Overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong don’t plan to sit on the sidelines for the upcoming 2013 midterm elections.
Nearly 70% of domestic workers here are registered to vote, increasing the number from 95, 000 in 2010 to 115, 000.
I’m here in Central Hong Kong to find out what issues matter to overseas Filipinos and what they’ll be looking for in the upcoming elections.
Lydia Anisco has been a domestic helper here for 10 years.
LYDIA CANJA ANISCO, DOMESTIC WORKER: I’m looking out for those politicians, like senators, that they’re willing to help especially OFWs here in Hong Kong and also can protect us with our families in the Philippines and can help those poor people.
Bank remittances of OFWs make up 10 percent of the Philippine economy.
For every 11 males going abroad, there are 10 females, many employed in 3-D jobs: dirty, difficult & dangerous, mostly as caregivers and domestic helpers.
Experts say the social costs is great: there is an emerging “motherless generation” of Filipino youth.
Many domestic workers in Hong Kong are tired of being far from their families and want to see more jobs in the Philippines.
IAN, DOMESTIC WORKER: The main reasons why Filipinos came to Hong Kong is because our government didn’t give more importance on jobs.
MARRZ BALAORO, DOMESTIC WORKER: Migration is no longer a stopgap measure. It’s already for decades. The long-term separation of families is really the lingering problem of migrant workers.
Despite the distance from home, OFWs still hold influence.
Their advice can sway their relatives, and determine how an entire family will vote.
IRENE COLES-PEIJI, DOMESTIC WORKER: I am the breadwinner of the family and I am part of a big family in the Philippines so I think I would be a big influence on them.
No matter where they are across the world, overseas Filipinos are finding their voice– enough that politicians running for office are taking up issues of the OFWs.
Hopefully a time will come when they don’t have to leave home to feed their children.
Devon Wong, Rappler, Hong Kong.