As I bounce around Philippines, Hong Kong, and China, I so constantly run into single Filipino mothers working to support their children and family. I think its the biggest problem in the Philippines, and its a deep rooted problem that I wonder if I am even qualified enough to blog about…I will try my best to explain my perspective.
During my last two weeks back, being a social guy, I strike up conversations all over the place….and many of them are single Filipino mothers. I am so curious how this happens, and I am getting more and more bold to ask questions of the story how it happened.
Some example stories…. I will leave out names.
- She was under 18 (think 17), he was mid 20s, a filipino couple….she got pregnant, her father got so angry because she is so young, their families knew each other, so the girl’s father went to the boyfriend’s family to ask for (something?) and then got in a fight with the boyfriend at his home, punching out the boyfriends front tooth. In Philippines, girls under 18 are not allowed to date older men, and the boyfriend could have gotten in serious trouble from the police and government.
- Bartender in Wan Chai I met, she is 22 years old, computer science degree in Manila, has a 2 year old son, father left after she got pregnant, she now works 6 days a week night shift in Hong Kong, with a 2 hour commute each way to her home. Sends money back to the Philippines regularly…very angry at her baby’s father who left.
- Dancer in Angeles 22 years old with a 3 year old son, she was from the province (deep out in the islands far from city center) and she told me she thought she was in love…but after she got pregnant, here filipino boyfriend disappeared….
I can go on and on with stories, my friend MikeMo works at Western Union and the Philippines is one of the top countries to receive money from overseas workers….
Also in the airport yesterday, I met a European woman, Esther from Samaritana that supports Filipino single moms that become prostitutes to pay for their baby and their family. I was a couple hours early for my flight, and Esther and I went through some stories….her non-profit doesn’t do much internet marketing, she honestly said they don’t have the budget to scale too big and are focusing mostly on Quezon City area of Manila.
She also said facebook and website marketing wouldn’t be effective for her organization to find these victims, because most don’t have internet at all and sleep on garbage piles in back alleys. I still advised she make more internet awareness, guides, how to, and support networks….it inspires me to do something as well.
Lets analyze why this happens, try to break down points:
The Philippines is primarily a Catholic state, forbidding abortion and after morning pills. I am not going to get into pro-life and pro-choice discussions, I am just going to inform you guys thats how it is. Also people are not educated on condoms…asking some people they do not know what it is. And those who know what condoms is, either think its illegal in the Philippines (which it is not) or are too embarrassed to purchase them. They are afraid to purchase them because the cashiers give them strange looks, like they are a whores. Its just a deep rooted cultural topic in Philippines. Last year I blogged cultural differences between the Philippines and China that is worth a read.
In Asian culture, there is no choice, you need to support kids, family, whereas in Western culture, its a bit more of a choice or financial condition circumstance. And it seems women are expected to be the ones to earn the money…which is so opposite from anywhere else I know. Maybe the men feel women can earn more money, have better education. But overall, in my opinion, Filipinos really take care of their kids and so many times the mother has to leave her children to her parents (child’s grandparents) while she leaves the country or the province to a city to earn money….however she is willing or able to.
Sometimes the women get jobs overseas, Hong Kong or Singapore being popular places. I learned the basic process and hopefully the mother gets a job in a respectable family household that respects her.
Abuse, Cannot go to police
But many times, these single moms either willingly or entrapped, become prostitutes. Maybe they do it to earn more money than in a legitimate job, maybe they are not qualified to get a high enough paying job….or just have no idea how to get a job that can pay enough for their baby and their parents they are supporting. And prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, and Esther told me so many times boyfriends pimp out their girls, customers beat them and abuse them….and the mother cannot go to the police, as she is doing an illegal act of solicitation. And the overseas workers in Hong Kong or other places also may be subject to these conditions, also at a disadvantage being away from their home country and no one to turn to, no one to trust.
What about the men?
This is a touchy one….but I have to say, in my experience in call centers and web work, Filipino women are more diligent and willing to work hard. I’m not sure where this happens in the upbringing or educational system in the Philippines, but the men mostly work general contractor construction jobs or manual labor. They do not seem to be as computer savvy or as strong in the English language. Then they seem to rely on the women to earn the money.
Again, its another frustration in the Philippines that as Leon tells me, and I have to agree, has to be “bred” out over future generations….hopefully as the world is becoming more “flat” and information and opportunity are spread globally equally, all human beings will have a better chance at living the life they want.