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Rock Street, San Francisco

It all started in the 1900s in the middle of the American’s colonial rule in the Philippines. It was said that the first Filipinos to ever migrate came from Ilocos and that they worked in Pineapple plantations in Hawaii. In 1920’s more Filipinos migrated for agriculture in California, some in fish canneries in Washington and Alaska. However, in the 1980’s there’s this thing that started called feminization of migration, it means that women participating in the area of labor migration was immensely growing. The Philippines as of 2016 have over 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers. Out of that population, more than the half is dominated by female, reason being that the demand for women migrant workers is increasing, for care services in less-skilled and devalued jobs like child care and home cleaning, which is usually done by women. Though even factory work are done by women to escape poverty.  It is spoken by their brown eyes and the bags under them- just how waking up even before the sun does, washing dirty clothes used by other people, cleaning somebody else’s home, doing their chores, doing her own family’s chores, and sleeping hours after her children have slept is beyond tiring. And the fact that they see no change makes it even more tiring. Of course as moms, they’d want their children to have three meals a day, they want to effortlessly give them money for the things they need, give them what they want sometimes, have time with their partners and take care of them.  “Ma, kailangan mo po ba talaga maglaba palagi?” Her youngest, Mae-Mae, asked all of a sudden while on their way home as she picked her up from school “Syempre, nak. Para may baon kayo nila ate mo. Ba’t mo naman ba naitanong?” she simply answered. “Eh ang gaspang na ng kamay mo, mama oh.” Mae-Mae added caressing her Mom’s hand with her small ones. There were too many things she could’ve added: That her dad’s salary on being a jeepney driver is not enough, bills, debts and, how she also wants to stop because the way her calloused hands feel is much worse than how it looks like. But she realized her 8 year old daughter’s mind is too young to know the hardship they’re going through. “Ay! Mama, benta nalang po ako ng luto mo sa classmates ko. Gustong gusto po kaya nila yung biko na ginawa mo para sa christmas party! Pero wag ka na maglaba. Kawawa naman kamay mo eh” what her daughter said made her giggle. Or at least that’s what she wanted to show her. They just wanted a better life, for themselves and for their families. That’s why some Filipinos take the chance of going overseas, since the salary is undeniably a better source of income just by doing the same. It is already a struggle even after all was set; When they have packed all their things, passport, visa, ticket, and a house to work for, when they were standing at the airport with their families before them, their children pleading for them to stay and even their husband who have shown nothing but strength were on the verge of their tears as well. — Much more to leave home and live miles away and across oceans from their families. And even worse when the life they thought would be better there becomes hell. The life of a lived-in worker is not easy. Major adjustments such as a new set of rules to obey imposed by the employer’s the change of environment , demands , separation from families, homesickness and loneliness and with these all abrupt changes are sometimes difficult to cope with. Flat of Domestic Workers overseas are not very spacious. There are times where one flat is shared by multiple workers specially when a worker is new and is still finding a house to work for. Luggage scattered around, laundry to be washed, underwears around the bathroom. With very little space, it’s very much difficult to have their own privacy. Though there are times when a worker is lived-in, it’s either they also have a small room or their master lets them sleep on the sofa, which causes pains on the body.  The greatest battle one will ever face in working abroad is homesickness. Many Filipinas cannot withstand the pains and loneliness of being away from their family especially if they are mothers and wives. Having thoughts and worries of their families causes them to lose focus at the tasks at hand. The poor performances brought by such emotional struggles are sometimes the subject for termination when employers are unsatisfied with the workers performances. She was in the middle of cleaning the house, mopping the floor for the 3rd time today, just like how her employer wanted. She just followed what she was told to avoid the nagging. Though after being used to all the nagging, it undeniably hurts her emotionally every time, but still. The simple phrase “You’re stupid” can hurt her even after being said countlessly. She’d be lying if she never thought of terminating her contract. She knew better than this. She needed a longer patience and tolerance, and a wider understanding. For her family, she’d always think of. For her family.In the Philippines they say that a mother’s love knows no bound. Maybe that’s just how a woman’s nature work but going to greater lengths for the people they love like to the extent where a mother has to leave her children to go find a job in an another country for financial stability is an expression of deep significance towards one’s own kin. It is very hard to think that when noble causes such as for one’s own family is being ignored by foreign prejudices and a oppression takes place. Our Philippine brethren err sisters are forced to endure heart-piercing pain for the sake of their families. Swallowing one’s own pride and showering themselves with patience and humility. That is the Filipino way. Not to mention, that family or the people who are close to us is the core of every Filipino heart on why they take hard core responsibilities. There was once a saying that people are all born innocent, but innocence fades away when one groups in the phases of reality. Domestic workers like OFWs have often dreamed that going overseas might be their ticket to success. But in some cases, expectations are nothing less than rules that has been self-implemented to satisfy our assurances. Just look on the case of Mary Jane Veloso; inspiring yet nearly tragic doesn’t it. She went to Indonesia for she thought that she can have a decent job as a domestic worker. But instead she was targeted by a foreign security force for the very reason is heroin. Her bag was full of heroin. She frightfully stated that she has nothing to do with this because it was all set up by her employer. But nobody listened to her…..                 Days passed by, and she can’t get her head straight. One day, Indonesian officials told her “You’ll be executed.” As the officials casually walks away from her. Her brain grasps the fragments of futility and hopelessness as her tears slowly flow and as she loses heart. Pictures of her future flashes inside her mind. Pictures, pictures of her death.

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