A Saudi national wrote this fascinating tribute to Filipino workers three years ago in Arab News, a Saudi newspaper. It puts a different perspective to the issue of Saudization – or the replacement of foreigners with its own work force.
As well as to the issue of abuse of foreign domestic workers. While there are abusive employers, there are also a lot of Saudis who appreciate and relate to Filipinos on a very human level.
Thanks to my hubby Alan, who clipped and e-mailed me this, I can share with you one of those who love and appreciate the presence of Filipinos in the Kingdom:
Imagine a world without Filipinos
Abdullah Al-Maghlooth | Al-Watan, [email protected]
Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”
Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them.
Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.
Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20 percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors.
So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen.
What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background makes them highly competent in these vital areas.
When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some 9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore.
Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere.” Ann thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt, a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot. I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving my mother her insulin injections,” she said.
This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom.
The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy.
We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also by learning from their valuable experiences.
We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop.
We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us. We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.
Julie K. Morabe says
Filipinos loved and respect their jobs. Masipag tayong mga pinoy lalo na kapag nasa ibang bansa tayo nagtatrabaho.
Dream Big and Bold!!!!……Apolinario what kind of job to u have?…. in general view my friend, one ordinary filipino workers who’d like to land a job abroad just think simple… just give his family a basic needs for what basic job he can offer in exchange… if one person satisfied with what he accomplished..doesnt matter how big or small.. the bottom line is …he served food in their table!!!! who cares if my job is DH, Seamen or lower job that foreign company offers,,what important is i have a job and not a parasite…… the problem with us filipinos… we type cast our own blood… have u been in US?… a mcdonald employee,, old &handicapped, black or white…. they are not ashamed of their job… they carry their work with dignity… thats what the problem here in PINAS…. Napaka -arte ng madami…. blue or white collar job… the different is just the color…as long as it PAYS…wo cares?
Apolinario San Sebastian says
This article has been posted in many Filipino sites as all glorifying of Filipino workers.
On plain sight, yes it speaks of great qualities of Filipinos as “workers” and “laborer”. If these jobs are so great, why is it not possible for the citizens of this nation to do this readily?
I know that we take a lot of pride in labor and what this brings to the families back home.
But what this article is also doing is defining or typecasting the Filipinos in the world stage. This article in fact limits the considerations that the world will have on Filipinos and our children. So let me ask, what is the dream of OFWs for their children? They work hard to send their kids to school and that their kids will accomplish so much more than their parents did as laborers and workers could do in their lifetimes.
If we as a people agree that we will be the blue-collar population of laborers and servants of the world for now and in the future, then this article is probably correct.
But if we dream big for our children and our people, to be ship captains or engineers to build tallest buildings; to dream for our children to be the lead physicians and surgeons and medical leaders that will define the future of health care; to hope that our children will master trade and industry to drive world commerce; and be scientist and innovators that will redefine how humanity will live in the future – if we dream big and bold, we really need to see and understand the message of this article and let our people know of it.
You are right.
But remember, this article was written by a Saudi.
It’s time for us to write about how we view ourselves.
I’d like to.
This article seems to depict Pinoys and Pinays as an asset to a Arab nation numbering more than a million strong. Combined with other countries in the world, their services in plurality can possibly affect the Philippines in important ways. “Brain Drain” maybe one of the drawbacks which can negatively affect a nation. Since the experienced workers which posses gained experiences in the years of focusing their expertise in the type of professions being performed, they become truly valuble to employers; its effect in their absence can cause major disasters, especially if they decide in abandoning to another country for a better chance in receiving better pays/benefits. It’s “Ultimo Adios
You’re right. Saudi Arabia’s gain is our profound loss.
I think it really is heartwarming sampling ‘aliens’ say things nice especially about fellow citizens abroad working. But we know all these overseas prospects had to end, everyone out there are in some huge deficits and need to map out what’s next, the best thing. Of course, it will as always redound to internal needs of each of such places, Saudis notwithstanding, that somehow wising up keep jobs for their citizens now that the Middle East seems in uproar wanting urgent regime change or reform is the next best thing or face the ire of mobs, be kicked out like Mubarak of Egypt.
What I say is let us wise up ourselves and map out how best to make better things happening so that we create jobs for ourselves right here at home, no need to leave for overseas work. We do this by removing monopoly with open skies and shipping. This will usher in interest for investors set up business right here at home and create the jobs we can all partake in. Charter Change it is, junk the presidential system that is obviously too corrupt to do anything right!
You’re spot on.
Rallie F. Cruz says
I believe I have written to you last time my comment about Saudi Employers who happened to be quite the opposite of the complaints we have been hearing lately and I am really happy that I was not treated neither did I have a close encounter with any Filipino treated badly except when I am called to help at our Embassy.
Mr. Abdullah Al-Maghlooth is just one of the happy employers who hired Filipino workers, some of them even went to point of really marrying a Filipina as they find them loyal, faithful and intelligent.
It’s really refreshing to learn that there are natives of that part of the world who actually appreciate the kind of work that Filipinos do. Mabuhay ang mangagawang Pilipino.