating  factor: “What we notice from what the worker says is that usually if the employer has  been abroad, for one reason or another, they treat the worker differently. But, if they never  experienced being abroad, they don’t understand the feeling. And even if they are very  well educated, but they never went abroad, they treat the worker very badly.” Thus, he  attributes better treatment to the experience of having been the foreigner or outsider  making it easier for the employer to understand the worker better.  Forced Illegal Work Another pervasive problem is illegal employment. For the domestic worker illegal  work is an unexpected hardship as they arrive in Taiwan having agreed to care of the 

200 needs of a family or an individual patient only to find that they are instead to work in  some other, often unpleasant capacity in a sweatshop factory, store, restaurant, etc. For  example, Analy came to Taiwan as a domestic caregiver for an elderly man whom she  says is “strong… not bedridden or what.” She came with the intent of sending money  home to support the study of her brothers and sisters and to help her parents with the  renovation the family farm; yet, she has been paid only intermittently and has been  unable to send regular remittances. She has been employed as the family’s all around  housekeeper providing all the meals, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, assisting the  elderly man, hand washing the clothes, and caring for the baby. She has also been  instructed to help in the packaging of teas for their teashop and the cleaning of the  teashop, spending hours there every day. Her case was not unique. All of the domestic  workers interviewed were found to have performed non­contractual work of some kind:  from regular cleaning of offices and being loaned to homes of extended family member,  to outright full­time work in businesses. Illegal employment has become a serious enforcement issue for the government  as well. The CLA sees any illegal employment as the fault of the employee, as well as the  employer, and poses a significant fine on the worker along with deportation. It is difficult  then for the migrant worker to seek assistance in these cases. If they do not report their  illegal employment and are caught, they face these harsh penalties. If they do go to the 

201 police, CLA, or another Taiwanese institution, they must prove that the employer forced  them to work in a manner other than stated in the contract. Likewise, brokers often  conspire with employers to hire workers illegally. Moreover, the regulations regarding  proof changed recently. Fr. Ciceri explains: They changed the regulation that if a worker comes here and is required by the employer to do a different job, to work illegally. For example, you come as a domestic helper, but you work in a restaurant. Before, it was very easy. The worker would have contacted us [Stella Maris International Service Center], and we would have the police, the police would have gone there, taken pictures, take a statement about the work, and the worker would apply for transfer. Now, you can’t do that. The first time, the police have to bring you back to your employer, and if the employer would ask you to work [illegally] the second time, you have to go again to the police, make another statement, and that is the time you can be transferred.… We have a worker. She is here, [name deleted]. She just reported that she is working illegally in the hospital. The police went there at two o’clock in the afternoon and took some picture, but were not able to, to get the statement and they said, “oh we’ll come back tomorrow.” And, the following morning, the worker was already at the airport to be sent out. So, now, they are making it more and more difficult for the migrant workers to, to be protected and to have their rights respected, you know. ONGOING DEBATE BETWEEN GOVERNMENTS AND NGOS The form of debt bondage labor migration outlined here was once called  indentured servitude. The high cost of securing employment via placement agents and  brokers and illegal profiteering both in fees and lending amounts to an excessive burden.  Moreover, the disregard of laborers welfare and policies that tend to ignore confirmed  abuses amounts to complicity by both the Taiwanese and Philippine governments. As a 

202 result of debt incurred by these excessive illegal fees, side contracts, and lack of payment,  as well as abusive treatment of some domestic workers, a small number of migrants have  decided to runaway and seek undocumented employment. The Taiwanese government  has approached this issue, like other governments dealing with migrants, by laying blame  on the migrants themselves rather than the brokers and employers. While laws have been  changed to allow for direct hiring, potentially circumventing the problems of placement  agents and brokers, the actual implementation of such schemes have failed. Migrant  NGOs and labor rights groups have rallied to insist on better contracts, improved working  conditions, and more government oversight.  The Issue of Runaways Runaways (referred to by the Taiwan government as escapees) result from the  combination of debt (requiring them to stay in Taiwan and remit money to the homeland)  and the “dirty, difficult, and dangerous” work conditions. While the majority of workers  do complete their contracts and return home, a few workers will abscond from their legal  employer (sometimes with the help of illegitimate labor brokers) or they may decide to  stay on in Taiwan after visas expire in order to continue earning and remitting funds to  family in the Philippines. Mama Linda is such a case. Having already spent ten years in  Abu Dhabi working as a domestic, she came to Taiwan over seven years ago. She says her 

203 experiences with her employers have been for the most part good. With the assistance of  connections in the Philippines, she has been able to help her daughter come to Taiwan to  work in the factories. Here she explains how she ended up surviving for so long after her  legal contract term expired: Stephen: what were you expecting when you came to Taiwan? Did you expect to stay here two years or three years or...? Mama Linda: Ah, before, I expect myself only two years, I stay here and, but my, my children go to school, not yet finish to college. Then I decide to myself ah, I want to work long time here. Stephen: Okay. So you decided that you’d be an illegal worker? Mama Linda: Yeah. Stephen: …Okay. So, how do, how do you live being illegal? How can you, if you have to go to the hospital or if you have to do something that requires ID...? Mama Linda: …Ah, I use my AR…this (shows ARC card), my daughter’s. Stephen: Ah, from your daughter? Mama Linda: Yeah, yeah. In the hospital. Stephen: So you borrowed her ID to... Mama Linda: ....yeah, I borrow. Yeah. Yet, runaways and visa over­stayers account for only about 1% of the total of all Filipino  workers. Official reports of the Taiwanese government show only 873 cases total in  200358 and, according to a December 2, 2003 Taipei Times article,59 “as of Oct. 31, nearly  11,200 foreign laborers remain unaccounted.”  An ongoing debate between migrant NGOs and the CLA over the issue of  undocumented workers has been mounting. In November, a forum was held by  representative from “local trade unions, church and human rights groups, academicians, 

Department of Statistics Council of Labor Affairs Executive Yuan. 2004. Monthly Bulletin March 2004 “11-5 Escapes of Alien Workers in Taiwan-Fukien Area” Retrieved on April 12, 2004 ( ) 59 Retrieved on April 12, 2004.

204 students and other NGO’s” to discuss the issue of undocumented workers in Taiwan.  Their hope was to turn the focus of the government away from blaming migrant workers  and conducting round­ups and deportations, to the solving the problems which cause  workers to leave their legal employers. A recent news brief distributed by the Asia Pacific  Mission for Migrants (APMM), explains the governments reply to accusations, made by  the forum at their November meeting, of instigating a sham amnesty period in which over  200 undocumented migrants have already surrendered thinking their fines would be  waived: …the CLA only reiterated its adherence to its migrant policies that lead a growing number of foreign workers to run away from their employers. This was what Migrant Section Chief Meng-Liang Tsai had to say to the advocates in the CLA main office in the morning of November 25.… Mr. Tsai also stated that the CLA never announced an amnesty on undocumented workers who surrender to police authorities. This is because government lawyers believe that waving the fines on those who violate their stay in Taiwan is unthinkable. The CLA official, however, admitted that a lot of sectors including some in the media misunderstood that there was an amnesty but Mr. Tsai never gave a direct answer on how the CLA cleared this out. The only thing that he made clear is that those who surrender would be repatriated back to their country more quickly, that is if the migrants have the funds to pay the penalty and the airfare back home (Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants 2003b). The forum’s reply, made in the same news brief, was that the CLA does not address the  issues that cause migrants to runway. Until then, they claim, the numbers would not  decline. They maintain that the CLA should take steps to better protect workers: • • • Separate, standard contracts for foreign domestic workers Side contracts should be declared illegal and non-binding Crackdown on unscrupulous brokers and employers

205 • • Review of grievance bodies Governmental policies should be revised, improved and even abolished The Failure of Direct Hiring A suggested improvement to the current system would be the direct hiring of  workers from their sending countries. Approved in 2001, few companies have been able  to take advantage of this opportunity. The intent of the Chen government was to  eliminate the need for two levels of brokers, along with the legal and illegal fees they 

Image 23 Meeting of Forum on Undocumented Workers

charge, thus reducing corruption and the overall cost to labor migrants. They would not  have to borrow the burdensome sums, mortgaging properties and futures, to repay costly  loans. However, there have been several drawbacks to the scheme of direct hiring.  Principally obstacles have occurred in the administration of the programs: What is most telling though is the issue regarding the broker system. The

206 CLA admitted last December 2 that it's direct hiring program with the Philippines and Thailand is a complete failure. It admitted that it does not have enough manpower to administer this. It seems it has no choice but to continue with the broker system that charges exorbitantly the migrant workers and plans to evaluate broker companies in the near future (Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants 2003a). Policy changes, without resources to implement them or personnel to provide  enforcement and control, amount to little. Those in the small community of migrant  NGOs see the failed system of direct hiring as an empty promise by the government.  Moreover, for a direct hiring system to be successful there must be a streamlining of the  bureaucratic process. Fr. Ciceri explains:

Image 24 Forum Members, NGOs, and Others Protesting at CLA

…it’s difficult to say, in one way it might solve the problem of their, of their, of the placement fee, and might, might reduce the cost. But, I have doubts…the direct hiring in one way it might solve that problem. But, on the other hand here, you see, who is going to take care of the migrant worker? Because there’s too much bureaucracy, there’s too much paper to

207 be done. And that’s the problem. It means the employer here, why do they hire the worker? Because they don’t want to go from one office to another, another and another and everything and prepare all the papers. And even when the worker arrives, you fetch them to their home, you bring her to hospital, and you bring them to fingerprint, and after six months, you are to do it again and everything. So, it’s who is going to do the job here when you are direct hiring because that means you are hiring, you are responsible now. And if there’s a problem, who is gong to negotiate? Improved Rights and More Government Oversight While direct hiring may work if there were more commitment of resources, so too  would the current system if there were simply more control over brokers and employers.  Currently, few brokers are punished when caught charging illegal fees or engaging in  other prohibited activities such as arranging illegal employment (Asia Pacific Mission for  Migrants 2003a). Fr. Ciceri explains that brokers, “laugh at the penalty” because they  know that if they loose their license they can simply “close down one agency, open up  another agency ...the brokers know that the government, Taiwan government, cannot do  anything against them. So, they do it with impunity.”  Furthermore, the government should provide better legal rights for workers.  Specifically, distinctions should be made between the forms of employment contracts and  the labor standards governing labor rights. NGOs have insisted on these contractual  distinctions between the forms of employment for several years and are pressing hard  now to convince the CLA. For domestic workers they have demanded that the CLA 

208 institute a new contract, with significant provisions for enforcement. Domestic workers,  they say, “should be entitled to eight­hour work days, get three meals a day, receive  overtime time pay, and get holidays and days off. They should also be protected from  sexual abuse and contract violations” (Feliciano 2003). In addition to bettr rights for  domestic workers and their inclusion under Taiwan's Labor Standards Act, migrant rights  groups have demanded that all foreign laborers be given the ability (like those in Hong  Kong and other countries) to freely change employers who violate their contracts, the  freedom to form labor unions, as well as a cancellation of the 2001 wage cut that resulted  in board and lodging fees being subtracted from the minimum wage (Feliciano 2003).  Similarly, the Taiwanese Labor Rights Association has advocate for the CLA to improved  arbitration of disputes and to “regulate the contracts signed by foreign maids and  caregivers to protect their human rights” (“Rights activists...,”2003). Nevertheless, some migrant activists see the public’s fear of foreigners and the  resulting authoritarian migrant policies as the root cause of employer abuses. Lorna  Kung and Fang­Ping Wang, writing as representatives of the Solidarity Front of Women  Workers – Taiwan, explain that societal fear of permanent migration has resulted in  repressive controls on migrants. They have asked the Chen government to improve  migrant workers' human rights by instituting stricter regulations. The foreign labor management policy in Taiwan is rigid and overbearing

209 since the government is worried that migrant workers might turn into illegal immigrants. The government in Taiwan is very strict with migrant workers' duration of stay and is concerned about runaway problems. When a migrant worker runs away, the original quota for the employer will be readjusted until the runaway worker is arrested. The employer has his own management policy in line with his own interests resulting in a situation which migrant workers who are already at a disadvantage become the victims. The employer then uses methods, in violation of human rights, to regulate the migrant workers such as forcing them to save their money, holding their passports and resident cards, and deporting them without prior notification (Kung and Wang 2001).

CONCLUSIONS The placement­broker system is a highly bureaucratic and profitable structure that  rewards all but the workers themselves. Debt, incurred by borrowing money to pay  placement brokers and government fees, restricts the migrants’ rights to negotiate fair  work conditions or even to return if the employer turns out to be deceitful. This debt is  further maintained by brokers in Taiwan who charge high fees for few services. While  often spending one­third of their contract paying off debt, workers are exposed to  difficult work conditions. Factor workers in general fair the best, with domestic workers  being exposed to the harshest conditions and abuses. Attempts to circumvent this system  by direct hiring have not been successful.


CHAPTER 7 ON ECONOMIC NECESSITY, DUTY, ADVENTURE, & THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL TIES The fact is that a lot of Filipinos go abroad. What the government gets is release on the internal pressure. You can imagine, if the seventy thousand workers, Filipino workers who are here in Taiwan, if they [stayed] in the Philippines. There would be an additional pressure on the government. What the Filipinos gain is that their families can live day by day. That, that's the only thing. Because, in the long term, as you say, there is no benefit. - Fr. Bruno Ciceri As we saw in Chapter 6, a history of emigration, governmental promotion of  overseas work, the legalized system of labor recruitment, and the continued reliance on  the OFW’s economic support have created a culture of labor migration in the Philippines.  With the expectation that at some point one will go abroad to gain work experience,  economic capital, and to relieve the financial burden on their families, the choice for  potential migrants becomes not if one will migrate, but where one will go. Whereas many  labor migrants to the United States and other core nations rely on social ties for their  eventual job placement, Philippine recruiters, representing employers in a number of  destination countries, “sell” destinations as they receive job orders from overseas  employers. Job placement itself is handled in a formalized and bureaucratic manner.  However, this study has found that choice of destination country does still rely in large  part on social ties.

212 The survey of factory workers in the Nan Tze area indicated that nearly 30% of  respondents found their position through recruitment advertisements in Philippine  newspapers. Ethnographic interviews further supported that recruiters played a major 
Reason for Choosing Taiwan Friend in Taiwan Friend who had been in Taiwan Friend going to Taiwan Relative in Taiwan Relative who had been in Taiwan Relative going to Taiwan Advertisement Other Multiple Reasons Valid Percent 23.1% 15.6% 11.7% 8.1% 10.6% 5.0% 29.7% 3.6% 5.0%

Table 7-1 Reasons for Migration - Survey

role in selection of destination. However, while perhaps not the only factor in selecting a  destination, social contacts did influence the migrant’s choice. More than two­thirds of  survey respondents said that friends and family influenced their choice of destination.  While recruiters and social contacts played an important role in deciding where to  go, ethnography participants expressed a variety of personal reasons for migration.  Economic necessity, defined as personal or family financial obligations such as siblings  or children in school, retired parents, un/under­employment, and other financial concerns,  lead most migrants to seek employment abroad. Often these monetary concerns were  combined with other motivations. For example, the death of a spouse, divorce, or a break  up with a romantic partner motivated some to seek a dramatic change in their lives. 

213 Others were searching for work experience, adventure, or excitement in a foreign country.  Many were motivated by wanting to be near friends who were also going to Taiwan for  work. The desire to one day migrate to a more developed country  prompted some to  work in Taiwan, saving money for onward or step migration to Europe, Canada or the  USA. Finally, a number of participants found that they could not really articulate a reason  leaving the explanation to simple chance, fate, or “God’s will.

Reason Economic Necessity Social Ties (friends & family in Taiwan) Sense of Obligation Death or Breakup Adventure Other Categories)

Count 23 9 6 4 3 9

Table 7-2 Reasons for Migration - Ethnographic Interviews (Overlapping

SOCIAL OBLIGATION & ECONOMIC NECESSITY Almost all of the participants revealed at least some degree of economic necessity  for migration. Often this necessity involved a family financial burden such as schooling  of a child or sibling, family debt, support for retired parents, or desire to improve the lives  of loved ones. Many participants spoke of the sense of duty and obligation that they felt  for their families. Evidence of this financial obligation can be seen in the level of  remittances sent to family in the Philippines. Respondents to the Nan Tze survey 

214 averaged about NT$8267 in monthly remittances (around US $240) or roughly 40% of  their earnings. In the extreme cases, remittances represented the total income for a family  living in the Philippines. However, for most these remittances were seen as a way of  improving the family’s living condition by paying for improvements to properties,  educational costs, or improving existing family businesses.  Among participants, economic necessity also resulted from the lack of jobs in the  Philippines. As I have shown, the high unemployment rate has been given as a major  cause of labor migration. Many migrants found that regardless of their education level,  there were just too few jobs that paid more than a subsistence wage. For example, Fe, the  34­year­old mother of one, was trained as an accountant, but could only find permanent  work in an electronics assembly plant for the Philippine branch of Texas Instruments.  After eight years with the company, factory downsizing left her unemployed. With her  husband unemployed as well, she decided to try the overseas job market: In yet another  example, Raymond, having just completed an apprenticeship to become a seaman, found  he lacked the connections to find a permanent position. While searching the want ads he  found a listing for jobs in Taiwan. Raymond: Because I just finished ah... one year basic ... basic in... basic seaman course. And then when I finished that one I-I-I work as an apprenticeship but my... my captain told me that, " You just stay in here. You must be..." So it... it became my ... my normal job. Stephen: Okay.

215 Raymond: Then after that, I got... I finished that one, I was ... I was trying to apply an international shipping agencies. Stephen: Right. Raymond: But I can't get through. Stephen: You can't get through. Why not? Raymond: Oh, it's a lot of... you need to have a backer. You know backer it is? A kind of person that will help you to apply int he agency... in the shipping agency. Stephen: Yeah. Raymond: So I don't have it. So that' why I changed my plan. So, the... the... the newspaper is always adding for going to Taiwan and you earn fourteen thousand something like that. Stephen: Right. Raymond: And it's only... the... the... categories are only high school graduate then ahh... ahh the age is healthy... it just said healthy and body built like that and oh, I think I'm capable to this. Stephen: Yeah. While unemployment created necessity for some, it was the low wages and poor  standard of living that motivated others. Melchor, working now as a shipbuilder, explains  that his family was destitute. Though he worked fulltime, he would only make around  8,000 pesos each month. He says, “I think it’s not enough. I pay for the water bills, the  electricity bill, and then the house.” With expenses outweighing income, he decided to go  to Taiwan, but has found little relief at a company that has been severely affected by  global recession. Even those with relatively secure professional careers such as teachers,  accountants, engineers, and nurses, found that the salaries in the Philippines were too  low. While earning enough simply to survive, their earnings would not let them save for  the future or improve their standard of living. Taiwan, on the other hand, gave them more  prospects for saving and improving their economic futures. 

216 While unemployment and low wages were an element in influencing the choice to  migrate, family obligation was often a major part as well. Leonardo exemplifies those  who came to Taiwan as a result of a sense of obligation or duty to the family. He was left  with this burden as the eldest child when his father died in 1994. Before coming to  Taiwan, he could not earn enough as a dishwasher and later as a construction worker to  sustain his mother and young siblings. He explains, “ sister also needed, needed  money, because [she was] starting the class in the Philippines. Then, I help also my mom.  Because [she was] sick, ah, TB. So how can I do?” Since his first trip to Taiwan in 1999,  he has helped his family by sending regular remittances. Now on his second trip, he has  found that the drop in salary, due to a lack of overtime, and increased cost of living  resulting from the charges for room and board have him contemplating return. In  addition, problems with the new management of his company over back salary and  overtime, have complicated his financial situation. Yet, he is unable to return due to the  financial obligations to his family who looks to him for support. Further complication  has come with his recent marriage. He and his wife have incurred significant debts in the  Philippines to place her in a job in Korea. Thus, he remains in Taiwan where he has  employment and a marginally better salary than in the Philippines. The theme of duty and obligation to one’s family was often repeated. Working  family members found it their duty to help their spouses, parents, children, younger 

217 siblings, and even cousins, nieces and nephews with tuition costs and daily expenses.  Ellen, a 26­year­old single factory worker explains that this obligation is culturally based:  “I help my family. Every month I am sending money because I have two sisters schooling  in college. I am helping them. An obligation, maybe, I’m not for sure in my family…but,  I see that as part of my obligation as a Filipino because it’s our culture, once you’re  employed.”  It was found that duty and obligation were a major part of the reason for seeking  overseas employment, regardless of the position in which they were employed. Factory  workers, caretakers and nurses, Philippine spouses of Taiwanese, and even more  privileged coordinators were motivated by family financial concerns. Analynn, a  coordinator with one of the brokers in Nan Tze, explains that it was obligation to family  that first brought her to Taiwan. Actually my priority at that time you know, was to help my sisters. I have two sisters who are both training to be nurses. Yeah so I said to myself that you know, though they didn’t ask me to do that, but I want to help them, because I don’t want them to be totally dependant on me you know. So it’s just like you know don’t give them fish but you have to give them how to fish. So, I want them to be professional, I want them to finish a degree, a certain degree. That’s what, that was the thing, that’s what I was thinking in the past. Sometimes obligation was unexpected, such as in the death of a spouse, forcing  the migrant with few other choices to become an OFW. Rosalia, widowed and faced with  overwhelming financial debt from medical expenses resulting from the discovery of a 

218 brain tumor in her eldest son, had no other choice but to become a domestic laborer  overseas. In a similar case, Erlinda’s husband was killed in an industrial accident at the  electronics factory where they both worked. Nearing thirty, with an infant son and forced  layoffs at her factory she decided to become an OFW. She explains:  Its difficult for me because, ah, um, I am not financially stable. I decided to apply for jobs here in Taiwan, ah, influenced by my friend. She told me, um, salaries and wages here are more, um, what do you call this, its, its...the salary is much higher than in the Philippines, you know! You can support your family in a way you wanted it to be. Yes, that’s why, maybe, I have the eagerness or the enthusiasm to come. Because, it will be much ah easier for me to support my family and my baby. Likewise, Mama Linda did not plan to seek employment to Taiwan. After  returning from a decade in the Middle East, she had intended to stay in the Philippines.  However, the death of her husband forced her to find work as a domestic in Taiwan. She  intended that this work be for only a single contract term (two to three years), but again  financial obligation of children in higher education required that she remain in Taiwan.  When asked why she chose Taiwan in particular she explains that the choice was  somewhat arbitrary for her. Having already chosen to migrate she was most concerned  then over the fact that Hong Kong required a personal photograph for placement, whereas  Taiwan did not. Stephen: How did you decide Taiwan? Why not Hong Kong or some other country? Mama Linda: Because Hong Kong, she...this interview...we have a camera...and interview. Then, here in Taiwan, no. Only interview, no camera....only sign your...and you have money give the...the agency okay you go...come in Taiwan.

