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Thursday, 9 August 2007

WHAT TO DO AFTER

After endless group meetings, numerous class presentations, countless papers and nights spent studying for exams, you’re finally done! Who thought time could fly by so fast? Now is the perfect time to relax while you wait for your graduation ceremony. But before you celebrate, we think this is a good time to assess what you have accomplished so far and if there are any goals you still want to achieve. It’s a rather anti-climactic moment for you since graduation is not really an end but the beginning of better things ahead.

We hope that you at least accomplished what you set out to do, that is, getting a degree. Our interviews brought on a mixed bag of reactions regarding their experience, with a touch regret among some. Victoria Goseco (Columbia University, New York) wished she had more extracurricular activities. A few mentioned some slight disappointment with their respective programs. It wasn’t probably what they expected. Most, though, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and recommend it for those considering studying abroad. Everybody was in agreement they learned a lot both in school and living on their own.

When asked about the most important thing they learned:


That in many ways it is pretty much the same everywhere.—Yeyey Cruz, Royal College of Art, London

Independence. Living and thriving in a totally different culture. Being accepting of other people. Realizing the world is a very small place.—Bibi Choa, Sophia University, Tokyo

Obtaining insights about work/life from a multi-national, multi-cultural perspective.—Eric Franco, MBA, Stanford, California

Confidence.—Therese Ng, New York University, New York

Independence in thought and in action. Oh, did I say a better sense of humor about the way the world works?—Rhoel Dinglasan, Yale University, Connecticut

After reflecting on the past, it’s a good idea to plan your options a few months before graduation. What are the choices? This will depend on your host country’s policy on Filipino students working after graduation, you may search for a job or if you enjoyed the academic environment a lot, pursue further studies. Returning to the Philippines and exploring your opportunities is another possibility. The possibilities can be overwhelming. At the same time we found ourselves a little intimidated by the job-hunting process, figuring out the paperwork, or even packing all the stuff we’ve accumulated.

This is not meant to stress you out. We want you excited but we want you mindful of the practicalities. The future leads to places you never dreamed of going, or it might be exactly what you planned.



Titchie: Before I left for NYU, I was determined to return to the Philippines immediately after graduation. People thought I was crazy not to want to stay on and explore opportunities in New York. So I found a job at the interactive division of an advertising agency and it was fun since it was the height of the dot-com craze. After my practical training expired, I returned to Manila to work and spend time with my family for a year. I got married and moved back to the US where my husband works for an international organization. So here I am, living happily in a future I didn’t plan.

Tricia: After obtaining my Masters, I planned on getting a job in the US and saving up to open a business back home. But who would’ve known that I would marry the first Caucasian I dated and decide to stay!

Keep in mind that immigration policies are constantly changing and the information we provide are offered as guidelines. We strongly recommend asking the embassy or the international student advisors in your school when you start planning life after graduation. You may want to already make inquiries when you register at the international student’s office even if it might seem too early. If you know your options you can plan for it.



Academics Checklist and Work Options

There are some things you have to do whether you are staying or leaving. Keep these in mind as you prepare to leave your school:


1. Get at least three copies of your school transcript. Find out how to get more copies if you need more.
2. Get contact information of classmates and professors.
3. Pay fees, return books or school equipment.
4. Check expiration date of student ID. This way, you know until when you can continue using school facilities.
5. Register with the alumni office. This way, you can keep in touch with the school.
6. Apply for university email (optional). Some universities assign email for perpetuity. Others may ask you to register. At NYU, you may apply for email that you can forward to your personal email. Why would you want this? It looks good in your resume and also proves that you studied in the university.


Work

Are you allowed to work?
You first have to find out if you’re allowed to work. If you have a scholarship similar to the Fulbright Scholarship, you will be required to return immediately to the Philippines after completing your studies.

In the United States, F-1 students are allowed optional practical training for a total of one year. This is separate from on-campus work that doesn’t require a permit as long as you are a full-time student. Practical training means employment in a field directly related to your field of study. There are two types of practical training, pre-completion and post completion.

Pre-completion Practical Training. As the name suggests, you can start working before you complete your studies BUT it requires you to apply when you have been in full status (full-time student and haven’t left the country) as an F-1 student for nine months (full academic year). Work may be done 1) during annual vacation; 2) after completion of all course work, while working on your thesis/dissertation/project; and/or 3) during the academic year while pursuing a full course load.

Post Completion Training. You can start applying for post completion training when your department can verify that you finished all the requirements for your degree. Again, you must be in status for at least nine months. If you took advantage of pre-completion training, and worked for three months full-time, you will only have nine months left (remember you are only given a year to work on the F-1 visa). And if you worked part-time for three months, you will only have ten and a half months left. Part-time work is considered 20 hours a week, half of a standard full time job that uses up 40 hours a week.

After applying to the designated school official (usually the international student’s office in your school), and they will issue you a recommendation for practical training, along with instructions to mail the documents to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). The INS authorizes the actual work permission, namely, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). There is a $175 processing fee (confirm the fee since it might have gone up since we last checked) which you must pay directly to the INS. If the INS does not approve or deny your EAD application within 90 days, you may request an interim EAD. You can also contact the INS for the status of your application either by phone or over the web.


So what does this all mean? You have to time finding a job and getting the EAD.

Once you are given permission to work in January and you only found work in March, you will only have ten months of practical training left. You are not allowed to begin legal employment until it has been authorized by the INS.

If this will be the first time you will work, you probably don’t have a social security card. You have to apply for this before you graduate. The process isn’t as tedious as getting an EAD. But don’t think you can start working as long as you have a Social Security Number, the card will say, “Valid for work only with INS authorization.”

Consult with your school’s office for international students for details. And as the INS also requires approval from them dealing with them will be unavoidable.


If you need work authorization, there is no sense concealing the fact that you don’t have it because you are not going to gain anything from it.—Felipe Estrella, Columbia School of Business, New York


In Australia, students and their dependents will only be able to apply for a student visa with work rights after they arrive and the student has commenced their course of study. This visa allows the student to work 20 hours a week while studying. After you complete your studies, you will have to check if you can apply for any of the following: Skilled Independent Overseas Student, or Skilled Sponsored Overseas Student. You have to satisfy basic requirements and accumulate enough points to qualify. According to the GradLink website, some of the basic requirements are the following:

1. Skill. All applicants must meet Australian standards for an occupation nominated from the Skilled Occupations list.
2. Age. All applicants must be under 45 at the time of lodging their immigration application.
3. English Language Ability.
4. Have applied for residency within six months of completion of their courses.
5. Have passed the points test.

If you are a student in Japan and want to work there, you will have to apply for a change in your status-of-residence. One of the requirements includes getting the following documents from your employer: copy of employment contract (should clearly state what kind of work you will engage in, the duration of your employment and remuneration), copies of the company registration (issued within three months of application) and financial statements, and corporate guide (one that clearly describes the content of your employer’s business). After you submit the necessary documents the immigration bureau will make an examination and notify you by mail regarding the outcome.




