Abel Cadias

A chop suey approach

A little bit of everything from the last couple of weeks

(Chop suey is a Chinese cuisine first cooked in California in the late 19th century. This "leftover" dish has been adopted by the Filipinos for many years. It's a meat stir-fried with a mix of different kinds of vegetables. In the Philippines, chop suey means "a bit of everything." And so I thought of writing just a bit of everything which happened in the past few weeks.)

Charice: Beyond the Fame

Charice is gradually taking the world's center stage in the international music industry and she is, with no doubt, a Filipino pride. Oprah hailed her as "The Most Talented Girl in the World" and the "newly crowned pop princess" by the New York Post. David Foster, the legendary music producer, regards Charice as her "most favorite young singer" and the recognition from the rest of the world goes on.

On July 23 at Siam Discovery Center, Charice gave an amazing performance of her second single "Pyramid" and belted the toughest songs of Whitney Houston through her own rendition of the "Bodyguard Medley." The Filipino community in Thailand gave a very warm welcome to the budding star. Remarkably, many Thai teenagers and young professionals showed up to greet the "The Voice" with 100% hospitality. In return, Charice declared Thailand as her "second home." After her one-on-one interview with SiamPinoy, she was named as the "Standing Ovation Little Diva."

And to many Filipino expatriates scattered all over the world who are always there to applaud wherever Charice is, every sound that roars when their hands are together brings not just pure entertainment but a moral booster as well. Just like Charice, many Filipino expatriates from the four corners of the globe are working hard to earn a decent living not just for themselves but for their families. Knowing that Charice came from a very humble beginning gives millions of working Filipino overseas an inspiration to cling on to.

33 (Belated happy birthday to me!)

I celebrated my birthday on August 1 at the Terraze Bar and Restaurant, Chiangrai. A combination of groups of Filipino, Thai and Farang friends and acquaintances were all there. Anyway, I've been celebrating my birthday for the past 10 years in Thailand. But honestly, I always feel like I'm a newcomer. Probably because of this "one-year" job contract thing which signals a quick end and start of the so-called "life." I wonder how many more birthdays will come for me here in the land of smiles!

From 3 to 2 to 3 (Thai culture training update)

The Teachers' Council of Thailand (TCT) through the Private School Teachers' Association of Thailand (PSTAT) would like to inform "new" foreign teachers that it is now mandatory to attend the 20-hour Thai Culture Course held on three consecutive days. Last year, the majority of accredited training agencies squeezed the training over just two days after many foreign teachers requested it.

It was found that many foreign teachers were on a "no work no pay" policy with their respective schools. Surprisingly, some schools including many teacher placement agencies, did not allow their teachers an official leave of absence when the training was scheduled on weekdays. Still, it was frustrating for a quite considerable number of teachers who got an AWOL (which meant salary deduction) on Fridays or Mondays to travel to and back from the training. Now, our friends from these training agencies decided to regress from their usual ways without any consideration. And the most frustrating part even until now is the very limited information or misinterpretation from schools - particularly the government schools - on this licensing law for foreign teachers set by their own bureaucracy.

I also heard that the PSTAT is conducting the course on September 4 - 6, 2010 in Bangkok. Please contact them for more information.

A Bilateral Agreement! Really??? (Labor laws concerning Filipino teachers)

Here's something that the Filipino teaching community should hope for: a bilateral agreement with Thailand in upholding "better" salary scale and fringe benefits. But of course it's not as easy as we think. A dialogue on August 4 was hosted by the Philippine embassy for the Filipino community to discuss these work-related issues. The Philippine embassy under the leadership of our new ambassador HE Lacanlale, will be joining the crusade of regulating the Filipino teachers' qualifications and skills to monitor the thousands of Filipino teachers who are working and still looking for jobs in Thailand which I believe is in exchange for a nationwide implementation of a standard salary scale. I hope, still hope and will continue hoping! In any case, I wish the ambassador and her staff the best of luck!

If I'm not mistaken, there exists a "standard salary scale" directive drafted by the MoE seven or eight years ago. It states how much one gets depending on nationality. Unfortunately, it was never implemented and I think it won't be implemented anytime in the future. Many school employers cling to odd reasons like "no budget," "parents can not afford to pay," "not many students," and "you're not farang" etc. High supply and low demand leads to a cheaper product cost it seems.

But it appears that the situation here is different. There is an increasing demand and an increasing supply and the costs are getting cheaper. In other words, there are many foreign teachers, especially Filipinos, who accept below average salaries for obvious reasons. And the employers are taking advantage (in fact, abusing the system) of this without any thought of quality instruction. Rarely can you find highly qualified, well-trained and English fluent Filipino teachers who accept lower than 30,000.00 Baht a month. Either they are desperate or waiting for better opportunities.

Sadly, there is a considerable number of "unwanted" Filipino teachers who need to be regulated but it appears they are still given contracts by a considerable number of schools. And I don't blame them. I blame those who give them work in exchange for quality instruction. I think the rule is simple: you want the best then offer the best. Generally, English language teaching in Thailand has obviously become a business opportunity.


Unfortunately this issue is unlikely to be resolved to your satisfaction. The government will not mandate salaries (other than possibly in gov't schools). While I have no doubt that a good Filipino teacher may be better than a bad native speaking teacher, when equally qualified the native speaker will get the job 99% of the time.

This isn't even prejudice, it is simply common sense and market economics. If I wanted to learn French I would naturally try to find a French person to teach me. Therefore if you tell me that I have to pay a Filipino the same salary as a native speaker then I will simply stop hiring Filipinos and only hire native speakers. The only time I would hire a Filipino would be if I couldn't find a qualified native speaker.

At the end of the day any artificial controls you place on the job market will have a very predictable side effect. Think of it as a factory, if the workers go on strike for higher wages I would consider replacing them with an automated assembly line.

None of this even considers the school admins preference for blue eyes and pasty faces which is as much a reality as it is unfair. I do hope that all hard working people are remunerated to a fair and sustainable level, but at the end of the day fair equals fair market value.

By Free Markets, BKK (19th August 2010)

I hope the "salary issues " will be addressed very well so that every Filipino who is working hard is justly and fairly compensated. I have high hopes that our new Ambassador will get into this matter for the good of every Filipinos working in Thailand. More Power.

By claire c. narag, Nakonratchasima (16th August 2010)

I agree with this article. It's high time Filipinos get paid as much as farangs. The Philippine Ambassador to Thailand is certainly doing a great job in her efforts to further the Filipino cause.

Mr. George, before you criticize the "gross grammatical errors" of my fellow Filipinos, please take a closer look at how you constructed your comment here. You may have second thoughts in criticizing others' grammatical mistakes. :)

By swan princess, Philippines (15th August 2010)

mr crusader... you should include editing the gross grammatical errors in the majority of your fellow compatriot resumes in your campaign for better pay. I am with you 100% .

By george, bkk (11th August 2010)

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