219 Stephen: Okay. Was...was the pay different between Hong Kong and Taiwan? Mama Linda: Maybe difference. Stephen: Not...not much difference? Mama Linda: Yeah. Stephen: Okay. So, with the camera you didn't want to be in front of the camera. Ahm...what were you expecting when you came to Taiwan? Did you expect to stay here two years or three years or...? Mama Linda: Ahh.... before, I expect myself only two years, I stay here and....but children go to school not yet finish to college, then I decide to myself ahh...I want to work long time here. As in the death of a spouse, breakup, separation, or divorce required that some  become migrants either out of economic necessity or the desire to leave the past behind  and change one’s life. Cassandra, though employed fulltime as a teacher in the  Philippines decided to become an OFW. She and her husband were separating as he had  decided to follow a romantic partner to live in the United States. Emotionally distressed  and facing the expense of raising her daughter alone, she decided, upon advise from  friends to work in Taiwan. Stephen: When you first came here in 1999 had you already broken up or was that part of why you came here in 1999? Cassandra: No. Ahm... the very reason why...why I came here to Taiwan is because his petition to the United States is already materializing. That's why I-I don't want... I don't want to be left out. That's why I came here to Taiwan. Stephen: Okay. So he was already separating from you. He was going to the US and so you came here. Did you know anyone here when you came in 1999? Cassandra: [shakes her head] Stephen: ...No. How did you decide to come to Taiwan? Why not another country? Cassandra: Hmn. Some of my friends already came to Taiwan. Stephen: Hmn. So you knew people who'd come and then returned to the Philippines. Cassandra: Yeah. Stephen: Okay. What did they tell you about Taiwan? Cassandra: Taiwan? Stephen: Did they say it was a good place to work?

220 Cassandra: Yeah. It is a good place to work. Salaries are very high, at that time there was so much overtime. But, when I came to Taiwan, that was the time when the economy in Taiwan is already depreciating. ADVENTURE & EXPERIENCE  While family obligations and economic concerns were paramount, many younger  migrants were also anticipating adventure, excitement and occupational work experience  that they could not find in the Philippines. It is not to say that there was no financial  motivation for these individuals, yet economics did not appear to be the only motivator.  In fact, several of the recent college graduates now employed as factory workers came  from financially secure, middleclass families. They admitted that becoming an OFW  involved a loss of status in the eyes of their families, but they were drawn by the  excitement of travel, experiencing a foreign culture and being “on there own.”  On her first trip to Taiwan, Jenny explains that it was a combination of these  reasons, and the fact that she had failed her licensing exam for physical therapy, that she  migrated. Stephen: So your family seems fairly well-off, compared to maybe other people in the Philippines. Okay, so why did you come here the first time then? Jenny: The first time, it was actually…I didn’t really…I wasn’t really willing to come to Taiwan. But my friends are, are urging me, “Come join us, apply for this. Let’s apply to Taiwan.” And I thought okay, just for experience and adventure. Then, the first time we applied, we got hired then we got…after probably only three weeks we applied for only. We applied for that day, we got hired the next day, then adjusting our papers, after three weeks, we got here. Stephen: So how did your family feel about that? Jenny: They were…a bit sad because I have graduated from physical therapy, they’re expecting me to get the board exam because I have relatives in the U.S.

221 And she said, she promised that she would help me but, then I failed the board exam. So I got frustrated, and I thought I might as well go to another place. While Jenny left to experience adventure and excitement, Grace, upon graduating  from college with an engineering degree in electronics, found that it was hard to get  necessary work experience in Philippine companies. She decided that work in a  Taiwanese factory would give her some savings, as well as experience she could use  when she eventually returns. Additionally, three of her sisters had worked in Taiwan and  could help support the costs of placement. She explains: Grace: So I had no experience about study. Stephen: No--no experience outside of studying. So.... Grace: Y-yes. Stephen: Ahm... was coming to Taiwan ahh... to help get more experience or...? Grace: Yeah. Yeah. Because, because I want to learn more about electronics, beside... beside I want to earn money. So I have to learn more about electronics because in the Philippines, maybe it's hard to get inside in the big company. So I decided to go here. Stephen: Okay. Grace: Yeah. Because I have to learn more about ahh... electronics. Stephen: Okay. Ahm... did you know anybody who had been here before? Among the male participants, excitement and adventure was likewise a  motivation. This may be related to the fact that most female workers are unmarried when  they go abroad. Many of the men jokingly explain that they were also unmarried, adding  “in Taiwan” with a wink. Most of the men interviewed admitted, at least in the  beginning, they had been drawn by the greater number of single young women working  in Taiwan often dating several women at once. Joshua for example, though becoming  very devote and religious since the birth of his son, admits that for the first six months in 

222 Taiwan he would spend all of his money and date many women. He says that it was easy  to lie, telling women he was single. Likewise, the ratio of single men to women worked  to his advantage. If one woman wouldn’t meet his “needs” he would simply “find another  one.” Joshua explained that adventure in the form of romantic encounters part was a  motivation for coming to Taiwan initially as he and his wife were separated at the time.  However, he also left the Philippines as a result of legal problem surrounding a public  brawl he had been involved in. Six months into his stay, however, she gave birth and he  experienced a religious conversion. Nearing the end of his three­year contract when I met  him, he explained that all of his money now was sent to his wife and son and he had  become recommitted to her.  SOCIAL TIES Economic necessity, family financial obligation, death of a spouse, and the quest  for experience and adventure all work to explain the nature of exit from the homeland, yet  not why labor migrants chose to go to Taiwan in particular. The selection of destination  for most was a pragmatic choice based on Taiwan’s proximity to the Philippines, relative  low cost of travel, relatively high salary (compared to the Middle East), relative low risk  (compared to illegal migration to Korea or Japan, or dangerous work in the oil fields of  the Middle East), high demand for Philippine workers (due to comparatively higher 

223 education and English ability than other Southeast Asian sending countries), and, most  importantly, established social ties with Taiwan. Repeatedly, participants pointed out that  these social ties with Taiwan were most important in their selection of a destination  country. Friends and family in the destination provide a support network for newly  arrived migrants introducing them to other migrants, service agencies, resources,  entertainment, etc. Likewise, strong social contacts provide a sense of solidarity and a  cultural buffer from the often exclusionary and xenophobic Taiwanese populous. Yet, as I  have shown with Leonardo and Mama Linda, ties to may create obligations that require  the migrant to remain in Taiwan even after contracts end and they may return. Social ties, originating in the sending community, worked to inform the potential  migrant as to which placement agencies to use, which companies to work for, or which  cities in Taiwan had better living conditions for OFWs. For example, Caroline choose to  work in Taiwan rather than another country based on information from her recently  returned friend. Though she had received a university degree in History and  Anthropology and had worked as a field researcher for an international marketing  company and the National Statistic Office, Caroline had had some problems with her  Filipino employers and wasn’t happy with the low wages. Her friend helped her to decide  to become and OFW and gave her advice to work in a factory rather than a household.  “She said that being a factory worker is different from a domestic helper... you’ll be 

224 meeting a lot of Filipinos. You don’t get homesick or…like that.” Similarly, Joshua  explained that several of his friends provided him with information about Taiwan. His  friends told him “Taiwan is so good, Taiwan is so strong...Maybe they really earn a lot of  money in Taiwan so they encourage me to go to Taiwan also.” Relatives too were instrumental in helping the potential migrant choose Taiwan.  Because of the stronger commitment and reciprocal obligation to family members, many  would provide additional economic help, in the form of loans and gifts, as well as  emotional support. Ernelyn, for example, was the eldest child in her family. They had dire  financial problems and had looked to the support of relatives. She had graduated from a  two­year secretarial college with the assistance of an aunt in the Philippines, but had not  found a job. After six months of searching, another aunt in Taiwan recommended that she  work abroad. Only nineteen, she was not legally eligible to work there. With her aunt’s  financial assistance, she bought an identity. “So I changed my name. I bought a [name]  for Fifteen thousand. When I bought that name it includes all necessary documents...All  documents, passport and birth certificate....” She knew no one else in Taiwan, but her  aunt sent the 80,000 peso placement fee and convinced her to travel abroad.  Sometimes social ties unexpectedly influenced the reluctant potential migrant.  For example, Josephine, a second time factory worker in Taiwan, was not planning to  become an OFW and had never had the desire to go abroad for work. Yet, as she puts it, 

225 “I can’t just stay at home and sell what, one peso candy?" Therefore, rather than face  what she perceived to be the “boredom” being unemployed and the strict control of her  parents, she decided to follow classmates to Taiwan. She explains that Taiwan had  become the destination of choice for most of her cohort from college:  Almost three-fourths from my batch [migrated]. Taiwan became popular that time. So, I said, ‘Ay, If they're going to Taiwan, I should try it myself.’ Like that. So I realized, the decision to go to Taiwan, it's not an ambition. It's   not   planned.   It   came   to   me   at   a   time   when   I   wasn't  expecting I'd be going abroad, just like that. It's like, what do you call this,  an unplanned decision.  Interestingly, social ties work both to help the potential migrant decide where to  go as well as to keep the migrant from returning home. I have shown how family  obligations such as Mama Linda’s support for university age children and Leonardo’s  debt incurred by sending his wife to Korea, have necessitated their continued work in  Taiwan. Yet, commitment to the migrant community in Taiwan may also oblige a  continued stay. For instance, Lanie, a single, university educated factory worker became  an OFW out of financial necessity, yet after becoming quite involved in the Nan Tze St.  Joseph the Worker parish, she found commitment to her friends in the church influenced  her decision to stay in Taiwan for another contract period. Lanie: ... before, I’m after the money because I have to help my family. But then as I…As I live here, as I get in touch with, with the church. Now I found out it’s not the money that, it’s not the money. The reason why I’m here is not because of money. Stephen: Okay. What is the reason for you now?

226 Lanie: Because maybe God wants me to change many things in my life. Money is not important, as long as you can buy the needs, of course, if you have no money, I think you will also get, get upset, and then get…(laugh) And…now I realize that the most important thing in life is the service that you’re giving to others. I know that what you do with others is what you’re doing with Him. Yeah. Stephen: What do you plan? Do you plan to stay for another year? Lanie: Yeah, I already singed a contract. But then when I was, I singed on my job last December. On my department last December, I decided to go back to the Philippines this coming May, but then…Maybe my co-workers here trust me. Stephen: They want you to stay longer? Lanie: Because they assigned me for so many…responsibilities, so… Stephen: In the church? Lanie: In the church. So, I don’t have to escape the thing. Stephen: So you can’t run away? So, now you’re not going to go back, because the influence of your friends? Lanie: Yeah. CONCLUSIONS As I have shown in this chapter, the demographic, economic, and political pushpull mechanisms driving migration from the Philippines to Taiwan (presented in the last chapter) evolve into a culture of migration where social ties influence the migrant’s destination, help to maintain high levels of remittances, and even persuade some workers to remain in the destination due to social obligations. The personal narratives presented illustrate the theory of cumulative causation as applied to the everyday lives of Filipino workers in Taiwan. They explain in their own words how un/under-employment, poverty, and lack of development in the Philippines induce them to look overseas for financial support. Governmental policies and the industry of international labor recruitment create an expectation of finding economic relief not in domestic development but in labor migration. Many note the role of the labor recruiters as they sell destinations through media advertisements.

227 As the culture of migration has become rooted in the identity of Filipinos, one expects to migrate as a rite of passage. Financial obligation to the family and a cultural sense of individual duty, further promoted by media that touts the OFW as a hero, help the migrant find purpose as they endure long hours in unpleasant conditions abroad. University classes, lacking full-time employment possibilities, choose in mass to “sign up” for overseas employment so they may preserve social ties established in school. Migrants were found also to leave based on the personal desire to flee an unpleasant social/emotional condition in the homeland. This flight may result from a tragedy such as a break up, death or separation, strict parents, family problems, or even legal difficulties. Selection of the destination country then falls to such practical factors as relative cost of placement, proximity to Philippines, and salary, as well as social contacts that may provide a community of mutual aid and at least some emotional support while in a foreign country.

Image 25 A group of close friends from Nan Tze on a fieldtrip to the Cathedral in Kaohsiung

CHAPTER 8 RECEPTION EXPERIENCES: LIMITED INCORPORATION, EXCLUSION,  ISOLATION, & XENOPHOBIA They’re not very open about Filipinos, you know. - Jenny Hipolito -------Stephen: What do you think about Chinese culture and Chinese things? Lanie: They are very much different with Filipinos, I think. A common theme throughout the interviews with participants, factory and  domestic workers alike, was the rejection and isolation they felt from the Chinese  populace. In Hong Kong, Dr. Cecile Torda Lowe (2001) found similar marginalization of  Filipino workers noting “racism, discrimination and widespread social prejudice” as  factors that worked to exclude migrant laborers from the society. In Taiwan, exclusion  and segregation occur as a result of ethnocentrism, nationalism, cultural phobia of  outsiders (especially those from less developed Southeast Asian countries), and  governmental policies which intentionally restrict migrant incorporation and integration  into the broader community. Dr. Hsia Hsiao­chuan, a researcher of Taiwanese exogamy at  Shih Hsin University, notes public sentiment in Taiwan toward those from less developed  countries: "We in Taiwan just look down on individuals from third­world countries."60 


Taipei Times Jun 02, 2002 retrieved on April 12, 2004.

229 These factors have produced a hostile climate toward labor migrants, limiting their  opportunities for cultural or social integration into Taiwanese society. While shunned by the government and the public, there is a reaction by the  alienated Filipino worker to, in­turn, reinforce their own co­ethnic ties and reject  Taiwanese culture. As a result, Filipino factory workers, already spatially, culturally, and  linguistically removed from Taiwanese, become even more socially isolated thus limiting  their opportunities for assimilation or integration. Enclaves form in and around the  Economic Processing Zones (EPZ) in which the majority of factory workers are  employed. In the following chapter, I will discuss the formal institutions (Churches,  businesses and NGOs) that have provided stability and permanence to these transnational  enclaves. Likewise, the next chapter will further explain the role of migrant spouses and  other “permanent” residents in reinforcing the Filipino migrant workers’ reactive   ethnicity (Portes and Rumbaut 1996) and continued performance of homeland culture  within these enclaves. The most isolated class of workers is clearly the domestic worker. Sequestered  with Taiwanese families and cut­off from the enclaves around the EPZs, isolation and  exclusion are even more extreme and problematic. While having the most direct, face­to­ face contact with Taiwanese of all of the labor migrants, their often­unreasonable  treatment by Taiwanese families is most revealing of the conventional attitudes:

230 Contract workers in factories live in dormitories and have therefore a support system among themselves. Domestic workers and caretakers live with their employees. Though most are generally accepted by the families, and have relative freedom, there are some who are treated more like commodities: they have no freedom to interact with others, and are isolated. These people are candidate for mental breakdown, and in some cases, suicide. (Ciceri 2003) Loveband (2003) notes in her study of domestic workers in Taiwan the  dehumanization and commodification of these workers. She explains that even the  language used to describe them illustrates their marginal status: "the slang term for  migrant workers is yong­ren. 61 These workers are highly commodified; they are products  to use and exchange." The government, by excluding this class of worker from the labor  standards and regulations governing other contract worker positions, clearly sees them as  a commodity for use and not as individuals.62 Thus, while Dr. Pei­Chia Lan has found  that some employers may liken the relationship that develops between their domestic  caregiver and her patient as a “fictive kinship” (Lan 2001; Lan 2003b), evidence from her  studies, as well as interviews conducted for this project, indicate that the “domestic  workers are nevertheless accorded marginal and subordinate status in the family”(Lan  2003b).
61 62

Correction: This is the term for “maid” or “servant” (佣人:use people) “In Taiwan, foreign workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors are protected under LSL with regard to terms and conditions of the employment contract. For domestic helpers and caretakers, however, labor conditions and pertinent rights are subject to the individual employment contract agreed upon between the worker and the employer. Such regulation has unfortunately forced many foreign workers to enter into unfavorable contracts with employers.” Taiwan Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, Counseling and Service Website for Foreign Workers Working in Taiwan. Report On Protection Of Rights For Foreign Workers In Taiwan


Image 26 Domestic workers Rosalia and Charito at Stella Maris International Center

Similarly, Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men, whom we would expect to show the  greatest level of admittance into the Taiwanese society, are likewise rejected by their  Taiwanese family members, isolated from the community, and are seen simply as  economic refugees by most Taiwanese. Numerous anecdotal reports from NGOs, as well  as the spouses interviewed here, likened the role of the foreign bride to that of a servant.  The perception is that they are “bought” by the family to care for the husband and  produce children. Legally they are not permitted the same rights as native­born citizens.  Even after having children in Taiwan, they are not seen as members of the community.  This excerpt from an article in a recent Taiwanese Presbyterian Church newsletter  illustrates the public sentiment toward foreign spouses:  Taiwan is now home to over 70,000 women from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines, Cambodia and other countries who have married local men. They are here on permanent residence papers, but none has yet been granted local citizenship.... Ms. Pan [a foreign spouse] feels that she has been discriminated against and hurt, often driven to

232 tears. Even after six years here she still hears people say, "You're just a foreign laborer, what good are you?" As the mother of two children, she participates in the hope for Taiwan's future. Yet she wonders if even when she grows old here she will still be seen as a foreigner. Her desire is to be seen by Taiwan's people as a friend of Taiwan, and a student of Taiwan’s culture and languages. (Ku 2003) XENOPHOBIA IN TAIWAN Driving the exclusion and isolation felt by Filipino workers is a unambiguous  xenophobia, maintained by stereotypical portrayal of foreign workers in the media as  source of social problems. This portrayal has resulted in their public discrimination and  exclusionary governmental policies. Female workers in particular are commodified,  objectified, and sexualized by brokers, the media, and employers. Public maltreatment of  workers have included staring, making derogatory comments and gestures, and even overt  ridicule. This recent Taipei Times article illustrates (Liu 2003): "Discrimination against people from Southeast Asia is a prevailing phenomenon," said Kung, who has been involved in foreign labor affairs for years and is the former director of the Taipei City Government's Foreign Workers Consulting Center (FWCC). On weekends, many Filipino and Indonesian workers gather at the Catholic Fu Jen University, chatting and singing songs. "These black people speak strange languages, making sounds like this, ‘wa-la-wa-la,’" said a passing student with contempt. "They are noisy and dangerous." Widespread discrimination caused by the quest for economic development reflects that people in Taiwan lack understanding and respect for foreign cultures, Kung said. Discrimination & Racial/Ethnic Stereotyping In public places, popular media, and even by employment brokers, Filipinos are  characterized by ethnic stereotypes. In public places, participants in this project disclosed 

233 that they were often subject to disapproving looks, starring, and sometimes even rude or  abusive language. 63 They reported frequent, unwelcome comments of a sexual nature  from Taiwanese taxi drivers and occasionally form men on the street or at work. A  common story told was of a friend or acquaintance who was stopped on the way home  and offered money to go with a Taiwanese man. Jenny recounts, “Oh, my friend once  told us, told me that while she was, when she was walking one night, she was approached  by two men in their car, in the car. Then, as she was walking, these two men told her,  ‘You want some money? I’ll give you money, just do...’ Something like that.”  Analynn, the Chinese speaking coordinator representing one of the largest labor  brokerages, explains how she often overhears derogatory comments about Filipinos: “I  can understand the language, even the Taiwanese dialect. Sometimes during my first few  months of stay here, when they were talking about the Filipinos, I used to be hurt. But, I  cannot just fight with them you know, all you have to do is, sometimes I ignore it.”  Others found it more difficult to dismiss the stigmatization. Staring and gesturing caused  anxiety to be in public places: Stephen: how do you feel when you’re out in around town, do you ever feel any negative treatment? Jenny: (Nods) Yeah, sometimes. Stephen: Like what? Jenny: Like they stare…but… Stephen: Staring?

Participants in the focus group reported often having been called shiu do ,秀逗 [Taiwanese: idiot, stupid ]on the bus or at work.

234 Jenny: Staring. Stephen: By men or women? Jenny: Men, mostly. Stephen: Is that rude? Jenny: Or sometimes …sometimes other women, just like that (makes a judgmental look). Stephen: Like a disapproving kind of look? Jenny: Hmm, a negative kind of look. Or sometimes… once, a Taiwanese, I was riding my bike from church, going home with my friend. She looked at me or my bike. I don’t know what she was looking at, but she was laughing at me. She was just smiling at first when I talked to my friend, when she’s staring at me and I think there was something wrong with me. Then the Taiwanese laughed after we were stopping for traffic. Stephen: Why do you think she laughed? Jenny: I don’t know. Stephen: Was it because you’re on a bicycle? Jenny: I don’t know. She was looking at my bicycle, my feet…I don’t know. Stephen: Do you think she was judging you? Jenny: What? That was what I was thinking, yeah This negative pubic treatment may result from reinforcement of stereotypes that  appear in the popular media. According to Lin (1999) newspapers and other media  portray Filipino laborers and other migrants as dirty, disease­ridden, transmitters of  moral and social disorder. Often news reports centered on the impact of foreign workers  on domestic jobs, especially the number of “run­away” or illegal workers and their  impact on unemployment. This has resulted in a negative public sentiment toward  migrant laborers. In fact, a Feb 21, 2004 story in the Taipei Times indicated that the  majority of native­born workers surveyed in Taiwan wanted to limit the importation of  foreign workers: “70.4 percent wanted the government to reduce the number of foreign  laborers, while 24.5 percent wanted the government to cease importing labor altogether.” 

