These people are toiling far from home for their Philippine dreams. Norimitsu Onishi for The New York Times wrote:
About 15 percent of the 42,000 residents of Mabini, about 80 miles south of Manila, live overseas, compared with an estimated national average of 10 percent.
One recent morning, Jocelyn Santia, 40, was packing her bags after two months of vacation here to return to her job as a housekeeper in Milan. She and her husband, who died six years ago, began working in Italy 20 years ago after being recruited by an employment agency.
Her grandparents and a brother raised her four children here, though the two eldest now attend college in Italy. Her sacrifice, she hoped, would yield good, white-collar jobs for her children. But with her departure — and yet another separation from her two younger children — looming before her, she expressed bitterness about having to leave her family.
“The economy is bad here, salaries are low,” she said. “It’s the fault of the government that so many Filipinos have to go abroad. If there were good jobs here, why would we ever think of going abroad?”
Nilo Villanueva, the mayor of Mabini, said he had often heard this criticism from overseas workers. Mr. Villanueva was elected in 2007 by campaigning in Italy and championing the interests of overseas workers. The mayor connected Little Italy to the water grid last year.
Yet, even as Mr. Villanueva has sought overseas workers’ investments in a feed mill and other projects, he said he worried about the town and country’s reliance on remittances. “Many people have become lazy now because they are overdependent on remittances,” he said.
He said the municipality not only counted on investment from its overseas workers, but also had become dependent on their earnings in less direct ways. Most overseas workers here, for example, send their children to private elementary schools, which have smaller class sizes and offer richer educational and extracurricular programs.
“They are helping the municipal government because we are spending less on public schools,” Mr. Villanueva said.
Photo credit: Jes Aznar for The New York Times