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Filipino Migration Essay

Migration is defined as the “movement of people, especially of whole groups, from one place, region, or country to another, particularly with the intention of making permanent settlement in a new location” (“Migration”). Thus, the definition tells two important elements of migration and these are the movement from one place to another and the intention to live permanently in the new location where they moved. The movement may be within a certain region or place such as when a family moves from Town A to Town B but both towns may be within the same district, region, or country.

In the case of Filipinos, a family may move from a dominantly rural area such as Cebu to the highly-urbanized city of Manila for various reasons. The family’s purpose may include livelihood, the availability of a new piece of land, education of the children, and others that compels them to decide on living in Manila permanently. On the other hand, the family may also move from Manila to a popular destination of Filipino, which is the United States of America. The purposes may be the same for the family but the impacts and distance is greater.

It is the focus of this paper to dwell on the first and second waves of migration for these are the most important parts of the history of migration. They served as the forerunners and experiences were a lot different especially so that it was the first time for them to go into a different country. A Brief History of Migration Records regarding the history of migration are different I some ways. For this paper, the segments made by Garchitorena will be used. It consisted of three waves. The first wave was that of the sugar workers who were employed for the sugar plantations in Hawaii as early as 1906 (Garchitorena, p.

1). The second wave caused the brain drain phenomenon that sucked the professionals and bright minds out of the country in exchange for high-paying jobs and generous scholarships (Garchitorena, p. 1). The third wave was because of the encouragement of former President Ferdinand Marcos and was supposed to be a temporary solution to the problem of unemployment that has extended up to this time (Garchitorena, p. 1). The First Wave: Oppression and Response It was recognized in Executive Order No.

457, entitled “Designating the Commission on Filipino Overseas as the Lead Agency for the Commemoration of the Centennial of Filipino Migration to Hawaii,” that it was on the 20th of December of the year 1906 that the first wave of Filipinos to migrate happened (Office of the President of the Philippines). This period of the first wave of migration lasted until 1929 (Garchitorena, p. 1). The Filipinos who comprised the first wave of migration were mostly from the Ilocos Region (Garchitorena, p. 1). They were the sugar workers who were employed to become laborers at the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (Garchitorena, p.

1). The Filipinos of the first wave were accepted into the United States of America as “contract laborers” and entered the country as American “nationals” (quotations supplied) because during that period, the Philippines was still considered as a territory of America (Hoh). This lasted until the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934 that converted these Filipinos as aliens (Garchitorena, p. 1). In addition to this, there is also to be noted a group of pensionados and “Filipino students awarded with academic scholarships to American universities” (Camacho).

These last two groups of Filipinos that joined the first wave were seldom mentioned probable because of their small quantity compared to the agricultural laborers who work in the sugar plantations. It was not a very easy deal for these plantation workers to get into Hawaii. As soon as they stepped out of the comfort of their motherland, the Philippines, they already felt the oppression that the new world has to offer. In the ship that enabled them to travel to Hawaii, they had to stay at the bottom of the ship. In the novel written by the Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P.

Rizal entitled “El Filibusterismo,” it has been implied that the bottom of the ship was mostly intended for luggage and for those who belong to the lower echelons of the society. This was also the case of the Filipinos who boarded the ship that led them to Hawaii. A personal account of an unnamed sugar plantation worker at that time revealed that they were not allowed to go up the deck to bask under the sun and breathe some fresh air. Due to the Filipino value of patience, they were able to get through the journey and awaited their arrival at Hawaii. Their arrival at Hawaii was another story.

Along with other ethnic immigrants, the Filipinos suffered discrimination (Hoh). This discrimination of Filipinos may be attributed to “ethnic difference, economic hardships and language barriers” (Hoh). As a response, there were agricultural workers who went on a union strike in 1924 (Vera Cruz cited in Garchitorena, p. 1). In addition to this, Carlos Bulosan, a renowned Filipino labor movement activist has served as the voice of Filipinos in America (Hoh). The courage and strength of a Filipino that remained from the revolution surfaced as another battle came head on.

Workers had to subsequently move to other parts of the America such as in California (Garchitorena, p. 1). The previously mentioned Tydings-McDuffie Act stipulated the independence of the Philippines from the American rule on July 4, 1946 (Steinberg). In addition to this, it became the legal framework that limits the entrance of Filipino immigrants into the country of America. From the words of Nancy Dingler, the Act was passed to “exclude Filipinos because they were perceived as a social problem, disease carriers and an economic threat.

” They become an economic threat for they are rapidly filling the gaps of the labor market and simple economics would tell us that with a rise in the supply of labor force, there is a subsequent decrease in the wage of workers (Borjas). However, the first two things are the ones that could not be found on rational justification. The talents and skills of the Filipinos were seen by other countries and they transferred to other countries after the Great Depression of 1929 (Garchitorena, p. 1). They were employed as seamen by the Netherlands and other maritime countries (Garchitorena, p.

