Philippine Narratives (XHTML)
These women were trafficked in the Philippines. They told their stories to the International Organization for Migration in 2005.
My name is Jing. I am 21 years old. I have four siblings, one older sister, an older brother and one younger sister and younger brother. When I was nine years old my father died. He was an electrician. After he died my family had no money, not even enough to continue to send us to school. My older sister, who was 11, was working for our neighbor at the time as a helper. Our neighbor told our mother that if she would send my sister and me to work in Cavite (Manila) as domestic helpers that our employers there would pay for us to go to school. My mother agreed and within a couple of weeks we were taken by boat to Manila by our neighbor.
Once we got to Manila I was taken to our neighbor’s daughter’s house and my sister was taken to our neighbor’s sister’s house. We were immediately sent to work in the house but our employers never sent us to school as we were promised. I didn’t like the job there and I didn’t get along with my employer.
After three years of working there I was sent to another house in Manila. I was hired by a Chinese man to be a ya-ya, I was 12-years-old. At first my work was okay but I was not allowed to leave the house. Soon the Chinese man’s son kept coming around and touching me in places that I didn’t like. It made me feel very uneasy. It was a hard time for me and I had just experienced my first “flow”. I could not tell anyone about him touching me because I could not leave the house. After a few months the son raped me in the bedroom. He took my virginity. I went to tell the mother of the house what had happened to me, but she only slapped me on the face and told me not to tell lies.
I then went to the father of the house but he just said, “Wala lang yan. Maliligo ka lang!” (No big deal, just take a bath!). After that the father began “selling” me to his friends. They would take me out to the clubs. At the end of the night the father would sometimes give me P150-200 to keep quiet. I tried to write to my sister to let her know what was happening to me and finally I succeeded and eventually met her in a park. I was too scared to leave with her, she said she didn’t know how to help me, and all my possessions and money were still in the house.
After three years I became very sick and the father took me to the hospital. The hospital said that there was nothing they could do to help my sickness. The father told me that I was of no use anymore and that I should go back home. I was 15-years-old. I returned home with my savings of about P3000. The money did not last long; it was all gone in three months. Now I am back living with my family.
My name is Julie. When I was 17-years-old a friend of my family introduced me to a “legal recruiter”. I had just graduated high school but my family could not afford to send me to college, so this chance for a job seemed great. The friend of my families had also brought my friend Carmen along. She was only 16-years-old and had graduated with me from high school.
We both talked to the recruiter and she showed us her license and other official papers to prove that she was a “legal recruiter.” I still don’t know if the license and papers were real or fake. She told us that we had a chance to go to Japan to wait on tables and welcome customers. She made sure our parents knew that it would be at a “good club, which only sells liquor, and sometimes even has singing and dancing shows.” As a show of good faith she even gave each of our families P500 as an advance. She said that we would be making much more money than that and we would be able to send most of the money home to our families. We were so excited and when we decided to leave with her she even gave us tooth brushes, toothpaste, and other things we needed for our travels to Manila.
We left home from the nearest major port at 7am on Friday morning. When we arrived in Manila we were immediately taken to a house and were not allowed to leave. Our food was brought to the house and we were forced to exercise everyday. We were never allowed to go into the sun. We were told that staying out of the sun would make us lighter and more pretty. We were also taught how to use cosmetics. They trained us on how to dance, in a sexy modern way, how to handle a tray and to sit with customers. It was a strictly controlled routine.
After about one month I began to get a bad feeling, I thought to myself, “Why could we not go out and why did we have to dance this way?” I decided that I was going to try to escape from the house. I asked Carmen to come with me, but she said, “No, I really want to go to Japan”. I waited for my chance and after another month I got it.
I had become friends with the “mayordoma” so one night I told her that I really needed some sanitary napkins, that I had started my “flow”. For the first time she allowed me to go out by myself, but she said she would be timing me. I never went to the store. As soon as I was out of the house I ran to the boat dock and hid until the next evening, when I knew a boat was leaving for home. I had sneaked some money out and paid for my trip back home. I was so happy to return to my family. Soon after I married my boyfriend. I now have a family and my husband drives a motor cab.
My friend Carmen did make it to Japan. She had used her sister’s data to get a passport and the agent took care of everything else. She arrived in Japan with a group of girls from around the Philippines. She was forced into prostitution and was able to send a little money home for the next two years. After two years of being prostituted she became pregnant and returned home. The money she had sent back did not last very long. She decided to leave her baby with her family and return to Japan.
My name is Emee. I lived in a small agricultural community in and my father worked in the rice fields. When I was 16-years-old our neighbor and friend had their uncle, Mario, visit from Manila. He approached my parents and told them that, if they would like, he already had jobs for me and my 14-year-old brother in Manila. He said that we would be working for a family and that I would work in their home while my brother would work in one of their factories. He also said that we would be making enough money to be able to send money home and that my parents could expect money after only three months.
