A Filipino doctor who ends up being a nurse at a small hospice in Oklahoma City, an eminent high school principal in a Quezon City private school who downgrades to an obscure 8th grade science teacher at a public school in Michigan, and a financial analyst at a prominent company in Makati City who becomes a cashier at Macy’s – these accounts of occupational atrophies that Filipino professionals who immigrate to the United States suffer from, are common constituents of discourse nowadays. Degeneration is defined as the process of deterioration of an entity.
Therefore, occupational degeneration is the deterioration of the occupation or professional rank of an individual. The occupational degeneration that Filipino-Americans undergo is neither solely attributed to the urgency for income nor the scarcity in potential job openings. A bigger cause for the predicament of these Filipino-Americans roots from the racial inferiority historically imposed by Americans unto Filipinos which takes ground on American views on skin color and on past events that established a derogatory notion of Filipinos in the American mindset.
Racial discrimination is still discreetly active in the United States amid general awareness of morality. The incessant campaigns of social groups as well as nongovernment organizations who actively promote anti-racism and social equity are inadequate to fully extirpate racism. According to the 2007 American Community Survey published by the U. S. Census Bureau, 3,053,179 Filipinos permanently reside in the United States of America and this makes the Filipino population the second largest Asian-American minority group in the United States (http://factfinder. census. gov).
Coming only five-hundred thousand people short than the Chinese, the Filipino-American population is expected to overtake the Chinese-American population and ultimately become the largest Asian-American minority group by the end of the 21st century (San Juan 6). The commencement of the influx of Filipinos to the United States dates back to the 18th century. Filipino sailors who were called “Manilamen” jumped off from the Spanish vessels that they were on to deliver themselves from their excessively rigid captains, and eventually, they settled in the land of present day Louisiana (Banaag et al. ).
With the machination of generating adept individuals only to serve under the ideals of the American Government, the Pensionado Act was passed in 1903. Thus, the second wave of Filipino-Americans arrived in American soil and was composed of scholars labeled as “Pensionados” who were sponsored and educated by the American government (San Juan 24). The coming of the third wave of Filipino immigrants in 1906 may have functioned as the greatest stimulant of oppression and belittling toward Filipino-Americans.
Collectively dubbed as “Pinoys”, these Filipinos scattered mostly on the west region of the United States. The farmers who composed this group of immigrants called themselves “Sakadas”, which means contract workers in Tagalog (Sterngass 42). They endured the cruelty from their Hawaiian employers and tasted stern working conditions. Moreover, elderly Pinoys in California nicknamed as “Manongs” were blatantly discriminated by Caucasian Americans for they engaged in low-paying laborious jobs such as bed making and cooking (Banaag et al. 3).
Ironically, during the Great Depression in 1929, Filipino-Americans were deemed by many Americans as an economic obstruction and as an annoying competitor for jobs. Due to the American’s repugnance and contemptuous ideals, Filipino-Americans were frequently assailed and even massacred (Sterngass 51). In 1946, the fourth wave of Filipino immigrants came and consisted of World War II veterans who fought jointly with American soldiers in opposition to the Japanese. The fifth and final wave is made up of beneficiaries of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
Present day immigrants as well as all future immigrants are also contained in this fifth wave (Banaag et al. 5). All of these waves of Filipino immigrants experienced sheer discrimination from Americans. Filipinos were adversely differentiated and were imperatively divorced from society. Americans viewed the transmigration of Filipinos to the United States as an intrusion. The smaller stature of Filipinos gave the Americans more confidence to unblushingly despise Filipinos. The irrational scorn of the Americans amplified when Filipino men began dating Caucasian women in the early 90’s.
The ratio of male Filipino immigrants to female Filipino immigrants was 9:1 (Sterngass 49). This trend of dominancy in number of male Filipino immigrants lasted until the early 20th century. A Filipino man would naturally hanker for a romantic relationship with a female of the same descent but because of the scantiness of Filipino women, a lot of Filipino men attempted to pursue Caucasian women. White racists became infuriated; they passed antimiscegenation laws to forestall the possibility of marriage between Filipinos and Caucasians.
Furthermore, Filipino-Americans were often denied service in restaurants, movie theaters, swimming pools, barbershops, and bowling alleys (Sterngass 48). The negative aura which enshrouded Filipino-Americans lastingly stained the image of the Filipino people; the chances of occupational success for Filipino-Americans have been made cloudy. Throughout Filipino-American history, Filipino men have tasted more affliction than Filipino women. The two contrasting views of savageness and emasculation toward Filipino men are unfortunately existent in the minds of Americans.
The seemingly barbaric and uncivilized perception of Americans of Filipinos stem from the way the Manilamen lived. What perhaps fueled this view is the Manilamen’s appetite for crocodiles. They greatly incorporated hunting into their lifestyle and lived in huts similar to what is seen in rustic areas in the Philippines. On the other hand, the stripping of virility from Filipino-American men sprung from the history of the Pinoys embracing jobs which were normally befitting for women.