235 Also catching headlines in Taiwanese periodicals are the occasional reports of  marital infidelity between the Taiwanese husband and Filipina domestic worker. These  reports lead to the image of the Filipina as “home wreaker.” The female members of the  household may in turn place outrageous controls on the worker as she perceives a  challenge from the “sexually promiscuous” domestic worker. In one contract between a  family and their domestic caregiver (provided by Fr. Ciceri when he was called to assist  the caregiver who was being forced to return to the Philippines), the conditions for  employment included not wearing make­up, not being allowed to brush her hair, and not  being allowed to own a cell­phone. Fr. Ciceri explains that anxiety over the caregiver  results from the Taiwanese patriarchal system that may be challenged by the educated  Filipina caregiver: I think in the society here, this is a male society, so even, even this…it plays a certain roles. I think sometimes there are a few things especially on the level of domestic, the domestic helper and caretaker, because it’s in the level of the family. Sometimes these families they feel threatened because migrant workers, especially if they are a Filipina, they are more educated than them.... this is a woman that is more educated than the man, so that sometimes creates problems. Also, because, especially Filipinos, they are quite knowledgeable about their rights and other things and they speak out and everything. And so, they say ‘how do you this’, ‘who told you this?’ There are other things, other problems that sometimes we have about the female, the wife, the wife often get jealous, because maybe the Filipina is a bit more beautiful, or sometimes their husband may be paying a little bit more attention to the Filipina caretaker and everything. And sometimes it creates a lot of conflict and tension…especially the wife or the female component of the family. Really, they get very nasty, very tough on the migrant worker because they feel threatened for one reason or another.

236 Of public concern are the rare, but sensationalized, reports of theft, elder abuse,  or even murder at the hands of the imported domestic laborer. Especially scandalous was  the case of Liu Hsia (劉俠), who in 2003 was severely beaten by her Indonesian  caregiver, dying a few days later. This incident incited enormous debate over the safety  and security of families from their potentially dangerous foreign worker. Conversely, the  community of international non­governmental agencies used this case to demand better  conditions for caregivers citing the evidence that the caregiver was suffering from a stress  related psychological disorder resulting from her long working hours and months  working without a break.64 Like the popular media, labor brokers “sell” workers on essential, stereotypical  qualities that they are alleged to posses, as well as warn of their potential “racial  weakness.” Filipinas, often marketed as proficient in English and better educated than  other nationalities, were described as “cunning, at times troublesome and tend to steal”  (Loveband 2003). This example from a labor broker, comparing the strengths and  weaknesses of nationalities offered for work, serves as a case in point of the superficiality  with which Filipinos are viewed:


For more details see & retrieved on April 12, 2004.

237 遍較高,菲勞最大優點為與台灣雇主溝通較容易,雖然發音不很是 很標準。在台灣市場中,初期外籍家庭工幾乎全為菲傭之天下,但 漸為印傭取代。至於勞工方面則較適合於有技術性之行業,對於工 作性質較粗重,如營造、建築等則較無法勝任。 因其天性浪漫、樂觀,自主性強,應充份給予信仰自由,如 假日上教堂,因其教育程度較高,相對較會爭取本身福利。以往台 灣的外傭市場,幾乎全為菲律賓人的天下,加以非法仲介經常以高 薪誘惑菲傭脫逃,尤其是工作限期將屆滿者脫逃更時經常發生,我 國法律對逃脫外勞並無任何刑罰,抓到後祇不過遣返而已。造成雇 主及仲介無謂之困擾,現今台灣雇主大多已不再指定菲傭,而由印 尼及越南漸漸取而代之。 Filipinos are primarily Catholic. Their common language is English. Their educational level is high. The good thing with Filipino workers is that it is easier to communicate with them, even though their pronunciation is not correct (in English). In Taiwan’s market, early on it was all Filipino workers, but today it is being taken over by Indonesian workers. They fit best in technical trades, they are not as good in heavy labor, for example, construction. Their personality is more romantic, positive and independent. They need to be allowed more time for religious expression, for example going to church on religious holidays. Because of their education level, they stand up for their rights more often. Early in the market for immigrant labor, Filipinos were enticed by promises of high pay by illegal agencies, especially for people who’s legal labor permit was close to expiration. Taiwanese law has no criminal penalty for overstay, so those who were caught were simply deported. This has brought both employers and agencies many problems, so many Taiwanese employers do not prefer Filipino workers, replacing them with Indonesian and Vietnamese.65 Stereotyping and essentializing national groups of foreign workers also leads to  their marginal status and exclusion from public spaces as they are labeled by the public.  In the South of Taiwan, Filipino migrants are found almost exclusively in the areas 

Translation by Hui-Jung Hsieh based on text from Wang Hong Employment Agency Retrieved April 12, 2004 unclear here is the underlying message: because of Filipino’s activism and the existence of NGOs that work specifically to protect their rights (MECO), many employers have shifted to the more “docile” Indonesian and Vietnamese workers who have no such advocates and are less likely to protest mistreatment. Likewise this excerpt shows how brokers literally sell essentialist qualities of national groups that are in reality quite diverse (ethnically, culturally, socially, etc.).

238 around the Economic Processing Zones where they work, near their dorms at the lunch  counters and other businesses that cater to their needs, and around the English/Tagalog  churches they attend. These zones are located in the industrial hinterland of Kaohsiung.  In Taipei, migrants are spatially segregated as well. Those who work and live within the  city (primarily caregivers and domestic workers), are likewise restricted to the periphery: After more than a decade of recruiting migrant workers, local Taiwanese have gradually accepted their presence as long as they remain marginal spatially and socially. The spatial locations of Indonesian workers’ Sunday activities clearly symbolize their social status of “marginal insiders.” They gather at the corners of Taipei’s Train Station; they eat and dance behind the prime public area in Taoyun; and they tend to shop underground rather than in skyscraper department stores. They are seen in public but only at those corners less visible to Taiwanese. (Lan 2003c) Taiwanese Ethnic Nationalism & Protection of Aboriginal Employment Resurgence of native Taiwanese ethnic groups (Hakkanese, Hoklos, and the very  small remaining aboriginal groups)66 and dramatic socio­political change have lead to a  surge in Taiwanese ethnic nationalism and a reconciliation with the dominant Han  mainlanders who came to Taiwan following General Chang Kai Shek (蔣介石). According  to Prof. Hsu Shih­kai, former Taiwan Independence Party Chairman and a long-time advocate of Taiwanese solidarity (2004): “In the 1990s, when democratization was under 

For more on ethnic diversity in Taiwan see Shih, Cheng-Feng, 1995. Ethnic Differentiation in Taiwan. Journal of Law and Politics, No. 4, pp. 89-111. See also Shih, Cheng-Feng, 1997. “A Study of the Development of Taiwanese Consciousness: With A Focus on Linguistic and Historical Distinctions. Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace Studies, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 55-76. both retrieved April 12, 2004.

239 way, the four main ethnic groups were encouraged to strengthen their identities, while at  the same time showing respect (not integration and assimilation) toward each other.”67  Discrimination, historically experienced by these domestic minority groups (primarily  the aboriginal groups and the Hakka people)68, has been decreased in a campaign to  promote rediscovery of the cultural history of Formosa Island (as independent from the  mainland). Ethnic pride and political participation, centered on the independence  movement, among the predominantly Hoklo (Taiwanese) and mixed (Han mainlander  and Hoklo) younger generations has produced an ethnocentric Taiwanese nationalism  that is, at least in rhetoric, more inclusive of Taiwan’s historical diversity, yet exclusive of  non­native foreigners.  The struggle pitting immigrant laborers against native minorities for jobs has  clearly has become a universal theme in the globalized market. Media reports and  political discourse in Taiwan, now more sympathetic to the indigenous minority  populations, decry the importation of workers as limiting the economic opportunities of  these historically neglected groups: “Complaint against hiring of foreign workers was  voiced repeatedly by representatives of aboriginal workers. Yang Jen­fu, a legislator from 
67 retrieved April 12, 2004. 68 The discrimination toward aboriginal groups is still a significant political/ social issue, often setting these native groups against foreign laborers. For instance see: Mar 14 2003, Aborigines claim discrimination Taipei Times retrieved April 12, 2004.

240 the Kuomintang, pointed out that while the number of foreign workers was increasing,  unemployment among aborigines was also increasing from 3.2 in 1998 to 7.5 percent”  (Scalabrini Migration Center 2000). In an attempt to reduce unemployment among this  population, quota restrictions on foreign workers have been placed on the Kaohsiung  Free Trade Harbor Zone (slated for completion in 2005) and the five other free trade  ports currently under development: “the new the number of foreign workers must not  surpass 40 percent of the total labor force employed in the zones. In addition, enterprises  established in the zones must reserve five percent of the jobs for aboriginal workers.”  Maintaining Class Differences: Government Restrictions on Migrant Integration  Clearly established differential treatment of native (minority or dominant groups)  and migrant populations is exacerbated by legal restrictions and government policy  toward migrant laborers. Restriction on workers rights and lax protection from abuse  restrict the migrants’ mobility (both residential as well as within the labor force) and  make clear the class distinction between native born and foreigner, as well as foreign  white­collar (from core nations) versus foreign blue­collar workers (from peripheral,  developing countries). These policies reinforce the marginal status of migrant laborers  and result from the public mistrust of foreigners.

241 Restrictions, disproportionately applied to working­class laborers from  developing countries, include controls on residence, rights to look for alternative  employment, protection from and litigation for employer abuses, and constant state  surveillance by the use of curfews, routine required renewal of employment documents,  and biannual health checks. Dr. Shu-Ju Cheng (2003), Assistant Professor in sociology at DePaul University and researcher of domestic migrant workers in Taiwan, notes that the surveillance of the state is gendered and used to enforce racial/ethnic separation and exclusion: The treatment of wai lao, as opposed to other categories of foreigners, is particularly intrusive. The monitoring and surveillance of both their bodies and their emotions are integral to the state’s attempt to police national borders and ultimately to control the racial/ethnic composition of its citizenry. More important, the invasiveness of state regulations over decisions concerning human sexuality, such as marriage and pregnancy, has particular impact on migrant women. The regulation of their sexual activities and reproductive decisions reflects the gendered as well as racial nature of immigration policies.

Many more rights and privileges are afforded to the professional classes. As a  former English teacher in Taiwan, I was quite aware of my privileged status when  compared to foreign workers from developing countries, referred to commonly as wai lao   (外勞). Dr. Pei-Chai Lan (2003e) explains: “Wai lao,” literally meaning “foreign worker,” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to refer to migrant workers form Southeast Asia employed on a contract basis in three D (dirty, dangerous, and demeaning) occupations. This terminology is rarely applied to other “foreign workers” such as professionals, technicians, managerial, and language instructors, who are mostly from Japan, North America and West Europe. Such a division is

242 endorsed by the state regulations that assign distinct statuses and rights to these two categories of foreign labor. Low-end migrants are recruited under quota control and contract rotation; one can work in Taiwan no longer than six years (two terms of contract). In contrast, on all three of my sojourns to Taiwan (1996, 1998, and 2003), I was granted temporary residential status with relative ease, had no restrictions on residence or mobility (though I must register change-of-address with the Foreign Police and reapply for new permits for change of employers), earned a relatively high income (two to three times that of a native-born teacher), and had few restrictions placed on my ability to look for alternative employment. As Lan (2003e) points out, citizenship restrictions apply to all foreign­born as  they are based “descent principle” (jus sanguinis). Citizenship for foreign­born children  of Taiwanese Nationals, though by no means easy to obtain, is legally allowed. However,  permanent status for a foreign­born non­Chinese (Permanent Alien Resident Certificate,  or PARC) depends on the ability to prove continued legal residence in Taiwan for seven  years and may be revoked if, during the period of one­year, the resident is out­of­country  more than 200 days.69 Meanwhile, many Taiwanese have obtained dual citizenship,  including important elected officials such as legislator Hsiao Bi­khim,70 who sparked a 

See this website on acquiring legal documents for residence in Taiwan in which they say“...the reality is that the requirements make it almost impossible to do so and remains a long-standing and very sore issue for many in Taiwan's international community. Further, there never seems to be a consistent policy regarding permanent residency status for foreigners.” . See this article on limited number of Permanent Alien Residence Certificate recipients also this personal log of an expatriate in Taiwan trying to get his citizenship 70

243 national debate over dual­citizenship among executive­level political positions.71 Yet, for  the foreign­born non­Chinese to obtain true citizenship requires proof of formal  renunciation of the citizenship of origin and soon even passing a test on their knowledge  of Chinese.72  While permanent residence is at least within reach for the white­collar immigrant,  stipulations in the contracts of the blue­collar workers from developing countries restrict  them from ever achieving permanent status. Foreign workers are by definition temporary,  and thus are barred from ever becoming a part of the community. Robert Tierney (2002)  points out that not only does this temporary status marginalize foreign workers, but their  immobility within the employment market also further restricts their rights: The marginality of migrant contract workers is not only defined by their temporary status, but also by their immobility in the labor market. The CLA dictates that a migrant worker can work for only one particular employer during a stay in Taiwan. No transfer of employer is allowed except under the following conditions: if the original employer goes bankrupt, closes business, or cannot pay wages to the worker, if the care recipient of a migrant worker dies or migrates to another country, and if a worker is abused by the employer or illegally placed to an employer different from the one in the contract. Legally restricted to work for a single employer, allowed to stay for only three  years at a time and six years total, foreign workers are further alienated from the  Taiwanese society by being denied basic human and labor rights. Currently, there are no 
71 72 Feb 28, 2004 article on the eTaiwan about talk of Chinese language requirements of applicants for citizenship

244 protections from employer abuse for migrants. Workers, when charging employers with  violating the terms of their contract, are routinely repatriated to their home country by  brokers and the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) without hearings or the opportunity to  change employers. Factory workers while covered by the Taiwan Labor Standards Act are  routinely paid in time off for overtime, and maximum working hours are often ignored.  Domestic workers, moreover, are not even covered under the Labor Standards Act, and  thus are exempt from overtime and minimum wage laws.73 CULTURAL BARRIERS & CULTURE SHOCK Much of the isolation experienced by migrants may be attributed to cultural  differences between Filipino workers and the Taiwanese population. These real or  perceived differences work not only to exclude the Filipinos from Chinese society, but  also to limit the desire of Filipinos to become part of the community of their “strange”  hosts. Cultural barriers are clearly evident in material culture such as food, styles of  dress, valued commodities, etc., as well as in the non­material cultural differences such  as religious beliefs, gender roles, social norms, aesthetics, standards of bodily hygiene,  work ethic, courtship, the concepts of time and space, etc. 


See Cody Yiu Foreign workers protest for better rights Taipei Times Dec 29, 2003

245 Experiencing culture shock upon arriving, many of the participants reported  feeling sad or depressed their first few months here. Fr. Ciceri explains, “Culturally it's a  shock for, for the Filipinos. Because, it's totally different. Um, for the environment,  everything is, is different. The language, it's a big problem because they just come here,  they don't speak any, any language. And, um, so they try to, to adjust to this reality. But,  ah, they found it very, very difficult.” Even Analynn, who was raised within the Chinese  community in the Philippines experienced a degree of culture shock in Taiwan:  For the first time, well, it’s kind of, it’s 360 degrees, you know, turned around. Culture, well culture, it’s not a very surprising thing to me because you know I was exposed to a Chinese, you know, environment. But, Taiwanese people are, if I am going to compare Taiwanese people with the Filipino Chinese, they’re totally different. Because the Filipino Chinese, they’re more educated, and they’re more, I mean they are, they belong to the you know society where they’re open minded. Yeah, when I came here, I was really shocked you know. Differences in material culture, or the physical artifacts produced by a social  group, are easily noticed by both by the migrant and the community in which they were  living.74 These differences often allude to deeper non­material distinction in values,  beliefs, and attitudes. Most common among participants in the study was the reported of  disliked of Chinese food. Caroline, for example, exclaimed, “oh, the food, the food there  is terrible!” in reference to the food served in her dorms. Similarly, Marivel explained 


For an interesting study on material culture among migrant groups see this Dutch study by Dibbits & Roukens (2002) Migration and Material Culture: the domestic interiors of twentieth century migrants and their descendents

246 that she doesn’t eat Chinese food, preferring to eat out if she can. Others explained that  Chinese dishes that they had been exposed to in the markets and cafeterias of their  companies were “too oily” or “too spicy” for their tastes. When their companies or dorms  severed a cheap bien dang (便當), or a lunch box meal, the workers often would go out to  lunch counters run by Filipina wives of Taiwanese men. Caroline explains: “If we don’t  like the food, for example during week days, we buy food outside because in front of  Green House there are many [Filipino lunch counters]. I think three or four near Green  House.” The shipbuilders on Chi Chin island, more isolated from the enclave of the EPZ,  have taken to catching crab and fish and cooking for themselves. Melchor explains that his company delivers bien dang  for them every morning. He  shows me an unappetizing paper box with a small amount of rice, boiled cabbage, and a  small whole fish. Though charged 4,000NT a month (nearly a third of his base salary), he  tells me that it is the same meal everyday and he has no choice in paying the fee for  meals. He protests, “you cannot eat that everyday. You must change the menu... the  company provides the bien dang, but I don't know how many times we complain. They  don't listen.” Food was such a unifying cultural issue that Fr. Ciceri at one time  established a regular Filipino luncheon: “Every Sunday after the Mass, people they  would come here to St. Mary’s and we will have food, Filipino food. It’s such a stupid 

247 thing, but for somebody that has been forced to eat bien dang, at least on Sunday, they go  and eat their own Filipino food. It means for them, really something, something good.” Material culture is also apparent in clothing, though in truth symbolizing a deeper  non­material difference in the cultural importance of presentation of self. Jenny in a 

Image 27 A Typical bien dang severed to Chi Chin Island Shipbuilders


Image 28 William Giving a Tour of the Kitchen

Image 29 Crab Caught by Workers

249 discussion with Josephine, another factory worker (translated from Tagalog), asks about cultural differences. Josephine recounts her astonishment at the fashion worn by Taiwanese: Josephine:'s like this, at first, ahh, you know we Filipinos we're very, we're very particular when it comes to the type of dress we wear. Even if we run short on our allowance, we still try to look good and right. We are so conscious of how we look in front of others. We ask, "Is it okay if I wear this? Are my shoes right for this dress?" and things like that. But, you cannot, at first I said, "Look at her. She looks so formal in that attire, like one who's going to attend a party, but look at the shoes. She's wearing tennis shoes." Jenny: Yeah. Formal but… Josephine: Uhm. Sometimes, I would think that maybe they just wear what is comfortable for them to wear. Not like Filipinos, sometimes we don't feel comfortable, but we… Jenny: But it looks good. Josephine: …We still try. Yeah. If it looks good, we still try to wear them even if it's uncomfortable. But, for them, it's okay as long as they're comfortable with what they're wearing. Jenny: They wear whatever they want to wear. Josephine: … whatever, whatever they like to wear. Even if it's out of fashion. Even though short on income, Filipinos still try to look their best. Jenny: Yeah. As long as they look good to other people. Josephine: Yeah. As long as they look good. Different cultural standards of what is proper dress and physical presentation also  included dissimilar standards in bodily hygiene. Several migrants noted that a cultural  difference to them were the “body smells” at work and in public that they were  unaccustomed to as the Philippine culture stresses personal hygiene and careful  presentation of self.75 In contrast, negligent personal cleanliness in Taiwan has been 


See this note to nursing students regarding cultural preferences of Filipinos who “pay close attention to hygiene and smelling good”

250 criticized as one of the leading factors contributing to the SARS outbreak in 2003 (Chu  2003). Social & Cultural Exclusion at Work Many participants reported that they felt left out of social activities at their  companies and isolated from the Taiwanese co­workers. Linguistic isolation may  attribute to some of this exclusion (less than 1% of survey respondents rated their  Mandarin/Taiwanese ability as fluent), yet participants indicated that much of the  isolation was a result of not being invited to take part in social functions. At most  factories, relationships with Chinese co­workers were congenial, yet seldom progressed  beyond a superficial level. Some participants reported outright mistreatment by co­ workers. Segregated living spaces also contributed to the isolation of workers from the  Chinese population. On occasion Taiwanese companies will hold social gatherings for their  employees. Traditional gatherings (called wei ya 尾牙 ) around the time of Chinese New  Year are held in which employees share a meal and may receive bonuses based on the  success of the company. Other holiday gatherings as well as spring or summer barbecues  are common. Often the festivities will include karaoke, dance, talent competitions and 

251 other performances. Jenny recounts that while the Filipino workers were invited to the  program, they were not included in the presentations: Jenny: Nothing. I just remembered a party with the company. I mentioned my company, you have to omit that. Stephen: Okay, we cut the [company name omitted] out. Jenny: I was in a party then…all Taiwanese and Filipino workers are invited, but all those who participated in the program are Taiwanese, no Filipinos are invited to participate. And they just like…We all laugh while they were dancing at that time. Stephen: Was it something that supposed to be funny? Or was it not supposed to be funny? Jenny: No, not supposed to be funny. Stephen: But everybody was laughing. The Filipinos were laughing. Why weren’t the Filipinos invited to participate in the program? Jenny: I don’t know. Stephen: Do you feel that’s a kind of rejection? Jenny: A little, yeah. Another cultural distinction causing considerable friction with workers was over  celebration of religious holidays that do not fall on the Chinese calendar. Employers were  found to restrict holidays only to Taiwanese national holidays. No provisions were made  for employees to have their own cultural celebrations. Melchor recounts that while they  were allowed to celebrate Christmas (technically Constitution Day on the Taiwanese  calendar), they were not permitted to have a holiday for Semana Santa or Holy Week.  Similarly, when institutions such as the Catholic Church do hold holiday celebrations that  are outside of the Chinese calendar, they receive numerous community complaints about  noise and even visits by police. Meanwhile, laterally hundreds of Chinese cultural and  religious celebrations, replete with thousands of firecrackers, horns, drums, and other 

252 noisemakers, may occur at all hours of the day or night, throughout the year without  complaint. Residential segregation and limited mobility also cause factory workers to feel  excluded from the community. Factory workers are required by company and government  policies to live in crowded dorms or apartments near the EPZs. Dorms may be owned by  private companies (sometimes affiliated with a particular broker), individual factories, or  by the government. These facilities generally charge the worker a fee for room and board.  Some even charge additional fees for electricity, water, and even for the used bedding and  furniture. Likewise, they monitor the workers’ movements, requiring them to sign in and  out and enforce a strict curfew. Workers must request special permission to spend an  evening away from the dorm, even on their days off. Thus these typically private  institutions provide surveillance of the foreign workers by reporting to brokers, company  agents, and governmental officials any violations of curfew. They also enforce their own,  sometimes arbitrary, penalties for violations of dorm rules. One sign, in the government­ owned dorms in Nan Tze’s EPZ, stated that workers found disposing of styrofoam  containers in the paper recycling bin would be fined 1,000NT (roughly $30). In another  company­owned dorm, one wall in the public eating/ living area was covered with  warnings, admonishing workers not to use their cell phones during work (penalty an  official warning), to maintain order in the dorm, and even that "if someone is found very 

253 lazy or wasting of time" they will have “violated company policy and may receive  warning.” These sometimes illogical and vague penalties and warnings further alienate  the workers reminding them even within their segregated living space they are  unwelcome. Cross­Cultural Dating & the Cultural Taboos of Exogamy  The perception of some Chinese workers is that not only are the Filipino workers  there to take their jobs, but the female workers are there to “hunt” for Taiwanese  husbands as well. Lanie explains that this perception is not entirely untrue. As she  explains, some of her Filipina co­workers do like the idea of finding a Taiwanese man:  “Sometimes my co­worker told me to find a Taiwanese, because a Taiwanese has  money.” However, in a focus group discussion with nine women, the discussion of dating  indicated that cultural differences would make it too troubling: Stephen: Do you think it would be difficult to date a Taiwanese man? Focus Group 1: Yes, I guess, for me. Stephen: Why? Why would it be difficult? Focus Group 1: Because we have different, likes and… Stephen: Okay. Different likes and dislikes based on your culture? Focus Group 1: Yes. Focus Group 2: Oh, yes. Focus Group 3: We have different cultures. And for me, as far as I am concerned, I don’t like the culture, especially the men. Stephen: Okay, what about the men? You said especially men. Focus Group 3: Especially men. Because, I heard, especially the older one, the elder, the elder men in the family, they prefer the elder men not to get married especially to [foreign women]. Because I have a friend, they had the relationship for a year, and sometimes I found her crying, because the [Taiwanese] mother doesn’t like her, because her boyfriend is the eldest.