My parents didn’t want me to work in Japan. On hindsight, it was a good decision. Most of my friends who stayed are stuck teaching English. Women do routine secretarial work, including making coffee for their bosses. Certainly not a good thing for me.—Bibi Choa, Sophia University, Tokyo


In Europe, Filipinos are generally not allowed to work full-time and may need to change status if you want to work after graduation. In the UK, students who are not members of a European Economic Area (EEA) are allowed to work if the hours and type of work you do are:
1. Student must not work for more than 20 hours per week during term time except where the placement is a necessary part of the education institution.
2. Student must not engage in business, self-employment or the provision of a service as a professional sportsperson or entertainer.
3. They must not pursue a career by filling a permanent, full-time vacancy.
However, there are positions called “shortage occupations” where an employer can apply for a work permit, to enable them to offer a job to someone who would otherwise not be allowed to work in Great Britain. The list frequently changes but here is a sample of “shortage occupations”: Electronic Engineers and Physicists specialists, Railway Engineers, Structural/Bridge Engineers, Transportation and Highways Engineers, Doctors (specialists in Accident and Emergency, Ophthalmology, Nuclear Medicine, etc.), General Healthcare, Nurses, Information Technology, Actuaries, CAA Licenses Aircraft Engineers, Teachers and Veterinary Surgeons.

International Organizations

Another alternative is to work for an international organization that can sponsor your visa. Some of the more popular international organizations are: United Nations (UN), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), ADB (Asian Development Bank), and International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Job Search

It’s a competitive world out there. Even with a graduate degree, you will soon discover it’s not enough to get you hired. It’s safe to assume that your prospective employer will know very little about the Philippines. Don’t be offended if graduating with honors from a top Philippine university has no impact.



Titchie: A degree from the University of the Philippines didn’t mean anything. Working at a top television company, ABS-CBN also had no impact. It was difficult to distinguish yourself among your fellow jobseekers, especially if they studied in the US schools and worked in US companies. Even if I had years of production work in the Philippines, my three-month internship at Nickelodeon had more weight than that.



Job Search Basics

The basic elements of your job search are the following: cover letter and resume, references, and the interview. There are a lot of books and websites that give guidelines on writing the perfect cover letter and resume. The important thing is to show yourself as a professional. Even in a casual workplace, it’s always a good idea to follow formal business practices.

Ideally, your resume should fit in one page. If you have more qualifications (and this does not include being class president in high school, your favorite hobbies, etc.), you can extend the length of your resume. For a professional looking resume:

1. Include a career objective or summary in the beginning. Target the objective to your prospective employer. It ties up all your experience and provides the proper tone for the rest of the resume.
2. Stick to one type of font in standard size. It might be fun to experiment with all the different fonts in your computer but it will only look confusing to the person reading your resume.
3. Use a laser printer. Print them in school as a cost cutting measure. If you photocopy your resume, make sure they are clean copies.
4. Review spelling and grammar. Believe it or not, that will be the one thing that will stand out.
5. Tell the truth. Do not make up information. The truth will come out sooner or later.

Tip: If you’re sending out a resume for a job, DON’T put your picture on it as is the practice of most Filipinos fresh from college. Even if you look incredibly cute, potential employers will see you as a legal threat. It’s like you saying, “Hey, I’m Filipino! If you don’t hire me, I’ll sue you with racial discrimination.” So your resume goes into the trash.—Arvin Concepcion, New York

You should also start asking the people whom you want to use as references. Some possibilities are professors (choose the ones where you did well in class), your supervisor at work if you work/ed part-time, or your boss at your internship. You can always refer to your professors and previous employers in the Philippines but sometimes it’s not worth it for them to make a long-distance call.

At your interview, do your best to look professional. This doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a designer suit but you should be clean and neat. Even if the person interviewing you is in casual attire, you should still wear a business suit. Bring two extra copies of your resume and another sheet with the contact information of your references. Do some research about the company or even the person beforehand. You can link your experience with the goals of the company. And don’t forget to send a thank you note.

Job Search Sites
The easiest way to look for openings is online. However, jobs posted online also mean a lot of other people saw the opening too. If you know somebody who works in the company, ask them to find out if the position is still open or if they are just going through the motions. Some companies advertise positions where there are strong internal candidates and advertising is a mere formality.

Before you can use most of the site’s special services, you’ll be asked to register and fill up a questionnaire. Aside from job search tools, the sites will offer tips in making a resume, relocation, comparing salaries and career advice.



Wise Words: In any society, I guess if you are a Kennedy, you can get to where you want to go but in general, you can use your school or even the career center. Contacting people who were alumni of the school is the best way because they are willing to help you. It’s to their best interest to help you. —Ana Ascalon, University of California Los Angeles, California.

Tricia: It’s important to keep in touch with past and present employers for references. You might also want to keep in touch with friends in Manila and in school even if it seems user-friendly. Most of my employment was through a friend’s referral. In the US, and I think the rest of the world, it’s not really what you know but who you know and studying abroad helps you “know” more people.

Other Options
There are three other options to staying on—pursue another degree, get married to a citizen, or go illegal. In the US, if you plan to pursue another degree, this means you have to ask your new school for another I-20. You don’t need a new visa since the stamp usually says D/S (duration of status) and transferring to another school for another degree means you are maintaining your status as a student.

Getting married to a citizen might seem like a rare occurrence but Tricia and a few common friends of hours have done so and it allowed them the opportunity to work in their spouses’ country of origin. There is still a lot of paperwork that needs to be done, however, so if you end up marrying a local don’t think that all of your problems are solved. We recommend getting a lawyer to give you advice on all the paperwork that needs done as well as keep you posted on the latest immigration rules.

And let’s just say, we don’t recommend going illegal.



One Year Before You Leave (Job Search)

One Year Before Graduation
 Find out limitations and requirements for work permit.

Helpful links:
USA
http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/
Australia
http://www.immi.gov.au/
http://www.gradlink.edu.au/
UK
www.workpermits.gov.uk/guidance/training
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/index.shtml
http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/
Japan
http://www.studyjapan.go.jp/
Switzerland
http://Switzerland.isyours.com/e/immigration/programs/study/work.html
France
http://www.edufrance.fr/
Germany
http://www.campus-germany.de/

6 Months Before Graduation
 Begin serious job hunting: Attend fairs, take advantage of school’s employment service, networking (let people know you are looking for work), apply for an internship (good way to make contacts and they can also be made into references).
 Update resume
 Select and ask contacts to be references
 Get a social security card (US only) if you don’t have one yet

Job Search Sites
France
http://www.phosphore.com/
Japan
www.nagai.or.jp/english/index.htm
www.nagai.or.jp/english/sgoffice.htm
http://www.tfemploy.go.jp/

US only
http://www.careerbuilder.com/
http://www.job.com/

Global
http://www.monster.com/
http://www.brassring.com/

3 Months Before Graduation
 Apply for EAD/work permit
 Interview for jobs. Try to go for interviews with jobs that you don’t really want, so you can do your practice interviews with them. Reminder: Make photocopies of all the documents you send out

1 Month Before Graduation
 Follow up status of EAD
 Get copies of transcript
 Interview for jobs

Graduation!


Heading Home

After deciding you want to head home, there’ll still be a lot of things to do. You have to make travel arrangements, pack, and say your goodbyes, properly.

