During the period of 1930-1945 the Nursing profession became the main reason for many Filipino women to pursue education in the Philippines as a result of the culture of migration. This occurred after the Spanish-American War (1898), which made all Filipinos American Nationals. The establishment of the nursing education in the Philippines at schools such as the National University in Manila allowed Filipinos to use their National status and work abroad as a result of the shortage of Nurses in America during a tuberculosis epidemic. The profession was greatly encouraged among women due to the way Filipinas tended to their families, their ability to nurture seemed applicable the job. The culture referred to is one of a series of narratives that promised wealth and opportunity abroad in the U.S. Though the largest migration of Filipino Female Nurses arrived in the United States during the 1960’s as a result of the immigration halt during WWII, the “brain drain” of Filipino Nurses occurred as early as the 1920’s. Many of these women would complete their Nursing degrees in the Philippines and take post graduate courses overseas while working as a nurse. During their stay they were able to support their families in the Philippines by sending their earnings back to the Philippines. To some degree the “land of opportunity” was realized by Filipino Nurses and Female Filipinos were able to reverse the gender roles of the breadwinner, which may have had a profound effect on Filipino politics regarding the success of the female politicians. Despite the large numbers of female Filipino Nurses there were also a handful of Filipino male nurses, and they faced less adversity when it came to enrolling in schools in the Philippines and prior to the war, in Spain as well.
The United States represented a once in a lifetime chance for Filipina women as they couldn’t attain the education denied to them anywhere else due to gender. The profession served as a stereotype that would rival the “model-minority” in its positive overtones and sinister undertones. The nurse became a way for Filipinos to be viewed as reliable, civilized, and dependable but at the same time servile and almost a commodity. The amount of female nurses slowly began creating a sphere of femininity concerning the occupational overtones of the profession. As less and less men were able to enter the profession the positive social hierarchy of the “brain drain” served to separate women and men in the Philippines but also in the States
Ty Tran Nguyen