ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Between dream and proclamation of the Gospel: Filipino migrants in the world

Saturday, 17 December 2022 evangelization   society   migrants  

by Paolo Affatato
Rome (Agenzia Fides) - This is a phenomenon which literally exploded in the 1970s and which today is very topical, especially thanks to the media campaigns - and the controversies - unleashed on the occasion of the FIFA football World Cup in Qatar: the Philippines, an archipelago of 7,000 islands populated by different ethno-linguistic groups, is a platform for mass migration, supplying workers, both skilled and unskilled, to the most developed regions of the world. The phenomenon is constantly on the rise and has inevitably been implicated in human rights campaigns reporting on the exploitative conditions of workers on Qatari construction sites.

A thorough analysis of the phenomenon can only note that over the past 50 years, a "culture of migration" has gradually taken hold in the Philippines, with more and more Filipinos eager to work abroad, despite the risks and vulnerabilities they may face. As early as 2002, a national survey conducted by the Pulse Asia institute revealed that one in five Filipinos expressed the desire to emigrate. In more recent surveys conducted by the same institute, this figure rises to 30% or even 50% of respondents.
The particular characteristics of a mentality that has become a "typical trait" of the national culture are offered with narrative acuity by the film "La Visa Loca", a 2005 Filipino comedy-drama directed by Mark Meily, which recounts the paradoxical events of a taxi driver from Manila who dreams of going to the United States.
The film perfectly depicts a process on which, over the years, a myriad of clichés have gathered: the feverish search for a visa for the United States, the plane ticket perceived as a finish line towards the "promised land", the dream of a "mogul's life" in the land of Uncle Sam. The other "promised lands" are the rich nations of the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The reality is, as always, more complex and multifaceted… (Agenzia Fides, 17/12/2022)