Packing Up
When you first arrived, you had two suitcases and a carryon at most. It’s likely you now have more than twice the amount. We suggest grouping your things into categories, items you want to send back to the Philippines (but don’t need immediately), items you want with you on your trip home, items that you don’t need anymore and can either sell or give away, and items that should just go into the trash.


Titchie:I really don’t like to throw things away. But when I started thinking of all the things I wanted to send home to Manila, I knew I had to consider each item carefully. I had to consider if the cost of shipping the item was worth it.
How do you determine between trash or treasure? We always think that a certain possession will come in handy some day. Other items have sentimental meanings attached to them so despite it being broken, tarnished or closer to being trash, you can’t quite bring yourself to get rid of it.

Ask yourself if you used it in the last three months? If you haven’t, you probably won’t use it again. Below, our recommended list:

Balikbayan Box Items. The best things to put in the box are the things you won’t need immediately. To maximize the use of the box, heavy items like books and bulky items like winter clothes and kitchen tools that you can’t throw away are the best things to pack.

One of the most popular services is Forex. They have a global network, covering the United States, Australia, Japan, France, Spain, United Kingdom, and Germany. To check if your country has service, go online to www.forexworld.com. The fees may vary in different countries. The cost of sending a box to Manila from UK is almost twice the cost of sending a box from the East Coast.

Forex isn’t the only balikbayan box service. There are other companies that are cheaper and just as reliable. (Check out our City Guides section for other recommended companies.) Some students have tried mailing it via regular mail. Others have been more resourceful, finding contacts who might have access to a container, giving them more bulk and cheaper fees.

• Books
• Organizers
• Winter Clothes
• Shoes
• School-related Items – notes, binders, etc.
• Kitchen Items
• Comforter

Hand carried Items. Valuables and things that you will need right away should go with you in the plane.
• Laptop
• Important documents
• Clothes suitable for tropical weather
• Interview clothes

Items to be Thrown Away. Things we consider not worth dragging half around the world for—if it’s still in good condition, donate it. Same thing with other items like clothes, books, and furniture that you want to get rid of. If the amount of items you have are sizeable, it’s possible that the Salvation Army might pick it up from your home. And if you are in the US and are obliged to pay taxes, your donation could be a tax write-off.

• Clothes that didn’t fit anymore
• Worn-out shoes and clothes
• Broken Furniture
• Chipped plates
• Perishables

Items you can Give Away. You can either sell or give them away. If you have the time to sell your stuff, sell it. Otherwise you can continue the tradition of passing things on to the next group of arriving freshmen. Make sure though that what you give away is useful and not junk

• Furniture like your bed, tables, chairs, computer table, etc.
• Dry goods
• Television
• Phone Unit
Kitchen Tools (pots, pans, knives)

Nitty-Gritty
A checklist of things you have to arrange before you leave:
• Inform the post office of your new address. If you have a friend who is staying on, you can have the mail forwarded to his/her address.
• Pay all your bills (phone, credit card, utilities, rent) and discontinue services.
• If you have plans to return, it might be a good idea to maintain a bank account. This is also helpful if you want to do some online shopping and the site will only accept a US credit card.
• Say your goodbyes to family and friends.
• Shop for items that are expensive in the Philippines. Take advantage of the sales.
• Do the things you always meant to do but didn’t have the time and budget while you were in school.




Therese Ng’s Pre-Departure Checklist

3-6 Months Before Departure Date
1. Plan your departure date. Obviously, the ideal thing is for your lease to expire on the same month you're leaving to avoid the hassle of looking for a temporary place to stay, looking for someone to take over your lease, or paying a couple of extra months' rent when you're no longer in town.

2. Make arrangements with your landlord. If you gave a deposit when you originally got the apartment, make sure you get it back.

3. Check if other Filipinos are going home at the same time as you. You might be able to share the cost a container so you can bring large things home cost-efficiently.

4. Book your flight home.

2 Months Before Departure Date
5. Consider retaining one credit card and bank account. You might have difficulty getting a Philippine credit card in the first few months of your arrival, as you will need to show a Philippine income tax return for the previous year, about three months' worth of pay slips from a current local employer, and/or recent local credit card statements. If you do plan to keep your credit card, make sure that you'll be able to access your accounts through the Internet, pay through the Internet, and that you have a phone number to call (collect, ideally) if anything goes wrong. Also make sure you change your mailing address to the Philippine address.

Otherwise, there's always cash or a supplementary credit card from your parents.

6. Settle accounts with all the institutions that bill you and arrange to have the service cut off at the latest possible time. For example: your ISP, cable provider, electric and phone companies, newspapers, clubs and magazines to which you have a subscription, etc. In some cases, you might be able to get back a rebate for any unused portion of what you have prepaid. Remember that unpaid bills will ruin your credit record in that country, just in case you ever live in there again in the future.

If you have a brokerage account, see if you can access it via the Internet from the Philippines, so you can continue to buy and sell investments.

7. If you're working, resign from work! (Who needs to be reminded to do this?) Give yourself at least two weeks—although one month of more, of course, is so much better—without work before you leave to run all your errands and do everything you've always dreamed of doing before leaving.

8. Contact the Office for Foreign Students in your university, in case there's paperwork that needs to be filled out or exit procedures that need to be done.

1 Month Before Departure
9. Assess your belongings. Unless you've decided to pack all your stuff into a large container during your last week there, you'll have to figure out what you want to do with them. It's easy enough to get rid of stuff, but what can you do with the things you want to keep?

You can ship items home in pre-sized boxes with no weight limit—perfect for heavy books, coats, comforters, and other things you won't really look for until you get to Manila. It'll take about 60 days for these boxes to reach their destination from date of pick-up, so don't put in anything that you'll need before then. In the US, they'll deliver the pre-sized boxes to you. You pack in the items, call them, and they'll pick up the boxes again. The earlier you ship them, the less time you'll have to wait for them in Manila. Also remember that the boxes might be inspected by Philippine customs.

For less stress and also to empty out your apartment slowly, contact the shipping company early on, about a month before your departure, and start packing. Friends have sworn by making an inventory of items so you know exactly where everything is.

You'll have to pack the rest of your stuff in two balikbayan boxes or suitcases that you'll check into the plane. Remember that each airline has a weight limit, so be careful that you don't pack in anything too heavy for the flight.

10. If this service is available in the country, and if you have relatives or friends who live there, you might want to stop by the post office and fill in a "change-of-address" form so that all your future mail will be received by someone you know and you'll be notified if you've receive anything that looks important.

11. Do everything you've always wanted to do but were never able to. Buy those stupid little things you love but you know you'll never find in Manila.

2-3 Weeks Before Departure
12. Your landlord will probably inspect your apartment before you vacate it, so ask about how he'd like you to leave it. You might need to cover up the holes made by paintings, for example, and get rid of all personal furniture.

13. Pack! Again do an inventory of items so you don't leave anything important behind. If you're shipping everything home in a container, have everything boxed, catalogued, and ready to go when the shipper arrives.

As much as possible, live off your suitcases and stop doing laundry the week before you depart so that you're not stressed about your belongings.

