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3 UP students track Diaspora with Mission help

27 July 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Three female Political Science majors of the University of the Philippines Manila are on a two-week internship at Mission for Migrant Workers to document OFW experiences in Hong Kong as material for their thesis.

Justin Francia, Trisha Aguilar and Joy Asuelo, all 19-year-old senior students who could be mistaken for high school kids, arrived on Jul 4 and have been using their 14-day visa-free visit interacting with other international volunteers and interns at the Mission.

While living and working with clients of Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge in Sheung Wan, the students hope to understand better the plight of migrant workers in Hong Kong as they study the root of the modern-day Diaspora in Philippine society.

“Hopefully, we can use these experiences for our thesis topic,” said Francia, associate editor of the Manila Collegian and photographer of the group. She said they had a two-week internship at Migrante in Manila before coming to Hong Kong.

Carl Marc Ramota, assistant professor at UP Manila’s Department of Social Sciences who accompanied the students to Hong Kong, told The SUN that the internship is part of the practicum program of the Political Science course.

“For our section, the theme of our practicum program is labor and migration, so, it’s primarily the choice of working organizations because the Mission for Migrant workers is based on the theme itself,” Ramota said.

“So, we want to explore this type of partnership to expose our students to the plight of migrant workers here in Hong Kong,” he said.

Ramota said this is the second year that UP Manila has sent students for an internship at the Mission. Last year, the school also sent three interns, limiting the number due to logistical concerns and the capacity of partner organizations to accommodate them. 

Ramota said this is a relatively shorter program than those of other interns because of Hong Kong’s visa constraints. The students, who came here at their own expense, will return home on Jul 17.
Justin Francia, Trisha Aguilar and Joy Asuelo have been living and working with clients of Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge in Sheung Wan.

Aguilar said Ramota requires all his students to do internship in the direction of labor and migration because he wants to open their eyes to the root causes of labor migration.

“Ipinapakita sa aming mga estudyante kung gaano kalala ang  sitwasyon sa Pilipinas, kaya napipilitan ang mga Pilipino na mag-migrate, (kahit) 50-50 ang chance nila na makakuha ng magandang employer o yung employer na tinatrato silang parang hindi tao,” Aguilar said.

As part of their training, the girls tagged along with Mission director Cynthia Abdon-Tellez on Jul 8 to Chater Road, where they helped man the Mission and Bethune House booths at the anniversary celebration of United Filipinos in Hong Kong.

Whenever there is a break from their internship tasks, the three go sight-seeing, or share moments with the distressed wards at Bethune House.

“The migrants in the shelter are including us in their daily routines,” Francia said. “Most of them are also really talkative and we really enjoy our kuwentuhan with them,”

The arrival of the three was just in time for the “thank you and welcome” treat that the Mission gave on Jul 6 to their volunteers and interns at the Fanny Li Hall of the St John’s Cathedral on Garden Road, Central.

Johan Tong of the Mission said the volunteers came from Britain and the United States, Finland, and other countries. Some are with Hong Kong organizations which advocate for the welfare of migrant workers.


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