Friday, 30 October 2009

Filipinis in Israel

I had mixed feelings this morning when Paula, a guest critic during our case study presentations said that the word Filipinis is used to refer to caregivers working in Israel.
Well, I presume she was just candid. The truth is, there are approximately 48,000 Filipinos in Israel today and most are caregivers. I met some while doing our field photo assignment in Hadar, in downtown Haifa. Shown in photo is a poster of local pop star Pilolo Pascaul displayed at the entrance of the only Filipino grocery story in Haifa, a favorite hang-out of caregivers where they sing karaoke during their break time.
There will be more coming with the recent turn over of the peace keeping duties from Poland under the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The 1st Philippine Battalion officially started their official tour of duty in the Golan Heights on Oct 22. Specifically, about 1,000 military and police personnel will be stationed in the southern sector of a United Nations-controlled zone that has kept Israeli and Syrian forces apart.
Golan Heights is a plateau with an area of 1,200 sq km located on top of the Syrian mountains. After the Six Day War in 1967 (dubbed Yom Kippur War since it happened during this religious event), Israel has occupied the area. There is no peace treaty between the two countries.
From the Golan is the view of the Sea of Gallilee (right photo) which is the lowest fresh water lake in the world at 686 feet below sea level. The Sea supplies approximately about 40% of the country's annual water requirements. Isreal has been experiencing a drought in the last five years and thus, aside from the strategic military importance, Golan controls one of the main sources of water.
I suspect Filipinis may become a force to be reckoned with considering Israel's rising aging population and now troops for this peace keeping duties. 70 years back, the Philippines opened its doors to jews fleeing the Holocaust happening in Europe at the time. President Manuel L. Quezon allocated 10,000 visas and about 1,200 jews made it to Manila safely. Today it is the reverse. Filipinos finding a safe haven in Israel for economic reasons.

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