14. List down all the things you want and need to do when you get to Manila. Most people find it therapeutic and helpful in focusing on the next step. It's also good to refer to something concrete when you get home and feel jet-lagged, out-of-sorts, without a familiar routine to turn to.

15. Eat all the food in your pantry and refrigerator! Also don’t forget to give plants or pet fish away!

16. Arrange for transportation to the airport and confirm your flight. Prepare your passport and other documents.

17. Say goodbye.



Why am I happy to have come home?

Contributed by: Therese Ng, New York University, New York

1. Lazing about in Boracay, trekking in Banaue, diving in Puerto Galera, and being able to explore the rest of Southeast Asia
2. Affordable massages, facials, haircuts and other services that would have cost a fortune elsewhere
3. Helpers, having a hot meal waiting for me when I get home, not worrying about laundry or cleaning, having more time for myself
4. No winters, no losing of gloves
5. Cars, not having to walk everywhere and get rained on, not having to run after all manner of transportation
6. Being near friends and family and people who completely understand me
7. Not having to feel homesick
8. The opportunities that a large network of friends and family opens up, the excitement of entrepreneurship
9. Being able to live in greater comfort and luxury, not having to struggle all the time
10. Knowing whom to call whenever the need arises for a good doctor, lawyer, broker, dressmaker, or a box of rum-butter cake (with free delivery)



Reverse Culture Shock

Home will always be home, but your return will still involve some adjustment. Therese Ng describes her experience adjusting back to living in the Philippines.

Personal Essay: Coming Home
Contributor: Therese Ng, New York University, New York

I had been living in Manhattan for exactly one year and eight months when I announced in April 1999 that I had decided to return home. By this time, I had completed my Masters in Publishing at New York University and, after some months of internship and part-time work, was Internet Marketing Manager at a publishing company in the city.

Everyone, of course, asked: WHY??

I resented that question. Why didn’t they say, for example, “Oh, good for you" or "I'm so happy for you"? It felt like I had declared I would give up everything to sail around the world on a handmade bamboo raft.

In most cases, it must have been just a benign, curious question. But the thing is, I myself had no logical answer, doubted my own sanity, was afraid I was making a big mistake. My cousins, living in the throes of the American Dream in Long Island and in Silicon Valley, asked why. My interpretation: why, when you can be like us? My New York friends, former classmates, other Pinoy grad students, colleagues at work, apartment building neighbors, asked why. My interpretation: why, when we can all be living the life in Manhattan? People in the Philippines, still reeling from the Asian economic crisis, asked why. My interpretation: why, when there’s nothing here for you?

So.

I’ll tell you why.

Because I was exhausted living in the city. Because I was always running after buses and subways, never had enough time, was often cranky. Because of laundry, bathroom cleaning, HMOs, telemarketers, the long walk home. Because by April 1999, I was just waiting for the next thrill to come along (new Broadway play, another trip out of town, cool restaurant to try) and make it all feel worth it again.

Because my lease was about to expire, because my company would have had to sponsor me if I’d wanted to stay, because I had gotten sick of plastic furniture in my apartment and kept dreaming about real bookshelves, chairs, tables, a sofa (!). Because staying any bit longer, therefore, would have meant staying for a very long time. Because even before I left Manila, I knew I didn’t want to stay a long time.

Because of a long-distance relationship that I thought deserved a better chance. Because of family and friends I wanted to see more than once a year. Because I wanted my vacations to be from home and not to home. Because I cried each time I boarded the plane back to the US.
Because I wanted to feel I was making a difference, and I felt that in New York, all the difference had already been made. Because I felt that the greater adventure was not in my cramped Hell’s Kitchen apartment or in a Park Avenue office, not in Village bars or any of the places New York had to offer, but in making a place for myself where I really wanted to be.
Because the biggest reason I wanted to stay was because I was afraid there would be nothing back home, and what kind of lame reason is fear?

To everyone who asked, I gave some version of the truth that I felt would be most acceptable to them:
“Because of my boyfriend.”
“Because I couldn’t stand New York anymore.”
“Because I want to help my country.”

So they nodded, and I went home.

I didn't realize how overwhelming "returning home" was going to be.

Some of the nightmares were logistical: fixing bank accounts, getting a credit card and a cell phone line, dealing with traffic, renewing my driver's license—things that I had gotten used to as being easy to do in a country with established systems.

There was no getting around these challenges, but I had lived here all my life before New York. All I needed to do was relearn to live in the Philippines without being maimed by bad drivers or bursting blood vessels dealing with customer service reps and waiters. I have relearned the following, for example: that waiting a week instead of an hour won't really kill me; that being nice gets you further than being professional; to ask for the manager whenever there's a problem because most employees are not equipped to handle crises and this is not their fault; to conclude whenever I'm sideswiped on the streets that the driver probably needs to rush home and pee really badly, so I shouldn't get a coronary from road rage. It's a different system, but there's a system nonetheless: one that relies on empathy, kindness, personalities, using your network, appealing to another's emotions, recognizing authority, and most important—being patient.

But also, I felt unexpectedly alienated and misplaced. Months and months later, I still hadn't completely unpacked. My balikbayan boxes cluttered the house, and most of the stuff that managed to make their way out sat for weeks on sofas, tables, and piles on the floor: my trusty old telephone, textbooks, the overcoat I got at Burlington Coat Factory that I brought home "just in case," a thick sheaf of bank statements, even my school notes and papers. I couldn't bear to throw or give anything away. At the same time, I couldn't place them anywhere because neither could I get rid of old things in my closets and on my shelves to make room for the new acquisitions.

When I talked about this dilemma with a nun from my old high school, she wisely saw what I couldn't and told me, you shouldn't be afraid of throwing things away. The things that matter will always be with you.

I never did make that superhuman effort to finish unpacking in one blow. As weeks passed, books slowly got put on a shelf, a place was found for new shoes, hundreds of photos were filed away in albums, and my pots and pans found their way to the kitchen.

So things just happened. One day at a time.

I lost most of the weight I gained from all those American portions. I opened the necessary bank accounts, bought a cell phone and learned to text. I even learned to rock climb. Eventually, a job at a publishing company found me. The routine was comforting, the work fulfilling, and the people wonderful. Got a local credit card, bought a car, eventually felt like I was part of the Philippines again. It felt like I was unraveling a tightly wound self and allowing it to come loose.

Two years later, when work started to make me unhappy and the call to do something on my own reared its head, I remembered that I once had the courage to leave New York and everything that it promised. Surely this one would be simpler, and it was. I am now working for myself and am living into the life I had imagined for myself when I decided to come home. So far, even though I never could find a place for my trusty New York telephone and still can't bear to give it away, I am happy.

In my head, there is another story, though. I imagine another me who stayed in New York instead of coming home. Her story? She bought real furniture and finally got herself a decent apartment with a doorman and an elevator. The rent takes up almost half her salary, but it's worth it and makes all the difference each time she comes home after work. The breakup with her boyfriend was awful and she cried for months. Work is work: she gets praise, an annual raise and a promotion every few years. She sometimes loves what she does, she sometimes hates it, but really—however she feels—she knows she needs the job to survive.