254 These cultural limitations on the eldest male often restrict him to marrying only Chinese  women. Filipinas who have dated Chinese men found acceptance by the Chinese families  especially difficult. Others, like Sarah and Loisa, now married to Taiwanese men, said  they were even resistant to the initial advances and invitations of their spouses as they  were not interested in Taiwanese men. Moreover, legal restrictions prohibit these cross­ cultural relationships by forbidding workers from marriage. If they do intend to marry,  they must return to Philippines and apply for re­entry on a spousal visa.  Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men interviewed also reported cold treatment by  Chinese family members. Many foreign spouses were seen simply as a servant for the  husband. Family concern was often limited to whether she could reproduce. Rosalyn,  now separated from her abusive husband, was told by her mother­in­law not to buy things  for herself as she earned no money. When her husband would drink and beat her, her  Taiwanese in­laws simply told her that she would have to “accept her husband like that.”  Made to cook, clean and take care of her husband and his family she explained that she  felt like their house maid: “yeah, because if he is going to take a bath or something, he  calls me to get his t­shirt and clothes, like that.” She stayed with him for almost eight  years but finally could take no more abuse from her husband or his mother. With help  from her cousin (also married to a Taiwanese man) and Stella Maris International 

255 Service Center, she was able to take her two youngest children back to the Philippines,  but has returned now to try to regain custody of her eldest son who is being kept by her  mother­in­law. Several of the participating Filipina wives were in fact separated or in the  process of divorce after having provided the husband with children. Under Taiwanese  law, these women have few custody rights and must obtain alternative visas to remain in  the country once they have legally divorced. Even when the relationship between Taiwanese husband and Filipina spouse are  agreeable, family rejection and social stigma of the relationship cause problems. Loisa,  for example, developed a romantic relationship with her factory supervisor. She said that  treatment by Chinese and Filipino co­workers changed abruptly when they learned of the  romance. When first introduced to her future in­laws, they were not very receptive:  “...maybe they heard that many Filipinas, they just like the money. So they were afraid  that [I’m] just fooling, I will fool him. So, at first they don't accept me. So, he asked for  help for his brother to explain to his parents that I'm different.” She admits that even  when they did accept her into the family, she was often lonely in the first years as she had  no Taiwanese friends. She also notes that most of her friends today are found among the  Filipino enclave in the Economic Processing Zone. Her children as well “very seldom  play with pure Chinese,” instead socializing mostly with other bi­cultural Chinese­ Filipino children. 

256 Similarly, Mama Angel, who came as an arranged bride, found her husband’s  family distrustful and sometimes exploitive. Her sister­in­law, who had paid for the  marriage, would in­fact control all of their finances for several years as she was afraid  that the Filipina bride would make off with her brother’s earnings:  “...we would give it to  my sister­in­law. Every month NT $20,000. My husband's income was only NT  $29,000.” Left with only about US $300 a month, they lived in a single room and ate  instant noodles. She recounted being lonely, feeling cut off, and experiencing culture  shock: “for the [first] six months staying here, I was crying.... I didn't eat noodles. Yes,  that's why I'm always crying. I phoned to my family there to, to send some Philippine  goods here in Taiwan, because I still do not, I cannot eat here.” It was not until three  years later, although fluent in Taiwanese and working outside of the home in a beauty  salon, that she found a since of place. She discovered the then quite small community of

Image 30 “Mama” Angel and her husband

257 Filipinos centered about the St. Joseph the Worker Parish. Today, while accepted to some  degree by the Taiwanese community where she works as a beautician, she spends the  majority of her time helping the church community, helping Filipino factory workers in  need, and leading an evangelical religious group within the church. He husband too, has  joined the church as an active member. However, relations with her sister­in­law and most  of her Taiwanese family have been completely severed. Linguistic Isolation Few Filipinos speak Mandarin or Taiwanese before their arrival. Unlike other  sending countries (Indonesia for example), the Philippine recruiters are not required to  train laborers in Chinese language. As a result, Filipino workers are linguistically isolated  from the community. Unable to really converse with Taiwanese co­workers or the public,  the are further limited in their incorporation into the community. As Fr. Ciceri explains,  linguistic isolation is compounded by their temporary status and few incentives to really  learn the language: Filipinos, they don’t want to learn the language, they don’t, they don’t learn. Culturally, I don’t think there is much of integration here because first of all the migrant workers they know I come here only for one year, two years, three years. So even here, we have people who stay with us [at the shelter] for a couple of months sometimes and they cannot work, because they have problems so they are not allowed to work. So, we would like to, we don’t want them that they just sleep all day and everything, so we try for example to have Chinese classes or English classes for the Indonesians. There is no way. They are not interested.

258 Basically, these people, all they want to do is to make money. They just come here. ‘I want to make money, I don’t want to learn the language. Why I should learn the language? And after three years I go home.’ I said yeah, but for three years you have to live with the family. If they give you an order, you have to understand the order and things like that. But, there is no way that the, even with effort to learn it’s very difficult. Maybe because of that, they know the situation of temporality so why I should make an effort for that? Among factory workers surveyed, their average self reported Mandarin and Taiwanese  abilities were both only 1.1 (on a scale of 5). Few had learned more than enough to get  them through simple transactions in the shops and enough to understand the basic  assignments at work.  Those who had learned enough Chinese to be conversational often helped their  non­English speaking supervisors by translating instructions to the other workers. Others  like Arlene, who was the most fluent often even translating documents for her employer,  found that speaking Chinese empowered them to confront discriminatory treatment: ...there was this incident where I went to Napoleon Pizza, yeah and I went there and they usually give you a plastic cup for drinks. We had our pizza and then were not given this plastic cup. So, the waitress, the service girl, was telling that she gave it to me. So, I talked back to her and I was talking to her in Chinese. She was shocked. She reacted with her big eyes. Then all of a sudden, she was so embarrassed, because she never thought I could speak Mandarin. Then the manager approached me and asked for apology. Yeah, and when I, when I went to the public restroom, then there was this young lady she was talking in Mandarin, she was talking about me, about Filipinas, and then I, I told this young lady, ‘Hey watch your mouth.’ I said, I was talking to her in Mandarin, she didn’t say anything. But I noticed, you know, she had a dreadful face because I was telling her you know, hey watch your mouth. I mean some Filipinos can speak mandarin and understand Mandarin so you better watch out. So…she was so embarrassed.

259 Lan (2003b) notes that, at least among Taiwanese employers of domestic workers,  there may even be a preference for those who do not speak Chinese as they are unable to  overhear the private concerns of the family and also may be called upon to be English  teachers for the family. While domestic workers are more likely than factory workers to  learn Mandarin or Taiwanese, most yet communicate with their employers in English.  Even, Mama Linda, who had been here the longest, said she could only speak “a little”  Chinese.  Filipina wives of Chinese men, on the other hand, were very likely to learn  Mandarin or Taiwanese. As permanent residents they had the most incentive to learn.  Sarah for example, a former factory worker who recently has returned on a tourist visa  and married a Taiwanese man she met at her company, says she is struggling to learn  Chinese to be able to better communicate with her in­laws. Now, she primarily  communicates with her husband and in­laws (with whom she lives) in English. Learning  Chinese has also been seen as empowering for other spouses. It was not until Mama  Angel felt confident in Taiwanese that she confronted her sister­in­law about her  financial abuses. Likewise, knowledge of Mandarin, has given Rosalyn the opportunity  for employment as a coordinator in one of the factories. Yet, all of the Filipina spouses  preferred to socialize on a daily basis with other Filipinos rather than with the 
Question N Mean Std. Deviation

I Like Chinese 341 2.95 1.026 I have a good relationship 335 3.05 .940 with Chinese I have had problems with 295 2.41 1.242 Chinese Table 8-1 Intergroup Relations/Attitudes toward Chinese

Taiwanese. Thus, while fluency is more common among the spouses of Taiwanese, it is  only out of necessity that they learn the language. FILIPINOS INDIFFERENCE TOWARD CHINESE CULTURE The results of their temporary status, no option for long­term residence, as well as  isolation, segregation, and discrimination in work and social life is a clearly seen  indifference toward or even rejection of Taiwanese culture and languages by the  Filipinos. In the survey of factory workers, most reported neither a strong liking nor  disliking of Chinese. Nor did they report having either a “good relationship” with them  or “problems” with them. Likewise, few ethnography participants reported any strong  affinity for Taiwanese people. A few did, however, report outright dislike of the  Taiwanese most often when there were clear disputes with employers, supervisors or co­ workers.  Such was the case with Leonardo, one of the Chi Chin Island shipbuilders. A  dispute over back pay and unpaid overtime had been mounting. He and his co­workers  had already reported to the broker and were looking at going to MECO to file a formal  complaint. Apparently, recent management turn over and the merger with another 

261 company had resulted in  number of disputes with upper management. Typically neutral  attitudes toward Chinese turned into strong dislike: Leonardo: ...I hate bad people. Like the secretaries. I hate them. The production managers, I hate them also. Because.... Stephen: Why is that? What do they do you hate them?

Image 31 Edwin answering his TST while Julie watches

Leonardo: Because the way they treat the Philippine people. Stephen: The way they treat you? Leonardo: Yeah. I don't like that. Stephen: Describe how they treat you. Give me an example... Leonardo: ...Like they, they giving warning papers76 to the Philippine people. Then, also in the house, I pay for all of it [electricity, room and board, a special fee for linens and furnishings]. But, why they give my friend, they gave him a warning. Why? We pay the electricity, water bill, all of them. Why they enter the house? Also the factory, they treat me like a robot. Give me warning. I think Everyday, they give warning papers.....

In Leonardo’s company, they routinely inspect the dorms. Anytime a light or fan is left on when no one is around, they are fined and receive a warning letter. Three warnings may result in being fired and repatriated.

262 Again, while most Filipinos were indifferent toward Taiwanese culture, there were  also a very few who had built strong relationships with individual Taiwanese. It must be  noted that in most of these cases, the Taiwanese person was quite unique and had first  developed a strong affinity for Filipinos.77 Edwin, for instance, had been dating a Chinese  woman he met on his first trip to Taiwan five years ago. Recently returned, they  maintained their relationship long­distance while he was in the Philippines for over two­ years. He declares his intention to one day marry her, however, they have yet to tell her  parents of their relationship. They say this is in part due to the language barrier, but also  in apprehension of their reaction.  CONCLUSIONS Segregations, isolation, and exclusion from the social and political process within  Taiwan has restricted any opportunities of becoming integrated and incorporated into the  host community. Filipino migrants are excluded, not only by a xenophobic populace  fueled by essentialist depictions in the media, but also by governmental policies that  restrict movement, limit residence, and impede any opportunities of equality in the labor  force. Moreover, culture shock, experienced by recent émigrés is exacerbated by the  racial discrimination and prejudice they experience in the workplace and in public 

Specifically there were three exceptional cases. Pastor Chris Marzo’s wife is a Taiwanese minister whom he met in the seminary in the Philippines. Edwin’s fiancée is one of two Taiwanese members of his Jesus is Lord church. Finally, “Joshua” spoke of his strong relationship with his boss whom he saw as a “mother” figure who often gave him additional financial support.

263 settings. These prejudices, while directed at all foreigners, are most forceful applied to  Southeast Asian laborers. Filipino migrants, socially and linguistically cut off from  becoming incorporated into the Taiwanese society, feel neither strong like nor dislike for  their employers. This indifference, thus restricts the path toward acculturation and  eventual assimilation.

Image 32 “No Laziness” policy posted in the dorms

Image 33 A Typical worker’s bunk (Chi Chin Island)

Image 34 A Typical worker’s bunk (Green House)

Image 35 Nan Tze workers enjoying a meal in their room


266 CHAPTER 9 THE SPACE BETWEEN: THE FORMATION OF TRANSNATIONAL  COMMUNITIES & THE MAINTENANCE OF HOMELAND CULTURE [Transnationalism is]a condition in which, despite great distances and   notwithstanding the presence of international borders (and all the laws,   regulations and national narratives they represent), certain kinds of relationships   have been globally intensified and now take place paradoxically in a planet­ spanning yet common – however virtual – arena of activity. ­ Vertovec 1999 I have shown that Taiwan, as a receiving environment, is less than hospitable to  workers from developing countries. Struggling to negotiate its own sense of ethnic and  national identity, and its place within the international arena, it distances itself from other  Southeast Asian countries. Public sentiment, reinforced by media depictions and  governmental policies, has created a hostile environment that rejects labor migrants as  being “less than.” Importation of labor has been seen as unavoidable allowing Taiwan­ based manufacturers to continue to compete in a global market that now includes former  peripheral nations such as Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as historic competitors like  Korea and the People’s Republic of China.  Within this space, I have argued that Filipino migrants are isolated and excluded  from Taiwanese society and culture. Recognizing the patron/benefactor relationship with  their employers (factory or domestic employment alike), they nonetheless experience 

267 rejection and exclusion from economic, social, and political participation in the  community. Thus, their opportunity for integration into the mainstream is constrained by  the nature of the receiving context. Moreover, the temporary nature of their sojourning  limits the long­term possibility of acceptance within this context. Even those migrants 
Response Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree I feel Taiwanese 16.0% 6.8% 29.0% 30.4% 15.4% 2.4% I feel Filipino 1.3% 1.3% 0.6% 40.6% 8.9% 47.3%

Table 9-1 Cultural Identity

who eventually marry Taiwanese and permanently settle find that their only place is  within the context of the enclave.78 SELF IDENTIFICATION: ETHNIC/CULTURAL IDENTITY While the Taiwanese context does not allow for full inclusion into the dominant  society, many Filipino migrants perceive themselves as having tried to adapt culturally to  the setting in which they live. As potential measures of ethnic/cultural identity, the survey 

See for example the recent story of Bing Go who, after 13 years in Taiwan “is the owner of a Filipino grocery store in Taipei. Her store has served her fellow Filipinos for many years.” While the January 3, 2004 China Post news report (Filipino Grocery Store Owner Enjoys Life In Taiwan) touts her as proof "that a foreigner can fit in well in Taiwan and enjoy a comfortable life here," it is clear that her only place within the society is in the economic fringes of the enclave that servers her co-ethnics rather than within the mainstream economy.

268 posed questions on feelings of being caught between cultures and strategies for dealing  with multiple cultural spaces.79 While 98% of respondents indicated that they feel   Filipino, nearly half (48%) also indicated feeling Taiwanese. Yet, I argue, this perception  is due more from their marginality and lack of fitting anyplace and the fact that they are  not living within their own cultural milieu. In all other measures of acculturation and  integration, there is little evidence of performance of Taiwanese culture. This statistic,  however, may be of interest in studying returnees and their social re­integration in the  homeland as they may feel like foreigners after living abroad for so long. What's more, the concept of biculturalism holds that this duality of identities is  not inconsistent. Rather, in a given setting one may choose between cultures or even mix  and combine them. In this sample, nearly 60% of respondents indicated that they engaged  in some form of biculturalism. Thirty­one percent maintained distinct cultural spaces or  what I have referred to previously  as a bicultural identity in which cultural space  determines performance of cultural. 28% mix cultures in what has been called a  hybridized identity. Only 40% practiced Filipino culture alone. Further evidence of  perceived biculturalism is found in the fact that 44% felt “caught between cultures.” 


Based in part on the Benet-Martinez Acculturation Scale found retrieved on April 12, 2004.


Only Filipino 40%

Combine both culture 28%

Keep cultural spaces separate 31% Only Taiwanese 1%
Monoculturalism 41%

Biculturalism 59%

Figure 9-1 Bicultural vs. Monoculture Strategies

Linguistic Assimilation Scale






10 0 0.0 2.5 5.0 10.0 7.5 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0 35.0 40.0 12.5 17.5 22.5 27.5 32.5 37.5

Std. Dev = 8.33 Mean = 16.9 N = 377.00

Linguistic Assimilation Scale

Figure 9-2 Distribution of Respondents along Linguistic Assimilation Scale

270 LANGUAGE USE AS A MEASURE OF INCORPORATION Use of the languages of the host country is indicator of immigrant assimilation. In  this case, English, as an international language of commerce, was the de facto means of  communication with Chinese co­workers and employers, while Filipino languages were  most commonly used with peers. Understandably, those who had been in Taiwan the  longest indicated greater language ability, using Mandarin and Taiwanese with  employers, co­workers, and friends (correlation between trips and speaking Mandarin  R=.270 p<.000). Taiwanese was used more often than Mandarin with co­workers.80 There  was a slight, yet statistically significant, correlation (R=.135 p<.01) between the feeling  of being caught between cultures and linguistic ability (computed as a summative index  of self­reported ability and frequency of use). This may be indicative of the effects of  attempting to, at least linguistically, assimilate within a non­receptive context. While  endeavoring to use the local language and “fit­in” with Taiwanese co­workers, the worker  is nonetheless excluded from the society and thus feels caught “between” cultures. It may  also be related to the length of time in the context. As Chinese or Taiwanese language use  increases over time, so too does separation from the homeland and again a feeling of  being caught “between” cultures.


Nan Tze is located in Kaohsiung County in the South of Taiwan where, especially among the working class, people speak Taiwanese first and Mandarin second.

271 MAINTAINING HOMELAND CULTURE & TIES Other factors affecting immigrant assimilation in Taiwan are the opportunities to  maintain their homeland culture, as well as their frequency of homeland contact. Within  the context of the EPZ, where so many Filipinos live together, businesses catering to  minority migrants may be found. Likewise, the migrants themselves have opportunities to  establish formal groups and organizations that outlast their individual contract periods.  Businesses (primarily operated by Filipina wives of Taiwanese or by Filipino­Chinese  who have migrated to Taiwan) and formal groups are instrumental in the maintenance of  homeland culture. The more formal, semi­governmental institutions (such as the Manila Economic and Cultural Office), in participation with churches and NGOs, host cultural and social events such as Philippine Independence Day celebration, basketball tournament, “brain twister” trivia competition I documented. Likewise, area businesses  (owned by Filipinas married to Taiwanese) observe theses holidays and festivals of the  Philippines and thus help to preserve a sense of shared history and sentimental ties to  their native land. Accordingly, these establishments reinforce solidarity among Filipinos  and encourage an awareness of shared ethnic identity. These institutions also provide for ways in which to stay in contact with friends  and relations back home and to continue to participate in the social life of the homeland.  MECO for example permits the migrant to participate in the Philippine national social

272 security and insurance programs, and even to vote in national elections. Local businesses provide courier services, money transfers, shipping, as well as selling imported Filipino products, newspapers, magazines, videos, long-distance cards telephone cards and cell phones. This frequent contact with homeland culture and communication with  individuals in the Philippines acts to maintain an orientation toward the native country  thus limiting the degree of assimilation that may occur. As return migration is  guaranteed, maintenance of social and financial ties in the Philippines is imperative for  later reintegration into the homeland society. 

Image 36 Lantern decorating the streets during Spring Lantern Festival

Holidays and Cultural Celebrations Celebration of host country festivals also is an indicator of cultural assimilation  and adoption of local practices. Similarly, continued observance of Philippine holidays 

273 signifies an orientation toward the homeland. These practices, again, are not mutually  exclusive. One may adopt the cultural practices of the destination country while  maintaining the important cultural events of the home country. Likewise, there are  different degrees of observance of a cultural holiday from active participation to merely  taking a mandatory day off from work.  In all, 61% of respondents observed at least one Chinese holiday, with 17%  celebrating three or more events during the year. Chinese New Year (57%), Moon Cake  Festival (34%), and Dragon Boat Festival (29%) were the most popular. For comparison,  77% of respondents marked a Filipino holiday while in Taiwan, and 53% celebrated three  or more. Most popular were Christmas (70%), New Year’s Day (66%), and Lent/Easter  (56%). Ethnography participants spoke of attending some of the cultural celebrations of  Taiwanese co­workers, yet they actively participated only in Filipino festivals. Jenny, for  example, talked of having attended the Kaohsiung city celebration of Lantern Festival  (Yuan Hsiao Jie 元宵節):81 There’s something that I like about the Taiwanese, the  Lantern Festival. Do you know it?.. I went out two years ago with my husband and its  beautiful, it’s fun.