1). The Second Wave: Oppression and Response The second wave of migrants was mostly professionals (Garchitorena, p. 1). It started at 1960 and comprised of technocrats such as engineers, doctors, and nurses (Garchitorena, p. 1). They had to pacify the need for professionals as many of the American citizens had to fulfill their duties in the war in Vietnam (Garchitorena, p. 1). In addition to this, the government of America also sponsored the top and brightest students of the Philippines to pursue their corresponding degrees in prestigious universities in the country (Garchitorena, p.

1). With such great offer, one could really not resist the temptation to move to another country and most of them became professionals and American citizens (Garchitorena, p. 1). This has resulted to a further problem which is called the “brain drain” (quotation supplied) (Garchitorena, p. 1). Immigrants were viewed otherwise. The fact that they leave the country as professionals does not assure them that they will land in a field of their expertise. In an article regarding migration that appeared in the Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD], the following sentences are to be noted:

“Some employers depended on immigrants to harvest the nation’s crops, sew garments, or wash dishes in restaurants, jobs that many U. S. citizens found unattractive. Doctors and health professionals recruited from overseas were often hired to staff small-town hospitals in places where American professionals felt socially isolated. Businesses and universities welcomed foreign-born engineers and computer programmers because relatively few American students pursued these fields of study. ”

The preceding paragraph may not hold true for all but it represented a great proportion of the sad stories that are being sent home to their home country, the Philippines. In addition to this, the same is being felt all over the world as most of the migrant Filipinos depend on jobs that may be relatively high-paying compared to similar jobs in the Philippines. They accept job even outside their field of expertise and is an underestimation of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Discrimination and the lowly regard of other nationalities on migrant Filipinos has been rampant even up to the present day.

Yet their numbers has continued to rise but the capacity of the government to provide for their total protection and well-being has remained to be a partially-implemented plan. The stories of Sarah Balabagan and Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrant workers, have caused great remorse for the whole Philippines for they felt the injustice brought by the discrimination against their fellow countrymen (“Filipino Migration”). It has pushed several people to conduct rallies both here and abroad (“Filipino Migration”). What is more painful is the feeling of uncertainty by the Filipino immigrants.

They are trying to blend in with the culture of their new country and yet, they long to still be a part of the country where they grew up. They are stepping on the gray blurring line that causes them to have existentialist questions within themselves. Above all these, the question of identity still remains to haunt them. As a response to the grievances of Filipino immigrants, and immigrants from other countries as well, policies have been crafted to prohibit the discrimination of people using their race as a basis (Dorsen and Lieberman).

However, this does not change the point of view and prejudice that nationals have against immigrants in their countries. Also, the government of the Philippines has talked with other countries and used their economic and diplomatic ties to gain respect for the Filipino immigrants. All around the world, the Filipinos are trying to make a name and are proving that their worth is beyond what is expected of tem. Conclusion The first and second wave of migration has provided the greatest lessons in the history of migration.

Since time immemorial, people had already been mobile and their mobility was further enhanced by the advancement in technology. With this, the Filipinos were able to reach different parts of the globe. As a newcomer and as a perceived threat, they were discriminated upon and those which could contribute to the foreign country were filtered and were accepted into the mainstream of society. However, this does not erase the pervasive problem of discrimination. The causes of such are interlocking and systemic. The migrant Filipinos still has a long way to go when it comes to their acceptance in the world.

A lot has already been proven and a lot more will be shown to the world. Also, it also redounds to the respect for the fellow human beings. As a response to this, the Filipinos have devised ways to cope with the strangeness of their new lands. Some were permitted to bring their whole family with them to make settling in an easier phase. These were mostly true for the professionals. The government of the Philippines and other countries are taking steps to make migration an easier experience for the Filipinos. Works Cited “Migration. ” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD].

Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. Steinberg, D. J. “Philippines. ” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. Borjas, G. J. “Labor Union. ” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. Camacho, G. “4 Generations of OFWs. ” Weblog Entry. Inquirer. net blogs. 6 September 2007. 25 November 2007 <http://inquirerbloggers. net/beingfilipino/category/family/>. Dingler, N. “Filipinos made immense contributions in Vallejo. ” Historical Articles of Solano Country Online Database. 23 June 2007.

25 November 2007 <http://www. solanoarticles. com/history/index. php/weblog3/more/filipinos_made_immense_contributions_in_vallejo/>. Dorsen, N. and Lieberman, J. K. “Discrimination. ” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. Garchitorena, V. Diaspora Philanthropy: The Philippine Experience. May 2007. A Paper prepared for The Philanthropic Initiative, Inc. and The Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University. 25 November 2007 <http://www. tpi. org/downloads/pdfs/Philippines_Diaspora_Philantrhropy_Final. pdf>.

Hoh, A. “Bulosan and Filipino Migration. ” Library of Congress Information Bulletin, vol. 65 no. 6. June 2006. The Library of Congress. 25 November 2007 <http://www. loc. gov/loc/lcib/0606/migration. html>. “Filipino Migration: A Brief History. ” Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada. 25 November 2007 <http://pmscontario. tripod. com/id1. html>. Office of the President of the Philippines. “Designating the Commission on Filipino Overseas as the Lead Agency for the Commemoration of the Centennial of Filipino Migration to Hawaii. ” EO 457. 23 August 2005.


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