The Netherlands is one of the favorite destinations of many Filipino migrants in Europe. It is considered as one of the best countries in the world in terms of living condition. So, it is not surprising that many Filipinos have come to the Netherlands to find work for a better future.
Ironically, going abroad is not a simple decision for many Filipinos. It is a decision that might have a repercussion in their lives and the future of their families. Most Filipinos who aspire to seek a better opportunity in the Netherlands end up leaving their families behind. No question, most migrants usually face myriad problems while in foreign lands. The Filipinos in the Netherlands are no exceptions to these challenges. Like other Filipinos around the globe, Filipinos in the Netherlands also face a wider range of problems such as cultural shock, language barrier, depression, discrimination, and worse, exploitation from employers, and among others. But the most vulnerable group of Filipinos who usually experience these problems is the group of undocumented migrants who have no clear protections from the government of a host country.
In October 18, 2013, four Filipinos took the courage to form FILMIS, an organization that seeks to empower Filipino migrants in the NL to become catalysts of change. These four Filipino migrants were (Jacob O. Apostol, Melanie Escano, Bing Molabin, and Vergie Rubino). They were inspired by the Ateneo-LSE (Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship) program by the Ateneo School of Government. All FILMIS founders (from A-LSE batch 21) and most original members were graduates of the Ateneo-LSE program. They believed that they could contribute something good for their countrymen in the Netherlands. FILMIS stands for Filipino Migrants in Solidarity. It serves not only as a platform in addressing the various problems of the Filipino migrants, but also as an avenue in developing the human potential of its members while living in the Netherlands.
FILMIS seeks to unify the Filipino community by empowering them to take a collective action to promote not only their interests, but also the enjoyment of their lives with respect and dignity in the Netherlands. To attain these goals, FILMIS seeks to promote the Filipino culture, education, and human rights of the Filipino migrants.
FILMIS believes that by promoting the Filipino culture, it will help strengthen the aspirations of the Filipino migrants. It gives them a sense of coherence and racial pride by showing our rich heritage and history through arts, literatures, dancing, singing and other forms of artistic self-expression. It also believes in the importance of education. It views education as an effective tool to develop individual potential which is the key to personal success and happiness. FILMIS is also committed to promote the human rights of the Filipino migrants. It believes that every human being is entitled to basic rights regardless of race, religion, creed, and political belief. It has joined an alliance with other human rights advocacy groups in the Netherlands to campaign for recognition of the basic human rights of migrants in particular the undocumented group. It joined in AHRU in 2013 (Alliance for Human Rights of the Undocumented) in demanding the Dutch government to respect the basic human rights of the undocumented migrants by providing legal and social protections.
FILMIS is inspired by a strong faith in the individual resiliency of the Filipinos and their sheer capacity to overcome the different adversities in life. The founders believe immensely in the innate potentials of each individual. They have a strong faith in every Filipino’s uniqueness in pursuing their dreams. However, FILMIS firmly believes that the key to attain this vision is the solidarity among the Filipino migrants in the Netherlands. “Cooperation in action” in search of individual dreams is embedded in its Mission and Vision.
A few highlights of FILMIS in actions:
On November 2013, the strongest storm “Haiyan” that ever hit the earth left a devastating mark in some parts of the Philippines. The enormity of the damage to both human and property was incomprehensible. FILMIS, despite of its very limited resources, was able to donate 300 euros to UPAA fund raising event “Strike for Scholar” on August 23, 2014 to help the victims of the super typhoon in the Philippines.
FILMIS is actively engaged in many national issues in the Netherlands. Most of these are related to migration, labor and human rights.
Most of the FILMIS officers are also active members of the Domestic Workers Union. They have campaigned for the ratification of the UN Convention – 189. On 7 January 2014, FILMIS along with DW Union (Bondgenoten) joined the meeting with members of Kaalsbeek Commission on the issue of Convention 189.
FILMIS has long been active in the campaign against the plan of the Dutch government to criminalize the undocumented. As AHRU member, FILMIS helped organizing an Information Workshop on the issue of criminalization with a theme “Is criminalization of undocumented over, now that the proposed law is off the table?” at Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in Den Haag on 10 October2014.
FILMIS has spearheaded the holding of Philippines Independence Day celebration in Den Haag, the Netherlands since 2014. This is in line with its commitment to promote the Filipino culture among the Dutch citizens.
Now, FILMIS is hoping to expand its membership in order to serve more the Filipino community with highest commitment, loyalty and determination.