Lita and her son, Myke, now live in Houston together. She still works as a nanny and Myke is an interior designer. Lita's two daughters have also immigrated to the United States.
Credit Ashley Westerman / For NPR
Patricia Ballesteros had to return to the Philippines after her mother passed away in March. She is still waiting to get her papers in order so she can return to the United States and continue working as a nanny in New Jersey.
Credit Ashley Westerman / for NPR
Lita's ancestral home, in a rural province about four hours north of Manila, has been refurbished over the years with money Lita has sent back from the United States.
Few American mothers could fathom a situation that would force them to leave their country in order to put food in their children's bellies, clothes on their backs and send them to school. This is the reality for many Filipina women, who cross oceans in search of jobs that pay enough to provide for their families back home.
The Philippines is known worldwide for sending its citizens overseas to work, and a recent study has shown the country consistently deploys more women than men. In the United States, Filipinas are often nurses and caretakers; many work as nannies
The archipelago nation of the Philippines is located in southeast Asia and made up of over 7,000 islands. A former Spanish colony, the nation was ceded to the US in 1898 after the Spanish-American war. The Philippines attained its full independence July 4, 1946.
As you may remember, an explosion on an oil rig about 20 miles off the coast of Louisiana killed three Filipino nationals and injured a handful of others in November. The incident put Filipino guest worker programs under intense scrutiny by the local media and advocacy groups.