She loves New York because of rollerblading in Central Park, the museums and shows, the freedom, the energy, the friends she has made, dimsum in Chinatown, the great New England clam chowder, shopping on Amazon.com, the New York Times weekend paper, and the efficiency of the system. She's glad she stayed, glad for the person she has become and the things she has learned.

She also has in her mind a story about me, the person who returned home, but that story she imagines is nowhere near as good as what really happened.



Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Why Stay?

We asked Constance Uy (National University of Singapore, Virginia Polytechnic Institute), Carmela Navarra (Manhattanville College, Georgetown University) and Paul Avinante (University of Wollongong, Sydney), why they decided to stay on in their host countries.

What were your considerations for staying on?
Paul Avinante: Opportunities, future.

Constance Uy: Would only stay on if I had an interesting/challenging job. Would have opted to go home if nothing good came up.

Carmela Navarra: Gaining good work experience in the US and taking advantage of the opportunities available to me. Earning in US dollars and hopefully being able to save a lot more money than if I were working in Manila.

What was your reason for staying?
PA: I didn't really stay I went back to the Philippines for a year and then realized that my lifestyle was better suited to that of Sydney.

CU: Found a great job that I liked in a location that I had friends and relatives around—both here in the US and Singapore. Partly economic too since working overseas allows one to save much more than working back home. Fear of going back where I am no longer used to the pace of life back home especially since I have not lived in the Philippines since I was 19.

CN: To be able to continue saving money for when I eventually return to the Philippines. In addition, my parents encouraged me to stay because of the current economic and political instability in the Philippines. I am still enjoying my work and have made friends both in and out of work.

What was the paperwork involved? Could you describe in detail how long it took you to get your work permit, coordinating with a lawyer, fees involved, etc.?
PA: Not much. Typical immigration papers, except that I now have bonus points for studying in Sydney.

CU: In the US, after graduating, I had one year of practical training which I used to take on whatever temporary jobs I could get while doing my job search. During my time [1994], it took about four weeks for the paperwork and employment authorization. I suggest one to work closely with your university's International Student's Office.

I then got a permanent job offer at one of the companies I worked for as a temp and started applying for the H-1B employment visa which at that time was about US$800 in lawyers fees. I paid 50 per cent for the lawyers to start the paperwork [Labor certification] but a few weeks later, I got another job offer from an international organization so I withdrew my application. My brother for instance had to wait a year before his visa came out because at that time, at the height of the economy boom, the quote for H1-B visas was already exhausted. So he went home and waited.

Not much hassle for me as I only had to leave the US and go to a US embassy to get my visa. In my case, I "had" to go to the Bahamas. Luckily, I did not hit any snags getting my visa unlike some of the people I met at the embassy who were sort of stuck in the Bahamas waiting for their papers.

CN: I started as a student with an F-1 visa and was able to get my job by taking advantage of the 12 months Practical Training allowed all foreign citizens who are graduates of US colleges/universities. My company was willing to sponsor me so was able to switch to a working visa (H1-B) when my Practical Training expired in Sept. 1998.

I got an immigration lawyer to help with the paperwork for switching my F1-B to an H1-B visa. The process was relatively painless; the lawyer took care of all the paperwork and dealt directly with my company's HR department. Even though my company sponsored me for the H1-B visa, I had to pay for my lawyer's fees which at the time cost a total of US$ 800 plus US$ 110 in application fees. It took approximately three to four months for my Labor Certification and H1-B visa application to be approved and then, I had to go back to Manila with all my paperwork to actually apply for the H1-B visa and get it stamped on my passport by the US Embassy in the Philippines.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of staying on?
PA: Advantages—better opportunities, I can be more independent, less pollution. Disadvantages—syempre miss ko Philippines although it's only a seven-hour flight, para ka lang nag punta sa Ilocos.

CU: Miss out being with one's family especially as one's parents get older and my nephews get bigger. I am closer with my brothers and parents because of being away from home. Being economically independent and am able to help out family financially; and at the same time can afford to travel to different places.

CN: Advantages: Being able to save money and earn a better living than if working in the Philippines, being exposed to a more diverse and multi-cultural environment, gaining more independence and learning to be more self-sufficient.

Disadvantages: Not having my immediate family and all of my close friends around; sometimes feel homesick and miss certain things about the Philippines like the food, events in my family and friends' lives that I cannot experience with them, etc. Sometimes have feelings of not quite fitting in because after all, the US is not really my own country and I am still a member of a minority group. When returning to the Philippines, I sometimes feel that I don't quite fit in either because I have been away for too long that I can't always relate to what people are talking about. Have to learn to fend for oneself because there is no one to help with household work, cooking, etc.

Do you ever get homesick? How do you deal with homesickness?
PA: Yes. party with other pinoys, or I go home to the Philippines

CU: Of course, especially after coming back from a trip from Manila. Regular phone calls and e-mails with family get together with barkada helps nowadays. I make it a point to go home on a more regular basis.

CN: Sometimes, I do feel homesick but it helps that I am regularly in touch with my family and friends (by phone or e-mail) and that I get to visit the Philippines almost every year and spend the Christmas holidays there. It also helps that I have my own set of friends here (Pinoy barkada) whom I hang out with and if we crave for Pinoy food, there are Pinoy restaurants and stores in the area that we can go to.


Thursday, 2 August 2007

ON BEING FILIPINO ABROAD

When we decided to take our graduate degrees in the mid-90s, we chose to go New York because we wanted to learn more about the fields that we were interested in its foremost location. Titchie was interested in media for children while Tricia was interested in publishing and printing. “It will be the most incredible experience of our lives,” we thought when we were anticipating the move. We thought it would be a great opportunity to live in such an exciting city where people of different race, culture, and beliefs come together.

In many ways, our lives in New York and in the other US cities where we lived in have met our expectations. Titchie was able to work in Nickelodeon and Scholastic while Tricia worked at World Color Press and at one time rubbed elbows with Janet Robinson, CEO of the NYTimes Company in an industry luncheon. In other ways, our expectations were even exceeded. Titchie was able to work in a documentary with distinguished TV host and author, Bill Moyers, while Tricia received an award at the Plaza Hotel in New York for being the top student of her department. But what we were pleasantly surprised with was how much more we learned about ourselves, our values, and our heritage at such a short span of time. In a very ironic way, by living abroad we appreciated our being Filipino.

In the US we found ourselves looking out for all things Filipino. For several years now, Tricia cuts a $50 check to be a member of the Asian American Writers Workshop where many Filipino writers, poets, and filmmakers hold discussions and launch their work. Titchie is the first in the Arlington Public Library when she hears that a book on the Philippines or by a Filipino author has just been acquired. (In 2000, she moved to Virginia.) We cook Filipino food, hang out with Filipino friends, watch Filipino films, Philippine theater, attend the Philippine Independence Day parade, and at Christmas time, Filipino masses. We even hang parols! We long for mangoes, taba ng talangka, our crazy friends and relatives, and the Filipino sense of humor. And like many other balikbayans, when the plane lifts off the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to take us back to our adoptive cities, we strap on our seatbelts and hold on ever so tightly to the arms of our seats to prevent the insides of our flesh from jumping out of the plane and staying home.



