Last update 10/24/2011 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Filipino in HCM City (Part 2)
VietNamNet Bridge would like to introduce the second part of the reportage about the community of Filipino in HCM City.

Working as tutors, xe om

To earn their living, Filipino people do not hesitate to do any job.

Anakan, 47, has lived in HCM City for two years as a xe om (motorbike taxi driver). He also takes children of his wife’s employer to and from school.

Anakan looks like any Vietnamese xe om but he is different: he never serves strange passengers, just because he is not good at Saigon’s road system and cannot speak Vietnamese. His passengers, thus, are staffs at the company of his wife’s boss.

Anakan often gets up very early to take his wife from their home in District 4 to the house of his wife’s employer in District 7. He then carries two kids of his wife’s boss to school. Sometimes he has to take them to a restaurant for breakfast if they do not take breakfast at home.

Anakan said he has a 20-year-old daughter, who is studying at a university in the Philippines. The girl lives at the university’s dormitory and with her grandmother during summer holiday. Anakan and his wife come to Vietnam to work. They send around $350 to their daughter a month.

To integrate with other xe om, Anakan also wears blue outfits like them, runs a motorbike with HCM City registration number. He also has a Vietnamese driving license.

There are some Filipino xe om like Anakan in District 7. These men’s wives came to HCM City to work as charladies and they brought their husbands to Vietnam. For them, HCM City is a promising land, where they can earn their living quite easy.

Three sisters of Syjuco is a typical example. Syjuco is working for a Vietnamese family with high salary while her husband works as a waiter cum interpreter at a restaurant, earning VND3.5 million/month, plus tips.

Syjuco’s husband, Eduardo, said while seeking for a suitable job, he works at a restaurant to earn some more money to pay house rent. In his home country, Eduardo repaired computers at his friend’s IT company. He wants to open a computer repairing shop in Saigon but he doesn’t understand this market very much. He said his family would visit home this lunar New Year and after that they would return to Vietnam and he would promote his project.

Estreuta, the husband of another Syjuco’s sister, is very lucky. He sat next to the director of a tourism company based in District 3 on the flight from the Philippines to Vietnam. The director recruited Estreuta as a tour guide. He takes tourists to Da Nang, Hoi An, Sapa, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, etc. and earns a thousand of USD per month. However, he also works as a xe om at the building where his wife works during his free time.

Filipino in HCM City don’t live in community like other Asian people. They live scattered in many districts, but often group up in District 2 and District 7 in the morning of Sunday to share difficulties, advantages and experience in Vietnam.

Most of them enter Vietnam with tourist visas. When their visas expire, they go to Cambodia for several days and enter Vietnam again with new visas.

Corpuz, 27, and her four friends have been in HCM City for two years. They were also trained as professional charladies in their country but as they are too young, they could not find a job in Saigon. They decided to return home. Before leaving Vietnam, they went to Saigon Square building on Ton Duc Thang road, District 1 to buy gifts and saw recruitment announcements at three shops. They applied and was employed, with monthly salary of VND5 million ($250), plus commission. Corpuz said some friends of hers will go to Saigon.

With VND5 million, how do they live? Corpuz said: “We spend economically. Five of us share a room near the HCM City University for Social Sciences and Humanity, at the rental fees of VND3 million ($150) per month, including power and water charges or VND600,000 ($30) a person. We told the landlord that we are students, so they allow us to share a room. We pay VND400,000 ($20) for food and others per person so we spend totally VND1 million ($50) a month.”

Corpuz explained: “We only spend VND200,000 ($10) for food/month because our employers supply us three meals a day”. She said she saves money to get married. Corpuz and her friends wish to marry Vietnamese men to be able to live in HCM City.

Regina, 29, an English tutor for children of a big shop on Cao Thang road, District 3, with monthly pay of VND6 million ($300) said she has college diploma and wants to work for an English teaching center in Vietnam, but recruitment is strict so she works as an English tutor at home on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. She is seeking another class on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Filipino – a united community

Filipino in HCM City often grouped at a church in District 2 in Sunday morning. After making rituals, around 100 Filipino gathered at the church campus to talk and share everything in life. Normally, those who have lived in HCM City a long time will guide newly comers. They are willing to provide free accommodations until the new comers have jobs and are able to hire their own rooms.

Most of Filipino said that they feel unsecured since they are afraid to be expelled anytime. It would be terrible for them if they are expelled because they like the life in HCM City.

At the gathering, a tall and stately bearing man stood up, introduced himself as an expert for a company in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Zone in Binh Duong province. This man reminded Filipino to obey Vietnamese laws and prove themselves as civilized Filipino.

A middle-aged woman, who wore luxurious outfit, introduced herself as a businessperson in HCM City, said that she was afraid to see most of Filipino in Saigon are illegal workers because Vietnam only grants work permits and long-term residence status to foreign experts and businessmen.

Other Filipino agreed, saying it as they live illegally in Vietnam so they dare not to raise their voice in any case.

According to the Vietnamese Government’s Decrees 34 and 46, foreign charladies or poorly trained workers are not granted with work permits. Nguyen Van Xe, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that it is a real demand for well-trained charladies in Saigon but it is only the need of some foreign, overseas Vietnamese and wealthy families so it is unnecessary to grant work permits to this form of labor.

However, some said that Vietnam should learn from other countries, which grant work permits to foreign laborers based on their salary. For example, foreigners who earn at least VND20 million ($1,000) per month will have work permits but they have to pay personal income tax. Moreover, HCM City is developing very quickly so the need for well-trained charladies will also rise, not only for foreign or overseas Vietnamese but also Vietnamese families.

The authorities of Tan Phong, Tan Phu and Tan Hung wards in District 7, where host many Filipino, said that Filipino seriously obey Vietnam’s regulations on residency registration. They often declare themselves as businessmen, teachers, tourists, etc. not charladies or manual workers.


However, there are Filipino who come to Vietnam to do illegal acts. HCM City police have recently detected groups of Filipino who cheat foreigners at cards.

These people enter Vietnam as tourists. They hire houses far from the center and then take victims there to cheat. They only stay in Vietnam for 1-2 months, then return home and then come back to Vietnam again.

A Filipino cheater declared that he earned over $20,000 from cheating at cards in Vietnam in 2008-2009. These people also go to Cambodia and Thailand to perform the same trick.

In addition, some Filipino come to Vietnam to join drug trafficking rings ran by African men.