Filipino Migrants Flock to Textile Industry

Located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is a nation that is rapidly growing and changing. The workforce of the Filipino people is of national concern worldwide.
It has been estimated that the Filipino migrants are now in over 150 countries all over the world. A staggering amount of 10 million migrants have relocated, and adapted to new lifestyles, professions, and cultures around the world. More than 2,000 leave every day and seek new lives elsewhere.
Filipino immigrants work in a number of different industries, but the current trend is to work within the fashion and garment industry. As vast consumerism has spread throughout the United States other nations have also joined. Countries such as Bangladesh and Dubai are largely immersed in fashion and consumerism. The Philippine people are hard workers and are working in factories to produce the garments, as well as in the retail store selling the garments.
Joaquin Gonzalez, an associate professor and director of Yuchengco Philippine Studies at USF, conducted a study regarding Filipino migration patterns with respect to the fashion industries. Gonzalez traveled to Iran, Dubai and Bangladesh, inspecting various factories that produced garments for various designers in the United States. He found that many Filipino migrant workers produce, inspect, and transport clothing. Through Gonzalez’s fieldwork, he sought to bring awareness to the USF community as well as uphold to the goals of USF. Part of his work was to show that professors must get out of their comfort zone and do field research in order to be able to inspire and teach. Gonzalez felt that there was a lack of knowledge from the student body in respect to the work of their professors. He said, “Many students do not even know that their professors do field research and write books so I was trying to correct this misperception.” Gonzalez’s work verified the migration of the Filipino people was widespread to a number of countries, as well as various professions.
There is a common perception that sweatshop labor dominates the garment and fashion industry. Even though sweatshops are not a thing of the past, the manufacturing companies that Gonzalez visited all complied to worker’s rights and treated workers fairly.
Allison Green, a junior majoring in Environmental Science at USF, attended the lecture; she had strong opinions on the issue and was surprised that in Gonzalez’s fieldwork he did not encounter any sweatshops. She said, “I thought the information about the Philippine migration was valuable because he really showed how the workers are intermediaries for globalization. I wasn’t expecting him to have a positive outlook on the sweatshops in the Philippines, so that was unexpected.”
Sophomore international studies major Erica Ernst is also a member of the Erasmus Project, a living and learning community focused on social justice issues. Through the Erasmus Project, she is currently researching sweatshops, especially within the garment industry. She explained, “The research of Jay Gonzalez was surprising and encouraging. It was reassuring to know that there are areas in the world were garment workers are working under just conditions,” Ernst said. “However, this issue is by no means anywhere close to being entirely eradicated. For instance in my own research I have discovered that there are about 90 sweatshops in the Bay Area alone, where garment workers are not working in just conditions.”

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