Kuwento: In Florence, in Piazza de Sta. Croche, there is a group of Filipinos
who live nearby and look for Filipinos and offer to cook Filipino food for them.
When I go to Florence, I specifically go there to look for them because they
have the best longganisa and have great sinigang. -Jay Poblador, Culinary
Institute of America, New York



Kuwento: Local:Where are you from?
Chips: The Philippines.
Local: Are you Chinese?
Chips: No. I'm Filipino.
Local: Do you speak Chinese?
Chips: No, I speak Filipino."
Local: Do you have Chinese blood?
Chips: Maybe, I probably have a great, great, great, great grandmother that had some Chinese blood.

Local: Oh, I thought you were Chinese.

OR

Local: Where are you from?
Chips: The Philippines
Local: Ah, the Philippines…Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Imelda Marcos…the
3,000 shoes!"
-Chips Guevara, Manchester Business School, Manchester




In our homes away from home, we have also found ourselves holding an additional occupation. Our title: Philippine Ambassador to All the People We Meet. We are asked to look out for friends of friends back home who are moving to the US. We've also mastered a few classic recipes (like lumpia and adobo) to wow locals when they come over for a visit. In preparation for more serious encounters, we keep a copy of a Philippine history text book to make sure we know the details when asked about our history. Over the years, we have formulated answers to the standard questions of people who are meeting a Filipino for the first time: Where is the Philippines? Is it north of south of the equator? Is it in Asia? Why can you speak in English so well? Why do you have Spanish surnames? Can you speak Spanish? What's your national language? Whatever happened to Imelda Marcos and Corazon Aquino?


No, we are not griping about the additional role. We just want to tell you what we've experienced. We know where we are in privileged positions. We have the opportunity to see, experience, and compare the culture we grew up with to the cultures of the country we are staying in and the cultures of other people that we meet. In our years in the US, we have learned not to take things for granted, to be more open-minded, more conscious about other people’s beliefs and reserve judgment. Imagine Titchie’s embarrassment when she greeted a professor “Merry Christmas” during the holidays only to be corrected that she was not Christian. Or, put yourself in Tricia’s shoes when she realized that the ancestors of her new best friend are the ones who she was taught to believe killed Jesus Christ!

Kuwento: After befriending my classmates, a few of them from Asia admitted to having Filipino maids, and to this you must have a ready answer! I would say “You know, most of them are professionals back home, but due to the lack of opportunities and our economic situation, they are forced to be domestic helpers abroad. They are in demand because aside from being diligent, hardworking, and
caring, they speak English very well! This is also why there are lots of Filipino nurses all over the world.” So in a situation like this, I just try to highlight the positive and emphasize that Filipinos are not just domestic helpers but they’re in other professions as well. Besides, as long as they’re honest and they’re doing their job, so what if they’re domestic helpers? Somehow, this made me try harder to excel in the course, as my own way of breaking the stereotype. - Tammy Mananzan Dy-Liaco, University of Durham, Durham


Kuwento: I experienced discrimination quite a number of times. A few of tem are intentional and explicit, although most of them are implicit in their attitude towards non-Anglo nationals. Strictly a personal view, I think that a thick attitude of condescension still exists among many locals. Especially among the youth and the dispossessed, there appears to be a growing sentiment against international students occupying university slots and foreign talent cornering employment opportunities. Then again, such untoward experiences and local grievances exist in almost every society –Natson Go, University of Warwick, Coventry


Kuwento: Early in my studies, I've always felt self-conscious about my accent, demeanor and opinions. I used to lament my status as an "outsider." Over time however, I've come to embrace this difference as a privilege. My learning style became just as much a learning process for my professors and classmates; and my students regard my insights with respect, recognizing the fact that most often, I speak from a worldview foreign to their own. -Michael Campos, Harvard Divinity School, Massachusettes


We embrace our ambassadorial assignments and we take it seriously, thus our reading up on Philippine history and periodic check-ups of what's going on at home. We also try to keep abreast of what going on in the rest of the world because of the inter-connectedness of our societies. What we want to warn you about, however, is that it's not that easy. To the less friendly, we are not ambassadors but outsiders who rob locals of employment opportunities. When we travel we are almost always one of the nationalities that have to secure a visa before we enter our destinations. And after September 11, 2001, many of us live with an underlying fear that we will get arrested for breaking a law we don't know about and will be jailed or deported without due process. (In the US, foreign students who are caught with marijuana can be legally put in a detention center and then deported.)

In five paragraphs, that is the sweet and sour of our days abroad and in spite of that we have no regrets about our having studied overseas.

In the next few entries are some interesting facts and links that we thought might help you as a Filipino student abroad.


Philippine Facts and Figures We Should Know By Heart


  1. Population: 76.5 million Filipinos

  2. Geographic Location: Southeast Asia with Taiwan north of us and Indonesia below us. The South China Sea is on our west and the Philippine Sea on the east.

  3. No. of Islands: 7, 107

  4. No. of Provinces: 73

  5. Official Language: Filipino and English

  6. No. of Dialects: Many records say 70, according to www.ethnologue.com, we have 172 languages

  7. Climate: Summer and Rainy Seasons

  8. Form of Government: Democracy, Presidential form of government, with Legislative and Judicial houses






Useful Links and Resources About the Philippines

Media and Search Engines:
Abante - http://www.abante.com.ph/
ABS-CBN News - http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/
Asian Journal (US) - http://www.asianjournal.com/
Center for Media, Freedom and Responsibility - http://www.cmfr.com.ph/
Filipino Express (Fil-Am Newspaper) - www.filipinoexpress.com
Filipino Reporter (Fil-Am Newspaper) - http://www.filipinoreporter.com/
Malaya - http://www.malaya.com.ph/
Manila Times - www.manilatimes.net
Pinoy Central - http://www.pinoycentral.com/
Planet Philippines - http://www.planetphilippines.com/
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism - http://www.pcij.org/
Philippine Daily Inquirer - http://www.inquirer.net/
Philippine Headline News (Canada) - http://www.newsflash.org/
Philippine News (US) - http://www.philippinenews.com/
The Manila Bulletin - http://www.mb.com.ph/
The Philippine Star - http://www.philstar.com/
Yehey - http://www.yehey.com/

Schools
Asian Institute of Management http://www.aim.edu.ph/
Assumption College http://www.assumption.edu.ph/
Ateneo de Manila University http://www.admu.edu.ph/
De La Salle University http://www.dlsu.edu.ph/
Filipinas Heritage Library http://www.fillib.org.ph/
Miriam College http://www.mc.edu.ph/
Philippine Military Academy http://www.pma.ph/
Siliman University http://www.su.edu.ph/
St. Scholastica’s College http://www.ssc.edu.ph/
University of Asia and the Pacific http://www.uap.edu.ph/
University of San Jose - Recoletos http://www.usjr.edu.ph/
University of the Philippines - Diliman http://diliman.up.edu.ph/
University to Santo Tomas http://www.ust.edu.ph/
University of the Philippines http://www.up.edu.ph/
UP Library http://www.mainlib.upd.edu.ph/

