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Factory work is much easier here: visiting at guest workers from the Philippines in Gyöngyös

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Why did they Hungary choose? How do they feel? What is your job like? How satisfied are they with their salary? Among other things, we asked three Filipino workers who have been working for a manufacturing company in Gyöngyös for four months.

A few hundred meters from downtown Gyöngyös, I meet the three Filipino ladies in the dining room of a workers' hostel on a Tuesday morning in September. They were selected and brought to Hungary by the certified rental company Get Work Trend, and they have been working for a large manufacturing company in Gyöngyös since May 10th.

They arrived with factory work experience

They smile, joke and they are curious as soon as they introduced, and it is easy to communicate with them in English. Janice was previously employed by a food processing industry as a process supervisor in Bulacan. She is the mother of a 13-year-old and a 5-year-old girl, who are now being raised by their father in his country. Juvy worked in a factory for five years, most recently as an assembler in Laguna. Baby's employers already included a solar panel manufacturer, she worked as a guest worker in a PET bottle manufacturing plant in Taiwan, and most recently she worked for a cafe in the Philippines.

All three arrived in Hungary as part of a 50-person team. What was your first impression of Hungary? - I ask. "The fact that it's cold", snaps one of them. No wonder: compared to the tropical climate, the cool Hungarian May was a big contrast for them. (And then they didn't even experience winter...)

A friend of Juvy who already works here suggested the job opportunity in Hungary, the others saw the offer on social media and at the agency. Why Hungary? Among the answers, it is said that Hungary is developing, that it is located in the EU, living here is cheaper compared to other European countries and that it is one of the most livable European countries.

They applied in February and then took part in a two-part selection process in March. Get Work Trend first tested the dexterity, vision and speed of job applicants using a skill and logic test. They then took part in an oral interview, where they could present their previous work experience, and they also tested their language skills during an informal conversation. After that they were selected, followed by the medical fitness test. They also complied with this, they received their visas in April and boarded the plane on May 8.

Working hours are shorter and the work is easier than in the Philippines

They speak of their workplace and work environment only in superlatives. "In the Philippines I had to work 12 hours a day, here only 8, there I had to walk a lot, carry heavy objects, here we assemble while sitting," says Juvy. She adds that the strengths of Filipino workers are patience, quick learning and perseverance, and they are now putting this to good use in Hungary. The three ladies trained in one week, and after two weeks they were already doing full-fledged productive work.

"My Hungarian colleagues and managers are also very friendly, accommodating and supportive. They didn't forget my birthday either, they took me up to Mátra," Baby adds. Janice was also greeted by her manager on her birthday with a present and the colleagues sang for her. "We don't feel that we are different in any way, we are treated the same as our Hungarian colleagues," sums up Juvy.

Regarding the finances, they said that it is very worthwhile to work here. On net, they earn at least twice as much as in the Philippines, compared to the poorer regions there, the difference is three times higher. At least the advantage is that the accommodation is free (sublet rent and utilities are paid by the employer), while at home the cost of housing from the net salary weighed on their own wallets. They also experience a big difference in walking. In Manila, Baby traveled for two hours, Juvy an hour and a half to get to the workplace, the factory gate is 10 minutes by bus from the apartment.

They don't officially learn Hungarian, but the words just come pouring out of their mouths when I ask them to demonstrate their knowledge: Thank you, hi, good day, sleepy, lángos (Hungarian deep fried flat bread), sorry.... Although they speak English well, an interpreter is also available at their workplace if needed. And if there are any - even personal problems - they call their contact person at the rental company - as they call her, "Miss Réka" - who also organized this meeting for us.

Janice, Juvy, Karácsony Zoltán, Baby

After working hours: video calls, sleep, Mass, cooking, Netflix

They are also satisfied with their sublet. Shops, market, church, hospital are nearby, the apartment is well equipped and comfortable. How do you spend your free time? All three are passionate cooks, so they regularly cook in the sublet. Among the Hungarian dishes, goulash and lecsó entered the repertoire, and among the Hungarians, their national dish, adobo. The latter is a delicacy made from chicken or pork with the addition of onion, garlic, vinegar, potatoes, and hot pepper. The raw materials for the Asian cuisine are purchased in a specialty store in Budapest. Juvy notes that she fell in love with the lángos during his stay here.

If they are not cooking, they keep in touch with their family via video calls, watch movies on the Internet, sleep, take morning walks, and on Sundays go to a church in Gyöngyös for mass. An acquaintance of their roommate is a priest who sends them a message with the sermon on the Internet before Mass. Janice had already been to Eger, which reminded her of Vigan (a city in the Philippines that preserves medieval Spanish architecture). For now, however, they travel little. In December, they are planning a big trip "somewhere in Europe".

Are you homesick? - I ask. The two singles, Baby and Juvy, are taking the absence well and enjoying the new impulses. It is the hardest for Janice, who left her two small children at home. "I came here to work to make it better for my children," she says. She notes that she tears up from time to time, but with online video calls it's easier to keep in touch, she doesn't feel so far away from her family. She hopes that the time will come when her family members can move here with her.

When I ask them about their plans, they tell me that they have signed a 1-year contract. If their employer is satisfied with them, the contract can be extended for another year. However, Juvy and Baby laugh and comment that they would stay here for the rest of their lives, they are so satisfied with what they have experienced here during the four months...



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