If you haven’t met one already, you’ll find that Filipinos are an interesting group of people, to say the least. Although it’s obvious that each nation has its own unique set of values, the ‘Pinoys’, as how we like to call ourselves, are distinct amongst most South-East Asians you will meet out there.
For starters, we’re predominantly Christian, don’t use chopsticks and are far crazier about Basketball than with any other sport in the world. We value relationships with our families more than anything, exerting a great deal of effort to keep those we love, tightly knit to our lives. This explains the presence of large communities of Filipino migrants almost anywhere in the world. The dire circumstances back home leave a huge percentage of our population struggling in poverty which urges most to leave to the country to search for greener pastures.
I’m always positive that wherever in the world I visit, I can always count on meeting a ‘kababayan’ (countrymen) over there; ever smiling and keeping a positive attitude while hard at work.
Two keywords: Adaptation and Integration
Are there Filipinos in Japan? Oh, you bet! In fact, we’re the third largest group of foreigners in the country, at over 250,000 and counting by the end of 2017.
While a good number of Filipinos migrate to Japan (or any other country for that matter) to search for a way out of poverty while holding on to hopes for a better life taking on blue-collared jobs that range from house-keeping to construction, work in Japan for Filipinos actually vary greatly— men are mostly engineers and information technology professionals while women work in food-related factories or as assistant language teachers, domestic helpers and caregivers. A good amount of highly competent individuals still make the cut considering Japans’ famously high standards; getting good contracts as knowledge or skilled workers.
But it’s not just about work and high wages. For one thing, the working culture in Japan definitely is one of the first things that would shock a newbie Filipino (or any foreign nationality for that matter) coming into the country to work since we all know how it is here. Japanese bosses typically expect nothing but loyalty and devotion to the company from all their employees even if that means staying at the office for long hours and devoting a portion of your personal time to help build the business.
Staying in the country solely for the work would make it a real struggle. That said, Filipinos are here for the long haul and the numbers are ever increasing despite tight immigration rules that negatively favor our country’s weak passport. The truth is, Filipinos love Japan and enjoy the low crime rate, the technologically advanced public infrastructure that make daily things like commuting so much easier and hassle-free, among many others. Japan is a 4-hour plane ride from home and fares are significantly cheaper compared to when travelling to countries located further West like The United States.
A willing to build life in Japan
Aichi Prefecture has the highest number of Filipino migrants of any other prefecture in the country at 34,514 Filipinos, with Tokyo coming in second at 31,940, according to Justice Ministry statistics last June 2017.
Unlike the Brazilians however, the third largest group of foreign residents, Filipinos tend to scatter and pretty much every single prefecture in Japan has a good number of Philippine residents living in them. 50% of these residents have permanent resident visas — much higher than the 29.9 percent mark for foreign nationals as a whole. Of the total population of Filipinos, women account for 71.9 percent and men 28.1 percent as of 2017.
According to the minister and consul general of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Filipino women in their 30s through 50s are mostly permanent residents, with a number of them having entered Japan on entertainer visas in the 1980s and settling here after marrying Japanese men.
Much like anything else in the world, Filipinos are not without adversity while trying to live in Japan. I’ve touched upon the ever-controversial topic of overworking employees in Japan but there is something that caught my attention— widespread broken Filipino-Japanese families. I’ve met a good number of Filipinos back home with distinct Japanese features and sporting Japanese last names, two of which are close friends of mine. These two among many others suffer from being left by Japanese fathers at a very young age with the child and the mother left to fend for themselves.
When I went to read more about the topic, it alarmed me how this problem was actually widespread, with heartbroken Filipino women ending up coming back home with fatherless children due to misunderstanding and internal family conflict between these interracial couples.
An interest for Japan which will last
In spite of it all though, the love and genuine interest for Japan don’t seem to diminish amongst the Filipino community within the country or even outside the country. I for one can attest that Filipinos are not prone to hold grudges considering the two countries’ past which is something I’m really proud about.
We’re here to stay and it’s always my hope and prayer that we too greatly contribute to the betterment of this country as a whole. Our adaptability isn’t to doubted. Although things like average rent cost of 15,00 JPY – 35,000 JPY back home to somewhere from 75,000 JPY – 100,000 JPY per month in Tokyo, our ability to be flexible and take on a new culture entirely and make it somewhat our own, makes me believe that we Filipinos are quite special. Filipinos value ‘respect’ much like in Japan which for me serves as that ultimate bridge that connects ours to Japanese culture.