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The Risks of Leaving the Philippines for the Unknown Goals

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What compelled to you to risk everything that you have in the Philippines for the promise of a better life abroad? For many of us immigrants, our very own OFW culture is partly to blame for this mentality that life overseas offers a greener pasture, hence, we lose critical thought in the discerning the genuine from the misleading. Some of us were driven by opportunity that others simply wanted a much better life for their families.

Whatever the reasons for coming to Aotearoa, we can all come to the conclusion that the aim of improving our lives is a universal desire for any human and the Filipino is no different. Agencies know that. And it is with this knowledge that their businesses thrive, often at the expense of their clients who are lured by their advertisements, clients who are more than happy to sell their properties (and their souls) to avail themselves of these services. The yearning to live abroad is so strong that clients eagerly jump at every chance without doing prior research about the country of their destinations, or scrutinizing their agencies, track record or business reputation. One such case is that of Mrs. Annalisa Casaje . She is one of the thousands of the immigrants who came on student visas in the past 3 to 5 years to New Zealand, when the country was at the height of its export, education, industry,. This may as a surprise to many, but coming out with your own story they sent enormous amount of courage, given the fact that agencies and school owners have their respective patrons in government. But what exactly is this export, education, industry? Way back in 2008 during the economic meltdown in the USA, the country was hit by the global recession so badly, that factories were closing one after another, affecting jobs and displacing many families all over New Zealand.

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The ruling government at that time devised a strategy to keep its economy afloat. This was revealed in a Migrant Advocacy Seminar that I attended before this interview. The plan? Export education. It was in this atmosphere of economic and uncertainty that Private Training Establishments (PTEs) were born and the influx of migrants soon followed. To any reader who has never come across this issue, .. this simply means that issuing a Student Visa to applicants overseas will shower you with profit. The students came by the thousands, not just form the Philippines, but also from india and China. Schools, or PTEs rather, were sprouting up like mushrooms all over the country. Agencies back home were promoting to student pathway. Clients poured in. The system goes like this: Agencies will flaunt their services in the media, then you go to an agency of your choice and attend their seminars, or you talk to one of their agents who will offer a private consultation for you and your family. They lay out the fees, expenses and the documents that you will need for New Zealand. But his is where the monster begins to rear its ugly head. Students who arrive in this country have expressed litany of who’s on social media and among Filipino circles saying that their agents’ advertisements were not entirely factual, ads that included:

  • You can recover from your financial investment in about 6 months to 1 years’ time.
  • Employment opportunities abound.
  • Employers will fight over you.
  • IELTS is not needed.
  • Job experience is not needed.
  • Fresh graduates are always welcome.
  • Your family can join you quickly.
  • Free healthcare
  • Free education for your children
  • Residency is a promise, just complete your studies
  • NZ citizenship is attainable within 2 years.
  • Our licensed immigration advisers are here to help.
  • We have a NZ-based lawyer who can help.

Any Filipino who has lived for sometime in New Zealand can attest that although this ads. Sounds like manna, from heaven, practical experience will tell us otherwise. Instead, what this ads show is the brutality of the competition among agencies. Often with little regard for their clients’ welfare after they finish their studies. And since when did we attain NZ Citizenship in 2 years? The misleading ads also reveal that millions of Pesos are at stake in this industry. Everyone thought that original plan to keep the economy afloat is benevolent in nature, until news reports of students committing suicide started to surface. This is not some intrigue that I’m trying to sow here, but in order to protect the privacy of these individuals, their names will be withheld out of respect for their ordeals, because when you invested close to a million pesos in a brighter future, only to realise that later on that this was not guaranteed, one’s mental health is expected to decline and with good reason. Some students were known to have suffered nervous breakdowns with the mere thought of going back home as a failure and in debt. Some were known to resort to street prostitution, because employers will always prefer a NZ citizen or a NZ resident on a more dignified vacancy.

Immigration changes their policy in a heartbeat. In IELTS or OET is needed. Previous job experience is extremely valued. This free healthcare and free education is limited to NZ residents, citizens, and holders of particular visas. But the greatest catch of all is that visa officers will expect you to land a job that is in line with whatever you receive from you PTE. Stories are rife about nurses being ill advised by their agents to take up business courses, despite already having a medical/nursing degree in college. And as for NZ citizenship, we all know that it was the hand of the devil that wrote such false advertisements. This is something that agencies will never fully disclose to their clients because if they do so, they will run out of their business. No ads, no students. No student, no schools. And no schools means no commission for these agents. This is the vicious cycle that Hon. Ambassador Jesus Domingo tried to expose, something that caused him his reputation and resulted in an uproar among the Filipino community in New Zealand, who are one with him in his crusade against education traffickers. One does not look further if you want to make a review of this article.

There is an abundance of similar stories that exploded online, not just coming from Filipinos, but from other nationalities as well. The new Labour government is tightening the noose in the plan to close this back door of this student visa to resident visa is already underway. Every reader is encourage to exercise due diligence in conducting their personal research may it be online or personal contact with any victim of education trafficking. I have rarely scratched the surface of this article but it’s business as usual for agencies back home, with videos showing hundreds of potential clients attending these seminars even as you are reading this. Now that is something very disturbing.

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