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A Coagulation of Migratory Beauty

Filipino dancers“Filipinas…are very stupid.”  The “maids” that fill the Chinese-elite’s homes are ignorant for understanding little Chinese and not following simple directions.  They are loose women for leaving their husbands and children back in their homeland.  In other words - the words of a Chinese woman interviewed in Nicole Constable’s book, Maid to Order in Hong Kong - Filipina migrant workers are “dirty and lazy”.  It took me a mere ferry ride over to Hong Kong Island to find other words: 

Their happiness is fragrant and sweet in their hearts, overflowing into mine as I try to hold myself back from dancing their jigs on the side of the street.  I am just an onlooker, right?  Surely not allowed to participate in this Sunday morning celebration?            

The streets are saved from boredom - the normal hullabaloo and commotion of a Hong Kong weekday dissipates on Sundays - but is replaced with this hand-in-hand, karaoke singing, picnicking community.  Filipinos make up the largest migrant population in Hong Kong.  The collective Chinese mentality finds the women “loose” for leaving their husbands and ignorant for not speaking the language, among many other negative discriminatory labels and accusations repeated by Constable.  These women fill the homes of the elite, cooking their food, washing their clothes, tending to their children for very little wages that they will send back home to the Philippines.  And on their only day off they gather, filling every open space, sitting on blankets or cardboard, toting umbrellas, playing card games, eating meals and sharing food, telling stories, singing, and dancing amongst the corporate world of skyscrapers and businesses that do not want them here.  Defying the post-colonialism swallowing of public-space as investigated in Lisa Law’s “Defying Disappearance: Cosmopolitan Public Spaces in Hong Kong,” they transform every street corner, subway tunnel, building lobby into the public realm.  Hong Kong invited this cultural politics battle by beckoning for their help in the service industry, expecting silent submission.  But they are here, and they are not going to be left unheard.

They are here, performing and laughing under the rain and to the beat of the same goal: “Protect our land, life, and livelihood at home and overseas.”  The women continued with their celebration and demonstration for worker’s rights and equality, and will do so next week at the same time and same place - Sundays at Statue Hong Kong HorizonSquare.  On a Tribal Filipino Sunday, I became a migrant; I am a temporary migrant to these countries, searching for my footing.  I found few answers on my own, and not until I entered into the crowd of hardworking, supportive, warm-hearted women did I come to any conclusions.  In this anomaly to Hong Kong’s city life, I saw the coagulation of all the good things in the world; the women brought this together and have fused it into something stronger than the words and actions of the Chinese that do not want them here. 

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