DODA LINA

3.

DODA LINA

IS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT FIGURES OF THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN ISRAEL.
SHE ARRIVED IN ISRAEL IN 1988
SHE IS “TREASURER” AT THE FFCI (FEDERATION OF FILIPINO COMMUNITIES IN ISRAEL)

DODA LINA 
Doda. Because the name… …Doda Lina

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Doda Lina? I thought you were Ate Lina

DODA LINA 
Yes, in English…in Hebrew it’s Doda

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Doda is mother? Mamma?

DODA LINA 
No, it’s ante, tita, aunt

KÖKEN ERGUN 
That is exactly what I was going to ask you. Why do they call you aunt?

DODA LINA 
Yes, because that’s in Hebrew: doda. It means tita, auntie.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Auntie?

DODA LINA 
Aunt, aunt yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And why do they call you auntie?

DODA LINA 
Yes, because I am oldest here in the society.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So when did you arrive here in Israel?

DODA LINA 
I think I arrived here in 1996…1988!

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So that’s many years.

DODA LINA 
Many years!

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Were you married then?

DODA LINA 
I was married in the Philippines but we were not married in Church, we just only lived there for …for…85’, 86’…for three years.

We were living in the Philippines and when I came here my husband was already here 

So we got married here in the Church, in St.Anthony’s Church

KÖKEN ERGUN 
In Jaffa?

DODA LINA 
In Jaffa. That was in 1988.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And how was it then? Here, the Filipino community, were there a lot of people?

DODA LINA 
In that time only few Filipino were here. A few…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And how did you come? Was it through an agency at that time?

DODA LINA 
Before there was no agency. When we came here there was no agency. I have a sister in law, who was here

and she is the one who found the employer for me and then she sent us the visa and we could come here.

Yeah, but we had already an employer. But there was no agency yet. No agency…it was just direct hiring.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
When did the agency start working?

DODA LINA 
The agency I think it started in..I think in 1990 or 1992. Supposedly in 92’ the agency started but there was no agency fee yet.

No collecting of agency fee.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And you are very involved in your community here. Before coming to Israel were you also doing similar social…

DODA LINA 
In the Philippines?

KÖKEN ERGUN 
In the Philippines, doing social work?

DODA LINA 
Yes. When I was in school during high school. I was already involved….

If there was a junior’s and senior’s prom… I was also officer in school.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And when you arrived here, did you start working on the social affairs immediately or did it take you time to start being involved in the community to do social work?

DODA LINA 
No, no. Because the community only started, I think, around early 2000…2000, something like that. 

So there was community yet, when I got here. From 1988 to 1990/92 the Filipinos here were very few.

I think there were not even 500 Filipinos here.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
When you first came…

DODA LINA 
Yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
How many are there now?

DODA LINA 
Now I think more or less 30.000, more or less.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
In one of the magazines for the Filipino guest workers I have seen an advice from a Filipino guest worker who has just arrived in Saudi Arabia.

And it was saying what to do not to feel lonely in a country where you are very new. 

Here you’ve been so many years but you are one of the first people to come. 

And there are some people that (maybe you were lucky because your partner was here)…but there are so many people who come here alone. 

What do they experience in the beginning?

DODA LINA 
In the beginning they feel homesick. But…we don’t keep that homesickness.

One month to three months or six months…it’s what it lasts to be homesick for the foreigners.

Because they separate from their families, from their children. So it’s a very big homesickness…you cannot imagine!

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And once a Filipino worker comes here…they are not only coming to Tel Aviv. 

Sometimes they are going to small towns which is not connected to Tel Aviv…

So…and six days of the week they are working there…So how do they get in touch with other Filipinos in the country?

DODA LINA 
Before, before…Before it was very difficult because there was no cell phone, there was no computer before…

So you could get very desperate if you were in a place far away.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
For example when you first came, not the first year but maybe the second and third year…did you get surprised when you met other Filipinos coming from other parts of Israel to Tel Aviv?

DODA LINA 
Yes, yes…The Saturday nights, the day off nights.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So Saturdays is always a day off for every Filipino…

DODA LINA 
No, some, some… If your employer is religious, Friday you’ll go out…Saturday you will come back.

But some might also go out Saturday and then Sunday come back.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
There is always one day break…

DODA LINA 
Yes, 24 hours was before, now they approved the 26 hours and I think now the agency will make it 36 hours.

But the employer, some of the employers don’t agree with the 36 hours. 

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And have you heard of many cases that some employer doesn’t want the worker to have any break at all?

DODA LINA 
Yes, yes.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
What happened then?

