National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Celebrates the Triumphs and Struggles of Filipino Migrants on International Migrants Day

 

Press Release

December 18, 2012

National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Celebrates the Triumphs and Struggles of Filipino Migrants on International Migrants Day

As Filipinos in the United States prepare for the holidays, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) celebrates the triumphs and struggles of Filipino migrants on International Migrants Day by releasing over one hundred of their stories gathered nationwide. These are the stories of Filipino migrants who are among the 4,500 Filipinos who leave the Philippines every day to work abroad as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), because of worsening poverty and lack of jobs in the Philippines.

They are caregivers, domestic workers, construction workers, hotel workers, teachers, and nurses, just to name a few. They remit their earnings back to their loved ones in the Philippines. Their diligence has resulted in 20 billion dollars in remittances to the Philippines every year.

In addition to separation from their families, they also have to endure various forms of exploitation in their jobs, such as physical, sexual, and verbal abuses, wage theft, and being forced to do tasks that are not part of the job description.

Despite facing such injustices, Filipino migrants continue to work hard and organize themselves to fight against these injustices. NAFCON has been an instrumental force in advancing and defending the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the United States. In mid-2012, NAFCON launched a national survey called “Pulso ng Bayan” (Pulse of the People), a campaign to investigate the conditions of Filipinos living in the U.S.

Many Filipinos who participated in the survey shared candidly their migration stories. Some shared the struggles of adjusting to being in a new country while others shared the long process it took to migrate, an example of the long backlog of the U.S. immigration system.

One participant shared, “It took 8 years for my dad to get me and my mom here in America. When I came here, I had to learn the language and it was very hard to fit in, but living here in America has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to have in the
Philippines.”

Filipinos who migrate out of the Philippines are escaping worsening poverty and in search for better opportunities abroad. Yet despite finding jobs abroad and working very hard to send their earnings back to their families, many face exploitation and abuse. Another participant shared, “I do have 2 labor cases which I was awarded and won but until now I didn’t get a penny from it. I am working with an abusive employer now, with no holiday pay. The employer never treated us as an equal person because I am JUST AN ALIEN WORKER.”  More stories like these can be found on NAFCON’s website at http://nafconusa.org/d18/

Terry Valen, President of NAFCON and Director of Filipino Community Center (FCC) in San Francisco, sees these kinds of struggles daily, with many Filipino workers coming to the FCC seeking help with such cases. He comments, “Filipinos in the U.S., especially Filipino migrants, are among the most diligent workers in the country. As with every holiday season, with all the retail sales, tourists vacationing in hotels, and lonely elderly people with no one to celebrate the holidays with other than their caregivers, the work of Filipino migrants kicks into overtime. While earning more money from their hard work during the holidays, this time can be an especially lonely time for Filipino migrants who are supporting their loved ones back home in the Philippines.”

In addition to the release of migrants’ stories, NAFCON organizations throughout the country are also participating in several celebrations for International Migrants Day. 2012 marks a milestone in Filipino migrant worker organizing, as the first U.S. chapters of Migrante International will be founded in Southern and Northern California, both within days of International Migrants Day. Migrante International, which NAFCON is a member of, is an international organization of overseas Filipino workers defending the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the diaspora as well as building a better homeland so that Filipinos are not forced to seek jobs abroad.

In New York, NAFCON member organization Philippine Forum held a Philippine Lantern Festival, with the theme “Lighting the Way for Migrants’ Rights, Diversity and Solidarity.” Similar to lantern festivals in the Philippines, parols (Philippines Christmas lanterns) were used to highlight this theme.

In celebration of International Migrants Day and the coming holidays, NAFCON responds to the needs of Filipino migrants by urging the community to push for comprehensive immigration reform to address the harsh conditions of our community, as well as supporting Migrante Sectoral Partylist in the Philippines so that Filipino migrants can have a voice in Philippine government beyond just the billions of dollars they remit each year. Migrants should not be separated from their families, especially during the holidays, just to work abroad to support their families back home.

For more information on International Migrants’ Day or NAFCON, or to share your own story of migration, visit www.nafconusa.org or contact info@nafconusa.org or call 415.333.6267. ###

 

Category: Home Slider, Immigrant Rights · Tags:

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