Filipinos do not stay in one place for long. They keep on changing dwellings, leaving from one barrio (country village) to another, moving from rural provinces in favor of opportunities in the urban metropolis or progressive cities, navigating from one island to another and expanding their kinship network, and very typically, taking chances in almost every corner of the globe. Filipinos just can’t help but explore diverse places locally and globally for varied reasons, but primarily for economic ones. Indeed, a culture of migration has become a conventional and salient block in identifying the contour of Filipino society and its structures.
For nearly a decade now, my father still works as a cable jointer in a telecommunications company in the Middle East. He comes back once a year for an eight-week vacation. It has always been like that since he began his contract as an overseas worker. My father is one of the hundred thousand Filipinos who found shallow wells of bucks abroad and remit them to their families in the Philippines. Who would not want to secure a job even on a foreign land when one can earn double or triple of the average pay in the country? The picture may seem glitzy but the experiences that overseas workers go through abroad may be far from that. In fact, Filipino labor migrants encounter tremendous challenges that test their will to endure multiple forms of difficulties in foreign grounds.
But they do it anyway. They still choose to take the risks and challenges of migrant labor. They are used to these sorts of endeavors anyway, venturing to and fro in pursuit of new frontiers for survival. From the balanghay era to the OFWs age, Filipinos have always sailed on channels of migration.
The paper aims to present a comprehensive history, socially-contextualized challenges and people-driven actions of the Filipinos as a migrant society. The paper focuses on the social facet of Filipino migration rather than looking at it in the usual political and economic angles. Data that can emphasize too much of the political and economic aspects of migration are reduced to give greater space for social analysis.
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