Museums and Libraries
Ayala Museum http://www.ayalamuseum.com/
Museum of Natural History UP Los Banos http://www.uplb.edu.ph/admin/ovcre/mnh/
Filipinas Heritage Library http://www.filipinaslibrary.org.ph/
Lopez Museum http://www.lopezmuseum.org.ph/
National Museum of the Philippines http://members.tripod.com/philmuseum/index
Museo Pambata http://www.museopambata.org/

Government
Official Website of the Republic of the Philippines http://www.gov.ph/
Department of Science and Technology http://www.dost.gov.ph/
Department of Trade and Industry http://www.dti.gov.ph/
Department of Foreign Affairs http://www.dfa.gov.ph/
Department of Social Work and Development http://www.dswd.gov.ph/
Department of Labor and Employment http://www.dole.gov.ph/
Department of Natural Resources http://www.denr.gov.ph/
Department of Budget and Management http://www.dbm.gov.ph/
Department of Agriculture http://www.da.gov.ph/
Department of Agrarian Reform http://www.dar.gov.ph/
Department of Tourism http://www.tourism.gov.ph/
Department of Justice http://www.asti.dost.gov.ph/doj/
Supreme Court of the Philippines http://www.supremecourt.gov.ph/
House of Representatives http://www.congress.gov.ph/index.php
Central Bank http://www.bsp.gov.ph/
National Economic and Development Authority http://www.neda.gov.ph/
Department of Education http://www.deped.gov.ph/
Philippine Information Agency http://www.pia.ops.gov.ph/
Official Website on Philippine Culture and Information http://www.philinfo.ops.gov.ph/

Philipine Consulate - Chicago - http://www.chicagopcg.com/

Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles - http://www.pcgenla.org/

Philippine Consulate - New York - http://www.pcgny.net/

Embassy of the Philippines, Washington - http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/

Philippine Embassy, London - http://www.philembassy-uk.org/

Resources/Organizations
Cultural Center of the Philippines http://www.culturalcenter.gov.ph/
Pinoylaw.com - A Philippines based website offering free legal advice online and vast links to Philippine law information - http://www.pinoylaw.com/
Philippine Institute for Devt Studies http://www.pids.gov.ph/
Intl Institute of Rural Reconstruction http://www.iirr.org/
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development – University of the Philippines http://ovcrd.iwarp.com/
Social Weather Station http://www.sws.org.ph/
US Library of Congress Country Study http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/phtoc.html
Interntional Rice Research Institute http://www.irri.org/
European Union in the Philippines. http://www.euphil.org/index.cfm
National Commission for Culture and Arts http://www.ncca.gov.ph/

Philippine TV Stations Sites
ABS-CBN http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/
GMA Network: http://www.gmanetwork.com/
Sky Media: http://www.skyviewmedia.com/

E-Zines
Bamboo Girl http://www.bamboogirl.com/
Emanila http://www.emanila.com/
Female Network http://www.femalenetwork.com/
Filipinas Magazine http://www.filipinasmag.com/
Her World (a subsidiary of Business World Publishing) http://herword.com/home/index.html
Maarte http://www.maarte.org/

Discussion Groups

Pinoy Exchange http://www.pinoyexchange.com/
Tinig http://www.tinig.com/

Book Stores and Publishing Houses
Anvil Publishing - http://www.anvilpublishing.com/
Ateneo de Manila University Press http://www.ateneopress.com/aboutus.htm
Bookhaus Publishers - Independent publisher founded by former journalist Veltisezar Bautista. No Bisaya books but The Filipino Americans: Their History, Culture and Traditions is worth reading by any one interested in the subject of Filipino-American history. http://www.bookhaus.com/
Bookmark http://www.bookmark.com.ph/
De La Salle University Press http://www.dlsupress.com/
Goodwill Bookstore http://www.goodwillbookstore.com/aboutus.html
Kaya Press – publisher of Asian / diasporic literature and culture http://www.kaya.com/
National Book Store http://www.nationalbookstore.com.ph/
Philippine American Literary House (PALH) – Philippine fiction and childrens books http://www.palhbooks.com/Power Books http://www.powerbooks.com.ph/
Tahanan Books - http://www.tahananbooks.com/promo.html
TatakPilipino! http://www.tatakpilipino.com/
University of the Philippines Press http://www.upd.edu.ph/~uppress/home.html
Xeres Books specializes in rare and hard to find books or an academic nature. http://www.xerxesbooks.com/

Miscellaneous Shops
Ethnic Grocer http://www.ethnicgrocer.com/
Goldilocks http://www.goldilocks.com/
Kabayan Central http://www.kabayancentral.com/
Made in the Philippines http://www.madeinthephilippines.com/
My Ayala http://www.myayala.com/
My Barong http://www.mybarong.com/
Ramar Foods http://www.ramarfoods.com/

Financial Institutions
Bank of the Philippine Islands http://www.bpi.com.ph/
Bureau of Internal Revenue http://www.bir.gov.ph/
Development Bank of the Philippines www.devbankphil.com.ph/
Equitable PCI Bank http://www.pcib.com/
Keppel Bank Philippines www.keppelbank.com.ph/
Metro Bank http://www.metrobank.com.ph/
Philippine National Bank New York http://www.pnbnewyork.com/homepage.htm
Philippine National Bank http://www.pnb.com.ph/
Standard Chartered Bank Philippines www.standardchartered.com/ph/
UCPB http://www.ucpb.com/
Union Bank http://www.unionbankph.com/
United Overseas Bank Philippines http://www.uob.com.ph/




Pros and Cons of Being Pinoy Abroad

PROS



  1. Having friends and relatives everywhere, in almost every US state, in almost every continent of the globe.

  2. Bagoong.

  3. Speaking Tagalog. If you are with a fellow Pinoy, you can talk about the people around you in Tagalog and they won't know what you're saying.

  4. Adobo. It's so delicious and so easy to make. (See Cooking section for recipe.)

  5. Battle of the Brainless jokes.

  6. If you’re Catholic and are in a Western nation, having Roman Catholic churches all around you. The rituals of the mass remind you of being back home.

  7. If you're studying in the UK or the US, having a better command of the English language than many other International students and even some locals.

  8. Our easygoing nature. Filipinos are able to successfully assimilate into a new culture and get along well with the people around them.

CONS



  1. Having friends and relatives everywhere. Somehow reports of foolishness find their way back home.

  2. The cold weather takes getting used to.

  3. The scarcity of Filipino restaurants

  4. Often being one of the few nationalities that need a visa to many popular tourist destinations.

  5. Discrimination, xenophobia among locals. Both of us and our interviewees as well have experienced being taunted with Chinese sounding words. It is best to ignore them but when fed up cursing back is a good release, just make sure that fight back in a crowded place where people can come to your rescue.

  6. Our acquiescent nature makes one seem weak in argumentative and competitive environments. We should learn to speak up and voice out our opinions!


