Amid EU crisis, pinoy bayanihan (Part 2)

By Jeremaiah M. Opiniano

OFW Journalism Consortium, in partnership with Business Mirror


Other job referrals are for domestic work, which pays an hourly rate of €8.50. If Filipinos do domestic work as fija—residing outside of the Spanish family’s home—they can work in other Spanish households. Given the connections Filipinos here have with Spanish households, babysitting or cleaning residential homes, which they refer to as work “sa bahay”, operates like a bustling informal market awaiting Filipino takers.

Ilocano Arlene Rallojay gets €200 monthly for taking care of babies. “At least I have weekends off,” says the former camarero who was displaced together with two other Filipinos and a Moroccan last January.

It is in the Bracafe sorties where Filipinos learn of other ways to stay employed.

Like Ernesto Gallano, a camarero at Bar Yanco in the famous tourist strip of La Rambla, who gets €1,700 monthly. He and a fellow non-Filipino worker stayed on there after two other fellow workers got booted out.

Not without a price. Gallano performs extra tasks that the two other displaced co-workers used to do. “At least I get more tips from customers,” says the 57-year-old.

Some others, especially those living on paro, take the risk and do home-based work such as babysitting and cleaning homes.

Daniel Tuaño of the Filipino group Asociacion Filipina de Escritores e Investigadores en España, says, however, getting extra income while on paro is not allowed and may be detrimental to other migrant workers’ lot.


Hold the beef

TAPAS stores lining up the 1.2 km. city sidewalk called La Rambla (in the heart of Barcelona) still have plenty of customers, as locals and tourists in the city seem upbeat even amid an unusually hot weather (28°  Celsius) last spring.

Tourism, one of Spain’s economic trump cards, seems to remain alive and well. The government said it eyes a million more tourists this year to add up to the over-53 million recorded last year.

But there’s something hidden in La Rambla’s throng of people: one out of five workers is jobless. In the first quarter of this year, they were said to be over 4.3 million, or 2.13 percent of the labor force. And many jobless workers have paro.

This has been the basis for some analysts to say that Spain’s nearing membership in the “piggery,” composed of crisis-stricken countries Portugal, Ireland, and Greece.

Spain’s own mortgage crisis is as murky as a muddy pigpen, these analysts said. Job cuts are also mind-boggling as 130,000 jobless were recorded in the first two months of the year. Most of the unemployed, like camareros and employees of hotels and pension inns, came from the services sector.

“It has also been tough now for my employer to borrow money from the bank,” says Filipino camarero Bong Carreon, who resigned from his work given his restaurant’s layoffs and the additional responsibilities he got from the laid-off co-workers.

Not surprisingly, Filipino remittances from Spain went down in 2010 to US$69.776 million, from US$81.805 million in 2009, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data.

The slide was attributed to the US$66.006 million land-based Filipino migrants in Spain sent in 2010, which was lower by US$11.641 million from 2009 figures.

While majority of Filipinos earn below €1,999 monthly, says a recent survey by the Philippines-headquartered Scalabrini Migration Center, some Filipino workers here in Barcelona have brought their families with them and remit less frequently to loved ones in the Philippines.

Philippine Consul-General to Barcelona Eduardo de Vega also said the Spanish government has also stopped labor arrangements with some developed countries, including the Philippines, to hire workers for specific occupations.

Yet life goes on for the Filipinos here.

Echoing billionaire Bill Gates, Rodrigo says that “in real life, people have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.” #