Having no other option, Filipino men often worked as dishwashers or laundry cleaners. Both of these views lessen the likelihood of Filipino-American men to land lucrative white-collar jobs even if their abilities and profound knowledge already exceed job qualifications. One Manong even said that for Filipino-Americans, a postdoctoral degree is not always an assurance for one to land an excellent job with a fine pay. He argued that “even if you got Ph. D. degree your chances only dishwasher, elevator man, pantryman” (qtd. n Banaag et al. 3). Another fault almost all Filipino-Americans may have unknowingly displayed is susceptibility to the blarney of Americans thus leading to the abuse of the natural goodness of Filipinos. This characteristic suggests to the Americans the notion that when combated with flattery, Filipinos can be easily duped and manipulated. The contentment most of the Pinoys seemed to show toward their relatively inferior jobs absolutely did not help in changing this belief of Americans.
Salvation from severe poverty in the Philippines and exploration of greater possibilities are among the most common reasons for the exodus of Filipinos from their homeland. What generally explicates the concept of Filipino emigration to the United States is the Push and Pull Theory of Migration (Banaag et al. 2). It can be deduced from this theory that the main push factor for a Filipino’s desire to emigrate is the discontent he or she has for his or her native country and the major pull factor that drives the Filipino to immigrate is the allurement and comfort he or she sees in the United States.
Arguably, the most psychologically destructive type of occupational degeneration is job mismatch. A person who is experiencing job mismatch has a job which is degradingly disparate from the career he or she has trained for. In a study done by Madamba, it is revealed that job mismatch is highest among Filipino women in 1980 (20 percent) (58) and this implies that Filipino-American women also take a fair share of career misfortune. Moreover, 35. 48% of Filipino-Americans who hold a college degree have experienced job mismatch in the year 1990 (60).
While occupational shuffling seems to be less severe in nature than other occupational exigencies, it is the highest underemployment crisis in all age groups of immigrated Filipinos (62). Job mismatch is alarming for it affects mostly college graduates who have hoped that they will be able to land a job analogous to their academic degrees. The potentially high human capital attributes of these Filipino-Americans are not further utilized and thus become deteriorated over time. Their low working hours expectedly results to lower income.
Job mismatch is a pernicious economic and social crisis for it intoxicates the minds of Filipinos that education is absolutely unnecessary in securing a decent job. If this concept continues to persist in the minds of Filipinos, a generation of educationally deficient Filipinos who live in contentment with mediocrity would evolve. Though the number of Filipino-Americans who are considered as mismatched employees exceed the number of Filipino-American part-time employees, part-time employment is also a serious economic adversity of Filipino-Americans.
These individuals involuntarily choose to work part-time jobs out of desperation. Most of them are stripped off of the perks of free health insurance and other job benefits from the American government. They are deprived of the benefits which are available to full-timers. What worsens their misfortune is the instable and uncertain nature of their jobs. Another type of occupational degeneration which is also considered as the inevitable peak of this crisis is unemployment. There are a few million Filipinos situated in the Philippines who are unemployed.
The fact that there are also a large number of unemployed Filipinos in the United States is piteously disappointing. In addition to their economic grievances and homesickness, jobless Filipino-Americans are the ones who are most likely to be victimized by racism and bigotry. Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, the former secretary of the Department of Health in 1995, estimated that from the years 2002 to 2007, 9,000 Filipino doctors, out of about 56,000, have retrained as nurses, and 5,000 have since gone abroad (qtd. in Geller http://www. usatoday. com/news/ health/200 7 -01-07-jacinto-choice_x. tm? csp=34). At year 2009, it is not hard to believe that the number of healthcare professionals who will willfully choose to degenerate themselves occupationally is going to soar in coming years.
This economically disastrous expectation is an indicator that more and more Filipinos want and are planning to immigrate to the United States to hopefully seek for good fortune and better earnings. These immigrants would not only be coming from the realms of science but also from other fields such as engineering and teaching. It is rather nai?? e to say that the careers of these future immigrants are going to be auspicious when the infelicitous circumstances mentioned earlier and the tight competition for jobs in the United States are put into deliberation. Prejudice toward Filipinos is extant in the United States. It is truly obvious that the second generation of Filipino-Americans dwelling in the United States still has not been entirely successful in eradicating the deprecatory views the White have toward Filipinos. The bigger problem is the obliviousness, if not total knowledge, of Filipino-Americans that they are taking the same downhill path like their ancestors.
Occupational degeneration for Filipino-Americans seems rather inescapable because of racial supremacy in the United States in favor of the Whites. The best solution to this problem is for Filipinos to become more demanding and less pathetically resilient. It must not be expected that Americans would be able to abruptly erase from their subconsciousness the notion that Filipinos are minor-league. Filipinos must show that they are worthy. Filipinos must prove their caliber and abilities without ever stripping off their dignity or abdicating their occupational role.