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“Don’t cry. Don’t show weakness. Filipinos are not weak!”

This is the advice given to students in a sort-of school of hard knocks in Yoon Sung-a’s Overseas.

Yoon explores the reality of the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), as a group of women are trained to be maids, nannies, and servants in foreign countries. One might ask why they do it. They put themselves through the torment of not only the training, but the actual work, which can be nothing short of demeaning. Even Filipino TV calls these women heroes. But in fact, all these women are doing is slaving in order to provide for their families. The buck isn’t big, but it’s more than they can make in the Philippines.

While men often train to work at sea, women in the Philippines end up in Dubai, Singapore, and let’s face it, even Canada. Their lives become bowing to the higher-thans, kissing foot of the socially uncouth, and making meals for someone’s spoiled brats. Of course, some employers are considerate, but Overseas shows the uglier side of the profession, where bosses don’t pay well, mistreat their employees, overwork them, and ultimately – abuse them.

The trainees undergo reenactments of possible bad situations they might encounter on the job. As they are brought to tears by their coaches, the women share their experiences at home and away from home. Some of the reenactments go as far as to simulate rape scenarios. This is a very real part of working in a stranger’s home in a faraway land where only a placement agency can assist you. Some OFW commit suicide, not necessarily out of despair, but because they have so few hours of sleep on a rigorous schedule that their brain can no longer compute. To avoid such rash decisions, they are told, If you’re losing hope, go back to Number 1. Why are they enduring this?

The answer is always: “For my family”.

 

RIDM Screening:

November 15th, 2019. 8:30 PM Cinéma du Parc

November 18th, 2019. 8 PM Cinéma du Parc