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BSN III- J The “Reward” of Care: OFWs and the Maintenance of Hierarchy in Labor Migration The demand for Filipino manpower to serve foreign countries have not been the top grossing market product until in the 1970's when the late president Ferdinand Marcos and his administration created a temporary policy which then served as a measure to reduce the unemployment and save the declining economy. The Labor Code of 1974 formalized the Philippine labor migration program and had as its main goal which is the promotion of overseas contract work in order for government to draw the economic benefits of lower unemployment and workers’ remittances. The policy was grounded with sanctions including non-renewal of passports and disapproval of new contracts on those who will not abide. The program which was meant to be temporary was seen by the successive administrations to be a permanent policy after the late president pursued the same labor policy. In this modern day period, Filipinos are bounded in a home with limited opportunities, crooked government policies and salary rates which could not suffice the basic necessities of families. Often times, people no longer see the pot of gold here in the Philippines and are blinded enough that the only option left for them is to leave the country leaving their families and with their dreams as their only source of hope. In 2008, Caregiver, a movie produced by Star Cinema, directed by Chito Roño and screenplay written by Chris Martinez, brought to life how Filipinos struggle against work, foreign culture, unusual weather and other difficulties brought by their choice to leave their country. The movie stars Sharon Cuneta who portrays the role of Sarah Gonzales, a grade 5 English teacher who opted to follow his husband, Teddy (John Estrada) in London to earn for a better living. Sarah was to leave their only son Paulo (John Manalo) to Teddy’s mother who was residing in the Pampanga. Before leaving the country, Sarah and Paulo went to Manila to wave goodbye to her mother, sister (Mickey Ferriols) and her grandmother, Lola Miling (Anita Linda). Paulo who feels upset to be left behind went to drink with his cousins and ended up pleading to his mother not to leave. Sarah promised Paulo that in time they will all be together in London and left him with a winter coat as their contract that he will use it once his parents could afford to bring him abroad. Arriving in London, Sarah was welcomed by his husband and was taken around the beautiful sights of the city. There, he saw Sean (Makisig Morales), a Filipino boy who was stealing chocolate bars in a grocery store. At work, “buro” and “bagoong” was given by Teddy to Joseph (Jhong Hilario), a Filipino doctor who became a nurse in London. Karen (Rica Peralejo), Joseph’s wife, who referred and oriented Sarah for work, helped her adapt in their routine and responsibilities as a caregiver. There came a point when Sarah wanted to give up her job because Lily, her first patient, died and she became so attached to her. Despite her difficulties, Teddy motivated Sarah by reminding her about their plans for Paulo and so Sarah continued her work as a caregiver. Because Sarah was articulate in English, she was chosen by her boss to take care of Mr. Morgan (Saul Reichlin), a wealthy, grumpy old man. Every day, she had difficulties dealing with his attitude and noncompliance to her care until she felt so unwanted and verbalized her love for work and care for Mr. Morgan. From then on, they became friends and shared stories about their lives, families and dreams. In the meantime, Teddy who failed his nursing test twice became frustrated and started drinking until he totally quit at work. Their marriage was placed into tension but Sarah continued to prioritize her work for her family. Mr. Morgan wanted Sarah to accompany him at the countryside showing her his home and his life before she met him. Sarah selflessly gave her time and care to Mr. Morgan not just as a caregiver but
also as a friend. She enjoyed every second with Mr. Morgan and David Morgan (Matthew Rutherford). Unexpectedly, Sarah heard David and Margaret Morgan (Claire Jeater) talking about her presence in the house and judging her with ill intentions. Due to her disappointment to Margaret, Sarah decided to go back to the city and left David with a note. Mr. Morgan longed for his friend and David went to Sarah asking her to go with him for his father. She willingly went back for Mr. Morgan as a friend who made her realize that the care she renders to other people is exemplary and not all are capable of. Sarah then felt so appreciated and came to know how she had changed Mr. Morgan’s perception about life. They enjoyed every second together as if they belong to one family until the time that they needed to wave goodbye to Mr. Morgan. Sarah needed to continue her life and so she went back to the city with all their memories engraved in her heart. On the other hand, Teddy was wrapped with insecurities, mounted with conflicts not just with his work but also with himself, thus, it made him feel the need to give up. He finds no opportunity for him in London and wanted to start again by either going to another country or just go back to the Philippines. Sarah being so submissive agreed to Teddy’s decision just like before. Sarah needed to wave goodbye to her friends, workmates and to little Sean who comforts her longing for her son. When they were at the airport, Sarah had second thoughts of going home because they had no savings and she had no idea of how they would start again. But still Teddy insisted that they must both go back to the Philippines. This time, Sarah wanted to stand up for what she think is right which includes staying for the opportunity she has in London. She verbalized that she is willing to work