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University lecturer reminds OFWs about life goals

08 September 2018

By Ellen Asis

Why did you leave home to become an overseas Filipino worker?

This was the initial question raised by Dr. Ju Chen Chen, an anthropologist and senior lecturer at Chinese University,  to  about 50 participants in a workshop titled “Understanding the Journey,” held at the Consulate on Aug 26.

Ju said that from her experience dealing with migrant workers their life story is not all the same, and it is not all about money.

And OFW interacts with Dr. Ju Chen Chen, an anthropologist and senior lecturer at Chinese University.
There are two stereotypes that emerge from the answers given by migrants as to why they decided to work overseas. The first is a filial daughter or a generous mother who sacrifices herself for her family; the other is a curious and sometimes rebellious youth who takes the chance and the risks involved, just to see the world.

One participant named Sarah said that she decided to work in Hong Kong because she believes that the city is the land of entrepreneurs, and all the experiences that she has gained will help her to become a successful businesswoman in the future.

Another participant named Edna said that she left the Philippines because she needed a break and space from her husband.

Yet another named Odi said she left home when she was just 22 years old because her father had died and she needed to earn money to support her younger siblings. Now she feels lucky to have found good employers, for whom she has been working for the past 23 years.

A participant named Sayra gave the funniest answer. She said she decided to leave the Philippines because she wanted to experience flying on an airplane.

She also regards her stay in Hong Kong an educational one because she gets the chance to learn different skills and join activities she sees as empowering.

It is also a continuing learning experience. For example, her employer has taught her that small tomatoes are called cherry tomatoes, a piece of information she thinks is very useful.

Ju said that many Filipino migrants worker find alternative ways to enjoy their stay, like joining activities such as beauty pageants. Through this activity, a Filipino domestic worker often dubbed as “Checherella” manages to transform herself on a Sunday into a well dressed and confident person, which is very much different from what she is like when she works during the rest of the week.

Ju said that in one of the beauty pageants she attended one of the contestants said she only wanted to gain experiences and stories that she can tell to her grandchildren.

 Deputy Consul General Roderico Atienza who introduced Dr. Ju said the participants very privileged to have someone from a different nationality who is willing to help Filipino migrant workers gain an insight and understanding about their journey as migrant domestic helpers.

The seminar was a collaborative effort between the Consulate and Wimler Foundation.

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