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Filpino teachers find niche in Thailand

Asia one - February 26, 2012."It is not surprising to hear some older Thais speak a Tagalog word or two because there was a time quite a number of Thais went to the Philippines to study in universities."

"A popular band here, "Kalabaw," has members who studied at Gregorio Araneta University in the 80's.

Today it is also not surprising to hear some Filipinos speak Thai words. This is because quite a number of Filipinos are coming to Thailand to teach.

In the '70s a few Filipinos came to work with Bangkok-based international agencies or multinational firms, or as missionaries or entertainers.

But starting around 2001, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra opened the country for teaching employment and a new kind of migration began.

A number of those early migrant teachers were Filipino.

As of December 2010, according to the Commission on Filipino Overseas, there were at least 14,000 Filipinos in Thailand, 3,000 of them permanent migrants married to Thai citizens and about 11,000 temporary migrants with work permits.

More job opportunities may be opening up for qualified Filipino teachers as Thailand prepares for the full implementation of the Asean Community program by 2015.

Some universities in Phitsanulok are going to offer Filipino as a subject starting this year.

Tourists to teachers

Many of the early migrants came as tourists then stumbled on teaching jobs.

Michelle Santos, a graduate of management course went to Thailand in 2006 as a tourist then got recruited to teach.

As a comember of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Filipinos can stay up to 28 days in Thailand as tourists.

"It was easy to land a job here before," she says, "if the school had a budget, the applicant would immediately be hired, no questions asked."

Stephen Luri Mercado, a graduate of Xavier University with an MA in Special Education, traveled to Thailand in 2008 just to experience life in another country.

"It was my dream since I was 14 years old. I read about Thailand in National Geographic Magazine. I found a job and so I stayed."

Leah Doysabas and Nancy Guigue Catane, both with masters degrees, tried their luck upon the prodding of friends who were already working in Thailand.

Even with permanent teaching jobs in the Philippines, both packed their bags and headed for Thailand in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

Orly dela Cruz arrived on May 16, 2006.

The following day he had a job. Genalyn Tolentino had a job already waiting for her in Chonburi through her friend, who applied for her."



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