See for more on Lantern Festival

3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 Textual Media Tagalog TV English Chinese Movies

Figure 9-3 Media Usage by Language

Media Media clearly is seen as a primary agent of socialization. As such, it teaches the  cultural values, styles, language, and predominant beliefs of a society. In this way, media  represents an agent of acculturation to the migrant. It is expected that the greater the  exposure to the media of the host country, the greater the degree of acculturation will  result. In the case of Filipinos in Taiwan, they are exposed not only to the host country  media and imported media from the Philippines, but also to international media in  English. It was found that international media was by far the most commonly available  and utilized, followed by imported newspapers, magazines, and movies from the  Philippines.

275 Frequency of Contact & Remittances In the survey, the amount and frequency of remittances, as well as the means and  regularity of communication with friends and family in the homeland were assessed.
90% 81% 80%




50% 44% 40%



20% 13% 10% 4% 0% Phone Text message letters/ Packages via post e-mail internet chat Couriers 0% I don't communicate with people back home

Figure 9-4 Method of Communication with Friends/Family in Philippines

30.0% 28.3%



20.0% 17.4% 15.4% 15.0%


8.4% 5.1%

5.0% 1.0% 0.0% Never/ Almost Never Monthly Several times a month Weekly Several times a week Daily Several times a day

Figure 9-5 Frequency of Contact

One­hundred percent of respondents had some form of continued contact with friends or  family in the Philippines. More than half communicated weekly or more often. As a sign  of the growing number of communications technologies available, 72% of respondents  maintained ties by two or more means of contact, 53% by more than two, and 20% by  more than three. Consistent with a recent study by Siemens Mobile Phones,82 Filipinos  prefer the ease and low­cost of cell phones for staying connected. Yet, 31% of  respondents used the internet (for chat and/or e­mail). By comparison, 63% of the US 

“Filipino wireless subscribers would rather use their mobile phones first than resort to personal computers (PCs), and if they don't receive a text message or call for a long time they constantly check their handsets.” Tabingo, Manolette February 12, 2004 Filipinos prefer cellphones over PCs BusinessWorld

277 population uses the internet, 83 approximately 58% of Taiwanese are users, 84 and only 4%  of the population of the Philippines are users.85 Thus, this group (and by extension those  friends and family with whom they are communicating) are especially connected when  compared to the general population of the Philippines.  Like most Filipinos, Roland has loved ones back home. He contacts his wife and  two children at least once a week. He prefers to use the cell phone to both text message  and call her: Stephen: How often do you call her or contact her now while you've been living in Taiwan? Roland: Hmm, About once a week. Stephen: Once a week? Roland: Yeah. Stephen: Ah, Do you call or do text message? Roland: I use call and text message. Both. Stephen: Both. Okay. Roland: Yeah. Stephen: And how much do you spend each month in telephone calls? Roland: It's about one thousand five hundred [US $42]. Stephen: One thousand five hundred. So you buy, you buy those cards? Roland: Yeah. Stephen: Yeah. Ah, More than one thousand five hundred... Roland: Yeah. More than... Stephen: That's a lot of calling. Roland: Yeah. Cause sometimes they don't like, ah, she don't like to call ah, a little time. Stephen: Right. She wants to talk for a long time?

Pew Internet and American Life Project. 2004. “Complete data memo on wireless connectivity, e-shopping, auctions, and Internet demographics” April 13, 2004 Retrieved on April 14, 2004 ( &Field=Level1ID&ID=516 ) 84 China Internet Network Information Center 85 3.4 million users ( ÷ 84.5 million Filipinos (Central Intelligence Bureau 2003).

278 Roland: She wants a long time. While the overall impact and value of remittances have been debated in terms of  furthering development in many countries, it has been observers that “the willingness to  send money to family or community members indicates a tangible form of engagement in  the lives of residents of the home country” (DeSipio 2000a).86 Again, almost all  respondents (99%) indicated that they remit funds with 80% sending money one or more  times a month. The frequency of this tie alone shows a strong bond and commitment to  those in the Philippines.  Remittances are used for everything from everyday living expenses, future  savings, buying or improving properties, or starting a small business. Most respondents  indicated that the send between 5,000 to 10,000 NT monthly, or roughly one­third to one­ half of their salary: Grace: ...It's okay if there are lots of money, but sometimes only have a little overtime. So sometimes I, every month I will, ah, my money go to Philippines. I give my money in the Philippines. To my mom. So... Stephen: How much do you send back to your mom? Grace: Maybe ten thousand. Stephen: Ten thousand pesos or NT? Grace: Pesos. So... Stephen: So about seven thousand NT?

DeSipio, Louis (2000a) Adaptation or a New Immigrant Reality? An Agnostic View of "Transnationalism" Among Latin American Immigrants. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign accessed at: & DeSipio, Louis (2000b) Sending Money Home…For Now: Remittances And Immigrant Adaptation In The United States. Tomas Riviera Institute Working Papers accessed at:

279 Grace: Yes. Maybe sometimes fifteen thousand. If I have lots of money. So I will give my mother fifteen thousand. Stephen: Okay. And what do you do with the rest of the of your money? Grace: I spend in my, in my savings. Stephen: In your savings? Okay. Grace: Yes. Stephen: You put it in savings? Grace: Yes. Stephen: Ah, how much have you been able to save in one year? Stephen: In one year? I have two hundred thousand [pesos]. As expected, labor migrants reported that their greatest monthly expenditures  were remittances and savings, followed by living expenses and pasalubong,87 a Filipino  tradition of giving gifts upon return from travels. Surprisingly, 46% of respondents  indicated that they had borrowed money while in Taiwan. About half of all borrowed  monies came from other family members, while a full third were borrowed from  Taiwanese loan sharks. Often this was to pay off high interest loans that were used for  placement fees or to pay for unexpected financial obligations from families in the  Philippines. For example, when asked to explain loans typical survey responses included: • • • “emergency (my nephew was admitted to the hospital)” “for family and for money previously borrowed in the Philippines.” “For the placement fee of my brother and for the burial of my father” While survey respondents’ savings averaged NT$5123 monthly (about US $150),  remittances averaged about NT$8267 monthly (around US $240). The most popular 


This cultural practice of sending or giving gifts when away on a sojourn often becomes quite costly. See this site for a more detailed explanation.

280 means of transfer has become the use of international ATM machines (39%). There often  is a fee at both sending and receiving banks, however it is less than wire transfers and  couriers. However, due partially to the lack of banks in more remote regions of the  Philippines, a fair number of survey respondents did use private money transfer  companies (28%) and even private couriers (22%) who have door­to­door service.
Other 5% Return to stay in Philippines 34%

Return for a time then to another country 46% Return for a time then come back 15%

Figure 9-6 Plans for Return

281 Looking Ahead: Future Plans after Return The Philippines have firmly established a culture of migration, both by  governmental efforts to promote overseas remittances and encouragement as well as by a  history of circular labor migration. This culture is readily apparent in the future plans of  Filipino labor migrants in Taiwan. Nearly two­thirds of current migrants had plans to  either return to Taiwan or step­migrate to another country when their contracts expire. Of  those who planned to go back to the Philippines permanently, 61% were on their second  or subsequent trip to Taiwan.88 Those survey respondents returning to their homeland for  good listed various plans from dreams of opening a business to hopes of getting married  and having children: • • • “Since this is my second time here, I am saving more of my salary and planning to use it to stay and open a small business in the Philippines after I finish my contract here” “Get married soon. Look again for another job in the Philippines after the end of my contract here” “My plan is to have a business in the Philippines which will uplift the standard of life of my family and to apply also the course I finished like working in telecommunication company or computer area” Ethnography participants also indicated a wide range of future plans: onward migration to other countries, return for another “tour of duty” in Taiwan, and permanent return migration to the homeland. Most who planned for return to the Philippines hoped to start a business, MaFe, for example, plans to stay for her full three years in Taiwan so

Recall that as of 2002 labor migrants are allowed to stay for two 3-year contract period in their lifetime.

282 that she will be able to earn enough for her family to improve their situation. She becomes emotional as we talk about this long period in Taiwan and her plans for return: Stephen: Do you think you'll stay for three years or just two years? Fe: Three years. Stephen: Three years. Fe: Yeah. If the company wants me to stay in three years, I still three years. But, I want to save. I want to save for, ah, when I return to the Philippines I, I have ah, money to put a small business or for my, and for the education of my son. Stephen: Right. Fe: Anyway, I told my husband to be good to his child. Ah, so that if ever, that, ah, that I, I return, we could still pay our debts. Stephen: So, you're helping to pay off those debts and then go back to the Philippines and then a small business. What kind of business would you have? Fe: Ah, I plan to have a, I cannot say it now. I cannot say it now because I still plan for it. Or what's, I’m still studying for, for it. CONCLUSIONS Filipino migrants in Taiwan do view themselves in some respects as bicultural or  “caught between cultures.” However the other evidence presented indicates a lack of  cultural, social, and linguistic assimilation. Overall levels of Chinese/Taiwanese language  fluency, close personal ties with Chinese, and participation in cultural activities and  holidays of Taiwan all were low. Moreover, by means of the permanent institutions in  Taiwan that serve Filipinos homeland culture is maintained. Especially within the  enclaves surrounding the EPZs, we find that a transnational Filipino community has  developed. Within this community, we find trans­border commerce, utilization of  boundary ­crossing communications technologies, celebrations of homeland culture, as  well as continued daily participation social, economic, and political in the homeland. Yet, 

283 the perception of biculturalism is important. Nearly 60% of labor migrants reported using  one of the strategies of biculturalism: combining cultures or practicing both cultures in  separate social spaces. Thus, while they attempt to be included within the receiving  community and see themselves as a part of it, they are disallowed by the host culture  from finding a social space in which they may belong. Thus, they create a transnational  space of their own. While geographically located within Taiwan, this community is  borderless and unbounded while it goes about its pattern of everyday interactions. 


CHAPTER 10 COLLECTIVE SOLIDARITY: THE CENTRALITY OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS  IN THE PHILIPPINE MIGRANT COMMUNITY For most Christian maids we interviewed, going to church...was primarily to seek solace in a habitual refuge or, for those who attend Filipino mass conducted in Tagalog, to forge a sense of identity and comradeship with compatriots - Yeoh and Huang 2000 (Singapore) Controlling foreign domestics’ social networks is particularly central to Taiwanese employers. While all Taiwanese employers are concerned that their domestics might run away, employers who deploy rhetoric of the other tend to use extreme forms of surveillance....They did not want them to go to church on Sundays either. Mrs. Hsia required the domestic to return home right after the church service. Mrs. Chen used extra pay to convince her domestic to stay on Sundays. A-Ho designated a weekday as the rest day. For them, church provides the domestics with dangerous and unwelcome information and networks. Church symbolizes the conversion of docile and submissive laborers to rebellious and resistant workers. - Cheng 2003 Lowe (2001) found that in Hong Kong workers constructed a strong social  identity as a “defense against their marginalization in their daily interactions with their  employers.” Similarly, Filipino migrants in Taiwan, experiencing xenophobia and racial  discrimination, looked to one another for protection and mutual support, forming a  transnational enclave within the Taiwanese society. Formal institutions (churches,  businesses, and NGOs) have provided the core of this transnational enclave in Taiwan,  reinforcing the Filipino laborer’s sense of ethnic and national identity and providing a  social and physical space in which they may continue to perform homeland culture. 

286 Each of the institutions has played a role in this maintenance of culture. Business,  often operated by the Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men, provide Philippine products,  food, and communications services. Pseudo­governmental NGOs like MECO provide  formal legal services and help to arbitrate issues with the Taiwanese government on  behalf of Filipino citizens in Taiwan. Yet, it is the churches (and principally the Catholic  Church’s worldwide network of ministries for OFWs) that provide the ultimate sense of  solidarity and connectedness with the homeland.  HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN TAIWAN When Christianity was first introduced to Formosa Island in the early 1600’s, the  island was already a contested space, with Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese laying  claim to the land. According to Dr. Chen Yang­En (2002), Associate Professor of Church  History at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, Dutch missionaries were the first  to bring Western doctrine to the aboriginal population. Soon after, Spanish Catholic  missions were also established. Both the Spanish and Dutch were driven out by the now­ legendary Chinese folk­hero Koxinga. 89 It was over two­hundred years later, in the mid­ 1800s that English and Canadian Presbyterian missionaries arrived. Dr. Chen explains 


This is the Dutch transliteration of his name. There are various transliterations of his Chinese name: Cheng Chen-Gong (鄭成功) See'sShrine.htm and even for more.

287 that, “because of the anti­foreign mentality of the Taiwanese people, many religion­ related incidents occurred, which resulted in missionaries and local converts  experiencing various afflictions and persecutions” (2002). Occupied by the Japanese from the late 1800s, Formosa Island was ceded to  China in 1943. Under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣介石) and the Kuomintang (中國國民黨,also KMT or Nationalist Party), the island was governed from the Mainland. However, Chiang Kai-Shek and his party were defeated in a civil war with Mao Tse-Tung (毛澤東) and retreated to the island in 1949, bringing with them a number of denominations (Asian and Western alike) that were exiled by the Communist Party. According to Chen (2002), Protestants and Catholics combined make up only 2-3% of the entire Taiwanese population with 75%-80% practicing Buddhism, Taoism, or other  native “Folk Religions.” THE CATHOLIC CHURCH & STELLA MARIS IN SOUTHERN TAIWAN While the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with the “renegade province” of  Taiwan, according to researcher Else DeVido (2002) of the Taipei Ricci Institute, only  about 1% of the population is Catholic. Formally recognized by the Vatican in 1951, the  Catholic Church in Taiwan established itself throughout the island in the 1950s, building  schools, orphanages, hospitals, and parishes. It was during this period that St. Mary’s in  Kaohsiung (where many of the ship­builders from Chi Chin Island as well as domestic 

288 workers throughout the city attend) and St. Joseph the Worker in Nan Tze (where nearly  600 factory workers worship) were established.  During what DeVido (2002) calls the “Transition­to­development stage, 1965­ 1975” the church was involved in many efforts to address “the disparities and social injustices exacerbated and/or created by rapid economic and industrial development.” Projects that addressed concerns of the marginalized aboriginal population were of special concern. Likewise, it was during this period that Stella Maris International  Seamen's Center in Kaohsiung was founded “for the American Vietnam soldiers who  were taking their ‘Rest and Recreation’ in Kaohsiung” and later to assist sailors of all  nationalities who were in need of repatriation, legal council, or simply a place to relax  (Ciceri 2001). By the 1990s, labor migrants from the Philippines had begun attending English  masses at Catholic Churches throughout the island. With the mission of the church  turning to the “health and safety concerns for workers, employment counseling, worker’s  rest and spirituality centers” (DeVido 2002) more comprehensive social services  developed to meet their needs. According to Fr. Ciceri (2001), the formal  institutionalization of social­welfare programs for migrants began in the 1980s when the  church established the Migrant Workers Concern Desk, in Taipei to serve then  undocumented migrants. By 1994, the Episcopal Commission for Migrant and Itinerant  

289 People (ECMI) was established and in 1997, National Migration Sunday was declared as  the last Sunday in September. In 1998, priests involved in the social and pastoral care of  migrants organized the first Meeting of the Diocesan Coordinators 90 In the 1990s, all over Taiwan, the Catholic Churches had become the focal point  for the communities of Filipino labor migrants. Small parishes, like St. Joseph’s, which  had dwindled to less than fifty Taiwanese members, became re­invigorated with the  influx of Catholic workers from the Philippines. With 800 to 900 regular parishioners  (most Filipinos) attending the English Mass at St. Mary’s in Kaohsiung social  celebrations such as Philippine Independence Day and other holidays were celebrated.  The churches, thus served not only as spiritual centers, but also as social spaces in which  to build solidarity with other co­nationals. As Fr. Ciceri explains, the priests at St. Mary’s  (only a few blocks from the Seamen’s Center) recognized the special needs of this  population: [They] realized that the needs of these workers were more than just spiritual and opened the doors of the Stella Maris International Seamen’s Center. On Sundays, the second floor of the Stella Maris became a “home away from home” for many Filipino workers: free lunch was offered to anyone who showed up at the door, parlor games, discos and other activities were organized to ease the loneliness and the difficulties experienced by the Filipino migrant workers (Ciceri 2001).


The second meeting was not held until July of 2003. I was fortunate to attend and videotape this conference.

290 Equally, the churches provided a place where workers could turn for support and  assistance. As Fr. Ciceri (2001) explains, “the Church became a point of reference for  these workers with labor related problems: often the priest was called upon to mediate  between employer and broker.” In Kaohsiung especially, Fr. Ciceri indicates that there  was a “leadership vacuum” at the Non­governmental agencies charged with maintaining  the health and welfare of workers (i.e. the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, MECO)  leading to a more important role for the church in these issues: I think, when I arrive back 1996, the situation was pretty bad with the, the Filipino government. The official in that position, they were not really helping the worker. They were really siding with the broker. And I don’t have any problem to say, they were very corrupt. And they were getting, I think, a lot of money from the broker and everything. And, ah, so at that time I was fighting against broker, employer and the Manila Economic and Cultural Office. But eventually we were able to change their labor attaché. We have the sort of campaign here and in Philippines so the labor attaché was changed and new people came in and I think they were really reform the Manila Economic and Cultural Office Recognizing all nationalities of labor migrants in need, Stella Maris was renamed the  Stella Maris International Service Center in 1999, with the shelter receiving some  funding from the City of Kaohsiung Bureau of Labor Affairs as the Management and   Counseling Center for Foreign Workers in Southern Kaohsiung.91 In a catchy 2001 

Kaohsiung was divided into two districts, with Stella Maris serving the South and the Management and Counseling Center for Foreign Workers in Northern Kaohsiung (高雄市北區外勞諮詢輔導中心), operated by Rev. Lin Cheng-Hong (林正宏牧師) and the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. It was my observation that the North Center, located in Nan Tze, served primarily Thai and Vietnamese workers, with the majority of Filipino workers preferring to go to Fr. Ciceri at Stella Maris or MECO for assistance. Jonah Lin, program secretary and manager of daily operations at the center, provided me with a tour of the establishment and an on-camera interview. While they did have a small number of Filipinos attending Bible study, the majority of their focus

291 newspaper article, Fr. Ciceri refers to his role at the center as the “‘7­Eleven’ nanny to  foreign laborers in Taiwan, sometimes work[ing] around­the­clock in his Kaohsiung  office to serve the foreign workers and sailors who take temporary shelter in Taiwan”  (Kuo 2001). Now, legally recognized by the Taiwanese government,92 the center provides  free temporary accommodation to migrant workers, foreign spouses, and stranded  seamen (Ciceri 2001). It also provides legal assistance and advocacy, counseling,  spiritual assistance, networking opportunities, education, hospital visitation, and  recreational activities.  ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER PARISH Fr. Ciceri also supervised the schedule of English masses at the smaller parishes in the  Kaohsiung area and much of Southern Taiwan (Tung Kang, Nan Tze, Ping Tung, etc.). In  Nan Tze specifically, he had taken over duties as the spiritual leader after the recent  departure of a Filipino priest. The parish, established originally in 1956, had a Taiwanese  membership of about 50 (served by Father Pan) and about 600 Filipino members. The  physical space of the parish was defined by a five­foot wall surrounding the property.

appeared to be on serving the Thai population. Jonah indicated that they had better ties with the Thailand Trade and Economic Office than MECO and had recently hired a Thai social worker to help with the population. 92 A step they had to take after being raided by the Foreign Police in 1999.


Image 37 Original 1950s building of St. Joseph and outside seating area (note the television used to see the happenings inside at the altar)

The chapel, built in the 1950s, was far too small to accommodate the large Filipino  membership, so a large out­of­doors space, sheltered in part by a corrugated roof and  overhanging trees, was lined with plastic stools and wooden benches during Sunday  services. Several open­air bamboo structures were scattered about the property providing  space for small group meetings and gatherings. The entire grounds themselves were  covered in tropical flowers and trees, giving a very tropical feel in the midst of a highly  industrialized town. This space, while providing a refuge for the Filipinos from the Nan Tze EPZ and  a focal point of social activities in the community, had recently become a contested space  as. The Taiwanese members of the church had plans to build a much larger chapel on the 

293 property, however they lacked the funds. A struggle had ensued over the offerings  collected during well­attended English­Tagalog masses and during “joint” religious 

Image 38 A group meeting under the shade of trees at St. Joseph’s

celebrations. Filipino patrons of the church had historically used the majority of these  funds to sponsor future celebrations, as well as to cover the daily operating expenses of  the church. Ellen explained: “They [the Taiwanese members] want the money, they want  to put in the savings of the Chinese because we’re in one church. But, it’s very difficult  because sometimes the Filipino need the expenses. It’s very difficult to get the money if  they’re in the Chinese savings account. So we get angry because this is a discrimination.”  The division became even greater since it was decided that Mama Angle, who is married 

294 to a Taiwanese member and has her Taiwanese citizenship, would be treasurer for the  monies collected from the Filipinos: Angel: And then when Fr. Angelo come...he told me that I'm living here, so I'm the one who'll be taking charge of the expenses and the collections. And then, the Filipino priest, not the... Stephen: He resigned? Angel: Yes, and then Fr. Bruno, he told me that...I'm the one who can understand what they are saying. Stephen: Right. Angel: Yes. What, what they are talking about, that's why they just, they to me bad words, other words, just like this priest... Stephen: Yeah? Angel: Yes. This, Taiwanese priest... Stephen: Right? Angel:.....always talking, just not like a priest, eh. Stephen: He says bad words? Angel: Yes, he say bad words. Yes, also. Stephen: About the money. Angel: Yes about the money. Yes. Because, they were looking after the Filipinos’ money. Stephen: The Filipinos raised the money themselves, but before the Taiwanese were controlling the money? Angel: Yeah... Stephen: So, you were saying that the problems you were having with your role as the treasurer.... Angel: Yes. And, before, I just, the Taiwanese was there. They want me to come out to talk to them. I don't want to talk to them anymore, because they're shouting. They're shouting... they said that this place is, is, is for the Chinese people only. Therefore, while the property is contested and a struggle over control for the fiscal  control of the church is on­going, it is in effect a Filipino parish with over 90% of its  regular members contract workers from the Philippines.  More important perhaps than the control of the church are the regular activities  that migrants find there. In addition to the regular morning and evening masses in 

295 English and Tagalog, the church has a variety of religious and social groups that meet  there. Nearly half of respondents to the survey indicated that they were involved in a  church related group (with 10% involved in multiple groups). The most popular of these  groups is the El Shaddai movement93 followed by Bible study, Legion of Mary,94 and  choir. More than three­quarters of respondents celebrated Christmas, Easter, or Feast of  the Three Kings at the church. Another 12% were involved in traditional dance (Sinulog),  and often practiced or performed at the church. Finally, St. Joseph’s was a major  organizer of community events, which included other denominations and non­ church­ going Filipinos, such as the “Brain Twister” trivia competition and a very well attended  basketball tournament. It was the church, and the activities that they sponsor, that have become the  central focus for the social life for many workers while in Taiwan. While no more  religious than at home (workers indicated attending church less frequently in Taiwan,  though praying more often),95 Filipino workers participated in many of these 

See profile of the El Shaddai movement at: 94 See more on Legion of Mary at retrieved April 12, 2004. 95 Only 58% of respondents indicated attending services “every week” to “nearly every week” while in Taiwan. On the other hand, 76% indicated that they attended services “every week” to “nearly every week” in the Philippines. Nonetheless, 62% of respondents indicate praying at every meal while living in Taiwan as compared to 57% when living in the Philippines. Thus, while religiosity (as measured by service attendance) may be less than that in the Philippines, religious expression (praying at meals) is slightly greater in Taiwan. The decrease in attendance at services may also be attributed more to the limited free time rather than a decline in religiosity. When offered over-time on Sundays most workers will choose to work rather than attend services.

