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Opinion

The future of Filipino labor in ASEAN integration

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

People are afraid of the unknown and there is too much apprehension among Filipino workers in the advent of the ASEAN integration come January of 2015. Some workers fear that the limited job opportunities in the domestic and foreign labor markets may be cornered and taken by labor migrants from Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The fear may not be entirely unfounded. As proven today, Thai and Vietnamese workers are taking away factory jobs in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia from OFWs. Employers in these labor-receiving countries prefer the meek, unassuming and less argumentative workers from other countries.

The strengths of Filipino workers can also be their own unmaking. For instance, we always pride ourselves as very strong in communication skills. Filipino workers can talk and can communicate, are more prone to conversations and social interactions even while at work. These have caused problems in relation to Taiwanese, Malaysian, and Singaporean employers and managers. The culture among employers remains to be that workers should focus on their work and do less of talking. But Filipinos always complain about things and raise issues on terms and conditions of employment. The employers do not relish having to argue with migrant workers.

As a former labor attache to Malaysia, Taiwan, and Kuwait, I have been an actual witness to how our people behave in foreign work environment. I also personally experienced many days and nights trying to explain to host governments that our people are just fun-loving and outgoing.  Of course, we have a lot of positive behavior, attitude, and habits. We have very strong social skills. We can easily navigate across multiple cultural and language barriers. But precisely, our out-going and spontaneous friendliness and outgoing tendencies can also cause managers to draw some hasty conclusions about our behavior.

The strength of our workers are their technical skills and their higher levels of tolerance, tolerance for pains, and for unpredictability, tolerance for isolation and ambiguity, and even the highest surviving skills vis-a-vis calamities and disasters. Filipinos are by nature adventurous and always want to break barriers of geography and cultures. They suffer at first but come out winners at the end. OFWs just suffer from homesickness in the first three months of their foreign peregrination. Once they pass through that curve, they can survive and prevail over all other migrants.

The Filipinos do not need an ASEAN integration to travel, work, and conquer the world. Long before the advent of the ASEAN economic community, Filipinos have already penetrated the labor markets as early as the Commonwealth years. Filipinos have been working in the fish canneries in Alaska and in the pineapple plantations in Hawaii, and picking apples and oranges in California. The ASEAN integration will provide more impetus to the continuing saga of the Filipinos' continuing saga of breaking barriers and conquering the world.

[email protected].

ASEAN

BUT FILIPINOS

EMPLOYERS

FILIPINOS

LABOR

MYANMAR

SINGAPOREAN

SKILLS

THAI AND VIETNAMESE

WORK

WORKERS

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