"Let’s imagine then, not just California, but the entire
world, waking up one day to discover Filipinos have disappeared. I’m talking
here about the six or seven million Filipinos currently working overseas in
countries with names that run the entire alphabet, from Angola to Zimbabwe .
Let’s not worry first about why or how the Filipinos disappeared;
in fact, it becomes academic whether it’s a day or a week. Just imagine a world
Think of the homes that are dependent on Filipino housekeepers,
nannies, caregivers. The homes would be chaotic as kids cry out for their
nannies. Hong Kong and Singaporean and Taiwanese yuppie couples are now forced
to stay home and realizing, goodness, there’s so much of housework that has to
be handled and how demanding their kids can be and hey, what’s this strange
language they’re babbling in?
It’s not just the children that are affected. The problems are
even more serious with the elderly in homes and nursing institutions, because
Filipino caregivers have provided so much of the critical services they need.
When temporary contractual workers are brought in from among non-Filipinos, the
elderly complain. They want their Filipino caregivers back because they have
that special touch, that extra patience and willingness to stay an hour more
Hospitals, too, are adversely affected because so many of the
disappeared Filipinos were physicians, nurses and other health professionals.
All appointments for rehabilitation services, from children with speech problems
to stroke survivors, are indefinitely postponed because of disappeared speech
pathologists, occupational and physical therapists!
Eventually, the hospital administrators announce they won’t take
in any more patients unless the conditions are serious. Patients are told to
follow their doctors’ written orders and, if they have questions, to seek
advice on several Internet medical sites. But within two days, the hospitals
are swamped with new complaints. The web sites aren’t working because of
missing Filipino web designers and web site managers.
Service establishments throughout the world — restaurants,
supermarkets, hotels — all close down because of their missing key staff
involved in management and maintenance. In Asia , hotels complain about the
missing bands and singers.
In the United States , many commercial establishments have to
close shop, not just because of the missing Filipino sales staff but because
their suppliers have all been sending in notices about delays in shipments.
Yup, the shipping industry has gone into a crisis because of missing Filipino
The shipping firms begin to look into the emergency recruitment of
non-Filipino seafarers but then declare another crisis: They’re running out of
supplies of oil for their ships because the Middle Eastern countries have come
to a standstill without their Filipino workers, including quite a few working
for the oil industry.
Frantic presidents and prime ministers call on the United Nations
to convene a special session of the Security Council but Kofi Annan says he
can’t do that because the UN system itself is on the edge, with so many of
their secretarial and clerical staff, as well as translators, having
disappeared from their main headquarters in New York and Geneva, as well as
their regional offices throughout the world. Quite a number of UN services,
especially refugee camps, are also in danger of closing down because of missing
Filipino health professionals and teachers.
Annan also explains that he can’t convene UN meetings because the
airports in New York , Washington and other major US cities have been shut
down. The reason? The disappeared Filipinos included quite a few airport
security personnel who used to check passengers and their baggage.
Annan calls on the World Bank and international private
foundations for assistance but they’re crippled, too, because their Filipino
consultants and staff are nowhere to be seen. Funds can’t be remitted and
projects can’t run without the technical assistance provided for by Filipinos.
An exasperated Annan calls on religious leaders to pray, and pray
hard. But when he phones the Pope, he is told the Catholic Church, too, is in
crisis because the disappeared include the many Filipino priests and nuns in
Rome who help run day-to-day activities, as well as missionaries in the front
lines of remote posts, often the only ones providing basic social services.
As they converse, Annan and the Pope agree on one thing: the world
has become a quieter place since the Filipinos disappeared. It isn’t just the
silencing of work and office equipment formerly handled by Filipinos; no, it
seems there’s much less laughter now that the Filipinos aren’t around, both the
laughter of the Filipinos and those they served."
Abdullah Al-Maghlooth | Al-Watan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower
and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on
leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost
my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”
Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to
replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different
nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between
Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the
Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them.
Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers - 1,019,577 - outside
the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers
from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only
play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform
different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors.
They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.
Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20
percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors.
So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason,
who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only
imagine the disaster that would happen.
What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the
technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There
are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those
specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background
makes them highly competent in these vital areas.
When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They
are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is
home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some
9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as
the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore.
Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for
the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel
homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere.” Ann
thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other
vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt,
a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used
to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot.
I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving
my mother her insulin injections,” she said.
This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our
children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom.
The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country
thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy.
We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also
by learning from their valuable experiences.
We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships
and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection
in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi
who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop.
We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us.
We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.