I was in the Philippine Embassy in Itaewon last Sunday to apply for the renewal of my passport. The place was filled with people. How do I illustrate how full it was? I arrived there at 10am and left the place at 2pm. Aside from the slow processing, the place was really crowded. Sunday is the only day working Filipinos could spare to process their travel documents. It was also my only day as my husband was left at home to take care of our 2-year old.
It’s almost shameful to answer the question “ano trabaho mo rito sa Korea?” Not because I am ashamed to be a housewife. Far from it. Each time I answer the question it will always be followed “Koreano asawa mo?” Nope, Filipino. “Siguro malaki kita ng asawa mo. Ang swerte mo naman”. It is to this last statement when I feel the need to be with the crowd, yet thankful that I am not.
A kababayan from Iloilo who hails from the town of Pavia told me of his one-month long jobless state. He has four children back in the Philippines and he is just 29 years old. Businesses are closing, most especially the medium enterprises. He points out to some faces in the crowd and tells me that this and that person just lost a job or had just experienced a cut in his salary. Lowering of salary is the more acceptable fate rather than losing a job. After more than an hour of chatting with this man, a woman said hi and introduced herself as the friend of a friend and that we were introduced some months back. She whispered if I know of an English tutorial job and that she would be happy to take on a tutorial job after the end of this month. She is a process engineer here in Korea but the client of the company she’s working for decided to stop the project she’s in. She’s actually in a better state than the others. She’s single, doesn’t have to worry much financially and she has other options available for her as she is just waiting for her application in Europe. When I asked why the project she’s working on is going to stop, “Global crisis!” she exclaimed as if I know nothing about it.
While I was lining up, I saw several applications with an attachment for “Lost Passport”. The story behind the lost passport application is one: Their passports were confiscated by their Korean employers. They go around town without a passport these days. I think it’s cruel of employers to do that to foreigners here. That’s the sad thing, being at the mercy of someone else because because of the NEED to work and to provide. Some employers would let you take whatever they offer or else…