Overseas Filipino

Nov. 19, 2010

 

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Lotis Viado, whose family immigrated a few weeks ago, feeding her children at her new home in Winnipeg.  (Photo by John Woods for The New York Times)


WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Defying the anti-immigrant backlash seen in the United States and much of the world, Manitoba is luring foreign workers to settle here with Filipinos on top of the most coveted groups.

And no one here is protesting given that Canada has little illegal immigration.

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Efren Peñaflorida visiting the Filipino Reporter at the Empire State Building in New York City on Nov. 10.

Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

A year after being hailed as CNN Hero of the Year for his mobile pushcart classrooms that provide street children an alternative to gangs and drugs through education in unconventional places like cemeteries and trash dumps, Efren Peñaflorida Jr. is back in the United States to raise money for the completion of a two-storey building in Cavite City that will give more unfortunate youngsters a chance for a better life.

MANILA, Philippines - After the Manila hostage fiasco, Filipinos aspiring to work in Hong Kong face a new crisis.
Employment agencies in Hong Kong are now threatening to stop the recruitment of workers from the Philippines due to the mandatory insurance requirement.
According to Alfredo Palmiery, Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters in the Philippines (SHARP) president, their counterparts in Hong Kong have expressed their intention to stop the processing of the contracts of Filipino household workers.
Palmiery said recruitment agencies in Hong Kong are strongly opposed to the insurance scheme since it would just be a “redundant cost” for Hong Kong employers.
“At this time Hong Kong employers are already providing insurance coverage to their housemaids that far exceeds the coverage given by the new law,” he pointed out.
Palmiery noted domestic helpers deployed to Hong Kong are covered by a HK$200,00 insurance which amounts to P1.2 million, which is definitely higher than the US$15,000 life insurance offered by local insurers.
“Thus Hong Kong agencies refused any additional insurance expense,” he said.
Palmiery said Hong Kong hires more than 30,000 Filipino workers annually.

Local recruiters also reported that agencies in the Middle East are also opposed to the insurance scheme since they are already giving $25,000 insurance coverage.
The Philippine government is set to enforce a new hiring regulation that would require recruitment agencies to provide insurance for departing workers.
But recruitment leaders said they could not afford the fixed tariff rate of $144 or $72 per year for the compulsory insurance policies offered by various consortiums.

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Neil Hoag’s wife Marge and their kids Kyle, 5, and Kenny, 2.

There’s a familiar personal narrative around these parts: Somebody got tired of the daily grind and cold weather in his or her old life, packed up and moved down to South Florida to start anew.
Ask that person what happened next and they’ll sigh: It’s not all paradise. People are rude. Lawyers. Traffic. Greed.
Neil Hoag moved down from Michigan when he was a teenager and has been driving cabs and limos in West Palm Beach for the past 26 years.
He’s met all kinds of interesting people — the guy who tried to strangle him from the back seat, for example.
But then he got fed up with American life, flew 10,000 miles to the Philippines, got married, had some kids, and became a coconut farmer.
Hoag is back in the States for another six weeks to promote his new self-published book, called “My Home in the Jungle.”
“My Western life has been nothing but heartaches,” says Hoag, recalling a failed marriage and a number of cabdriver friends who have died.
He’s hoping the book will generate some extra money for his modest life in the Philippines — he spends about $3,000 a year to support a family — and serve as a “will and testament” to explain his decision to his kids.
Hoag speaks proudly of the two mountain peaks he purchased, Pancil and Sangahon, in Southern Leyte province. He plants and harvests red mahogany trees.
He commissioned a local carpenter to build furniture that he designed, and got the whole village to help build a hilltop house. He’s taught his kids how to kill and skin chickens for dinner.
“We’re making the best life we can out of the land we own,” he says.
Sending a kid to college costs a few hundred bucks a year.
Hoag met his Filipino wife Marge through the mail as a penpal: She was a friend of the wife of Hoag’s great-uncle Larry, another expatriate in the family who also lives in Southern Leyte.
No white male expatriate in Southeast Asia will ever escape the seedier speculations about why he’s there, and Hoag doesn’t shy away from it: “When I first arrived, there was an ocean of beautiful girls following me. Here, people don’t pay attention to an average white guy like me. It’s nice to feel attractive.”
He speaks adoringly of Marge.
Not everybody will agree with the idea of paradise that he lays out in his book: man as provider and overseer, relaxing “with a rum and Coke in his hands.”
He writes in his book: “She cares for our children’s direction of their development and their day-to-day needs; I’m the provider of money and food.”
His kids in the Philippines will need to travel hours to use the internet, and they won’t know the comforts of American living.
But Hoag feels that’s a worthwhile sacrifice.
Now, he rides around with his wife and kids perched atop a 150cc motorcycle, waving to the poor villagers who happily say “Hey Joe” to the strange white foreigner.
You could call it running away (“There are some things in life I can’t fix,” he says) or discovering what really matters.
Hoag’s longtime cabdriving partner and former boss Matty “Mo” Lynch was surprised when he heard about Hoag’s relocation.
But hey, Mo likes to say, “as long as you’re happy.”

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