for her son even without his presence, thus, she turned her back on him and decided to stay. After years of hardship, finally she ended up happy living with his son in London. She reminisces what Mr. Morgan had taught her that if you would let fear dominate over what your dreams are, nothing will happen. Despite all her trials with their marriage, her work and the people around her, she was able to succeed and give her life a happy ending. OFWs vs. Their Country The Philippines is indeed facing a widespread emergence of labor migration which is often termed as overseas work. The question quotes on when will this bandwagon end? When will Filipinos learn how to make a living of what is free flowing in this land? In the first place, with no second thoughts, there are no jobs because no one is left in the country producing, no one is selling for the reason that even the youth has been shaped by the government, the media and even the richest businesses to take courses such as nursing, education and computer related courses because they are the highly paid lines of work abroad. The goal includes moving out of the country with all their diplomas as their weapons rather than to relate their field of work in the production of raw materials or tangible products such as food, clothes and construction materials. In other words, we have failed in our won national culture error. The present civilization does not encourage Filipinos to look into the indigenous resources and build business opportunities out of it, rather, the nation ties to what bandwagon is existing. Researches state that one of the most studied word nowadays includes “Jobs”. A word often utilized in the context of economics, sociology and even in sexual framework. People tend to seek for job opportunities in all corners of the world. If one is dissatisfied with his line of work, he tends to look for another. In other terms, jobs make the world exist and jobs make people feel their existence. According to Kiyosaki in his notable Rich Dad Poor Dad book, “The lack of money is the root of all evil”, a statement which may either dismay or elate one's perception. The truth on how people are motivated to be migrants include their appall on the four estates of power existing in the Philippines, the government, church, media and military. The government is viewed by the people in terms of their policies, the officials, and the experiences of the employees on how their politician employers have dealt with the public. The church on the other hand is often times regarded as the voice that conglomerates Christian values with the platforms the government has been taking part with. The media is also one of the four estates of power existing in the Philippines. At times, it is the strongest source of persuade on the right needs to patronize and the current events which may disrupt
economic and political views, in short the media is a tornado that wipes out peoples thinking through their strong appeal to the public. Human security is equated with the presence of the military from which people draw their disarray whether their communities, families and selves are off the hook, and whether the military brings peace and order in the society. The tilt could go on and to sum it all up, this labor export culture is either being ill-used or backed up depending on where one is coming from. In theoretical context, Adam Smith, a discriminative economist during the enlightenment age who started the discussion of classical economics depicted that labor is caused by the differences of the supply and demand of various locations. In short, this means that every person who plans to migrate must be aware and must perceive the consequences of moving to another country. Harris and Todaro on the other hand were 2 neoclassical theorists who decided to spun off Smith's suppositions. They have justified their claims by simply presenting graphs and formulas which compared the origin and destination of migrants. The models mentioned above presented a higher rate of wage and opportunity than the origin. The contesting of different major theories of migration are symbols that prove the existence of game in migration. The major players are the migrant themselves and that people move out form their origin for there is a destination. This phase may be considered as the decision process of the migrant. Another theoretical concept of migration may be viewed according to the Rational Choice Theory traced form the classical theorists, Adam Smith and David Ricardo, and the neoclassical theorist William Jevons. The literature explains that the decision maker decides in favor of the thing that would render him the maximum utility. It means that between two almost identical objects, the judgment is based on set factors that provide the maximum product. Decisions therefore are based on pre conceived motivations. According to the International Labor Organization, when one nation implements properly good policies it can be construed that it has a stable economy. These nations are often termed as More Developed Countries or MDCs. In this MDCs there are available jobs and job creation policies, supported by just regulations and structures that provide assistance in capitals such as banks offering low interest rates, therefore creating job opportunities. People migrate from rural to urban and from urban to MDCs because of attraction to a perceived notion that there is a better tomorrow in their target places. This is true especially in MDCs whose policies are labor welfare oriented and taxes paid by the labor force are properly spent to facilitate the delivery of basic goods and services. Migrating to another country with wives, sons and daughters means fewer remittances. Therefore, is permanent migration the Philippines' worst nightmare? OFWs vs. Family Why do Filipino workers opt