Some Notable Filipinos Who Studied Abroad


  1. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo - Georgetown University (Washington DC, US)

  2. Fidel V. Ramos - US Military Academy (New York, USA)

  3. Corazon Aquino - Mt. St. Vincent College (New York, USA)

  4. Victorio Edades - University of Wisconsin (Wisconsin, US)

  5. Anita Magsaysay-Ho - Cranbrook Academy of Art (Michigan, USA)

  6. Jose Garcia Villa - Columbia University (New York, USA)

  7. Carlos P. Romulo - Columbia University (New York, USA)

  8. Bienvenido Santos - University of Illinois, Columbia University, University
    of Iowa (Iowa, USA)

  9. Edilberto Tiempo - University of Iowa (Iowa, USA)

  10. Jose P Laurel - Yale University (Connecticut, US)

  11. Graciano Lopez-Jaena - University of Valencia (Valencia, Spain)

  12. Antonio Luna - Central University of Madrid (Madrid, Spain)

  13. Juan Luna - Escuela de Bella Artes (Madrid, Spain)

  14. Jose P. Rizal - University of Madrid (Madrid, Spain)

    Trivia: Unable to press for reforms at home, the educated Filipinos left for
    Europe to study and to bring the so-called Philippine problem to the attention
    of liberal Spaniards. The period from about 1882-1896 may be called the Period
    of Propaganda. It was during this period that the Filipino propagandists, led by
    Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Jose Ma.
    Panganiban, Antonio Luna and others, wrote and spoke for the Philippines and the
    Filipinos. -Philippine History, Tedodoro A. Agoncillo, 1966


Trivia: An elite class of rich Filipinos, also known as "pensionados" were allowed to come to America to learn in American universities. In November 1903, 103 pensionados became the first Filipino students in American universities and campuses - Filipino Migrants in San Diego, 1900-1946 Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida.







      Advice from the Fil-Ams to the Fil-Fils

      Yup, that's what we are called in the US, "Fil-Fils." One of the things that Tricia first learned when she first came to New York was that some "Fil-Ams" are irritated by Filipinos who study abroad because of how many of us complain about having to do minor chores. "I've never been so tired, I never did my own laundry before" type of statements are particularly annoying. Tricia was also often teased for being part of a social class system and not being critical her role in it. Also, some Filipino-Americans that she met commented that Filipinos who go abroad for vacation or to study do not bother to understand the hardships of Filipino Americans, of being a member of a minority population in the US.

      Below are some suggestions from Filipino-Americans on how to understand where they are coming from. We asked Allen Gaborro and Toni Urbano for a better understanding of the Fil-Am perspective.

      Which specific Filipino-American issues (ex. identity, equality, having a voice in politics) should students from the Philippines know about?


      Allen Gaborro: I think understanding what mainstream American society expects of them and a mutual understanding of American and Filipino culture are two critical areas of inquiry for students.

      Toni Urbano: I think the first thing is identity and finding a community here that they can feel comfortable around. In terms of politics, I think it really depends on whether the person has an active interest in that area so I feel that hooking up with the Fil-Am community would provide the foundation for moving into the other issues the individual may find of interest.

      What can we students from the Philippines do to help us understand the concerns of Filipino Americans?


      Allen Gaborro: Reading a great deal on the topics important to Fil-Ams would help. Even better though would be to talk to anyone who has already undergone the experience of living in the U.S.

      Toni Urbano: The first step in understanding is listening, so again, join in and experience the way things are done here and concerns will automatically arise. Plus, as a person coming to the US from the Philippines, I think the person will have a lot to handle from their own perspective let alone taking on the Fil-Am perspective.

      Which books do you recommend we read?


      Allen Gaborro: I think the books of E. San Juan are good, but they might be too academic for some. Although it is a fictional work, I like Jessica Hagedorn's novel "Gangster of Love." It can give students an idea of how different US and PI cultures are. Bienvenido Santos has also written a great deal of fiction about Filipinos living in the U.S. Just to shamelessly promote myself, I wrote an essay a few years ago on Filipinos living in America.

      Toni Urbano: Dogeaters and Gangster of Love as the latter will give a Fil-Am perspective of growing up with the US culture.

      Other than that, I think people should read books about the area that they have moved to in order to get the history and context of the city they are living in to get a better feel.

      What bothers you most about Filipino citizens who come to the US to study?


      Allen Gaborro: That some of them want so much to be American, they willingly sacrifice a great deal of their "Filipino-ness" in the process.

      Toni Urbano: Nothing.

      Any advise about relating to Filipino Americans?


      Toni Urbano: I think there may be a tendency for Fil-Ams to feel self-conscious (and therefore shy) about their own lack of knowledge or understanding of the Fil-Fil experience so I would say that the best thing to do is to be outgoing. Don't be shy, and really try to get to know people.


      Allen Gaborro grew up in both Manila and San Francisco. Both his parents are from the Philippines. Allen is also a member of the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. based in San Francisco.

      Toni Urbano is of Filipino and Italian heritage. She is a filmmaker and grew up in San Francisco
      .



      Interesting Facts About the Philippines

      1. The Philippines was a British colony for one year 1762-1763. During Europe's Seven Years War, the British decided to send an expedition to the Philippines and take over the colony from Spain. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed which provided for the evacuation of the Philippines by the British.

      2. Filipinos are the first Asian Americans. From 1565-1815 during the galleon trade from Manila to Mexico, a number of seamen jumped ship and settled in Louisiana.

      3. Filipino workers and students during the US occupation in the Philippines were considered American nationals but did not have the same rights as citizens.

      4. "Ma-yi" is the term used by ancient Chinese traders to refer to a group of islands that is known today as the Philippines. A document written sometime around 1318 and titled Wen Shiann Tung Kuo (A General Investigation of the Chinese Cultural Sources), contains a stray reference to the Philippines that dates back to 982 AD. (If you are in New York City, check out the Obie Award winning Ma-Yi Theater Company.


      Recommended Readings

      Before we end this chapter, here are some books that have great insights on living abroad.


      1. “America is in the Heart” by Carlos Bulosan. Carlos Bulosan holds the distinction of being the first Asian American writer in the US. “America is in the Heart” covers the very painful experiences of Filipino migrant workers in the 30s. We think it is a must read if you plan on living in the US even it it’s only for a short time.

      2. Pico Iyer’s “The Lady and the Monk, Four Seasons in Kyoto” and “The Global Soul.” “The Lady and the Monk” provides wonderful descriptions of the author’s adjusting to Kyoto culture. “The Global Soul” challenges us to think about the travel and the global village that we live in today.

      3. E. San Juan Jr.’s “From Exile to Diaspora Versions of the Filipino Experience in the United States” discusses thoroughly the Filipino diaspora.

      4. Luis H. Francia and Eric Gamalinda’s “Flippin': Filipinos on America” – an anthology works of Filipino and Filipino American writers and poets.

      5. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo’s “Why I Travel and other Essays,” “Skyscrapers, Celadon and Kimchee: A Korean Notebook,” “Sojourns, I Remember: Travel Essays” cover the author’s experiences as she accompanied her husband in his diplomatic assignments. She writes about her perspective of the places she's seen, people she met, and how she learned and coped with all her experiences. She lived in Korea, Burma, Beirut, New York, and many other locations.

      6. Merlinda Bobis’s “The Kissing.” The author writes stories and poems about Filipinos and Filipinos living in Australia.

      7. Criselda Yabes’s “Journey of Scars. ” A well-written book where the author describes her year in Eastern Europe and in Paris.