The Philippines offers stunning views of pristine beaches, awe-inspiring rice terraces, unique volcanic formations, and unspoiled mangroves. Filipino hospitality and celebration is unparalleled. Yet, there lurks in the shadows a much less glamorous side to this island nation.
Despite the Philippines making great strides in fighting human trafficking, having moved from the US State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 1, the fight is far from complete. Domestic servitude, sex tourism, limited employment opportunities, conflict and typhoon stricken regions, and online exploitation fuel the demand in which sex and labor trafficking thrive. Ten million Filipinos work overseas to provide financial support to their families and are vulnerable to being trafficked in foreign countries.
In addition, approximately 25% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. The popular adage, “Poverty is not a hindrance to success,” has proven true for many. But for far more who are susceptible to exploitation, the ability to break free from the cycle of poverty and hopelessness has been elusive. Should the exploitation lead to rescue, there is a long process of restoration and healing which needs to take place.
One important restorative recommendation frequently cited by government and private anti-trafficking institutions is this: increase the availability of shelters and protection resources that address the unique needs of trafficking survivors. This is the need SGI seeks to address.