Amidst the brouhaha that brought about by the latest issue regarding the three filipinos convicted for drug trafficking, filipinos are again arguing about our government’s stand to the death sentence for the three supposedly done early this week. It is delayed and we sent our own VP Jojo Binay to discuss with Chinese officials about the sentence and ask for life sentence. As Christians, we believe it’s only God who may get one’s life and Philippine constitution was even ammended and death penalty removed. For this particular case in China, I am not judgmental because we do not know the truth behind the case, the why’s and the what’s of how everything happened, the thinking of those charged. I do not even want to compare laws between the two countries.
In this sense, I worked in China from July 2010 up January this year and was impressed with the way they handle security and civil laws. I seldom seen police manning the traffic, roaming streets and even security officers in most establishments do not armed themselves with guns and other defensive tools. I feel secured walking by the streets during night times.
I am writing this piece to acknowledge an article I read from an english newspaper in Beijing, China Daily dated November 8, 2010. It was quite inspiring and morale-boosting for the many househelps employed around the world.
Written by Karen Yip, let me write down the exact transcript of the story.
Demand for Filipino maids on the rise
BEIJING – Trustworthy, industrious, highly educated, English-speaking, fun and caring —these are some of the qualities that Filipino workers are know for worldwide.
It’s little wonder then that increasing number of Chinese families who can afford to pay more are willing to hire Filipina maids, even at the expense of flouting the law.
Four-year-old Sophia Wang (not her real name) says she is closer to Auntie Tess — a name she fondly calls her Filipina maid — than she is to her own mom and dad.
Her parents, both working professionals in their mid-30s, let Auntie Tess or Maria Teresa Cruz (not her real name), 48, who hails from Batangas in Luzon, in the Philippines, take charge of the household.
“She will grow up to think and behave like a half a Chinese and half a global citizen,” said Maria Teresa, who has worked as a maid in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia for 10 years in total.
That is already evident: Sophia Wang is different from her Chinese classmates at a public school. She naturally speaks fluent English. She doesn’t waste food because she was trained to finish her meals. She tidies up after playtime. Like a typical Filipino, she enjoys singing, dancing, a sense of adventure and speaks her mind. Imitating her maid, who is a staunch Catholic, she prays but has yet to fully grasp the meaning of religion.
“She will be special. If she throws tantrums, she is immediately silenced. I have seen spoilt Chinese kids throws shoes or beat their Chinese maids and they are allowed to do it. I also make sure she changes her clothes everyday,” said Maria Teresa, beaming with pride.
After a personal introduction, her Chinese employers took an instant liking to her. She has lived with the Chinese family for two years on a business visa that her employers take the effort to renew every three months with the help of an agent.
She makes 3,500 yuan a month ($525), twice the average salary of a Chinese maid. In Beijing alone, the starting monthly salary for a Filipina maid is estimated to be 3,000 yuan.
Fringe benefits include free travel — for business or pleasure — with their Chinese employers. Some Filipina maids are even required to help plan and make appointments in English for their Chinese employers.
The Wang family, together with Maria Teresa, will spend Christmas this year at HongKong Disneyland. It is estimated there are eight million Filipinos working abroad. In 2009, they sent home $17.3 billion, according to data from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines.
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sent $15.9 billion of remittances to the Philippines in 2008, up from the $14.4 billion in 2007, and $13 billion in 2006.
Money sent home by OFWs is a major contributor to the Philippine economy through the creation of new businesses and consumption, property purchases, and financing education.
Currently, foreign maids are not allowed to work in China. The only official way foreign maids can do so is if their employers are diplomats. Chinese laws allows diplomats to bring their personal staff of any nationality into the country. However, unscrupulous agents are capitalizing on the popularity and demand for Filipina maids by word-of-mouth to wealthy Chinese families. They acquire visas using false documentation.
It is estimated that 75 percent of “hidden incomes” belong to those in the high-income category, which covers more than 2,000 urban families across the country. As personal incomes rise, the demand for domestic services will also increase, as is already evident.
‘We have been telling our nationals that the domestic maid market is technically closed. Given the sheer number of people in China, we understand that the Chinese have to protect their labor market,” said Noel Novicio, spokesman at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing when contacted by China Daily. Based on registration at the embassy, there are 100,000 Filipinos currently residing in China. Out of this, 100 are in Beijing.
The Philippine government is working with the Chinese authorities to implement domestic labor laws and prevent foreign workers from becoming victims of scams or of their own ignorance.
“The market is experiencing a tight labor shortage. Because of this, the salaries for maids have increased. The Filipina maids fill a gap in the Chinese maid market,” said Professor Zhao Yaohui, a specialist on labor economics at the China Center for Economic Research, Peking University.
“There is no stigma associated with being a maid in the Philippines and among the Filipinos. In fact, being a maid is a professional job. But it’s a different story in China.”
Women from China’s rural areas, who usually take up jobs as maids, are abandoning the occupation to pursue better opportunities in the factories, she said.
“Society imposes a negative image of the maids. It is seen as unglamorous to be maid and it’s a lowly paid job.”
She said due to this factor, which has partly contributed to the labor shortage, the salaries for Chinese maids have increased by at least 200 yuan a month from 2009 to 2010.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) in Beijing said the Chinese government has identified domestic work a growth sector and is developing policies not just to promote employment but also to ensure the protection of domestic workers.
“Where there is a demand that cannot be met by the national workforce, opportunities for legally recruiting and employing a migrant worker should be considered,” said Chen Qiaoling, an officer at the ILO in Beijing.
At the same time, domestic workers in China should have access to training opportunities and greater protection under the law to ensure a professionalization of the sector, he said.
“Many Filipino domestic workers are in diplomatic households. There are also those who work in households of international business professionals. It is expected that they move with their employers on the employers’ foreign assignments.
“With China now an important center for international diplomacy and business, granting legal entry and work permits for diplomatic households is commonplace. It would be natural then to see more Filipino domestic workers in China as there are in New York and in Geneva,” Chen said.
“I don’t think China needs to import labor from other countries at this stage of its development,” said Professor Pradeep Taneja from the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Melbourne.
If already there are significant numbers of Filipino domestic workers in China, then the Chinese government has to make sure they are treated fairly and not subjected to physical or physiological abuse as has often been reported from other countries in the region where large numbers of Filipina female workers are employed, he said. (Du Juan contributed to the story).
Just what I want to convey to most OFWs around the world, do our job with sincerity, humility, industry, dedication and with honor like Maria Teresa does in the news story. We will never go wrong if we work with dignity in the legal ways. Do not invite evil doings in all our undertakings because there is always God above who judge and whatever comforts we get from the evil money, there is always a harvest time, what you sow, you shall reap.
The OFWs future in China will still be in the bright mode despite the conflicts brought about by issues on illegal drug trafficking. The bad can never trample the good impression the Filipinos display and shown to the eyes of the world.