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Join the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program in a journey to Southeast Asia


14-day travel study seminar will examine labor trafficking in the Philippines and Hong Kong

December 17, 2019

A travel study seminar to the Philippines and Hong Kong — May 1–15, 2020 — will focus on the root causes and current challenges of forced migration and labor trafficking. The trip includes two days of travel, seven days in the Philippines and five days in Hong Kong.

The Cordillera mountains of North Luzon beckon us to learn more about the ways people in Southeast Asia have struggle to survive. (Photo provided by Roceni Bakian)

Along with Presbyterian Peacemaking Program staff, the seminar will be co-led by the Rev. Cathy Chang, World Mission’s regional facilitator for addressing migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Since 2015, Chang has served as a mission worker, along with her husband Juan Lopez, at the invitation of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and other Asian partners.

Apply by Jan. 1, 2020. After that date, applications for the Philippines and Hong Kong travel study seminar will be considered as available space allows.

“When people think about the Philippines, they might remember something about World War II or the People Power Revolution, four days of nonviolent demonstrations in February 1986, leading to the removal of then President Ferdinand Marcos,” Chang said. “When people think about Hong Kong, they may have seen images of recent pro-democracy protests.

“What people might not know is the historical conditions in both the Philippines and Hong Kong that contribute to labor migration,” Chang said. “In the early 1900s, Filipinos started migrating to the U.S  primarily Hawaii and California, to work in agricultural jobs. Today,” she said, “about 10% of the Filipino population (about 10 million people) lives or works abroad because of poverty exacerbated by contractualization and lack of industrialization.”

According to the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration, nearly 6,000 Filipinos leave the country every day to work overseas. As early as the 1980s, Hong Kong received monthly influxes of Filipina domestic workers. Today’s domestic workers in Hong Kong come mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

This seminar will introduce the historical context and contemporary challenges of the labor export program of the Philippines. Through community visits in Manila and North Luzon, the largest and most populated island of the Philippines, participants will observe the urban and rural conditions that contribute to forced migration. Seminar participants also will meet the families of Filipino migrant workers left behind, and worship with a congregation with members who are primarily domestic workers. In the Philippines and Hong Kong, leaders representing churches and organizations that assist in organizing and mobilizing migrant workers and their families will help participants understand their struggles for justice and dignity.

Travel study seminars to different parts of the world though the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program have for many years offered opportunities for Presbyterians to learn firsthand though the people and partners most impacted by conflict, injustice and oppression. As participants return home to the U.S. informed and transformed by their experiences, they are ready to share stories and bear witness to all they have seen and heard.

“While human trafficking is a worldwide problem, countries in Asia are increasingly vulnerable,” Chang said. “By taking part in this study opportunity, participants will better understand the role of the church in the context of forced migration and the struggle of migrants for human rights, justice and decent lives.”

The PC(USA)’s 222nd General Assembly (2016) adopted a comprehensive human trafficking policy called “Not for Sale.” At the heart of this policy is the desire to empower people in their work while addressing underlying inequality and inequity in the global economy. This policy affirms that because all people bear the image of God and work is considered a calling, we can participate in the redemption of God’s Creation.

For more information about either the Philippines and Hong Kong seminar or the Central America seminar,  visit the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s travel study seminar web page at or call 800-728-7228, ext. 5805.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s travel study seminar series is made possible by gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

 Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Rosa Miranda, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Rosemary Mitchell, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

Creator of peace, heal the conflicts that divide us, and bring us back into that unity of love that reflects your nature, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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