DODA LINA 
It depends on you. If you don’t want to go out, the employer pays it. They will pay.

If the employer needs you for the seven days, so what can you do? So you will stay. But they will pay you for it.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And if something happens at home and the guest worker thinks they are asking her to work too much or if something happens and they didn’t pay, how does she look for her right in the situation?

DODA LINA 
So first, before she goes to the agency and if the agency does not attend to this complaint so they will go to the Kav Laoved. So the Kav Laoved now is the one who will call the employer.

Now the Kav Laoved will speak to the employer. I think they are able to settle it also.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
When I was in Lebanon, there was a big Filipino community there 

and in Beirut I realized that there were shops where they were selling uniforms for guest workers.

So they were forced to use, wear uniforms at home, when they were working in their employers house. 

Do you have anything like that in Israel?

DODA LINA 
No, no. Here in Israel it’s different, even what you use they don’t say anything.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And which part of the Philippines are you from?

DODA LINA 
I come from Bicol region, from Masbate, it’s part of Bicol, it’s in Luzon. Because the Philippines is divided in the regions: LuzonVisayas, and Mindanao. So we are from Luzon but it’s in the Bicol region. Region 5.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Region 5. And is the Filipino community here divided into these sections? Clearly divided?

DODA LINA 
Yes, that’s why the organization is divided….If you are an Ilocano your association is Ilocano, just like the Iloilo tribes …that’s in Visayas region.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And, as far as I know, the accents of the language is also different.

DODA LINA 
Yes, it’s different. Even me, for example, I am from Bicol, so I have also my own dialect.

People from Iloilo they have also their dialect. And the Ilongo tribe they have also their dialect.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But do they understand each other easily?

DODA LINA 
No, no.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
No? And how do you communicate? Sometimes with English?

DODA LINA 
We communicate in Tagalong, the main language is the Tagalog.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And English is also an important language?

DODA LINA 
Yes, the English in the Philippines is our second mother tongue. The first is the Tagalog and then the English.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And people, when they are speaking, they mix English with Tagalog? It’s normal also in the Philippines?

DODA LINA 
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Also in the Philippines?

DODA LINA 
Yes, yes, we call this Taglish.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Taglish?

DODA LINA 
Yes, Tagalog- English.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Is this because of the American influence of the country?

DODA LINA 
Maybe. Because in the Philippines…your children already when they are only three years old start to go to nursery. 

So in the nursery they start to teach English. Since they go to the nursery the teacher already teaches them English.

Mainly, if you go to the private school. But in the public school not that much…Though in Grade 1 they start also to teach English.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And the popular culture is very important, Pop Culture, in the Philippines. And how important are beauty pageants in the Philippines?

DODA LINA 
It’s very important.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Why is that? Can you talk about that?

DODA LINA
Yeah, because in the Philippines the television always shows a competition of a beauty contest…

To search artists, to search actress… they start from this competition to find actresses.

Like also, Aurora Pijuan …I think she is the first Filipino…Miss Universe. Aurora Pijuan.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So Philippines is very famous for producing Miss World…

DODA LINA 
Miss Earth, Miss World….

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But is it also related with trying to appear more modern?

DODA LINA 
Yeah, we are following the culture of the US. 

Automatically we are also adapting the culture of the Americans. .

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And are the people in the Philippines criticizing this?

DODA LINA 
No, no, only about the beauty. 

H ere, it’s an open country. Even you if are not husband and wife, only girlfriend and boyfriend you can make out in the streets.

Kissing is not allowed in the Philippines. Doing that in the street, in the public…is not allowed, yeah.

They criticize. The old, the old…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Conservative

DODA LINA 
It’s very conservative, yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Being in this building we are in is the central bus station.

It was built as a bus station and it was built also as a shopping mall and mostly for all the citizens of the city, Tel Aviv.

But in recent years it changed and it became more the public space more for the guest workers.

DODA LINA 
Foreigners, yes, for the foreigners. Because this is the center. The foreigners…the workers, the OFW go to the…go back to…

They come here from their employer’s house, from Netanya, and the bus station is here, so…And then it is also the business establishment for the foreigners…the one foreigners use.

Like there in the second, third floor, oh, fourth floor. They call this Avenida Avenue. You know what is Avenida Avenue?

It’s in the part of Manila. It’s a part of Manila, yeah, Avenida Avenue. 

Because all the foods, all the things that we can get in the Philippines, we can get it form here now.

In this area, the fourth floor.

KÖKEN ERGUN 

You were here before the Tachana Merkazit opened. The Tachana Merkazit…when did it open?

DODA LINA 
No, this Tachana Merkazit started only…The war…the Gulf War was in 2000?…the Gulf War you remember, the Gulf War?

