I have come across so many articles and watched some videos presented in YouTube regarding Palauan migrations to other lands across the world, mainly Guam, Saipan, Hawaii and CONUS. One of the articles I read was written by Isebong Asang (The Contemporary Pacific, Volume 12, Number 2, Fall 2000, pgs. 371-384©2000 by University of Hawai’i Press). And the video I saw was written and narrated by Meikan Weers, Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle titled “Islands On The Edge of Time”.
Numerous people were interviewed with regards to the Compact of Free Association and Palauan Migrations to other lands. The interviewees shared their stories, concerns and the reasons why they would rather not return home to live on a permanent basis.
Overseas migrants, according to Ms. Asang’s article were not aware of a CoPopChi policy recommendation on how to achieve a reverse migration of Palauans living overseas. Issues with transparency and non-inclusive decision-making process is an issue when people involved are not included at the round table.
The minimum wage in Palau is $3.00 and in Hawai’i, it’s $12.00 by October 01, 2022, in Guam $8.75 and will increase to $9.25, USA ranges from $7.25 – $8.67, Saipan is $7.25. Yet, people wonder why more and more Palauans are migrating overseas. It’s not that they do not want to live at home. They just want better benefits to afford a decent life for their families and be able to continue helping their families at home with their traditional life styles.
Watching the video “Islands On The Edge of Time”, I listened to an elder lady who was tending to her taro patch “mesei” while being interviewed and she stated that the young generations do not want to learn how to maintain the family gardens and taro patches, because they do not want to get their nails and clothes dirty and would much rather buy what they want to eat from the store. She predicted that five years from the time of filming that outsiders will be solicited to maintain the gardens and mesei and that is so true today. There are very few Palauans farming and fishing.
The video interviewed some influential Palauans such as Father Felix Yaoch, Tina Rechucher, Juliet Tellei, Maura Gordon, the late Chief Ibedul Yutaka Gibbons, the late Kuniwo Nakamura, Bernie Keldermans, Nancy Wong, and others. This video was and an eye opener for me as I’m reading a Palauan History Book, I purchased from PCC (Palau Community College). It touched Palau’s “Economic Dependency” as well as “The Solomon Report: America’s Ruthless Blueprint for Assimilation of Micronesia” published in 1971. Palau’s low economic performance and the high expectations from “siukang” is tied to the reason why Palauans are migrating overseas. Palau is not without means as can be noted by the amount of money contributed during funerals, house parties, First-Born Baby Celebrations (Ngasch) and the high number of hired domestic helpers.
The minimum wage has been a topic of discussion for more than a decade and through out all those years, Palauans are continually migrating in search of a better life for themselves and their families both abroad and at home. There is nothing wrong with hiring outsiders to help, but it can also lower the local employee sustainability. Train up training and certification training for new local employees will help in employee retention. A lot of people seeking work want to see their personal values in alignment with their employer’s core values. This motivates employees to put in the extra mile in their performances.
The article and video are worth watching and reading.