Cristina ChiAfter we took a special journalism elective on covering labour migration, Jan and I became much more aware of how issues in the Philippines should be consistently covered with a migration lens. We send out so many Filipinos overseas to work every year that our “labour export” policy has, at times, been regarded as the Philippines’ most profitable export policy. Furthermore, 43% of migrant Filipino workers only have elementary occupations, not to mention the continued abuse of Filipina household workers.
I think there will always be a need to scrutinize the social, political and economic factors that drive a person to work overseas. As Jan and I found out in our story, even the siblings of abused or jailed migrant Filipino workers are not deterred from trying their luck."
I used the cash prize to buy journalist essentials, which helped me during my early days as a reporter in January. Currently, I am looking forward to eventually pursuing stories or projects that can look at the intersections of labour migration and education. Specifically, I want to scrutinize how the current education system in the Philippines contributes to and justifies the country’s “export” of Filipino workers due to an overemphasis on globalization. I also want to write about the Philippines’ maritime institutions and whether Filipino seafarers are slowly being trained in line with EU standards after years of non-compliance.
Jan CuycoMy name is Jan Cuyco. I was a third-year journalism student at the University of the Philippines Diliman when I took a Labour Migration Reporting course. It was a first for our college, thanks to the support of the International Labour Organization and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.
It is no surprise that nearly every Filipino family is embedded with migration history – and ours included. Growing up, I barely recalled going to a family gathering where all my aunts, uncles and cousins were (physically) complete. This sense of separation, which I felt so keenly, was a microcosm of an economic and cultural phenomenon that is labour migration. In the Philippines, the concept of leaving one's homeland in search of a better life overseas has become so normalized through decades-old policies promoting the aggressive export of Filipino labour.
But one of the most valuable aspects of our specialized elective was its emphasis on a rights-based approach to reporting. We learned how to approach with empathy stories of the unjust realities faced by overseas Filipino workers.
To become a migrant worker is to live a life that is forever changed. How that looks like is a question that labour migration journalists strive to answer."
After winning the competition, my writing partner and I chose the cash prize. I used it to help fund research and reporting for my other journalistic projects in college. Currently, I am a digital verification journalist at Agence France-Presse. One of the long-term projects I hope to pursue is exploring the intersection of disinformation and labour migration experiences. For instance, false and misleading information can lure individuals into exploitative situations or lead them to make uninformed decisions about their migration journey. It could also obstruct migrant workers’ ability to seek help when needed, further exacerbating their vulnerability. By doing so, I hope to contribute to a more informed discourse surrounding labour migration while advocating for the rights and well-being of overseas Filipino workers.
Read Cristina and Jan’s article ‘What it takes to send a family of Filipino domestic workers abroad’ here.
For more information on this year’s competition and how to apply, click here.