Professionals, became a popular phrase around that time. Feminization

Professionals, as well
as
skilled
workers,
are
what overseas employers are looking for. These people are capable of helping them in every
possible way. Skilled workers are people who, for example, have experience in
welding, food technology and such things, while professional workers are people
with college degrees. Skilled and professional workers are alike in some ways
like educational background. However, unskilled workers are different because they
are the ones who do the domestic work (nannies, yaya, kasambahay). Despite these typical jobs, they are important to
employers abroad because of the vital role they play. The unskilled workers’
jobs,
particularly the domestic work,
face great issues pertaining
to
why it is feminized and why the
Philippines
became notorious for
being the
“supplier”
of
these
workers.

The 1970s was a significant decade1
for the Philippines because
it was when Filipinos
started flocking to different countries to work.
The
first batch to leave the country for overseas work consisted of men because the Middle East needed people to work on their oil rigs and
construction sites. “Katas ng Saudi” became
a popular phrase around that
time. Feminization of migrant workers started in the 1980s2,
the time when tutors where in-demand and Filipinos immediately took the slots. This feminization went from the popularity of tutors to
domestic workers,
and people who had academic degrees
chose to work as baby-sitters and domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and in Western countries. However,
this feminization of domestic work, and the fact that these workers are always
coming from in the Philippines,
have effects and reasons. Filipino domestic workers have different viewpoints on why they choose to work abroad, may it be because of
the
economic status of the country, their
age
or their
family strategy.

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The Philippines became the “supplier” of female domestic workers because
of the economic problem the state has. “Having a corrupt government, mismanagement of the
country’s assets, and gross inefficiency stops the country from developing.”3
There have been many articles, evidences and supporting details that the Philippine government is corrupt and have
officials that are mismanaging the country’s funds, making the Filipinos
misfortunate for job opportunities. Because of the corrupt government, it was
noted that in 2016, according
to the
result of the Survey on Overseas Filipinos
(SOF)4, an estimated 2.2 million Filipinos are working abroad, which is significantly higher
than
the 1970s
results of 36,000
Filipinos. The
statistical data showed that 53.6 percent of OFWs were female. Having this
statistical data, it shows how deprived of opportunities women are in the
Philippines. This led to the Filipinos leaving the country for better chances of landing work. In addition to this, the 1970s immigration wave was initiated by Ferdinand
Marcos to serve as a “stop gap” measure to give Filipinos jobs and for the Philippines to earn more dollars.5
The era started because the government saw the deployment of Filipinos to other
countries as a solution to stop the
expanding
unemployment rate of the country. Also, since the government’s mismanagement of
the funds, the payments of Filipinos are reportedly low especially the “women’s
jobs”
(nurses, teachers, etc.)6.
A registered nurse is paid only Php 15,000 a month, excluding taxes and
other additional decreases
in their salary, while a teacher is paid Php 18,000. Although there are
benefits for public nurses and teachers, it’s still not enough to sustain a
family in the Philippines, unlike a domestic helper’s salary of USD 1,500 per
month or 66,000 in Philippine
pesos.  So, there is a huge difference between a professional “women’s job” worker in the Philippines and a domestic helper abroad. Economic
status
is really a huge factor as to why Filipinas choose to work abroad as domestic helpers.

Age
is also one
of the factors causing
Filipinas to go
abroad to work as domestic helpers. There is a big difference between men and women in terms
of age. At a young age, women are expected to master all the household chores
(especially the eldest daughter) while men are free to do anything they want.7
With
this stereotype, women are expected to mature at such a young age while men
tend to play around for as long as they want. The age of women is one factor contributing to why the face of
domestic work is female. Statistical
data from the SOF showed that most
25-39-year-old
overseas workers
are women.

Figure 1 OFW
Distribution by Age and Sex

Additionally, half of the
respondents from the survey were domestic helpers. Age shows that women are
more mature than men,
so they are trusted to work abroad for their families. Furthermore, the age also
determines the women’s adaptability and flexibility to work under pressure and
to work abroad because of how well their minds are opened in the sense of
“taking care” of the family. Even if men are the foundation of the family,
women are still expected to provide because of the stereotype stating that they still need to
perform the caring duties and responsibilities.

            In a family, there is always someone
who will be “required” to work abroad.8
A family strategy is how family members solve a problem together. In the case
of domestic workers, family strategies
contributed to why
the field of work
was Philippinized. Every family may
come
to a
point of having financial problems and when this happens, one of Filipinos’ solutions are going overseas to
work as a DH (Domestic Helper).
And since
the salary of a DH per
month is Php 66,000, it
is assumed the
easiest way to overcome the problem. Because of this, a family member is expected to work overseas and
it has mostly
been women who are trusted to work abroad. It is because of the fact that women
are amenable.9
Women are willing to do this
work
because they cooperate with what the family wants. It is also because of the Filipino culture of
having the mantra of “family comes first.” Familial characteristics affect the
thinking of a woman, especially if she has children, because she will always
think of the needs of her family regardless of the outcome once she is already
in another country. In addition, children are affected and there is also
stereotyping in this section. Children of migrant fathers are more likely to
say that their father left the Philippines to provide for the family, whereas
children of migrant mothers more commonly claim that their mothers left to
escape poverty.10
So, migrant mothers are not just prone to physical, mental, and sexual abuse, but also to
emotional pain of the possibility that their children will hate them because
they left them for a job abroad with high salary, not knowing that mothers did it for their sake.

            Domestic workers play a vital role
for their employers abroad. That vital role is being a second parent for their
child, or particularly, a mother, making women the right person for the job.
However, not everyone is happy with
being
a domestic worker because mothers who have taken the job neglect their own
family for a big salary.

 

Furthermore, domestic workers
became feminized because of their big heart for the family. Females tend to
always put their family first before themselves, which is why they do
everything to help the family.

Despite the
fact that women
unconsciously chose to be the face of domestic work, they are considered to be
the new heroes of today because they chose to leave for the betterment of the life of their family.

1 Santos,
Ana P. “Philippines: A History of
Migration” July 06, 2010

2
Rosales, L.A.,P “The Feminization of our
Migrant Workers” Vol. 13 Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

3 Natividad, F. “11
Reasons Why Filipinos Want to Work Abroad” Nov. 19, 2012

4 Bersales, L.G.,S. “Total Number of OFWs Estimated
at 2.2 Million (Results from the 2016 Survey on Overseas Filipinos)” Philippine Statistics Authority April 2017

5 http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/content/73403/overseas-migration-has-taken-the-face-of-a-woman/story/
2007

6 https://www.payscale.com/research/PH/Job=Registered_Nurse_(RN)/Salary/08faaf74/Manila

7  Parreñas, R.S. (2006)” Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes”

8 Lauby,
J., & Stark, O. (1988). Individual
migration as a family strategy: Young women in the Philippines. 

9 Lauby,
J., & Stark, O. (1988). Individual
migration as a family strategy: Young women in the Philippines. 

10
Parreñas, Rhacel Salazar (2006). Children
of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes