Long ago Filipina first came to international prominence as foreign brides. And such is the continuing reputation of Filipina wives, that foreign men still flock to the Philippines in search of brides.
In more recent decades Filipina have come to dominate the global market in migrant health and care workers, such as nurses, caregivers, nannies and maids. They are now established almost all over the world, and their reputation as reliable and caring workers towers above their rivals.
In recent years Filipina dominance has arisen in the business sector too, where they have emerged as the world's call center queens. And they continue to attract business from rival countries in this difficult and stressful field of work.
Whilst language and poverty have played a part in this story, the achievements of Filipina workers could not have been realised without the special qualities of the Filipina.
To help understand these qualities take a closer look a Filipina nurse, and some Filipina au pairs in their life working abroad in new surroundings. And read about the Filipina Sisterhood
As these documentary videos show, the key to understanding a Filipina, is to understand the strength of her family devotion, and to understand the limited opportunities for her to help her family at home. Filipina are often maligned as people who will do anything for money, and for being prepared to compromise their values in doing it. But the reality is that they just want to help their families, and that they are remarkably unselfish in doing it. They want nothing more than to help with their siblings' education, or to help pay for repairs to a leaking roof on the family home. Filipina make huge sacrifices for the families they love; families that are usually very large.
Typically, the values of a Filipina are shaped by their upbringing in large families, and by the poverty of the Philippines, and for the most part by a strong faith in God. Their unselfish devotion to their families is the key to why they are sought after as workers and wives. Their intelligence, diligence, empathy, and communication skills are also important.
It would be a serious mistake to characterise Filipina simply as maids and cleaners, for in future generations they are likely to emerge as doctors rather than nurses, or rise to prominence in other fields, perhaps in the performing arts. Filipina are naturally gifted songbirds, but lack access to professional training, and commercial opportunities. And it may be those in the growing diaspora that have to lead the way.
Filipina are said to divide into distict geographical
and cultural groups, each
with its own
recognizable traits. There are the sturdy and frugal
llocanos of the north,
the industrious Tagalogs
of the central plains,
the carefree Visayans of the central
islands, and the
colourful tribesmen and
religious Moslems of
Mindanao. There are also smaller tribal
communities scattered across the
Ethnically, Filipina are mainly Asian - largely Malay, but with Chinese, Spanish, Anglo-saxon (American) and Arab influences. Culturally, Filipina are a more even mixture of east and west. Their traditional Asian culture has been strongly influenced by the Spanish - who bought the latin passion for life, and Christianity, and by the Americans - who bought the English language, and more western cultural influences.