to work in foreign land rather than serving their own country? Why do they need to leave and work for other people and yet they were not able to care for their own family? Is this due to the lack of job opportunities available for Filipinos with the competitive compensation of salary? Separation is defined as being apart or away of an individual from their own family which may eventually add to the emotional problems inside the family resulting to gaps and conflicts within them. The insufficiency of stable jobs in the Philippines and higher demand for overseas workers outside the country led for our family members to work outside the country and be separated from their love ones. In an article, by Albert Banico of Philippine Association for the Sociology of Religion (PASR), “Migration supposed to help and make people mobile so that their social mobility will produce upward and horizontal mobility in order for families and family members to have a quality of life and a progressive way of living”. But for now, this may not be true and applicable since there are a lot of families who end up broken because a family member is apart from them or there is a high risk of temptation for extra marital affairs and worse is death. Poverty may also be a reason why OFWs exist. But what is really its effect on family ties? Being an OFW has indeed a lot of benefit such as it helps in fulfilling the dreams of having a greener pasture and a brighter future for their family. They will be able to send their children in a better school that will aid in developing their child’s success in the future. They only think for the good of their love ones, they
even sacrifice their happiness just to escape from poverty. On the other hand, poverty indirectly surfaced as the primary cause of the separation in the families. Poverty is blatantly expressed in the need of people to migrate and work as an OFW because of unavailable jobs and educational facilities in their own localities. Family members whether they like it or not, because of poverty are forced to do things in order to support their family. People will seek employment even at the risk of being separated from their homes and families as in the case of the Overseas Filipino Workers. Most of this OFWs are breadwinners in their family and ignore their loneliness for the love one’s that they left in their homes or in the country. OFW parents have also a great impact in leaving their children alone. Parents working abroad tend to believe that their children are in a good hand since they send enough money for his/her expenses but they don’t realize is that their child needs something more than the money that they send. This children needs love and care coming from parents who is physically present, whom they can tell all their stories and problems and concerns. They need a parent who can support them emotionally and guide them while they were growing. Oftentimes, children who grew without their parents tend to be more aggressive in their decision. We can say that “No money can replace the hug of a father or mother, no toy or balikbayan box can take the place of the quality time spent together with one’s family”. As portrayed in the film, Sharon Cuneta was forced to leave his son because of her husband’s will even if her son is not in favor with her decision. This caused her son to feel alone and departed from his parents. This is a common scene that we can observe in the behavior of some children with parents working as OFWs. Even though, some does not claim that wealthy families do not experience family brokenness and separation, it observed that poverty and migration as experienced by the families involved substantially break the unity and togetherness in the families. The wealthy families also breakdown as they also experienced separation and brokenness. It is a fact that the movement of people from one place to another can eventually separate family members from one another. War and death were another natural causes that can experience by any family including migration whether wealthy or poor families if given by concrete conditions OFWs vs. Self It’s undeniable that Overseas Filipino Workers are found all over the globe working for foreign people who differ in culture compared to the one that they were accustomed to. Many try their luck each year to a far away country leaving their families behind. But despite the encounter of a diverse culture, they are still able to go on and adjust to their new environment. They endure the adverse conditions of being an overseas worker and try to turn risks into opportunities without any assurance. OFWs are also known for having good working etiquette when it comes to doing their jobs whether working as domestic helpers or personal service workers. They do their jobs well enough and do everything just to keep it. Sometimes, working for them is not that easy especially in the beginning because of their yearning for their loved ones as they deprive themselves of what they are suppose to enjoy with them but this feeling make them stronger to carry on with what they had started. They really work their butts out just to send money and fulfill the needs of their families in the Philippines. Their fluency when it comes to speaking in English is also admired. This is an advantage because it gives way to better communication with other people whom they interact with everyday. Their decision of being an OFW also encompasses many sacrifices and difficulties along with their goal of having a better living. One is that they give up what they have pursued for years in the Philippines as many of them are college graduates. Many of the overseas workers were once yesterday’s highly respected school teachers, engineers, nurses and etc. Some of them have works in the Philippines that really differs from what they are doing now in abroad. Many of them swallow their pride working and at the same time pleasing their employers which they rarely experience in the Philippines. They really give up everything that they have back home in order to work abroad for they keep in mind that