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Yes…

DODA LINA
Was it in 2000?

KÖKEN ERGUN 
1990…no, the Gulf War was 1989, 1989.

DODA LINA 
1990

KÖKEN ERGUN 
1990, yeah, so ten years old.

DODA LINA 
So in 1990, I think they built this one.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So how was it in the beginning? Were there a lot of shops for the guest workers at that time?

DODA LINA 
They just built it new. Because the Tachana before was there, the old Tachana. And there was not Tachana here yet.

So I think they built this before the Gulf War.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And when they built there were a lot of shops? What kind of shops were there? Were they for the Israelis or were they for the guest workers?

DODA LINA 
No, it was like this already.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Really?

DODA LINA 
Yes, it was like this. But the third floor…the fourth floor was not yet like it’s now.

KÖKEN ERGUN
So the more people came from The Philippines and other countries, then more shops opened for those people…

DODA LINA 
Now they also open shops for the Nepalese, shops for the Indian…the Chinese. So little by little they built a new….

Because the Nepalese I think they arrived around 2004, 2005…2004 I think.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And now it’s really major headquarters for the guest workers, specially in Saturdays, in Shabbatz.

But is the administration of the building sometimes complaining about this? That there are so many guest workers here?

DODA LINA 
No, no, no.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
No? They have no problem?

DODA LINA 
No complaining. But they have a lot of things that you cannot do. Like for example to smoke cigarette…

smoking cigarettes inside the Tachana is not allowed.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And what else is not allowed?

DODA LINA
To make dirt.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Garbage?

DODA LINA 
Garbage, yeah…And they have a law that Friday at four o’clock this is closed. The Tachana is closed. At four or five, something like that.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
When does it open again?

DODA LINA
On Saturday around four o’clock too.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And that’s when the guest workers come, shops open and the night clubs also open.

DODA LINA 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the start of the foreigners enjoyment.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And at that time I also realize there are not so many Israelis in the Tachana…Saturday night or Sunday.

DODA LINA
No, because for the Israeli…as I heard, for them this is the place now for the foreigners.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
They separated from…

DODA LINA 
No but they are also coming here but not so many Israelis…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And you stayed more that ten years. Many people I talked to stayed at least more than three or four years, is this normal?

DODA LINA 
Four and a half or five and half. Yeah, I stayed for more because I have only one employer.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Since the beginning?

DODA LINA 
Yeah. If your employer dies and you are already four and a half years here they don’t want to give you…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
A new visa?

DODA LINA 
New visa. But if your employer is still alive, even until now, no matter how many years you have been here it’s ok. But only if you have one employer, and you don’t transfer to another employer, you can stay.

KÖKEN ERGUN
So if you have one employer it’s easy to stay. But if you transfer, every time you transfer they…

DODA LINA 
No, if you transfer and you’ve stayed for two years…if you transfer…it’s ok. But if you have been already four and a half years here and you transfer, they don’t give you visa.

Even if your employer died at that time you cannot stay…unless your employer has a sister or other family

They can transfer the visa so you can stay more.

KÖKEN ERGUN
So that means all the people who are here more than five years, that means they are always with the same employer?

DODA LINA 
Yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Oh, ok, I see, I didn’t know that.

DODA LINA
If you are here more than five years and the employer dies you’ll become illegal.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And the other thing I am curious about is the female dominant community. 

The Filipino community is very strong of females, of course because of the type of job, I think, because it’s caregivers.

And there are many single ladies here. Not all of them are with their husbands back in the Philippines. 

And they are sometimes here for a long time. 

DODA LINA 
They are all maids, all maids.

KÖKEN ERGUN
Do they find themselves sometimes husbands from the Israeli community or do they tend to more stay inside the other immigrants community?

DODA LINA 
Yes, some marry others…Some may marry Thais, Chinese men. They also might be friends with Israeli men.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And it’s easy to marry and Israeli as a Filipino guest worker?

DODA LINA 
Yeah…if the Israeli marries you, they issue some papers so you can stay. But if you are only living with the Israeli, it’s nothing.

If you are an Israeli’s girlfriend and you don’t have visa and the immigration catches you. Your boyfriend cannot…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
In Germany the Turkish immigrants who go there and who have a problem with the visa, they try to find somebody to marry: 

a German girl or a German boy. And they get the Visa.

DODA LINA 
But it’s easy. Here it’s very hard.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Ah, here it’s very hard? Why is it very hard? Because of the person not being Jewish?

DODA LINA 
Maybe, I don’t know what is the reason.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So it’s not something that a lot of Filipino girls are trying to do for a visa?

