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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lutong Macau (Repost)

Three years ago I wrote in one of my blog sites about Filipino expats in Macau. Here’s a repost of my blog but some parts have already been edited by me:

Macau is considered “The Las Vegas of the East”. As a tourist, it is possible to travel without a visa and stay up to 30 days. The air fare is not expensive once en route via Clark International Airport. But to those Filipinos seeking jobs abroad, Macau is one of the most sought melting pots in Asia. Stories have been heard from Filipinos working in Macau successfully. Just like any countries, among the so-called tourist, some of them have a purpose to find job in Macau.

If a person wants to work legally in Macau, it is important to obtain a blue card from the employers and usually the blue card is renewable every two years. But it is not easy to get a blue card unless a person finds an employer who can volunteer as sponsor that is quite few and hard to find.

There are two sides of the story of Filipinos playing games, but not as a player in the casinos glittering with lights in Macau.The first one belongs to Filipinos who are considered “lucky” and some of them live in a beautiful, clean and decent condo unit and could afford to pay a rent and dine in from a costly restaurant.

The second one belongs to several cases of Filipinos who are trying out to “get lucky” despite of their battle in search of green pastures. Some are looking for work, and some usually have a part time job but it depends on the day when the job is going to be available. These part timers, once they receive the pay from the contractor, they find ways to replicate their income in order to survive.Their income is not stable and is only good enough for paying their food and lodging. Others live in a dirty old condo unit where more than eight people cramping in one small bedroom. They go for a bed space and these are some of the expatriates required to leave after 30 days forced to go either in Hong Kong which takes an hour ferry boat ride or to other places in China used as their exit point. They go back to Macau after several days to reacquire another 30 days pass from the immigration officer.

I travelled Macau for the purpose of attending a trade show held at the Venetian Trade Hall dated April 21-23, 2008. The realm lets me introduce some more insights how the industry works more specifically in the ads specialties.

I didn’t get a hotel reservation prior to my flight to Macau. I bumped with a Filipina who suggested and offered me to stay in their “condo unit” in exchange for a better rate instead of staying in a hotel. Inside the premise was dark and rubbishes are scattered in the hall way. The condo unit was small to accommodate more people and they cramp inside in a hot and stinking room. They have a poor condition inside as some of them are still looking for a job to finance their food and lodging.

The next day, I left the “condo unit” and checked in a hotel while waiting for a friend coming from the Philippines, who rents a decent condo where he stayed by himself.

Filipinos in Macau usually hang out in San Malo. One of them who I met is a missionary who sells palabok and toron in San Malo. She said the proceeds usually go to the charity. She revealed that some Filipinos are “nocturnal workers” selling themselves to earn and a “bugaw” who is also a pinoy gets the deal done. She also disclosed that the fee ranges from $50-100 pataca or 300 to 500 pesos.

One Filipina who I met works as guest relation officer in Hong Kong and she was only allowed to stay there for 14 days the reason why she was compelled to leave. But after a few days, she went back to Hong Kong to re-acquire a 14-day visitor’s pass.

A Filipino expatriate said that he often takes his meal once a day in order to save money and he was having a hard time to prolong his savings aimed for his expenditure in the next couple of days until he finds another part time work. He ascribes that he would rather stay in Macau because he couldn’t find a job and one of his few sentiments is that the government couldn’t give him a job in the Philippines. He also confided that there was a case when he slept in the street for one night because there was no money left on his pocket. He was not ashamed to ask for a help if it is deemed necessary.

These are just only a few heart-breaking stories I heard from Filipinos in Macau, but surely there are still more waiting to be spoken and be heard as they want to unravel themselves from poverty in quest of green pastures

Sameera Chathuranga

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