One Filipina's Immigration Adventure in Taiwan

One Filipina’s tale of immigration in Taiwan
By Trista di Genova
Originally published in The China Post

Last week, a Filipina and a volunteer immigration officer, Eric, met to discuss her situation, and the woman, hereafter referred to as “Flora,” agreed to allow a summary of her case to be recounted on the Foreign Community page in The China Post, in hopes it will offer assistance and advice to others.

Seven years ago, “Flora” arrived in Taiwan to work as a caretaker, where she met the younger brother of her employer’s daughter. When her two-year contract was finished, she returned to the Philippines, and he followed her; they married there. They returned to Taiwan and two years later had a son together.

Because of his jealousy, Flora had to quit her job as a cook at a breakfast shop in Banciao.
“He was always coming by, looking at me (to make sure she’s there). And if I was inside making baobongwan (rice balls), he thought I was doing something wrong. If I leave work 5 or 10 minutes late, he would shout bad words at me, and say ‘Why do you want to play with men,’ or ‘There’s no woman like you, piece of s***.’ And always drinking.”

They opened a roadside vending business. One day, a customer told Flora, “I noticed the
threatening way your husband speaks to you, and it’s not good.” The old man told her if he became violent to call “113,” the domestic violence hotline in Taiwan. By 2006, her husband “was always in a bad mood,” and became extremely jealous and possessive — and physically abusive. She wound up in the hospital twice after he hit her, and at one point put a six-month restraining/protection order on him.

The third time Flora’s husband attacked her occurred in November. He had broken the conditions of the restraining order, but she did not file a report against him with police as she didn’t want him to go to jail — he was still the guardian of her son.

Her husband had responded by forbidding her to enter their home. Since this time, he has let her see her boy only once. She has continued to support her son financially, with payments
ranging from NT$5000 to NT$25,000.

“I have a child, I don’t want money,” she said.

They are still married. He threatened to divorce her, and take sole custody of their son. Flora went into hiding to break free of the situation. She called 311, and entered a women’s shelter in Hsinchu for two weeks, where women seeking safety from violence can “stay safe.”
She helped out there by cooking and cleaning — and helped herself by resting.

Then she returned to Taipei to look for a job. Flora now works long hours packing Filipino-style lunches in Taishan — from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m., with one day off on Sundays. On her one day off, she doesn’t do anything, just rests, although sometimes she goes to church. She’s not afraid to go outside, she says, just tired.

Her question stems from her desire to stay in Taiwan, and to be with her son, 7.

Eric the immigration officer suggested the following: You have a child with an ROC citizen; if you didn’t, you would normally have to leave the country. But renew the protective order on him — for your safety, but also because immigration laws have changed in the past year, making it so that even if you got divorced, if it’s through domestic violence you could still maintain your permanent residency status. And work, too. You would be eligible to extend your residency — APRC (Alien Permanent Residency Certificate) or family spouse ARC (Alien Resident Certificate) — for a maximum three years at a time. Apply without your spouse there, Eric recommended.