It is not only Gulf region, Filipinos are also employed in far east countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, etc. Besides, a few companies and BPOs too have shifted outsourcing from India to Philippines as young educated boys and girls trained in IT are available.
Filipinos are the emerging workforce. In the late mid-eighties when I visited Gulf, mostly Asians – Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, etc were normally employed in different jobs. But recently when I visited Gulf, there is a surge of Filipinos, both boys and mainly girls, employed as sales persons in super-markets, malls, offices, cooks and waitress’s in restaurants, hotels, hospitals and even as housemaids.
When I checked out with a friend, an Indian businessman residing in UAE for many years, he had something interesting to say. He said – ‘They are like flowers in the desert.’ He further added, they are small built, all look alike, the western style uniform of trousers, jackets or skirts suit them due to their body structure. Apart from this, their modern outlook, working knowledge of English helps and willingness to work on lower wages is an added attraction to the employers. He winked and went on to say, ‘With smiles on their faces, they look pretty too.’ They are presentable and good at the work assigned to them.
And when I spoke to a Filipino girl, she had this to say, ‘Back home in Philippines, jobs are scarce and they don’t pay that well, besides poverty back home forces us to look elsewhere and Gulf jobs are an attractive option to us. We stay in sharing accommodation in a flat with many boys and girls living together. This helps us to save money and send home as much as possible. This helps the family back home to stay a decent life.’
A Filipino employed as a cook in a catering company said, ‘The Filipinos come here because they have no choice; there are no jobs back home.’
It is not only Gulf region, Filipinos are also employed in far east countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, etc. Besides, a few companies and BPOs too have shifted outsourcing from India to Philippines as young educated boys and girls trained in IT are available. Lower wages and knowledge of English is the main reason attributed to shifting of IT business from India to Philippines.
More than one million Filipinos, mostly uneducated women work in Middle East and Gulf countries as domestic helps and house maids. Some are married women and some are single mothers, who leave their family and loved ones to venture out to earn a decent living in a foreign land. Many men work in different fields as well as sailors, cooks etc.
The Filipino boys and girls are hard working and not shy to take up any kind of job. They sustain on bear minimum in Gulf and save to send home to their families living over 5,000 km across. They are polite, open-minded and sincere workers. Especially in Gulf, as they work in close proximity with other Asians, especially Indians; a few Filipino girls have fallen in love with their Indian co-workers and married them, to adopt Indian way of life. Approximately more than one thousand Filipinos reside in India.
The Philippines is described to be a nation of strong women, who directly and indirectly run the family unit, businesses, government agencies, etc. Although they generally define themselves in the environment of a masculine dominated post-colonial Asian Catholic society, Filipino women live in a culture that is focused on the community, with the family as the main unit of society. It is in this framework of Philippine hierarchical structure, class differences, religious justifications, and living in a globally developing nation wherein Filipino women struggle for respect. Compared to other parts of Southeast Asia, women in Philippine society have always enjoyed a greater share of legal equality.
Earlier a group of Philippine congressmen and women called for a ban on domestic workers from going to Middle East and Gulf countries, claiming they are treated as modern-day slaves. The New York-based rights group, Human Rights Watch, in its world Report 2010, said many female domestic workers throughout the region are subjected to unpaid wages, food deprivation, forced confinement, physical or sexual abuse and long working hours. The politicians urged the government, particularly the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration which is responsible for overseeing the deployment of Filipino workers and punish agencies involved in illegal recruitment or contributing to the abuse of Filipino domestic workers.
However all this has not stopped Filipino men and women being gainfully employed in the Far East countries, Australia, Middle East and Gulf countries, remitting valuable foreign exchange as the figures of the Philippines’ Central Bank may indicate. This has altered the lifestyle of many Filipinos living in remote areas, towns and cities all over the country. But as always, with good comes the bad too!
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