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A Personal Reading List of
Literature On Overseas Contract Workers
compiled by Nadine Sarreal

America is in the Heart, by Carlos Bulosan; University of Washington Press, Seattle 1994
This autobiography is one of the best sources of first hand observations by a sensitive young Filipino migrant worker in the United States of the 1930s. A companion book to his autobiography, The Philippines is in the Heart (New Day Publishers, 1978), was published posthumously. It is a collection of stories based on Bulosan's childhood in the Philippines.

Dark Blue Suit, by Peter Bacho; University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1997
Short story collection thematically focused on the Filipino old-timers of Seattle.

From Africa to America: Voices of Filipino Women Overseas, edited by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol; FAI Resource Management Inc., 2000
The personal essay by Linda R. Layosa, former editor of Tinig Filipino (a monthly magazine aimed at Filipino OCWs in Hong Kong) gives the reader a view into the thoughts and experiences of a woman who was once a domestic helper, too.

Filipino Migrant Women in the Netherlands, by Mary Alice P. Gonzales; Giraffe Books, Quezon City 1998
Indepth look at the lives and identities of 4 Filipinas in the Netherlands. Gender, class, racial/ethnic and other issues are considered for each woman.

Filipino Migrant Workers: at the Crossroads and Beyond Beijing, by Ruby Beltran; Giraffe Books, Quezon City, 1996
This is an especially valuable read for the first section which considers the psycho-socio cost of sending Filipino workers overseas as contract employees.

Mga Hibla ng Pangarap; Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. Quezon City
Poems, essays, short stories and a television screenplay about OCW life. Pieces originally written in Tagalog with English translations provided.

OCW, a Young Man's Search for his Mother, by Carla Pacis; Cacho Publishing House, Mandaluyong 2001
Young adult novel of a teenage son who tries to rescue his mother from Hong Kong and reunite their family.

They Are So Sweet, Sir: The Cruel World of Traffickers of Filipinas and Other Women, by Chris de Stoop; Limitless Asia, 1994
Translated from the Dutch and French version; originally written by Belgian journalist, de Stoop, exposing forced prostitution of Filipinas in Europe.

Underground in Japan, by Rey Ventura; Jonathan Cape, London 1992
Detailed depiction of life in the Kotobuki, the Filipino illegal immigrant's shadow world in Yokohama.

Thematically related books:

Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier and Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera
Griet is a young maid in the employ of the Dutch painter, Vermeer. Triton works as a houseboy for Mr. Salgado in Sri Lanka. What is most striking about these books (both written from the points of view of the young servants) is that the positions of Griet and Triton are more dignified compared to the stories of Filipino domestic helpers in foreign countries. The novels provide interesting bases for comparison between relationships of employers and servants of the same ethnic group, and relationships of employers to their foreign servants.


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Euro Kabayan, U.K.Euro Kabayan U.K.






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