Unemployment amongst nurses in the Philippines is at a level that is making life at home difficult or impossible for many Filipinos – which is why many nurses are now looking offshore for employment. In an interesting mix of cultures and languages, many Filipino nurses are now making the move north to Finland, where their nursing skills are in demand.
Of course, in order to slot into the much-needed nursing jobs in Finland, the Filipino nurses are having to undertake intensive Finnish language training. The money earned by overseas workers which is funneled back to the Philippines every year is an integral part of keeping the South-east Asian nations’ economy afloat.
But there are points where Finland and the Philippines are at odds over healthcare – made clear recently by the production of a Finnish documentary critical of the Philippines’ proposed Reproduction Health Bill. The film is highly critical of the bill and the Filipino government’s reasons for proposing it. This particular health issue highlights one of the ironies of the Filipino resistance to birth control: the theory behind a high birth rate is that young Filipinos will act as a human resource for the country’s future economic growth, while in fact the result is that 10% of Filipinos are now working abroad – in countries like Finland.
The contrast between the two cultures and their approach to birth control is stark in this respect – Finland is very liberal on these issues, with both abortion and birth control widely available and legal. While integrating into a society that has different health and reproduction laws – and a different Church role in the lives of everyday citizens and politics – may prove difficult for some of the new Filipino nurses, most are happy to integrate into their new society while keeping their own culture close to their hearts within their own homes.
In fact, some Filipinos living in Finland expressed strong agreements with the film’s message, emphasizing that excessive population growth in the Philippines plays a large role in the country’s struggling economy.