During the time of Marcos, while our country was experiencing advancement in terms of infrastructure (increase in government expenditure causing GDP to rise), the Philippines was also increasing its foreign debt. Since it is impossible to build roads, bridges, structures, etc, for a country with no capital. Duh.
Employment in the Philippines was not helping pay her debt, so Marcos saw exporting man labor to countries such as those in the Middle East (where oil was discovered) as temporary solution to this indebtedness. However as time went by, Filipinos saw the economic advantage of working abroad instead of here in the Philippines. It became a trend even after the Marcos’ regime that the Philippines had to set up a government agency that would protect the welfare and well-being of Filipino overseas workers. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). It was becoming less of a temporary solution and more of a permanent solution for the economy of the country and the families the OFWs leave in the Philippines.
The thing about OFWs then and now is that it has been feminized. When I say this, I mean that the ratio of male to female coming out of the country is leaning towards the female rather than the male over time. Back in Marcos’ time, other countries lacked blue collar workers that we have as surplus. It is evident even today. When you walk in a supermarket, you’d notice that different from the cashier is a baggage person who is different from the one walking around putting things where they ought to be who is different from the one carrying stuff around. Sometimes, in public markets, you can even hire someone to carry what you buy for yourself for as cheap as P50. You get what I mean.
Why is it that migration of Filipinos has been feminized? The heads of the households, usually the father and the mother, from developing countries, such as Singapore, are pushed to becoming “professionals”. Not exactly professionals. Basta kailangan both have jobs. Good jobs para sabayan ang growing economy of their country. This required them to be at work even if they were mothers at home, even if they had kids to attend to. It is tiresome for them to do both productive and reproductive work (household work) at the same time that they hire someone to do the household work for them. Where can they get domestic care that is of quality and does not require too big a compensation? Of course from the trusty, doting, caring Filipinas.
It is what happened that even the film industry celebrates this phenomenon. We have movies like Anak, Dubai, The Caregiver, etc., to tell stories of what happens to lives of OFWs and the people around them. Why do Filipinas go abroad? Of course, they do it for the family. They want their children to have a better future. Only a few of the Filipino women go abroad for herself. Also, they realize that women can actually get paid for domestic jobs. They get paid for work they do every day at home that is usually overlook until they stop doing it. Until they are not there to do it. Even if they get the lowest rate of salary overseas, they can still send some to their family in the Philippines. The economic lives of their family have improved. It is not only that. The country also benefits from the money sent to the Philippines through remittances.
However, it is not always a good thing. Some families are left worse off. The mother being abroad loosens the bonds between the mother and child. They take care of children abroad while theirs are left at home yearning for their mother’s sweet caress. There are cases when this causes the children to become irresponsible or the father unfaithful. Oo, nakakapagpatayo nga ang iba ng magandang bahay matapos ang pagtatrabaho ng ilang taon abroad. Pero mayroong mas mahalagang bahay na maaaring mabuwag.
Do you not wonder whether these developing countries have been benefitting more from us than us from them? We allowed them to give their household work to us for them to be productive members of their society while we leave our country unsure of its path.
ESPANTA, Jereen Andrea