better opportunities await them. Overseas workers are also faced with violence, abuse and discrimination abroad and not all are fortunate enough to be spared away from these dangers. Many of them experience these things and their rights are not met and respected. Many were reported as victims of rape despite their selfless determination to help their families back home. Foreigners also have the tendency to judge the OFWs as prospective prostitutes. They think of Filipino women as only nannies or prostitutes which are very degrading. These never ending hurtful discrimination would unquestionably affect them on their work and on mingling with other people. It’s like they robbed of their dignities instead of receiving fair treatments for they only wish to have a better life. Modern Day Heroes vs Modern Day Victims Overseas Filipino Workers are often clinging to the bandwagons of society, thus, imbibing to a culture different from what is abode. In this modern day time, they are often tagged with kudos as the “Modern Day Heroes” which makes people feel peculiar with. What are their grounds for being such heroes considering that for the past decades there have been OFWs who were victims namely Flor Contemplacion who was executed, Angelo de la Cruz who was kidnapped, Sarah Balabagan who was raped and other OFWs who were extorted from, does these make them depict the essence of being heroic? Oblivious as we are, we are living a life within the bounds of a brain drained society. Let us remember that the dwindling job emergence in the country has been one of the primary factors why Filipinos tend to attach themselves to the cobwebs of globalization. The barefaced hierarchy which demands the label of haves and have nots which emerged from the 18th Century in the Western World is still badly mirrored in this modern society. Who would ever forget the noontime show Wowowee who magnifies how OFWs are able to help their fellow Filipinos left behind in the country through their dollars, pounds and checks as give-away prizes? Or the sobbing of their “kababayans” who are deprived from high salary rates, homeless, teen-age mothers, prostitutes, abused and left by their partners, all sorts of soap opera scenarios. All of these make-up a class in the society which is often looked down on to, a group of Pinoys who most of the time dream to become fortunate just how the OFWs are. An article by Jelly A. Galang entitled, “Makasalanan at Dahilan ng Pagkasala: Ang “Kahalayan” at “Kalaswaan” ng Babae sa Kronikang Espanyol, 16-17 Dantaon presented a view about the Filipinos as people seeking for fortune, good life and an escape from poverty. Often times, they look forward to a life which could sustain both their materials and non-materials needs. Wealth is also a part of the society's goals in which it can either be represented by money, subordinates who are of service to them and their class in the civilization. In another view of the article, it mirrored Filipinas as prospective prostitutes who gives leisure, lust and are considered as dirty persons and different among the foreigners. They have been regarded as inferiors who depend themselves on men and are the reasons why these macho beings are tempted. In the movie caregiver, Sarah who dedicated her time and concern for a foreigner whom she considered as a friend was accused to be a gold-digger and labeled by a foreigner as a prostitute just like in the previous centuries. The notion to Filipinas seemed to be a cobweb left hanging and still lingers in the minds of foreigners. How will we be able to change their views if in the first place, there are really some Filipinas who would even engage into a relationship which in layman's term is DOM “Dirty Old Man” or otherwise known as MMMM, “Matandang mayamang madaling mamatay”? The regard to OFWs will always be general, thus, someone innocent may be attached to that label. We can never control how foreigners perceive our culture but we can always prove to them the other way around if that is what we really mean. Merging and imbibing other culture is not that easy. Often times we are chained to their rules and policies, demands and certain practices which we have not been used to. Others may even adapt and forget what and who they really are and from where they came from for the sake of pleasing what these foreign lands require. We regard our overseas Filipino workers as heroes but do they really feel as such or as only mere victims of the hardships of life? Yes, may be heroes for us in different ways. They help through their remittances which help boost our country’s economy while they help support their families in the
Philippines. But these things would not be met if it weren’t for their sacrifices. Going away far from home is already a big loss to their part for they no longer enjoy the happiness of what an intact family brings. Yes, one is able to fulfill his/her and his/her family’s needs but is still away from his/her true happiness, still away from what is so called home. With all the questionable safety, degradation of dignity and abuses they are experiencing, does this make them heroes or is it righteous to say that they the “Modern Day Victims”? References: Banico, Albert Caring While at Risk, http://www.migrationanddevelopment.net/researchpublications/caring-while-at-risk-ofw-phenomenon-and-its-impact-to-the-filipino-family Gonzales, Parents Without Borders , http://iskwiki.upd.edu.ph/index.php/Parents_Without_Borders_:_OFW_Online_Parenting_and_the_SelfDevelopment_of_Adolescent_Left-Behind_Children
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