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Pinoy Abroad

Filipino caregivers may look to Japan as nation of opportunities

Filipinos aspiring to work abroad can look to Japan as a country of opportunities.

Japan is the 11th most populous nation in the world today with inhabitants exceeding 125 million based on the United Nations World Population Dashboard.

While its population may be high, there is a steady imbalance in its demography attributed to the aging population.

Based on the data compiled by GMA Integrated News Research, Japan has reached a record-high population of senior citizens in recent years.

In 2020, one in every four individuals in Japan is aged 65 years old and above, representing 28.9 percent of its population or 36.21 million.

The child population of 0-14 years old totaled 14.78 million or 11.8% of its population.

Japan’s aging population became an opportunity for employment of health and care workers coming from the Philippines.

Filipino caregivers may earn 220 to 260 thousand Yen or around 100 thousand pesos per month.

“So tayo po ay isa po sa mga labor-sending country sa Japan at pangunahin po dito siyempre yung mga health sector nila tulad ng pagpapadala po natin ng nurses tsaka care workers,” Undersecretary Bernard Olalia of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said.

From 2009 to 2023, there are 3,372 Filipino nurses and caregivers deployed to Japan through the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

This does not include other care workers deployed under the agency track.

The DMW said it is waiting for another request from Japan for the possible deployment of Filipino care workers which it will announce through its website.

The Philippine Association of Service Exporters Incorporated said it has received many job orders for caregivers in Japan.

The organization is also in close coordination with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for providing free Japanese language proficiency training for Filipino applicants.

Learning Nihongo or the Japanese language is one of the biggest challenges for Filipino caregivers pursuing employment in Japan.

Racquel Macaldo has been working for four years at a caregiving facility in Yokohama, a city 32 kilometers southwest of the capital Tokyo.

For her, working in Japan is effortless because she’s taking pleasure in every moment of it.

But just how? By dealing with senior clients as if they are her own family, she said.

Being away from her family may be sad but the sacrifice is worth it as she can now provide well for her loved ones back home, Racquel said.

“Syempre worth it. Lalo na kami nandito sa Japan, nakakatulong ka sa family namin syempre ‘di ba? Sa araw-araw na pamumuhay. Kung wala naman akong trabaho dito paano naman mabubuhay ang family ko sa Pilipinas. Ganun lang din, magtabaho ka, mag-hambaro ka, gawin mo lahat for the family na rin po sa Pilipinas,” the Pinay caregiver said.

Racquel has two pointers for those aspiring to work in Japan: learn the Japanese language and be prepared to leave their families behind.

“Pag pumunta ka talaga dito sa Japan first is mag aral ng Japanese language. Kailangan buo ang loob mo na magtrabaho ka dito maiiwan ang family mo sa Pilipinas. Saka nakakakatulong din ang trabaho na ito. Promise masarap magtrabaho sa Japan. Welcome po kayo,” she said.

Racquel’s Japanese employer, Yasutaka Yanase, praised her Filipino employees who can efficiently and effectively take good care of aged clients be it in personal care, health care, food preparations, and other necessary tasks with genuine enthusiasm.

Yanase observes that Filipino caregivers are constantly smiling. Their cheerfulness and positive energy motivates radiate not only on the clients but  to other workers as well..

Yanase said he wants to hire more Filipino caregivers soon.

“Incomparable hospitality, it is very natural. They are linguists. Speaks English, Visayan, and Japanese and they communicate well. They absorb quickly, and smartly. And I believe Filipinos are suitable for nursing care jobs which is why I want to hire additional Filipino staff. Subarashii. Great,” shared Yanase, owner of Harukiya Day Service Center in Yokohama.

Meanwhile, Noemi Gutierrez Ogura, a native of Santiago, Isabela is now in her thirty-second year residing in Japan.

She went to Japan as a Nihongo student in Asuka Gakuin located in Yokohama after completing her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in the Philippines.

Her first job was at the Kawasaki Comprehensive Education Center as an assistant language teacher for returning Japanese and Japanese-Filipino children.

Eventually, she became the guidance counselor for foreign nationals at the Kawasaki International Center where she proposed to provide free caregiving courses for foreign residents including Filipinos. The course was implemented in Kanagawa Prefecture as a project to support single parents.

Because of the project’s success, other prefectures in Japan followed suit.

Her career at the international center also exposed her to the plight of distressed and detained Filipinos, most of them overstayed their visa or committed a crime.

Less than six years ago, Noemi took the greatest turn of her life, when she decided to set up P&A Factory, a business dedicated to hiring Filipinos to work in Japan legally such as caregivers and other skilled workers.

“Napag-isip-isip ko, bakit ‘di ako tumulong sa kababayan natin para mai-guide sila ng tamang process ng pagpasok sa Japan. Yung kagandahan ng Japan, yung dami ng work, ng trabaho lalo na itong SSW (Specified Skilled Worker) na lumabas nung 2019, 14 categories po of work,” said Noemi, the executive managing director of P&A Factory.

For Filipinos not to be scammed when applying for jobs in Japan, Noemi said, an applicant must always check with POEA if there is a job order for the position they want.

She also reminded applicants that aside from processing documents and undergoing a medical exam to obtain the certificate of eligibility, the next steps for employment in Japan are free of charge after the selection process.

“Nanghihingi na ng pera, yun ang number one pagkaka-ingatan natin. Pag sinabing, penge po ng ganito, or training fee ganun, bakit po? Magtanong po kayo, para saan po,” Noemi said.—LDF, GMA Integrated News