They left on Mother’s Day

280 caregivers and nurses during the last briefing before they leave for Japan
They left on Mother’s Day – the Philippines’ first batch of caregivers and nurses sent to Japan under the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). Most of them were young, and many were women in their 20s and 30s. Some are leaving behind young children, to be taken care of relatives or parents, while the nurses and caregivers take care of other people’s loved ones.
Some are leaving because they see it as a chance for professional enrichment: Jesse, 25, is a nurse who has worked in the Middle East. He is leaving to work as a caregiver in Japan. But, he says, he will be working in a big hospital this time, and under less oppressive conditions.
Tess (not her real name), is leaving behind her first child, three months shy of her second birthday. Tess’s husband will care for her, while Tess works as a caregiver, in the land where she used to work as an entertainer. Tess went home when immigration authorities imposed more stringent conditions for entertainers, and took up a caregiving course. She was accepted though she had only three months of experience in caregiving, which consisted of taking care of her grandmother. But Tess knows Japanese: she has taken, and passed, Japanese language tests. She learned the language while in Japan, and honed and polished it when a Japanese offered language courses in the school where she took up caregiving.
Serlun is a mother of two: a 7 year old girl and an 8 year old boy. She will leave them in the care of relatives, while she tries to establish a future for herself and her children in Japan. If all goes well, she says, she will take her children with her in Japan. Separated from her husband for the past several years, Serlun feels there is nothing to bind her to the country of her birth.
How did her children feel that she has to leave them?
The girl, she says, has told her: Wala na nga akong tatay, mawawalan pa ako ng nanay.
The boy, on the other hand, simply said: Nanay, PSP ha.
They left on Mother’s Day, hoping to find a better future. May that future be one shared with their children, whole and safe and still loving them. But how many overseas workers we know have actually come home to enjoy such a future? And how many continue to work, slaving away for foreigners, while their families grow ever more and more dependent on them? And, should their dreams come true and their children graduate, how many of these children eventually work abroad, leaving so that their parents could finally come home?
We have 10 million overseas workers abroad, we say. How many of those are broken families, kept together by phone calls, emails and chats, but knowing that they are no longer intact, and growing apart by the day?

Filipino nurses and caregivers show their passports to Japan behind Japanese and Filipino officials


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