The following article was originally published in United Press International (UPI).

Faded Glory: Age discrimination in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Virgie Orea and her friend Evelyn Valino Baldemor worked for 40 years in a Philippine government agency before retiring after their 60th birthdays, five years before the mandatory retirement age.

age discrimination in the Philippines

Pedring Munoz, 66, has worked for decades as a draftsman in Dubai, but he fears he will be forced to retire soon. He says his only future career prospects are working as an assistant at his wife’s neighborhood variety store in Manila. Photo by Toni Munoz.

“It’s time to move on. We spent more than half of our lives there,” Baldemor said.

Less than a year later both women decided they couldn’t afford retirement and needed jobs to supplement their meager pensions. But they found that older workers often aren’t wanted and there are no protections against age discrimination in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the Labor Code mandates workplace protections against discrimination based on race, sex or creed but age discrimination isn’t included in the law.

The Prohibition Against Age Discrimination Act was introduced three years ago in the Senate but the bill died in committee. A similar bill that was introduced this year awaits consideration by the Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development Committee.

Philippine Airlines flight attendants have been protesting a new mandatory retirement age of 40 years old for female flight attendants. The Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines announced Sept. 29 that negotiations had broken down and a strike was imminent because airline officials refused to set the retirement age at 60 years old, like that for the ground crew. Government officials announced this week that they will take over negotiations and ban a strike if an agreement can’t be reached between the airline and union.

Many want ads in the Philippines state a preferred age range for job applicants, usually 20 to 28 years old for entry-level positions and up to 44 years old for managerial levels. A human resources staff member for a Manila call center who requested anonymity said the company doesn’t look immediately at the age of an applicant but it is “common to assume younger individuals would be fit for the typically long hours and night shifts,” he said.

Many Filipino workers who have left home for more lucrative jobs in the Middle East have fared better but some still see their options dwindling as they get older. Pedring Munoz, 66, has worked for decades as a draftsman in Dubai but his job was reduced to part-time hours after the economic crisis hit in 2008. He says it is less likely now that his contract will be renewed and he believes he is virtually unemployable in the Philippines. He fears he will be resigned soon to working as his wife’s assistant at the family’s neighborhood variety store.

Age discrimination in the Philippines has even spawned a cottage industry in forged birth certificates so older workers can appear young, or at least younger, again. One sailor who didn’t want to be named was born in 1945 but his “new” birth certificate makes him 15 years younger. Since he exercises regularly and eats health food, he says he has convinced employers of his new age.

Forging birth certificates and other documents is so common among Filipino sailors that it is called being “born again.” Bogus papers are made by forgers at shops in the heart of Manila and maritime officials are cracking down on the practice through increased scrutiny of documents.

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