Other 9%

Community outreach 4%

El Shaddai 29%

Bible Study 16%

Holiday/ Festival groups 5% Choir 14% Legion of Mary 15% Sinulog 8%

Figure 10-1 Church Group Involvement

Image 39 A small turn out (due to SARS quarantine) for the Independence Day celebrations at St. Joseph’s


Image 40 Teams prepare for the annual basketball competition

community activities  simply to be a part of a community. Moreover, the church itself, as  a permanent institution, provided a continuity that was not possible from the short­term  groupings of migrants on three­year contracts. Nor was it possible for any of the  businesses, catering to the marginal economy of migrants with limited funds and dire  economic obligations back home, to emerge as cornerstones of the migrant community.  While they did provide daily gathering spots and cultural havens, the narrow profit  margins, competition with Taiwanese owned businesses, and rapid turnover were too  great to build the same level of community resources that the churches provide. Likewise,  pseudo­governmental agencies such as MECO, while co­sponsoring many events, lacked  the means and mandate to establish social centers in every town or economic zone where  migrants were located. Finally, while Protestant groups, like the Higher Ground Free 

298 Methodist Church in Nan Tze and the Jesus is Lord Fellowship in Kang Shan, were able  to provide a social and religious space to some, the Catholic Church’s fifty­year history  of social activism with minority populations and workers in Taiwan (via CARITAS)96  gave them an infrastructure with which to serve first the undocumented migrants in the  1980s, and later the legally­imported laborers since 1992. Additionally, the vacancy left  by the already declining population of Taiwanese Catholics and the fact that more than  80% of Filipinos are Catholic (Central Intelligence Bureau 2003) created a logical match  between existing churches lacking members and Filipinos needing a place in which to  celebrate their culture. Yet, as noted by the case of St. Joseph’s, this match was not  without its problems as local parishioners struggle to maintain dominance in churches  where they are significantly out­numbered by migrant workers. CONCLUSIONS The void left in the Catholic church in Taiwan by dwindling numbers of Taiwanese  Catholics, provided a space in which Filipino migrants may reconstruct a cultural refuge.  While Taiwan traditionally is a Buddhist/Taoist nation, the peculiar circumstances of the  flight of the Catholic church from the mainland to Taiwan provided an established, long­ term infrastructure that the Filipino migrants would utilize when they arrived in the  1990s. Moreover, as a long­term institution, the church may act as bedrock to the 

See CARITAS at retrieved on April 14, 2004.

299 construction of a community of migrants. Providing daily activities, formal groups, and a  setting in which to celebrate homeland culture, the church is the primary institution of  the transnational community in Taiwan.

Image 41 A well-attended service at St. Joseph Church

CHAPTER 11 BECOMING AN OFW: RENEGOTIATION OF SELF Whatever happens, wrong or right, I did it myself. I feel confident… it's amazing what one can do when no one is there to help you. - Josephine For me, it’s just a training ground, a training ground in different aspects of our lives like in our, like here in the church. So, it’s a training ground that we serve other people then. Not just the Mass alone, but the activities outside. And then, when we go back to the Philippines, that’s the time that we can really apply what we have learned here in different ways I think. - Lanie The experience of labor migration gives the individual an opportunity to live in  another culture and exposes them to a fundamentally distinct world­view. It also  challenges them to renegotiate their self­concept as their various roles and statuses have  changed within the new social milieu. As explained previously, both micro and macro  forces work to transform the individual as their identity is reinterpreted to be the “alien  outsider.” The receiving context plays a major structural role in this process. It is expected  that a more inclusive receiving environment, especially one with existing models of  pluralism or multi­culturalism, will lead to greater incorporation of migrants. In this  case, a hostile receiving environment causes a loss of status and self­esteem. This  exclusion and rejection may lead some groups to return migration or onward (step)  migration. However, the constraints of huge debts, incurred as a result of labor placement 

301 fees, do not permit this option for most Filipinos. In the case of factory workers, the  formation of an ethnic enclave, and institutions that maintain the enclave regardless of  the temporary status of workers, has provided another option. As Filipinos redefine  themselves as the minority out­group, they begin a process of re­building their sense of  self­worth and strengthen their group solidarity. Following the argument of Tajfel (as  cited in Smith and Bond 1998), there is only one possible outcome for Filipino migrants  in Taiwan. They may not exercise Tajfel’s idea of social mobility, as there are no other  minority groups they may join and the Taiwanese society is clearly not one of  “individualistic cultures with their emphasis on equal opportunity and freedom of  association.” Nor do they seek outright social change by changing “the attributes of their  [own] group so that it would command more favorable evaluations in the future.” While,  efforts are made by NGOs and churches to influence policy changes, little can be done  without governmental support, educational, or media to influence the way in which  migrants are perceived by the society. Thus, they exercise what Tajfel terms social   creativity by reinforcing the cultural heritage of their homeland.
Now Percent 16.7% 16.7% 66.7% 100.0% Before Percent 49.4% 16.5% 34.2% 100.0%

Code PT – Negative PT – Neutral PT – Positive Total

N 19 19 76 11 4

N 3 9 1 3 2 7 7 9

SR Ethnic/Cultural SR – Occupational SR – Relational SR – Religious SR – Activity SR - NonReligious Total Other – Name Other – Age Other – Geographic Other - Time in Taiwan Other - Work Related Other – Existential Total

11 20 33 37 4 0 10 5 6 4 1 2 8 7 28

10.5% 19.0% 31.4% 35.2% 3.8% 0.0% 100.0% 21.4% 14.3% 3.6% 7.1% 28.6% 25.0% 100.0%

0 2 0 5 3 1 2 4 6 9 5 1 0 2 0 0 7 1 0

0.0% 21.1% 55.8% 12.6% 4.2% 6.3% 100.0% 10.0% 0.0% 20.0% 0.00% 0.0% 70.0% 100.0%

Table 11-1 Summary Table of Twenty Statements Tests Responses

Evidence of the micro­level process of the renegotiation of self­concept comes  from an analysis of the 432 responses to the Twenty Statements Test and the subsequent  explanation of those responses in personal interviews. The responses, split between a  reflection on identity before migration and current self­concept, were coded as  personality traits (PT), social roles (SR), and other statements. Group level comparison  of before and during migration statements were made, as well as scrutiny of changes at  the individual level. Additionally, study of the interview transcripts provided clarification  of statements and facilitated more accurate coding of the statements.


Phyiscal Description 1% SR - Ethnic/Cultural 0% SR - Occupational 11%

Other 5%

Social Role 51% Personality Trait 43%

SR - Relational 29%

SR - Religious 6% SR - Non-Religious 3%

SR - Activity 2%

Figure 11-1 Identity Before Migration with Breakdown of Social Roles

SOCIAL ROLE STATEMENTS Before migration, the identity of the migrant was embedded within the context of  their social roles. 52% of all pre­migration statements were coded as social roles. In  contrast, only 43% of statements during migration were related to social roles. The  greatest portion of these roles were attributed to the relational social roles of the family.  In all, 56% of statements regarding social roles, or roughly 30% of all statements, were  associated with these relational roles. These statements most commonly located the  migrant within the family. For example: 

304 • • • • I was... the older brother in our family I was... happy with my husband and baby I was... usually with mother all the times I was... the eldest daughter

In contrast, the self­concept of migrants while living in Taiwan is less embedded  and more independent than before. Only 31% of social role statements were relational  roles. Moreover, these roles only accounted for 13% of all identity statements. Relational  roles also reflected the transition from family member to provider of resources for the  family. Social obligations are clearly seen in these examples: • • • • I am... doing everything for my parents and brother and sister I am... a good son of my parents I am... supporting financially my sister’s schooling I am... sending money to my family, [but] its too little

As the collective family roles became a less salient part of migrant identity,  religion and ethnic/cultural identity were seen as more important. While before migration  statements included no affirmations of ethnic identity, cultural heritage, or nationality,  11% of social role statements during migration indicated an awareness of ethnic/cultural  identity. More importantly, 63% of these ethnic/cultural identity statement were given in  the first three sentences provided by the migrants. Pride in national origin, citizenship,  and being an Overseas Filipino Worker, seen both as an important occupational and  cultural role, are seen as evidence of the redefining of self in nationalistic terms: • I am... a Filipina working in Taiwan as [an] OFW

305 • • • • I am... a Filipina married to a Taiwanese I am... a native Filipino citizen I am... [a] foreign worker here in Taiwan I am... a pure Filipina

Due in part to the nature of the sample, primarily from religious institutions in  Nan Tze, more than 35% of social role statements were religious in nature. Nevertheless,  while the sample may be skewed in favor of more devote migrants, it does clearly show  that religion has become a major part of their sense of self. Only 13% of pre­migration  role statements were religious and 6% of role statements indicated that the migrant was  non­religious or much less religious than they are today: • • • • I was... not [a] church volunteer I was... not too close to god. I was...agnostic I was...not so active in religious activities

In contrast, the same individuals indicated that they had experienced a religious  conversion or had become much more committed to their social roles within the church: • • • • • I am... [a] religious person. I am... [a] Bible teacher I am... a born again Christian I am... a member of a family of God I am... a God fearing person


SR - Ethnic/Cultural 4%

SR - Occupational 8% Personality Trait 46% Social Role 43% SR - Relational 13%

SR - Religious 15%

SR - Activity 2% Other 11%

Figure 11-2 Identity During Migration with Breakdown of Social Roles

STATEMENTS REGARDING PERSONALITY TRAITS The shift in migrant self­concept from the collective sense of self as a member of  the family to a more independent and individualistic self as member of a community may  be best witnesses in the 114 mostly positive statements coded as personality traits. Before  migration, nearly 50% of personality traits were indicative of a negative self­concept: • • • • • • • • I was... very lazy I was... a cruel student during college I was... pickle­minded I was... irresponsible daughter I was... extravagant I was... stubborn I was... unfaithful friend I was... naughty


Phyiscal Description 1% Other 5% PT - Negative 21% Personality Trait 43% PT - Positive 15% PT - Neutral 7%

Social Role 51%

Figure 11-3 Identity Before Migration with Breakdown of Personality Traits

In Taiwan, personality traits reveal an awareness of the transitions in self that the migrant  has undergone as the result of difficult work conditions, exclusion, and having to become  less dependent on family: • • • • • • • • • • • • I am... I am a strong woman I am... tough I am... matured in decision making I am... patient I am... independent I am... economical I am... hardworking I am... friendly I am... adventuresome I am... stronger than I had been before. I am ...more patient now. I am... responsible


Other 11%

PT - Negative 8%

Personality Trait 46% Social Role 42%

PT - Positive 31%

PT - Neutral 8%

Figure 11-4 Identity During Migration with Breakdown of Personality Traits

OTHER STATEMENTS The majority of statements coded as other situated the migrant within their  current environment or spoke of the “public self” (the list of data we provide when asked  who we are such as name, age, residence, etc.). For example, while asked to answer the  question “who am I?” as if posing the question to oneself, six of the respondents began  with their names. While names could be coded as social roles,97 I saw them as  superfluous and not indication of the individual’s self­concept. Likewise, the eight work­  related statements were more labor grievances than statements of identity. The following 

See for example Tan Sim Yin's coding system of the Twenty Statements Test in the Appendix of Personal Attitudes, Early Childhood Recollections and Self-Descriptions HELP Institute Journal of Psychology online at: retrieved April 12, 2004.

309 examples, while providing insight into the relationship with employers and feeling of  mistreatment, did not address the question of identity: • • • • • • I just want to seek justice for what my employer done I didn’t finished my contract Its to difficult to communicate with Taiwanese people We don’t have any response from our supervisor We pay our water bill/electricity excess We don't have any O.T.

In all, 5% of pre­migration and 11% of during migration statements were coded as other. TRANSITIONS IN SELF Analysis of the Twenty Statements Tests indicates a clear shift in self­perception  that becomes even more evident in the interviews. As both a means of “breaking the ice”  and eliciting further examples of the shift in migrant identities, participants were asked to  explain in greater detail the statement made on the TST. Themes of independence and  self­sufficiency emerged, as well as a more clear picture of the role of work and religion  as catalysts for personal growth.  Maturity, Independence and Thrift I have shown that social roles, especially obligations to the family, though no less  important to the migrant in the context of Taiwan, do undergo a change. Statements  regarding personal traits become more positive as migrant first becomes independent of 

310 the family, and then the primary source of income for them. This observance may be due  in part to the age of the workers. The majority of factory workers interviewed (especially  the women in Nan Tze), have only recently graduated from colleges and, until their  migration, have lived in multi­generational family units. They are now “on their own” in  the world having to rely on themselves and the connections they make independent of the  family. In this way, they develop greater autonomy, a stronger sense of self and even  improved self­esteem. Lanie, for example, explains that her decision regarding money have become  especially significant for her as this is her first job: Stephen: You said that you’re independent and economical. What’s made you independent? Lanie: Independent in decision making, in planning how I can improve myself. Everything in myself, because I am alone here. Just, I just have friends that can advise me, but it’s me who will decide what’s good for me and then just prayer for guidance. But, being economical, maybe because it’s my first job, a serious job, that I have learned money. It’s very hard, but it’s easy to spend. I have to spend only on the things that are necessary. Similarly, Jenny finds in this interview with Josephine that she has become more self­ sufficient. Where before she would rely on her father for support, she has been forced to  rely more on herself while in Taiwan: Jenny: While you were here, did you, did you notice any changes in yourself that you didn't notice when you were in Philippines? Has anything changed while you're here in Taiwan? Josephine: Ah, a lot. Jenny: Yeah? Josephine: For example, when I was studying, I had this attitude, "I can't do this." I'd tell myself, "maybe this is wrong." But, I realized that if you, if you already

311 experienced, because for example, before, whenever I go home with an assignment I just tell my father, "Tatay [Father], I have an assignment." He'd just say, "Okay." Jenny: Then he would do your assignment? Josephine: He would do it. And, I would just watch TV. And then, after a while, "[Jo], it's done." Jenny: So you became dependent. Josephine: It's done and all I have to do is copy it in my notebook. Jenny: Great! Josephine: Yeah. It's like, always like that. But, I didn't understand what he wrote. All I did was copy it. So I became so dependent on them that sometimes when I do things on my own I would say, "Maybe this is wrong. Something must be wrong." Yeah, but you'll realize later, when you are alone. You would think whatever happens, wrong or right, I did it myself. I feel confident. Josephine, who was only nineteen years old and used fake credential to come to Taiwan, was also forced to become a more out-going and social person: Josephine: ...I was also shy before. Before, if my mother has a visitor, I really would, I would hide. I didn't want to, I didn't want to, there's someone at the door, he would knock. I would pretend I didn't hear. I would run to the, I would pretend that I used the bathroom, If somebody knocks, I run to the bathroom. I pretend I had been there before somebody knocked. Then I would think, "Who was that?" And, I would take a peek. "Ah, so, he's the one who knocked." But after Taiwan, I don't care anymore whoever you are. I changed. She attributes these changes to the process of maturation that she has undergone as a  result of becoming and OFW: “ mind has broadened. My outlook on life has, I  became mature. It's different now. I'm thinking of different things now. It's like, it's more  advanced, ...unlike before, when I hadn't experienced being alone.” Caroline, likened this process to one of rehabilitation. Unlike many, she had lived  in away from her family while attending university in the capital. As a result, she had  already experience a great deal of autonomy. The compulsory curfew and restrictions in  Taiwan, and having more friends who were church­goers acted to curb her “naughty” 

312 behavior. Yet, the experience of being an OFW also carried a element of humility and  loss of status as well:  Caroline: ... here I don’t go out often. I just, during Sundays, and after work, I go to Mass. After Mass, if there is no practice in the choir, I go home and sleep, like that. Or, watch movie inside the room. Stephen: So what did you do in the Philippines? Caroline: the Philippines, I have a lot of friends there. I have freedom. I don’t have curfew. And then, I have many friends. We go out, anytime you want, I smoke there. Here, I don’t smoke. I drink there. Here, I don’t drink. Something like that. And then, here I go to church, and there in the Philippines, no time, like that. I have time, but then I don’t. So, I feel like I’m being rehabilitated. Stephen: Okay, by not having the opportunity to go out and all of the things you… Caroline: Yeah, maybe I’m, you know, in a person’s life, there’s a peak, and then, after that, maybe I am, you know, I’m going down. Not, because the peak of my being easygoing and happy go lucky, naughty and, you know. Maybe I already reach that peak. So now I’m… Stephen: ...Longing to be more responsible? Caroline: Yeah, more responsible, like that. Stephen: Okay, And that’s what you said next, that you’re responsible, hardworking, and God-fearing, okay. Tell me about being responsible, hard working and God-fearing... Caroline: God-fearing because it’s only now that I realize, you know, I’ve said a while a go that here, maybe it’s the time for me, to, to, to realize the mistakes I did before, you know. And, until now, I felt like, I felt like I didn’t achieve anything, you know. Unlike my friends. My other friends, who are now, you know, one of my friends in the Philippines, number 5 in the bar exam, while me, I’m here in Taiwan as a factory worker. I didn’t, actually, I didn’t tell them. That I’m here… Stephen: Why? Do you think there’s any shame of being here? Caroline: Yeah, because they don’t, they don’t, they don’t expect me to work here as a factory worker. Religious Institutions & Transitions in Identity Throughout the interviews, religious institutions were seen not only as a space in  which to come together with co­ethnics and celebrate homeland culture, but also as a  resource for developing the skills to overcome the hardships of life in Taiwan. The 

313 message in many of the sermons and teaching was patience, perseverance, adjustment,  and the conquering of troubles related to life in Taiwan.  Lanie for example, explains that when she first arrived in Taiwan she was tempted  to spend her new earnings on “material things” (clothing and jewelry) and go out with  friends. It was through the church though that she learned to “live a simple life”: Stephen: What is the key thing that made you change? Lanie: Also because here [church], because of what I am doing here in the church that I open my, open my mind in the thing. Now I understand that it’s not important. I don’t know, it’s just changed. Stephen: When you first arrived here, did you still pursue those material things? Going out and having fun instead of going to the church? Lanie: I still, when I was here. When I arrived here, I still go to some places that can make me happy like in the karaoke bars, something like this even I am serving here [church]. But then, eventually, so many things changed, that I have to live the life simply. I just have to help my family. I have to help my coworkers. I have to help. Stephen: So the church, then. It was a slow process? Lanie: Yeah. It’s not that easily changed. I became simple, became... A slow process, yeah. Others found in the church a refuge from both the problems of Taiwan, but also clarity in  understanding problems back in the Philippines: Jenny: Just more God-fearing because I’ve away from my family for so long and the family that I got is Him. Stephen: So religion has become important to you because you depend more on it more than before when you have a family to depend on? Jenny: Hum um (nods). Stephen: What other things have changed? You came here the first time for adventure. this time, it’s because you… Jenny: I need the money. Stephen: You need the money. But, you also say you were bored in the Philippines. You said that you were bored at your sister’s house. Jenny: The, another reason why I go here, I went here, is because I want to get away from something. I could not tell Father, Father Bruno. He told us that some

314 of you here are just to get away from their troubles in the Philippines. And he’s right. Stephen: What troubles are you trying to get away from? Jenny: Those things, like you can’t face. The fact that we’re living with my husband’s family. And… Stephen: Did that cause stress on your marriage with your husband? Jenny: Yeah. It’s always that and the family. And I want to have something of my own. I want to earn something of my own, so that I could do all the things I want to do. Many of the men involved with the born­again Christian group in Kang Shan,  indicated that it was through the church that they overcame their “vices” and “sinful”  behaviors. Joshua talked of being an “unfaithful friend and husband,” an “alcoholic,” and  a “cruel person.” Now he plans on attending Bible school and becoming a preacher.  Similarly,  Jin explained that during his wild­days in college he was “very lazy,” “a chain­ smoker,” “addicted to hard drinks,” “loved x­rated movies,” and was the “black sheep of  the family.” It was not until he married in 1997, that he began to settle down. But, as he  puts it he was “a little wild” still when he went to Taiwan in 1999. He attributes his  participation in the Jesus is Lord (JIL) group in Taiwan as having improved his life, as  well as his relationship with his wife and son. Work & Personality Changes  Other positive personality traits may have resulted from the arduous work  conditions and even unfair treatment in the workplace. Positive statements such as being  “more patient,” “more versatile,” and “harder working,” could be directly linked to 

315 enduring the conditions of the workplace. For example, Fe explains that she has had to  learn to operate many machines. Also, because she didn’t want to work for a particular  line­leader she has had to become adept in other areas: Stephen: How, how have you become more versatile? Fe: I don't want to, to be versatile here, when it comes to work. When it comes to work only. Stephen: Okay? Fe: Because , because it, it pays , the same. It’s the same.... I love my work now as an Inspection. Before, the line leader wanted me to work, ah to, to, what do you call this? Hmm, repair, repair, and, a profiler to get a temperature of the machine. I don't like it, because it's so, ah, I don't like her, her attitude. So, I want to be a versatile when it comes to work.

