Under imperialism’s circular migration narrative, overseas Filipino workers are perceived as united in a globe-spanning nation, connected to a virtual homeland with family faces, concerns and issues digitalized into a two-dimensional quasi-reality fabricated from sentimental bonds.
Events in North Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the globe have constantly underscored the peril of this view: that by falling in with globalization’s creation of an internationally homeless worker population, we are complicit in depriving migrants of the right to acquire a country, to belong actively to a nation and to be able to engage politically wherever they are, so that they may protect and enhance the life they have managed to establish.
Less than 2,000 of the 26,000 Filipinos in Libya have managed to make it out of the county. It will cost the Philippine government $2.3 million to evacuate them and acrimonious debate is on-going as to how to do this.
Curious, I checked the number of Filipinos working in flashpoint countries and here are some figures -- only estimates, since some OFWs are undocumented:
• 40,000 in Bahrain
• 1,000 in Yemen
• 4,000 in Egypt
• 29,000 in Lebanon
• 25,000 in Oman, which just joined the Arc of Tumult in North Africa/Middle East
• 89,000 in Qatar
• 1,000,000 in Saudi Arabia
• 100,000 in Kuwait
• 6,000 in Iraq
• 500 in Iran
• 30,000 in Israel
• 15,000 in Jordan
• 300,000 in the United Arab Emirates
But less than a dozen in the Vatican City, whose dicta on divorce, reproductive rights and health are negatively impacting the rights of women in the Philippines! We can’t even use remittances as an excuse for obeying the Vatican as there’s nothing coming from there.
I am now wondering whether, if overseas work contracts contained the right to settle and integrate in the receiving countries for overseas workers, OFWs would not be as hapless, would be engaged actually in the struggle to rid countries of despots, rather than remain on the sidelines, fearful of reprisals from both sides. - #