Stories that matter



1. Three Filipino Women Workers from Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Valenzuela City


Excerpt by Father Ramon Caluza, CICM

Belinda "Dang" Cunanan (44), Jinky Fulgencio (44) and Julie Peralta (45) are three leading members of the Kayumanggi Chapter in Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Valenzuela City. Their community is an urban poor community collocated within a belt of factories in Valenzuela City. But even as the area may be considered an "industrial zone", it does not provide the basis of defining people there as workers. Only 1 out of 5 people work in a factory. Women laborers, most often, work under an outsourcing arrangement where the worker is hired and paid by an employment agency on a piece-rate basis. The profile of the community may at first be confusing. How can a community such as Barangay Mapulang Lupa be considered a workers' community when the majority of the people there are in the usual sense unemployed?

Perhaps the circumstances of our three respondents will provide the clue. Belinda, Jinky and Julie are all married, have school-going children and are all the primary breadwinners of the family. All families live on lots they have built their modest dwellings on by "rights" provided by the National Power Corporation, a government-owned corporation. Belinda's husband is a person with disability, afflicted as he is with a form of psoriasis. This condition makes it difficult for him to find work as it also renders him quite unwilling to look for work. But what he lacks in gainful employment he is able to compensate in contribution of unpaid labor through all the household chores he does at home - house cleaning, cooking, laundry, child care...

“When one loses the capacity to dream about changing one's lot as a worker, then one loses the capacity to help change society.”

Jinky Fulgencio, Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Valenzuela City.


2. Reflecting on the Situation of Filipino Workers 


Excerpt by Father Ramon Caluza, CICM

While powerful corporatist interests make the dubious claim that globalization helps developing nations "catch up" with industrialized nations much faster through increased employment and technological advances, the damning fact, however, has become crystal clear: that it weakens national sovereignty and allows rich nations to shop domestic jobs overseas in underdeveloped economies where labor is much cheaper.   

Unemployment and underemployment have always been perennial problems of workers in the Philippines. But with globalization well now put in place at the core of the Philippine economy, unemployment and underemployment have not only become worse, they have also become the main features of a globalization-driven economy through contractualization.

Contractualization restricts the dynamic growth and diversity of the labor market as it is oppressively selective in funneling the labor force towards a narrow field of industries and only in the volume and wage rates that the so-called globalized economy dictates. This basic pattern of labor market conditioning has therefore rendered the lot of Filipino workers in a perennially precarious and unprotected labor situation. Today the Philippine labor market registers the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment in the ASEAN region.

Because of this, the vast army of unemployed and underemployed Filipino workers is driven to micro own-account or self-help activities so that they are able to earn a living on a daily basis, mostly in the small buy-and-sell and the menial services-providing kind...