Similarly, Gina had to adapt to very harsh work conditions on her first trip. She learned  patience and perseverance as well a “dedication in whatever career or job [she’s] taken.”  She explains how difficult these conditions were at her first job in Taiwan: Gina: Ah, we have six machines. It is very, very long. Very, very long and ah, ahh, one side, one side of the machine has, ah, almost one thousand spindles. For, for the thread. Yeah. And then, two sides. So one machine has almost two thousand spindles. You have to look after that. Two thousand times six machines. Stephen: One person had to do six machines? Gina: Yeah. Six machines. It is, it is very, very long. Very long. And then you have to walk fast. Very fast. Our section chief said that, that six machines you have to look after that. Walk all of, all that six machines for one minute. So, you have to work fix this, the thread of the spindle and then go around and around. Yeah. No chance to sit down. Yeah. Stephen: How long were your shifts? When you would work, how long would you work there? Gina: Ahm, Before, ah, for my one year there, ah, eight hours. Stephen: Eight hours? Did you have to work overtime also? Gina: Yeah. Stephen: Right. Gina: And then my second, my last, second, two years, I worked twelve hours. Stephen: Twelve hours.

316 Gina: Twelve hours. Yeah. Everyday. Eight in the morning to eight in the evening. Then eight in the evening up to eight in the morning. And then, ah, the most terrible thing was that, if you ah, happen to have an accident, your finger, yyour finger might be cut, you know. Ah, I ex, I-I, experienced ah, almost. My finger, my finger almost cut. And everyday, everyday, you know, everyday, you must be happy if that one day of your duty, if that eight hours of your duty nothing, nothing ah, what do you call, Stephen: No injuries? Gina: No, no injuries. Yeah. Marivel, on the other hand, was still in training. While having to learn new job  skills she said her greatest challenge was to become patient: “Ah, especially in, in the, in  the production. I'm, I'm now a trainee. I have to be patient with my trainer.” If she made a  major mistake while operating the new machines she would be subject to “disciplinary  action” such as loosing incentives or even being sent home after three such mistakes.  These sanctions made her more conscious of the fact that what she does may have a  significant financial effect. CONCLUSIONS: THE SELF AS “OTHER,” THE SELF AS “OFW” It is clear from the Twenty Statements Tests and interviews that some change has  occurred in the perceived identity of the individual. This shift become apparent in the  shift in social roles of the migrant as well as in their individual personality traits. As a  result of the migration experience and the context of their reception, the Overseas  Filipino Workers in Taiwan have become: more individualistic; more independent; more  aware their ethnic/cultural identity; and they have a stronger, more positive sense of self

317 Before migration, the salient identity of OFWs in Taiwan was embedded in the  social roles of the family and the responsibilities or obligations toward the family. Nearly  30% of all before statements referenced these family social roles. Moreover, as explained  in Chapter 8, it was the deep sense of obligation to the family that resulted in the  economic need for migration. However, in the xenophobic context of Taiwanese society,  foreign workers are assigned the label of the out­group. They are treated as the “alien  other,” and assigned a lesser role in the socially stratified society. The obvious rejection  by the Taiwanese community challenges their sense of belonging. Moreover,  opportunities for assimilation are greatly limited by the structural constraints of their  employment, the governmental policies limiting their mobility, and the lack of a “place”  within the host society. As shown before, even the foreign spouses of Taiwanese men  experience this negative response and cannot provide a model of incorporation within the  society to other migrants. Rather, they too become part of the enclave instead of  assimilating to the dominant community.  Yet, while socially rejecting the foreign workers, the host community does supply  economic opportunity that they cannot find in their homeland. The outcome is an attitude  of indifference toward Taiwanese culture, language, and society. There is little to  motivate the worker to seek an understanding of the Taiwanese and few opportunities to  explore the culture. However, for those living in the vicinity of the Economic Processing 

318 Zones, there is a pull to reaffirm their ethnic/cultural heritage, and even nationalistic  pride, as the institutions of the enclave provide a sanctuary from the social isolation of  the host community. In­turn, a refusal to become like the dominate society, or reactive ethnic identity,  leads to the construction of an “in­group” identity among the typically fragment,  regionalistic identities of Filipino migrants. As they focus their free time on the  institutions of the enclave, especially religious organizations,98 they reaffirm their  ethnic/cultural identity as Filipinos. These churches and businesses provide a way to  ameliorate their quality of life and mediate the discrimination they experience in the  receiving community. They also provide a transnational space that allows the celebration  of homeland culture through the observance of Filipino national holidays, religious  festivals, music, dance, language, food, and activity groups centered on cultural  expression. Essentially, migrants recognize their national unity and citizenship and  “become Filipino” within the context of exclusion and discrimination. Thus, while one’s identity was previously rooted in the collectivism of the  extended family, the migration experience itself has lead to a more salient national  identity as well as more importance in the individualized self. While the experience is  arduous and demanding it leads to a stronger, positive self­concept. The forced 

Observational evidence suggests that the dance clubs, bars, and other nonreligious social institutions, which also cater to Filipino migrants around the EPZs, provide a similar place in which they may find refuge from the host society.

319 independence from family and the shift in roles to that of economic “provider” are  reflected in the many statements like, “I am doing everything for my parents, brother, and  sister,” and “I am financially supporting my sister's schooling.” For many this was 

Understanding of Social Role: Relational role based on family collective and regionalism

Rejection by host community: Xenophobia, exclusion, discrimination, harsh working conditions, prejudice, unfair labor standards


Indifference toward host community, lack of assimilation opportunities, reactive ethnicity, formation of enclave


Reinterpretation of Social Roles: Role now based on ethnic/cultural identity, greater individualism, more positive self concept

Figure 11-5 Migration Experiences in Taiwan and Revised Self Concept

the transition from dependent to patron of the family helped to create a more positive  self­concept. Twice as many of the “after migration” statements in the TST were  personality traits, indicating grater individualism. Likewise, nearly three times as many  positive personality traits were given than before migration, point to an improved self­  esteem and self­concept.


I began this study by drawing together a diverse literature on migration,  transnationalism, assimilation, and social identity theory and fit them within the  interpretivist paradigm. In this manner, I have attempted to construct a comprehensive  approach to studying labor migration. More importantly my interest was to show the  effect that the receiving community has on the individual migrants and their self­concept,  as well as the migrant group and its path to incorporation/inclusion or rejection/exclusion  in the host society.  Similarly, the research has pulled from various ethnographic methodologies not  commonly found in migration research. While no one element of the project’s approach  is especially unique or innovative to sociology as a whole, when used in combination the  ethnographic experiences, visual data, survey results, observations, social­psychological  tests, and the participatory nature of the work provide a more complete depiction of the  subject than any one approach may have accomplished. In this way, the project  contributes to the literature on migration and transnational communities by breaking  ground in new mixed­methods approaches. Likewise, this approach will allow for a broad 

321 distribution of findings by means of its visual content in presentations documentary  videos and hypertext photographic documents to a general public. The case study of Filipino laborers in Taiwan is especially unique. As a semi­ peripheral nation, Taiwan has only recently become a receiving country. Unlike many  Western nations, it imports laborers through a regularized and legal system, but disallows  them equal rights within the labor market. It also bars them from ever becoming  permanent settlers, excluding them from real social participation in the society. Both  economic and cultural reasons are suggested for these practices. Thus, Taiwan provides  an ideal setting in which to test the hypothesis that a monocultural, monoethnic  community that rejects and excludes migrants from social/cultural/political participation  will result in creating marginalized individuals who’s sense of ethnic self is a reaction to  the dominant community. Moreover, if there is a sizeable enough population of migrants  it was predicted that enclaves would form around this reactionary ethnic identity and  reinforce their homeland culture.  Accordingly, in the course of this dissertation my analysis has moved from a  description of the cumulative causes of Philippines –Taiwan labor migration and the  narrative of exit for individual migrants, to a depiction of the reception context and the  individual’s reaction to isolation and exclusion from social/cultural/political processes,  and then finally to the reactive formation of an enclave community and the individual’s 

322 shift in self concept as a result of their migration experiences. Evidence of this exit– reception–reaction progression has been presented at the community and individual  levels and was drawn from the ethnographic survey data, interviews, field observations,  governmental and NGO documents, as well as review of academic and journalistic  writings.  However, the limitations of the study must be noted. As with any ethnography,  generalizable claims may not be made, though special effort was made (by employing  survey techniques and triangulation of data sources) to ascertain the experience of a  broader sample than the participants in the interviews and observations alone. While the  arguments made herein seem to support the hypothesis, Taiwan, as a single case study,  may be unique in the world. Further comparison in other semi­peripheral receiving  countries would be of use (for example Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong). Likewise,  Nan Tze is only one of the Economic Processing Zones in Taiwan, and while there is  evidence that enclaves (such as “little Manila” in Taipei) do exist, it may not be the case  in all such settings. Instrumental in the Nan Tze community is the central role of the  Catholic church, as well as the smaller evangelical Protestant groups, in providing  permanence in an otherwise temporary community. As the majority of participants were  recruited from these religious centers, the data may be skewed and atypical of 

323 experiences of non­church going migrants. Therefore, conclusions must be situated in the  specific context that was observed.  In the following sections, I provide a recapitulation of the main points of the  dissertation fitting them to the theoretical model established in Chapter 2. I then discuss  social and policy concerns arising from my inquiry of migrants in Taiwan and give broad  recommendations for governmental agencies in Taiwan and the Philippines and non­ governmental relief organizations working with marginalized labor migrants in Taiwan. CUMULATIVE CAUSATION & LABOR MIGRATION TO TAIWAN The Cumulative Causation Theory, developed by Douglas Massey from his research on Mexican migration to the United States, provided an explanation of migrant trajectories based on wage differentials, push-pull mechanism, migration networks, etc. that showed how early sojourning migrants help to promote future migrations by the establishment of strong social ties between sending and receiving regions. The argument  was made, in Chapter 5, that rapid population growth, a high dependency ratio, under­  and unemployment and lack of development “push” migrants from the Philippines to  seek overseas employment. The polices of the Philippines government to endorse labor  migration and international remittances, further promote the “culture” of migration that  has developed. In Taiwan, I contended that the rapid decline in the birth rate, low levels  of unemployment, and increase in the educational attainment of workers has led 

324 companies to search elsewhere for low­cost laborers thus “pulling” workers from other  Southeast Asian countries.  Likewise, policy changes in the early 1990s resulted in a regularization of the  recruitment process and the creation of the placement­broker hiring system outlined in  Chapter 6. This system was instrumental in affording the migrant just enough economic  advantage to migrate, yet keeping their financial obligation and debt high enough that  they would be compliant workers throughout their residence in Taiwan. However, this  system has been challenged by NGOs and labor rights groups who have won small  consolations from the Chen government with changes in the policies regarding  pregnancies tests, regularization of brokers fees, and establishment of legal counseling  centers and shelters. However, these concessions have been made at the same time as  wage cuts, quota reductions, and charges for room and board.  Chapter 6 further details the system of foreign labor recruitment that, in essence,  may be likened to indentured servitude. As a rule, placement agencies overcharge  potential workers and often lend them money for fees borrowed against future earnings of  family properties in the Philippines. This practice creates debt at such levels that workers  must their first year, and sometimes longer, paying back what they owe rather than  supporting family through remittances or saving for future endeavors. Indebtedness is  further exacerbated by monthly fees and deductions for labor brokers in Taiwan and 

325 especially the common practice of “side” contracts that exceed legally agreed upon fees,  but have to date been upheld in Taiwanese courts. Much as macro­level demographic, economic and political processes drive  migration, the culture of Philippine migration has emerged as a social phenomenon as  well. This follows too from cumulative causation theory. While, in this case, material  culture of the host society is actually rejected by the migrants, the remittances they send  afford family the ability to purchase goods from beyond their local communities. In a  similar manner, material goods (DVD players, small TVs, Radios, and other electronics)  are brought back with returnees thus impacting the culture of the sending community and  encouraging, by example, others to migrate so that they may afford such luxuries.  As evidenced in the narratives of exit, in Chapter 7, choice to migrate is also often  made at the family level as economic necessity and kinship obligations lead the most  “fit” member(s) of the family to migrate and thus contribute to the support of others.  Social ties within the context of reception and returnees further aid encourage migrants  to go overseas. Transnational networks of migrants, primarily close friends and family,  create a referral and support network that assist the potential migrant in locating labor  recruiters (and in some cases even jobs), loaning them funds to pay placement fees, and  providing them with information on the receiving context. In Chapter 7, we saw that  while economic necessity lead to migration, social ties were often essential to the 

326 selection of a destination country. This is not to say that it is the only means of selecting  a receiving country. The data from the Nan Tze survey demonstrated that placement  agents in the Philippines also promote certain destinations through advertisements and  agency recruiters. Also, social ties and commitments within the institutions of the ethnic  enclave, also worked to keep the migrant in Taiwan well passed the time when some are  required by economic reasons. RECEPTION EXPERIENCES & LACK OF ASSIMILATION Overall, all categories of migrants (domestic workers, spouses, and factory  workers) were found to be socially, culturally, linguistically, economically, and politically  excluded and isolated from the dominant society. I argue in Chapter 8 that this exclusion  is the result of a cultural fear of foreigners, especially those who are from developing  countries. Xenophobia leads to acts of discrimination, “othering,” and “essentializing” in  governmental policy, media reports, and public opinion. Stimulated by Taiwan’s ongoing  attempt to define its own national identity (as separate and unique from the PRC, and  other countries in the region) and to protect historically marginalized domestic minorities  (aboriginal groups that now comprise less than 2% of the population), the government  creates an underclass of imported laborers who are not given equal legal protection nor  equal pay, and who are often subjected to policies that disregard their basic human rights. 

327 As Taiwan attempts to enter the global political arena, these violations of international  labor standards99 and human rights laws will become especially relevant. Employment  insecurity, exclusion from coverage under domestic labor laws, lack of ability to select  new employers among those approved for foreign laborers, the constant threat of illegal  deportation, prohibition to organize, lack of individual rights in negotiating contracts  while “side contract” are unilaterally decided by employers/brokers to the economic  disadvantage of workers, as well as restrictive living conditions, constant state  surveillance, and unchecked employer abuses are all issues that will play in the debate  over the status of Taiwan as a full member of the international community. As a result of the policies and practice of exclusion, assimilation and  incorporation do not occur. Filipinos are not found to become incorporated into dominant  society in the linear structural sense (as an entrance of the immigrant group into the  social groups of the host society), nor in a “bumpy line” of socioeconomic assimilation, residential assimilation, intermarriage and amalgamation. As there are no other minority groups to whom they may assimilate, there is no evidence of segmented assimilation occurring as well. Finally, acculturation, or adoption of the cultural patterns of  Taiwanese, is limited only to the most extrinsic characteristics (perhaps eating with chopsticks and speaking survival Mandarin/Taiwanese). Only among long-term settlers

See the ILO’s Fundamental Conventions especially: Freedom of Association, Abolition of Forced Labor, and Equality. Online at retrieved on April 21, 2004.

328 (Filipina wives of Taiwanese men) is there any real evidence of linguistic assimilation or attempts to dress like or present one’s self as Taiwanese. Though again, in the few cases presented here, intrinsic traits of religion, values, and tastes, were still predominantly Filipino. OUTCOMES: TRANSNATIONAL ENCLAVES & SHIFT IN SELF­CONCEPT Filipino migrant workers’ reaction to the monoethnic and xenophobic receiving  context is generally one of indifference to outright rejection of Taiwanese culture,  language, and society. In the conclusion of Chapter 8, I contend that factory workers,  recognizing that they must, to some degree, “get along” with Taiwanese employers and  the public, develop only a limited proficiency in Taiwanese or Mandarin. Few adopt any  of the cultural practices of Taiwan other than using chopsticks or eating some Taiwanese  foods (usually those that resemble foods common also in the Philippines). Social ties to  Taiwanese are typically weak with some acceptance at an individual level if the employer  or co­worker speaks English or has an empathetic understanding of the worker’s  predicament as a labor migrant in Taiwan. Chapter 9 in particular makes the case that, at  the group level, there is little in the way of acceptance of dominant culture and thus very  limited acculturation. On an everyday basis, migrants instead maintain homeland ties in  economic, social, and symbolic domains.

329 While acculturation is limited, migrants’ sense of Filipino cultural identity is  reinforced, especially among the factory workers. A reactive, ethnic identity that is  nationalistic and celebratory of Philippine heritage emerges. Migrants, isolated from  social participation in the host culture, look to co­ethnic ties for solidarity and group  identity. Especially in the areas around the Economic Processing Zones, they build  economic, social, and cultural enclaves. Chapter 10 presents the thesis that these  communities, centered on cultural and social activities in the churches and the economic  activities of Filipina spouses of Taiwanese men, are transnational in nature and facilitate  the movement of goods, services, information, and people between the Philippines and  Taiwan. The role of the migrant spouses in providing Filipino goods and services also  serve as an example of the marginality of permanent residents who are not active within  the economy of the host society. Identity Theory, presented in Burke and Stets (2000) and recounted in Chapter 2, discusses the self as occupying a role. Identity, they explain, is determined by the role the individual assumes within the social structure and the internalization of the role expectations. In Chapter 11, I present evidenced of transition in self­concept as a micro  processes occurring as a result of the shift in social roles. For the individual, the  migration and employment experiences lead to a shift in roles and status within the  community thus resulting in transformations within their personalities. Female factory 

330 workers in particular gain independence and improved self­esteem from the experience of  becoming the provider for family. Likewise, following Social Identity Theory, in­group membership determines the  individual’s group identity  (i.e. ethnic or national). All of the migrants in this study were  found to have developed a more salient Filipino identity as the experience of “othering”  (or being the out­group to the dominant society) challenged their ethnic identity. At the  group level, this challenge has lead to a celebration of cultural heritage and a group  identity of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as “heroes” of the Philippines.  These group activities, for the factory workers in particular, become the basis for  the formation of transnational enclaves in which homeland culture is maintained and  group solidarity is reinforced. Following Faist’s (2002b) argument the activities of the  enclave are transnational in nature as they create distinct social spaces that transcend the boundaries of nations. Cultural celebrations, the remittances of funds and material goods, the constant circulation of individuals between the countries, the everyday ties that are maintained by telecommunications technologies all point to transnational activities in the three realms that Faist lays out: transnational kinship groups, transnational circuits and transnational communities.

331 THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS While providing only a single case study in this project, this work may develop as  a comprehensive theory of the relationship between migrants’ modes of incorporation  and the social structure of the receiving country. It has combined the individual and  group levels of analysis and fit them within the macro economic, political, and  demographic context. This research has interesting implications for the discourse on  globalization of labor, formation of transnational communities, the feminization of  international labor regimes, and identity theory as it applies to migrants. By recognizing  and exploring the importance of the receiving community, theories of immigrant  incorporation, assimilation, and acculturation may become more powerful in accounting  for the distinct outcomes of various migrant groups within a given context. Contextual  factors such as ethnic composition of the receiving community, social constraints on the  migrant community, and cultural perceptions of ethnic others, as well as structural  aspects like governmental policies, economic processes, and demographic factors are all  shown to be instrumental in determining the degree of inclusion/exclusion of migrants  and thus shape opportunities for immigrant incorporation. 

332 SOCIAL CONCERNS ARISING FROM INQUIRY The primary concern that I have from this research experience involves the  coercive relationship between placement agencies in the Philippines and brokers in  Taiwan over migrant laborers. From the analysis of the survey data, the system of  placement agencies and brokers has been shown to systematically overcharge workers.  Both placement agencies and brokers alike are culpable. Placement agents were on  average charging workers twice to three times the legal fees allowed by the Philippine  government. Likewise, brokers were found in nearly a quarter of cases to be overcharging  respondents, as well as working to uphold conditions that were restrictive to the rights of  the worker. The profiteering and other exploitive practices are created from the migration  system itself. While legitimated by both the Taiwanese and Philippine governments,  brokers and placement agents are comparable to the illegal smugglers of undocumented  workers in other countries (“snake­heads” in Chinese to North­America migration,  “coyotes” at the US­Mexico border, “mafiosos” in the North­Africa to Spain trade, etc.).  These intermediaries, with governmental awareness, operate outside of and around the  laws of both countries. Migrants are coerced to “borrow” monies to pay exorbitant and  illegal placement fees from “lending agencies” associated with the broker/placement  agency. Likewise, they often pay legal, but unscrupulous, additional fees for jackets, hats, 

333 “extra” paperwork, and the like. While at the airport and ready to depart (after paying  large sums or deposits on their placement) they are made to sign “side contracts” that, in  effect, negate the legitimate contracts negotiated between governments. These side  contracts impose additional expenses, deductions, or harsh living restrictions (such as no  day off, no overtime, no cell phones, etc.). The migrant has little agency or voice in the  system and are thus marginalized in the global labor market.  This marginalization of people from developing countries also leads to concern  over the role of transnational corporations operating in the semi­periphery. Companies  are offered substantial incentives to move their operations to the Economic Processing  Zones of Taiwan including exemption from import tax, commodity tax, and business tax.  Notable international corporations such as Hitachi, Sony, Sanyo, Philips, Toshiba, Canon,  Epson, and numerous suppliers of other major international conglomerates profit from  this arrangement. In effect, companies are paid to locate in Taiwan, while workers from  other Southeast Asian countries must pay for the opportunity to work at reduced wages in  the these EPZs. Employers too were found to be exploiting laborers by not paying  overtime, assigning “unreasonable” workloads (such as having imported workers  operating multiple machines simultaneously), and paying earned overtime as days off.

