Forced Migration Gallery – PAWIS

This summer, PAWIS participated in the International Migrants Alliance – South Bay’s (IMA-SB) Forced Migration Gallery. The gallery highlights the stories and struggles of im/migrants from Colombia, India, the Philippines, and Mexico. Find PAWIS’s submission below:


These photos are self-representations by low-income Filipino immigrant workers of their everyday lives as they fight for fair wages. The workers have organized themselves into PAWIS or the Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants – Silicon Valley, a grassroots Filipino organization fighting for workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and human rights, particularly in Santa Clara County. ‘PAWIS’ translates to ‘sweat,’ symbolizing members’ struggles and sacrifices in providing for the needs of loved ones with dignity. PAWIS engages in organizing and leadership-building, as well as connecting members to service providers. As a member of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, it has helped pass anti-wage theft ordinances in the City of San Jose, the County of Santa Clara, and the Santa Clara Unified School District.


1 Caring for People, Caring for Trees

Laura is an immigrant from the Philippines. She has a passion for teaching children working as a nanny, her favorite nursery rhymes to teach are Twinkle Twinkle and the ABC starting with A is for Apple. When she talks about the children she has raised, she transforms into a beam of pride. Currently, she is working as a caregiver and although its not the same type of passion, she continues to put in the same kind of care into her current patients. During her stays at her live­in caregiving job, she makes time to go outside nurture the plants in her workplace back yard. Her pride and joy? An apple tree.


2 Superwoman

Jonie is often shy at meetings, uttering only a few words during introductions. Yet, her most fiery speeches are when she talks about the victory of the class action law suit she filed with other Filipino workers for a wage theft case. Although the work in convincing other workers to join the suit was hard, Jonie was the most persistent in the cause. She is a mother of two and currently working as a caregiver by day, and on her days off, weekends and evenings, Jonie is a superwoman organizer. This is Jonie in 2013 when she wore her first costume for Halloween.


3 From Monuments to Masses

Nelly has explained that she is a victim of the Labor Export Policy, a policy in the Philippines that systematically recruits and pushes Filipinos out of the country through lack of jobs and poverty, into the global market as low­wage workers. Her exterior is solid and unrelenting, and yet she is approachable, the most efficient recruiter for PAWIS. She is a pillar, a monument in our organization yet the masses of workers are attracted to her light and passion. In this photo, she shows her love of finding new places and new sights to see.


4 Skype Birthday

Jude is an officer of PAWIS. He recently turned 33 and supports two children and a wife in the Philippines. He has been working as a caregiver for over 5 years. His reprieve from intense daily labor is the minutes he gets to spend with his family on Skype celebrating milestones together even if they are apart.


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