DODA LINA 
If the Israeli is divorced, he can marry again. So they will marry to this Pilipina girl and they will fix the papers at the Misrad Hapnim, so she will become an Israeli.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But if two Filipinos, a girl, a Filipino girl and a Filipino man marry here and have children, do they have the same rights as a married Israeli couple?

DODA LINA 
Now the immigrants are fighting for this…fighting for their children. Because only once they gave immigrants (the temporary residence), only once.

Last…2005 I think, they gave immigrants from…ages of 10 above (the temporary residence).

KÖKEN ERGUN 
What do they give them?

DODA LINA
The immigrants. The temporary residence. 

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Temporary residence . And now it’s…

DODA LINA
Now they are all fighting again but it’s…They don’t know if they will give it to them or if they will refuse it.

So that is why they are fighting now for this…There are one thousand…1200 families that are fighting for these rights. Yes.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So you are a leader of the community officially and unofficially. 

I am sure a lot of people come to you asking for help. I am sure you are very experienced to give them advice.

What is the most common question for help you get from the young ladies coming here?

DODA LINA 
No, the problems I am always asked for are only the financial. The financial and the assistance. 

If there is a sick OFW and they want to go home, they don’t have money, they don’t have insurance for the hospital…

So they ask not only me…I am only answering this because I am the treasurer of the FFCI so…

So before I give the money, before I make a decision I will ask to the board if this is qualified to give, like that.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And how does the FFCI collect money from the community?

DODA LINA
No, the FFCI collects money…because having activities we ask for sponsors. So our major sponsor is the Western Union.

So the Western Union…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
The money transfer company?

DODA LINA
Yeah. If we make an activity the Western Union asks us how much is the budget.

So we will…more or less we will say like this, like this…and then we will give the budget and the accounting papers to the Western Union.

An example of a budget is 7000 for an event, 7000 shekels for an event. So we ask them for 3000 dollars or 2500 dollars.

If they approve this they give to us that money. What the FFCI asked for.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
What is OFW?

DODA LINA 
It is Overseas Filipino Workers.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Ok, it’s a general name, term for all of you.

Yeah, It’s Overseas Filipino Workers

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Ok, now, let’s get back to the man in the society. How do the man feel being so little in the community? Is this a problem?

DODA LINA 
Yeah, that’s why there are three girls per man, that’s why they fight. But I don’t want…I don’t do this… it’s not my type.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But man also do care giver work?

DODA LINA 
Yes, yes, also the men. Sometimes if the employer is very heavy, the woman is very heavy, they need a strong man to lift her. So they take a man.

KÖKEN ERGUN
The Filipino community here, do they 100% just doing care giving job or other jobs as well?

DODA LINA 
Mostly, because that’s only the type of visa they give to the…Caregiver is the only qualified work here in Israel. Only to the caregivers they give a permit.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So you are not allowed to work as something else?

DODA LINA 
Yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But if, for example, you become very integrated to the society, Israeli society, and you want to open a business, is this possible?

DODA LINA
It’s impossible, it’s impossible.

Ruby, and other friends, can open a business because they are already temporary residents, they have already a temporary residence and that’s why they can open.

Also this restaurant.

Yeah, she has a husband who is Nepalese-Israeli.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
I see, they cannot open themselves?

DODA LINA 
You cannot open, if you are not an Israeli.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
And is it the same for all the shops here? Are they all Israeli owners?

DODA LINA 
Yes, with wives from the Philippines.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
How do you rent a house here as a Filipino Guest Worker? Is it problematic or it’s easy?

DODA LINA 
It’s easy. Before, in my time it was very easy because there were lower renting prices. Now it’s very expensive. Here in Tachana you have only one room in….

One room and salon, in the kitchen…you will pay 1500 shekels.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So that’s why a lot of people share the rent and they only sometimes use it for Saturdays

DODA LINA 
Yeah.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
So for paperwork to rent a house, can a Filipino guest worker rent directly from an 
Israeli?

DODA LINA 
No, there is an agency, there is an agency… agency of the apartments.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
But do you know any…there must be some guest workers who have a free day on a Saturday but cannot come to Tel Aviv. There are some people?

DODA LINA 
Yeah in the far places…

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Do you know what they are doing in themselves?

DODA LINA 
No, often they use computers…they are fan of computers…they use Facebook.

KÖKEN ERGUN 
Thank you very much!

DODA LINA 
Ok, thank you!!

SHORTLY AFTER THIS INTERVIEW DODA LINA RETURNED TO THE PHILIPPINES, AFTER SPENDING 22 YEARS IN ISRAEL.

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