Travel anywhere in the wealthy world—to North America, Europe or the Middle East—and you will soon find people from the Philippines. You may not actually see them, because many work in menial or invisible jobs, often in hotels and restaurants—positions where travelers scarcely notice them. So common are Filipina women as maids and nannies that the word Filipina has become the generic Italian term for a woman domestic. In the worst cases, as in the Middle East, Filipino people suffer real degradation. Migrant workers face sexual exploitation, and some en counter real religious persecution.
Yet the West pays next to no attention to the sufferings of these very poor people. And that invisibility is a special tragedy, because if you don’t see these Filipino migrants, you are missing one of the great stories in contemporary Christianity.
Philip Jenkins teaches at Penn State and is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He is the author of The Great and Holy War and The Many Faces of Christ.