334 POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS There are a number of policy recommendations that emerge from this research  and may be of use to governmental agencies, NGOs providing relief services to migrants,  and companies that employ migrant laborers. These recommendations are related to a  restructuring of the placement­broker system, providing a comprehensive support  network migrants, addressing labor and human rights concerns, and changes to the  enforcement of contract terms and living/ work conditions. As the majority of problems are related to the placement­broker system, this  would be the area that is in most need of restructuring. While attempts were made to  allow companies to hire workers directly from the sending countries, thus circumventing  placement agents and brokers, no incentives were used to promote this undertaking.  Taiwan, while offering huge incentives to companies to locate in the EPZs, could do  more to promote direct hiring by offering a streamlined visa program for these  employers. Presently the system is so cumbersome and bureaucratic that it is more  efficient for employers to contract with brokers for maintenance of paperwork and the  six­month cycles of updating of working permits (with the employees paying the  expenses). If this process were made less cumbersome, with perhaps only yearly or every  other year updating of documents, employers would be able to maintain records from  their own human resources departments rather than employing labor brokers. Moreover, 

335 labor brokers, who are supposed to represent the employee in disputes and negotiations  with employers, have been found to collude with the employers to suppress and control  workers.  Social, health, and mental health services, while being provided by the regional  counseling centers could be better administered through local churches and other  permanent institutions in the migrant communities. These organizations should hire  trained social workers from the sending countries, and perhaps train permanent resident  migrants such as co­ethnic spouses of Taiwanese men. These social workers should be  placed within the setting of the migrant enclaves, near dorms or other centers of  congregation. Domestic workers in particular are subjected to serious human rights and  labor violations. As a result, a social support network specifically for caretakers/  housekeepers, including occasional visits to the homes where they are employed, should  be instituted. Changes to the laws and penalties regarding illegal work by domestic  workers should be established to protect the worker, rather than the employer. The current  system of a warning the employer on the first offense before reassignment of the worker  results more often in employers illegally deporting workers who contact authorities.  For all workers there should be rights to collective bargaining and equal pay.  Some provision for representation by workers in negotiations with management should  be provided for each sending country. Current laws disallow the individual agency in 

336 negotiating contracts, instead giving all power to the employer and broker by upholding  “side­contracts” that forced on the worker in a coercive manner. All addendums signed  after POEA approval of the labor agreement should be deemed illegal and penalties  should be levied against unscrupulous brokers, placement agents, and employers.  Workers should receive full and equivalent coverage under domestic labor  standards laws in all sectors and industries. Separate contracts should be offered based on  the specific industry and job duties. Employees, often hired simply as a laborer, find,  only after they arrive, that their positions involve handling of caustic, hazardous and  carcinogenic materials or their duties entail other unsafe work conditions. Thus, while  employers have the option to dismiss workers within the first days of their contracts  without cause, workers too should have the rights to move within the labor force at least  within those sectors and companies that are authorized to hire them.  Government oversight either directly by CLA officials or by NGOs as  independently contracted evaluators should be performed on a regular basis within each  of the workplaces. Audits of company labor practices and allegations of abuses should be  carried out and unethical employers should lose the right to hire overseas workers.  Arbitration and mediation should be moved from the realm of the broker to an  independent agency. All cases where employees are to be repatriated should first be  reviewed by this independent group with representatives from labor, government, 

337 industry and NGOs included. Currently, there are no provisions for workers who are  being illegally repatriated other than to escape and seek shelter with one of the  counseling centers.  Finally, if Taiwan is to enter the international community as a full member, it  must do more than adopt the rhetoric of human rights and fair trade. Taiwan has become  increasingly embedded in the global networks of trade and, while historically a sending  country itself, it will continue to develop as a destination for migrants from core nations  as well as other developing Southeast Asian countries. While struggling with its long  history under the authoritarian rule of General Chang Kai Shek (蔣介石), reconciling the  past mistreatment of domestic minority groups, and searching for its own national/ethnic  identity, Taiwan’s populace must learn to become pluralistic and inclusive of the migrants  who increasingly will seek membership in their society. 


Image 42 Factory workers in Nan Tze in a Taiwanese restaurant

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General Labor Contract for Employers in Taiwan100



5. 6.

1. 2.



3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8.




Transnationalizing the Self: Filipino Workers Survey This survey is anonymous and confidential. None of the information you provide will be shared with your supervisor/ line leader or employer, government, agencies or brokers. The interests of this survey are for academic and social justice purposes. Generalized information about the lives of Filipino OFWs will be used to better the conditions of Filipinos and other labor migrants throughout the world. Thank you for your participation. A. BACKGROUND INFORMATION 1. 2. 3. Sex:

Age: _______ years Marital Status: o Never Married


o o o o o

Engaged (How long? ______________months/ years) Married (How long? ______________months/ years) Separated Divorced Widowed


a. How many children do you have? _________________________ 4b. Single parent? o No

5. Which region of the Philippines are you from: ___________________________________ 6.


Which of the following best describes you position/status? o OFW - Factory worker

o o o o

OFW - Caretaker OFW – Domestic Helper Filipina/o married to Taiwanese Other _________________________________

7. 8.

How many times have you been to Taiwan for work? _____________ When did you: o Arrive on your first/only trip (month & year)? _________________

o o o

Leave on your first/only trip (month & year)? _________________ Arrive on your second trip (month & year)? _________________ Leave on your second trip (month & year)? _________________

Have you lived/worked in other countries? o Hong Kong

o o o o

Korea Bahrain Israel Lebanon

o o o o o

Kuwait Saudi Arabia USA/Canada Europe Other _________________

10. Your education (check only the highest level achieved):

○Primary school ○Academic high school ○Vocational high school ○College
11. How did you find out about work in Taiwan?

○University (BA/BS degree) ○Graduate school ○Other_____________

○ Friend in Taiwan ○ Friend who had been in Taiwan ○ Friend going to Taiwan ○ Relative in Taiwan

○ Relative who had been in Taiwan ○ Relative going to Taiwan ○Advertisement in Filipino newspaper or


B. LANGUAGE USE (check the box or circle the number): 12. What is (are) you native language(s)?

○ Tagalog ○ Bikolano ○ Cebuano ○ Ilokano

○ Hiligaynon ○ Kapampangan ○ Magindanaon ○ Pangasinan

○ Waray-Waray ○ English ○ Other____________

13. 14. 15.

Rate your overall English language ability Rate your overall Mandarin language ability Rate your overall Taiwanese language ability

0 ○ None ○ None ○ None

1 ○ Little Knowledge ○ Little Knowledge ○ Little Knowledge

2 ○ Some Knowledge ○ Some Knowledge ○ Some Knowledge

3 ○ Fluent ○ Fluent ○ Fluent

4 ○ Perfectl y Fluent ○ Perfectl y Fluent ○ Perfectl y Fluent

5 ○ Native Speaker ○ Native Speaker ○ Native Speaker

How often do you use the following languages to speak with your friends in Taiwan? ○ 16. a Filipino language? Never 17. 18. 19. English? Mandarin? Taiwanese? ○ Never ○ Never ○ Never

○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom

○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom

○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes

○ Often ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often

○ Always ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always

How often do you use the following languages to speak with your supervisor/ line leader or employer in Taiwan? ○ ○ ○ 20. a Filipino language? Never Very Seldom Seldom ○ ○ ○ 21. English? Never Very Seldom Seldom ○ ○ ○ 22. Mandarin? Never Very Seldom Seldom ○ ○ ○ Never Very Seldom 23. Taiwanese? Seldom How often do you use the following languages to speak with your Chinese coworkers in Taiwan? ○ 24. a Filipino language? Never 25. 26. 27. English? Mandarin? Taiwanese? ○ Never ○ Never ○ Never

○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes

○ Often ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often

○ Always ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always

○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom

○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom

○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes

○ Often ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often

○ Always ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always




How would you rate your overall relationship with your supervisor/ line leader or employer? How would you rate your overall service of your broker?

0 ○

1 ○
Very bad

2 ○

3 ○

4 ○
Very Good

5 ○


Very bad



Very Good


30. What problems have you had with your supervisor/ line leader or employer (check all that apply)? o Unpaid overtime o Employment other than as stated by contract o “Unreasonable” workload* o Fees, Charges, Deductions, Taxes other o Lack of rest breaks than those agreed by contract o Lack of lunch/dinner breaks o Verbal abuse by manager/employer o Unpaid days off (due to lack of work) o Physical abuse by manager/employer o Lack of payment of wages o Sexual advances by manager/ employer o Late payment of wage o Sexual abuse by manager/employer o Overtime paid as days off o Other________________________ * “Unreasonable” workload (please explain) : ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ 31. What problems have you had with your broker (check all that apply)? o Fees greater than contracted (1800NT 1st yr, 1700NT 2nd yr,1500 NT 3rd yr)

o o o o

Side contracts for additional fees Did not defend your interests in dispute with employer Broker working with employer to uphold any non-contractual conditions (e.g. illegal fees or deductions, side contracts, illegal working conditions, etc.) Other ________________________________________________________________

32. How much was your placement fee in the Philippines? ________ pesos

33. Roughly, how much were your additional expenses not covered by the placement fee?

o o o o

___________Visas, document preparation, passport, and other paperwork ___________ Photos ___________ Health check and other medical fees ___________ Jackets, hats, etc charged to you by the placement agency


___________ Other fees (explain) ______________________________________________________

34. Did you take a loan against your wages to pay for placement? o No


Yes  What was the interest (%) rate?_______________________  How much is deducted monthly?_________________________

35. Did you take a mortgage against your home or other properties in the Philippines to pay for placement? o No


Yes  What was the interest (%) rate?_______________________  How much is deducted monthly?_________________________

36. Did you have any problems with the placement agency in the Philippines? o No


Yes  Explain ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________

37. Have you had any other problems with your broker? o No


Yes  Explain ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________

38. Have you had any other problems with your supervisor/ line leader or employer? o No


Yes  Explain ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________

D. Financial 39. While in Taiwan have you borrowed money?

o o

No Yes  If yes, what was it for? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________  If yes, was it from a friend, family member, “loan shark” or other? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

40. How much money do you spend your monthly income? o Gifts for others (Pasalubong) _______________________ $NT

o o o o o

Living expenses _______________________ $NT Savings _______________________ $NT Send home to family _______________________ $NT Items for self (clothing, electronics, etc) _______________________ $NT Other _______________________ $NT

Explain:_____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ E. MEDIA PREFERENCE
41. How often do you read Tagalog newspapers/magazines in Taiwan? How often do you read English newspapers/magazines in Taiwan? How often do you read Mandarin newspapers/magazines in Taiwan? How often do you watch English shows on TV in Taiwan? How often do you watch Mandarin shows on TV in Taiwan? 0 ○ Never ○ Never ○ Never ○ Never ○ Never 1 ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom 2 ○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom 3 ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes 4 ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often ○ Often 5 ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always ○ Always

42. 43.

44. 45.

46. 47.

How often do you watch Tagalog movies in Taiwan? How often do you watch English movies in Taiwan?

○ Never ○ Never ○ Never

48. How often do you watch
Mandarin movies in Taiwan?

○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom ○ Very Seldom

○ Seldom ○ Seldom ○ Seldom

○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes ○ Sometimes

○ Often ○ Often ○ Often

○ Always ○ Always ○ Always

F. ETHNIC RELATIONS Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

49. I like
Taiwanese/Chinese people. 50. I have good relationships with Taiwanese/Chinese people.

0 ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e

1 ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree

2 ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e

3 ○ Agree

4 ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree

5 ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree

○ Agree

51. I like Filipinos.
52. I have good relationships with Filipinos.

○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree

53. I like Thais. 54. I have good
relationships with Thais.

55. I like Indonesians.
56. I have good relationships with Indonesians.

57. I have had problems with
Taiwanese/Chinese people.


I have had problems with Filipinos. I have had problems with Thais.


60. I have had problems with

○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e

○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree ○ Somewha t Disagree

○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e

○ Agree ○ Agree ○ Agree

○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree ○ Somewha t Agree

○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree

61. I feel Taiwanese 0 ○ Strongly Disagre e ○ Strongly Disagre e 1 ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree 2 ○ Disagre e ○ Disagre e 3 ○ Agree ○ Agree 4 ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree 5 ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree


I feel Filipino-a

63. Which of the following Pinoy festivals have you celebrated while in Taiwan?

o o o o o o

Feast of the Three Kings Feast of the Black Nazarene Ati-Atihan/ St. Nino Carabao Festival Mayohan sa Tayabas Christmas

o o o o o o o o

Lent/ Easter Hari-Raya Kalibongan Festival T'Boli Festival New Year's Day Labor Day Independence Day National Hero's Day

o o o o o o

All Souls' Day Bonifacio Day Great Sibidan Festival Kagayhaan Fiesta Kaamulan Other __________________ __

64. Which of the following Chinese/Taiwanese festivals have you celebrated while in Taiwan?

o o

Chun Jie (Chinese New Year) Qing Ming Jie (Chinese All Souls' Day)


Duan Wu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival)


Qi Qiao Jie (Cowherd & Weaving Maiden Festival)


Zhong Qiu Jie (Mooncake Festival) o Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival)

o o o

Mid-Autumn Festival Double-Nine Festival Ten-Ten

o o

Tomb Sweeping Day Other __________________

65. Which of the following other Filipino cultural activities do you participate in while in Taiwan? o Traditional Filipino dance

o o o o o o o

Singing Traditional/ Folkloric Filipino Songs Cooking of Filipino foods Making of a Filipino craft item (embroidery, sewing, Tapis weaving, basketry, woodcraft, etc.) Wearing of Traditional Filipino clothing (Barong, kimona, malong, etc) Practicing Arnis Balite or other Filipino Martial Art Playing Filipino games ( pusoy dos, tong-its, or other Pinoy games)

Membership in a cultural activities group Other ________________________________________ 66. Which of the following Chinese/Taiwanese cultural activities do you participate in while in Taiwan? o Traditional Chinese/Taiwanese dance

o o o o o o o o

Singing Traditional/ Folkloric Chinese/Taiwanese Songs Cooking of Chinese/Taiwanese foods Making of a Chinese/Taiwanese craft items Wearing of Traditional Chinese/Taiwanese clothing Practicing Tai-Chi, Kung-Fu or another Chinese/Taiwanese Martial Art Playing Chinese/Taiwanese games (e.g. mahjong) Membership in a Chinese/Taiwanese cultural activities group Other ________________________________________

WAYS OF BALANCING CULTURES As a Filipino living in Taiwan, you have been exposed to two cultures: Filipino and Taiwanese. Please think how much the Filipino and Taiwanese cultures feel as SEPARATE or COMBINED cultures for you. Next, read the statements below, think about their meaning carefully, and choose the one that best describes your particular experience. 67. Which is most true? o I combine both cultures (e.g., I feel a mixture of Taiwanese and Filipino-a most of the time)

o o o

I keep both cultures separate (e.g., Most of the time I feel Taiwanese in some places and Filipino in others) I only feel Taiwanese I only feel Filipino

68. Which statement best describes how you feel? o I don't feel caught between the two cultures


I feel caught between two cultures (e.g., I usually feel like I must choose between being Taiwanese OR Filipino)

H. RELIGIOSITY 69. How often do you attend worship services? (Check the answer) o Everyday o About once a month

o o o o o

Several times a week Every week Nearly every week About three times a month About twice a month

o o o o o

About every six weeks About every three months About once or twice a year Less than once a year Never

70. How often did you attend Sunday worship services when living in the Philippines?
(Check the answer) o Every week

o o o o o o o o o

Nearly every week About three times a month About twice a month About once a month About every six weeks About every three months About once or twice a year Less than once a year Never

71. How often, if at all, do you say table prayers or grace before meals? o I say grace at all meals

o o o o

I say grace at least once a day I say grace at least once a week I say grace, but only on special occasions I never, or hardly ever, say grace

72. How often, if at all, did you say table prayers or grace before meals when living in the
Philippines? o I said grace at all meals

o o o o

I said grace at least once a day I said grace at least once a week I said grace, but only on special occasions I never, or hardly ever, said grace

Devotionalism Index 73. How often do you pray privately? (Check the answer that comes closest to what you do.) o I never pray, or on1y do so at church services.

o o o o o o

I pray on1y on very specia1 occasions. I pray once in a whi1e, but not at regular interva1s. I pray qui1e often, but not at regular times. I pray regu1ar1y once a day or more. I pray regu1arly severa1 times a week. I pray regu1ar1y once a week.

74. In which church groups do you actively participate?

o o o o o o o o

El Shaddai Choir Sinulog Legion of Mary Holiday/ Festival groups Bible study Volunteer project/ community outreach Other (please list)


0 ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree ○ Strongly Disagree 1 ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree ○ Somewhat Disagree 2 ○ Disagree 3 ○ Agree 4 ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree ○ Somewhat Agree 5 ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree ○ Strongly Agree


I feel sad or depressed


I feel pessimistic (negative) about the future

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I worry about things that might go wrong

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I feel fearful or anxious

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I feel like I lack companionship

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I feel isolated from others

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I wish I could have more respect for myself

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I feel dissatisfied with myself

○ Disagree

○ Agree


I am satisfied with my life

○ Disagree

○ Agree


The conditions of my life are excellent

○ Disagree

○ Agree


In most ways my life is close to my ideal

○ Disagree

○ Agree


376 86. Please think of your closest friends (by friends, we mean people who you have
interacted with as personal friends, but not your family members). Write the initials of FOUR friends: F1. ______________F2. ____________F3. ____________F4. ____________ 87. Next please indicate on the lines below the nationality of each of the previous individuals using the categories below 1= Filipino o 2= Chinese/ Taiwanese

o o o o o

3= Indonesian 4= Thai 5= Vietnamese 6= American 7=Other (please specify F1. ______________F2. ____________F3. ____________F4. ____________

88. If you are in a romantic relationship, what is the nationality of your partner? _________ (use categories from above)

89. My favorite musician is … _________ (use categories from above) 90. My favorite co-workers is… _________ (use categories from above) 91. My favorite food are … _________ (use categories from above) 92. The person I most admire is … _________ (use categories from above) 93. My best/closest friend is … _________ (use categories from above)
K. Homeland Contact 94. How do you stay connected with friends and family back home (check all that apply) o Phones

o o o o o o

Text messaging E-mail “Live” internet chat Letters/ packages via post Couriers other than government post I don’t communicate with anyone back home

95. Do you use the internet to contact anyone other than family friends, such as to look for boyfriend, jobs, make investments, etc?


o o

No Yes

 Explain ______________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________ 96. How often do you contact friends/ family back home o Never/ almost never

o o o o o o

Monthly Several times a month Weekly Several times a week Daily Several times a day

97. How often do you send money to friends/ family back home? o Never/ almost never

o o o o o

Once or twice a year Every few months Monthly Several times a month Weekly

98. How do you send money? o I don’t send money to anyone back home

o o o o o o

Cash sent by friends/ family returning to Philippines Private couriers Governmental post Private money transfer company (iKobo, Western Union, Pesocard, etc.) ATM via Bank account in Taiwan Other ______________________________

99. On average how much money do you send back home each time? _____________NT
L. Future Plans 100. After finishing your contract in Taiwan do you plan to… o Return to Philippines permanently


o o o

Return to Philippines for a while then return to Taiwan Return to Philippines for a while then return to another country Other _______________________________________________________

101. Briefly, what are your future plans?

____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________


380 Informed Consent 101 Transnationalizing the Self: Transitions in Identity among Marginalized Labor Migrants Department of Sociology, Arizona State University Stephen Sills; PhD Candidate; Victor Agadjanian; Faculty Advisor Dear Documentary Participant: My name is Stephen Sills. I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Arizona State University. I invite you to participate in my dissertation research and documentary film/video "Transnationalizing the Self.” The purpose of the project is to create a film that will inform viewers about the experiences of migrants. You will not be paid for your participation. There may be no benefit other than a sense of informing and education the public at large. Your participation is completely voluntary. Your refusal to participate won't affect you in any way. You may refuse to participate before the production begins or stop at any time after video recording has begun. There are no known risks to participating in this project. I will interview you about your life experience for about an hour on three separate occasions. These interviews will be videotaped. Additionally, I will ask for you to take photographs and videotape objects you encounter in daily life (with cameras I will provide to you). These videotapes, photographs and interviews will be used in scholarly writings on the nature of migration. Additionally, these media will be edited to create a video documentary that may be shown publicly. If it is your preference, your identity may be concealed by use of back lighting or placement of a digital “mask.” Questions about this project can be directed to Stephen Sills or to my faculty sponsor Dr. Victor Agadjanian (480) 965-3546 at the Arizona State University. You will receive a copy of this form. Your signature below will indicate that you have decided to volunteer as a participant in this project; that your questions have been answered satisfactorily; and that you have read the information provided above.
Participant's signature: ______________________________________________ Date: ____________________________________________________________ If you have any questions about your rights as a subject/participant in this research, or if you feel you have been placed at risk, you can contact the Chair of the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board, through Karol Householder, at (480) 965-6788.


HS# 06851-03 Approval Date: 9/18/2002


382 LIABILITY AND PHOTOGRAPHIC RELEASE Program title: "Transnationalizing the Self" Thank you very much for your consent to participate in this project. The following is a release to use video and film collected for this project and to indemnify the researcher. I agree individually and on behalf of my children, spouses, heirs and legal representatives: 1. To the use of my name and likeness whether in still, motion picture, or video tape, photograph and/or other reproduction of me, my child, or my property, including voice and features, with or without my name, for any noncommercial research and educational purposes which may include publication, posting on the internet, and creation of a publicly viewed video documentary. 2. To release and to indemnify Stephen Sills and Arizona State University for, from and against any and all injuries, claims, and damages, (including attorney’s fees and other costs in the defense of any claim or suit) a result of any loss, damage, or injury, to any persons or property arising out of any action, inaction, or participation in any video or photographic productions of Arizona State University. I authorize Stephen Sills to record and edit my name, likeness, image, voice, interview, and performance. Stephen Sills may use all or parts of the program. Stephen Sills shall own all right, title, and interest in and to the program, including the recordings, to be used and disposed of without limitation as Stephen Sills shall in his sole discretion determine. Participant's name: ________________________________ Participant's signature: _____________________________Date: _________________ Contact Information: _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Sills' signature: _____________________________Date: _________________

You will receive a copy of this form