Filipino migrants in Italy highlighted in PSPC event

On 3 August 2018, the UP CIDS Program on Social and Political Change (PSPC) hosted a film screening and panel discussion organized by the Philippine Italian Association and in cooperation with the UP Department of Political Science and the Scalabrini Migration Center. A series of interviews with first- and second-generation Filipino migrants in Italy were presented in the event, which depicted the stories of overseas Filipino workers and their process of integration abroad.

The event commenced with a panel discussion on Filipino migrant workers in Italy joined by Dr. Marla Asis, Director of Research and Publications of the Scalabrini Migration Center, Pete Chan, former Philippine Consul General in Milan, Fr. Graziano Gavioli, an Italian priest presently stationed at Tondo, Manila, and Ellene Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy.

After the panel discussion is the screening of “Filipinos in the Eyes of an Italian,” a series of interviews of Filipino migrants in Italy presented by Francesco Conte, director of Termini TV. Conte first introduced Termini TV as an online channel featuring stories of people in train stations. The television channel explores migration as a universal phenomenon and considers train stations as a space witnessing constant mobility. He presented nine videos of Filipinos from all over Italy depicting the stories of first- and second-generation Filipino migrants in the country. The videos show the different experiences of migrants who had to reinvent their lives in a foreign land and of their children who grew up with questions about their heritage and identity.

Filipinos have been migrating to Italy since the 1970s and a majority of them work there as domestic workers. Dr. Asis notes that domestic work is “work that is necessary but not necessarily valued” by the Italian local population. Filipinos in Italy, domestic worker or otherwise, experience discrimination because of this stereotype. This is not to say that domestic work is shameful but that is often the case as this is the only opportunity given to them despite having other skills and talents to offer. Many of the Filipinos featured in the interviews are college graduates but since their degrees are not recognized by Italian institutions, they accept what is afforded to them in order to survive.

According to Dr. Asis, Filipinos in Italy will say that they are integrated with Italian culture, but some indicators suggest otherwise. They might be able to speak the language and obtain employment but some benefits and opportunities are withheld from them. They also face discrimination from the local population with the purveying notion that immigrants are dangerous, are terrorists, and will take away their jobs. Fr. Gavioli cites the interventions his parish in Modena, Italy has made for migrant communities. One of the things that they promote is not integration but rather the concept of “interculture.” Migrants are expected to integrate themselves with Italian culture and, therefore, abandon their heritage in order to be accepted. According to Fr. Gavioli, this does not result to integration but to the Italianization of migrants. In his parish, integration goes both ways and reciprocal acceptance promotes better interaction.