It sounded like a good opportunity, five other teenage boys in the area had already agreed to go and he was the uncle of our neighbors, so we decided it would be okay. On the day of our departure, we took a bus to the city and went to the port. Mario left us in the afternoon in a small eatery next to the port and told us to wait until he came for us. Shortly before the ship was to leave in the evening he arrived and told us to follow him inside a truck that would drive into the ship’s hold and that we would wait there until some cargo had been unloaded. Once inside the ship we all got out and were shown, by another man, to an area where we could wait until the ship left. An hour after the ship had left the port we finally were able to go up to the passenger area. Mario had given us some food for the boat ride, so we decided to eat.
When we arrived in Manila the next day Mario introduced us to a woman and told us to go with her. The woman took us by bus to Nueva Ecija. I was taken to the house of our employer while my brother, along with the five other boys were taken to one of the factories. Our employer owned a rice mill, warehouses and other stores where we would all work. When I arrived at the house I asked about my brother and they assured me he was okay, but I could not find out any clear information about where he was or when I could see him. I started work immediately and had no days off. Since I was not familiar with the area there was no way for me to try to sneak out and find him.
I met another young girl at the house from Batangas, Maria, and together we did all the housework for the family of seven. Our employers expected us to work in the house and kitchen, do the laundry, clean the small piggery behind the house and sweep the yard among other details. We would work from 5am until well past sunset. After one month, I expected to receive my first salary but nothing came. When I asked, they told me that I would first have to pay off the travel expenses of the boat and bus fare in addition to other expenses. After three months, I had lost weight from not eating enough and working so hard. I waited until the end of the third month hoping to finally get a salary but still got nothing. Maria told me that in the six months she had been there, she had only received P800 or P900.
I decided I must escape and convinced Maria to lend me some money to go to Manila. I left the house at dawn one day and rushed to the bus terminal. I was so afraid of getting caught and being forced to return that I did not even ask around about my brother.
Maria had given me the address of some relatives of hers in Manila and so I went there and stayed with them while I waited for the reply to a letter I had sent to my parents.
One day the cousin of my mother who lived in another part of Manila came and picked me up. I decided to stay with her while I searched for other work.
My name is Ganggang. I have two older brothers and one younger sister. When I was younger, I graduated high school. My father was a hardinero at a local college, so I would have gotten a reduced tuition if I had decided to go to school there. I could have gone to college, but the course I wanted to take was not offered so I decided not to go. Instead, I wanted to just hang with my “barkada.” This did not make my mother happy, especially when I stayed out late at night. We fought about this several times.
When I was 18-years-old a gay friend of mine told me about a woman who was looking for girls to work in Japan. He went with me to see the woman. She told me that she was looking for singers and dancers to work in Japan. I was very excited; I enjoy singing and I have always wanted to work overseas. I ran home to tell my mother about the great opportunity, but all she did was get mad. She did not want me to leave with the woman. I convinced my mother to let me go.
The women told me it would cost P30,000 to get to Japan. I told her that we did not have the money, but she was very kind and said she would loan us the money.
Within a week I was on a boat going to Manila. As soon as we landed in Manila I was taken to a house. I was not allowed to leave the house. Food was brought in and I was trained how to dance and serve drinks to customers. After one month of training I was told I was going to Japan. I was handed travel papers that looked legal to me and had all my correct data on them. I went to the airport. I did not talk to anyone at the airport about my travels; my caretakers did it all. I got on the plane with about 15 other girls. We were all very excited.
As soon as we got off the plane in Japan our passports were taken away from us. We were taken by van, with tinted windows, to a dormitory. We were not allowed to leave. That night we were taken to the club we were to work at. We were told to only observe and sit with customers. After one week we were instructed to dance and sing. If the girls were good singers they let them continue to sing, but if they were not they were immediately asked to “go out” with customers.
They allowed me keep singing which made me very happy. After a couple of weeks a customer had come in and asked to “go out” with a particular girl, but the girl was not there. She was sick. The club owner offered the customer to “go out” with me instead. That night the customers forced himself on me. He was nice though and I made good money that night. After that I figured, “Nabasa na man ko, maligo na lang!” (I’m already wet, so I will just take a bath!). Besides, we were being watched all the time. I could not have escaped.
Soon I had many customers. Some would hit me and abuse me. One time I thought I was going to die. I was forced to do things I didn’t like to do. If I refused to “go out” with a customer one of the owners would beat me. In time I met two nice customers who were the only two men to “take me out”. They would take me out and show me Japan. I was in Japan for one year, before I was allowed to return to the Philippines. In that year the owner kept all my earnings and my passport. It was not until I arrived at the airport to return to the Philippines that I was given any money and my passport back.
When I returned home all the money I had made was spent within two-three months.
My family continued to pressure me to return to Japan to make more money. I don’t know if my family knows what I do in Japan, but sometimes my brothers tease me about what my job is there. The whole family still wants me to return to Japan. Eventually I gave in and returned to Japan. I still continue to go back to Japan and return with a little money for my family.