ESSAY: Free Movement (Last part) OFW Journalism Consortium, with support from the Royal Netherlands

SOCIAL capital plays a major role in the ease of mobility and the ability of workers to shake off the fetters of state control on migration.

Teresa said that without the trust built among fellow migrants as workers, as Filipinos, and as women, she may have had second thoughts at running away from her employer.

There’s a strong support network among migrant Filipinos that facilitate the survival of any migrant, whether they be irregular or not.

According to Benjie Donguez, a former Philippine team athlete of the Malay sport pencak silat, that social capital extends to employers.

Donguez said one of his former employers had “connections” and used that network to secure for him a carte de sejour or French residency and work permit.

“I escaped after I joined a tournament in Belgium in 2005; I went to France to search for a job,” said Donguez at the steps of a foreign embassy in Paris where he works as a security officer.

Now a legal resident, Donguez said he won the trust of his French employer in cleaning a three-storey house everyday.

But while Donguez is confident now with his status, the move by current EU chair and French president Nicolas Sarkozy to control immigration in Europe and send home the “illegal” workers worries Cris and Teresa.

It’s a plan that Garson laughs off.

“That’s ‘pfffttt.’ How realistic is that to be implemented here in France?,” Garson  said.

“That proposal has been saddled many times in the past.”

Real-life situations, like what’s happening daily in Paris’ streets of immigration “is much more complex,” explained Garson.

If the female domestic worker from Mauritius leaves, and the French employer can’t find a replacement for her, “what’s next [for the employer]?”

Garson pointed to the street outside his office at 2 Rue du Conseiller Collignon to prove his point.

“Rich French will all the more get foreign workers to clean their homes, and they have been happy with their (foreigners’) work.”

Recently, France suddenly scrounged for nurses and technology workers from the Philippines through a bilateral arrangement.

However, Philippine ambassador in Paris Jose Abeto Zaide said they have yet to finalize the details of that agreement.

“We will use quiet diplomacy [in dealing with EU immigration officials], but we are on top of the situation,” Zaide said when asked about Sarkozy’s threats.

Openly discussing such comforts and problems associated with global migration is what the world should continually do, Garson said.

“Countries may recognize these variances brought about by migration and discuss everything. Hopefully, countries will lessen complaining at each other,” he said.

While dialogues are being sought, and as host countries try to control migration, global mobility will remain rapid and easy as it is today.

Travelers like Filipinos and other nationals will thus continually search for convenience and comfort, and for reaping the possible benefits from finding fortunes elsewhere.

There is always hope, Teresa said, wiping her eyes with the back of her palm.

Her fiancée, a security officer, suddenly appeared beside her and they spoke in French.

Teresa patted her fiancée’s hand to say that everything’s alright and I was not the cause of her discomfort.

She said marrying him would ensure she gets her carte de sejour.

“I will try to go back home in Misamis Oriental, maybe in February. I miss my parents and my sisters and brothers. And then I’m going back here, not as an illegal anymore; not afraid anymore of what tomorrow will bring.”

She didn’t cry when she said that.

“I am months away from making it; I am almost there.”