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Filipino Take-Over

By Rip Ritchie

    There was a myriad of migration signs all throughout Hong Kong.  Signs of product and cultural signs were abundant.  Almost any type of restaurant could be seen throughout the streets.  There were all of the Asian cuisines, including: Thai, Malaysian, Chinese (in all the many forms), Japanese and even Laotian.  European restaurants of French, German and ItalianMaxin and Relaxin origin could be found.  Eve n places serving American fare were accessible.  Corporate chains such as McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken littered the streets and a 7-11 could be found on almost any corner.  All the comforts and consumerist blemishes of the Western world were melded together with Eastern ways of living to form the unique cultural atmosphere of Hong Kong.
   The book by Nicole Constable, entitled Maid to Order in Hong Kong, proved to provide insight into the most visible migration spectacle in all of Hong Kong.  On Sundays in Hong Kong, the Filipino domestic workers congregate in and around an area of town aptly named Filipino CrowdChatter Square.  Sunday is their only day off from work, and their only time to socialize with each other and rehash cultural traditions of the Filipino people.  The article talks about the forms of control that are put on the domestic workers in their everyday life in Hong Kong.  They are separated from each other and the laws of Hong Kong help to keep them in their docile position.  They may seem helpless, but in fact, they are individuals and have some power to speak out and stand up for themselves.  Their display in the park was direct evidence of this fact.  These workers essentially took over the public space of downtown Hong Kong and made it theirs.  Every sidewalk, overpass, underpass, park space, awning and bench was occupied by these female Filipino workers.  They were all talking with each other and playing games.  TheyCrowds and Crowds! ate food and had little picnics that consisted of some distinctly ethnic food.  They were putting on shows in the street that represented the tribal Philippines of times gone by. They even put on beauty pageants where these women could feel beautiful in a place where their ethnicity is looked down upon.   Thousands of Filipinos have migrated to Hong Kong in search of work and are required to be docile domestic workers because of their situation.  This one day off of work has enabled them freedom to share cultural values and interact with people of the same ethnicity, displaying their unique heritage and influencing the cultural make up of the city of Hong Kong. 
   This display of Filipino migrant workers has been the largest temporary display of migration that I have ever witnessed.  I have seen large displays of migration in more permanent establishments such as “China Towns” and other similar ethnic neighborhoods, but this was the largest showing of migrants where they did not have some sort of concrete way of expression in a given place. 

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