Finnish - Philippine Society

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Page updated by Riitta Vartti,, 18.12.2018.

* Environment
* Human rights
* Internal peace process
* Women
* Poverty and social equality


Finnish-Philippine Society (Filippiinit-seura ry) was founded in 1988 to promote friendship and solidarity between the Finnish and Philippine peoples.

Our main concerns are: human rights, internal peace process, poverty and social equality, women, migrants, culture, environment and development in the Philippines.

FPS is a politically independent solidarity organization operating on voluntary basis. As members are accepted all who are interested in the Philippines and the activities of the association.


- The Philippines is a developing country. Half of the population lives under the official poverty line.

- Half of the people lives in the poor countryside. The unequal ownership of land drives masses of them also to urban slums.

- In addition to frequent natural calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides and volcano eruptions, the country is threatened by a large scale man-made environmental catastrophe. Destruction of forests and pollution of soil, air and water threaten people's livelihood.

- Human rights violations are still common in the country.

Contact us

Finnish - Philippine Society 2019

Mail address:
same as secretary's address

Bank Account:
Danske Bank FI4980001800966872 (Filippiinit-seura)

Riitta Vartti, secretary, women's group PINAY, webmaster
tel. +358 40 8454 794

Meg Sakilayan-Latvala, chair person.
tel. +358 50 3311195

Membership fee 20 euro / year / person. If you want to join, please contact Riitta Vartti.


- information distribution by arranging public events and publishing books and articles (see publications)

- cooperation with several Philippine NGOs

- lobbying and expressing our opinions on current Philippine issues

- publications and exhibitions (see publications)

- offering Finnish and Filipino experts as tutors and lecturers

- cultural education and language classes in Filipino / Tagalog and Finnish classes for Filipinos

- women's group PINAY is for concentrating on issues on Filipinas in the RP and in diaspora (Naisryhmä PINAY)

- collecting a library of the literature, videos and other material on the Philippines (kirjastot)

- supporting education of children of human rights victims (kummitoiminta)

- cooperation with the local Filipino community

- cooperation with European solidarity groups

- support for several Philippine NGOs by buying their products and selling them in Finland in different Third World events

We also sell in bazaars and events handicrafts and other products purchased from different Philippine NGO's, ask Riitta Vartti, tel. +358 40 8454 794,

(All books are published only in Finnish language)

Philippines - The Archipelago Of Typhoons And Options, book coverFilippiinit - myrskyjen ja mahdollisuuksien saaristo

(The Philippines - The Archipelago Of Typhoons And Options)

Selin, Tove (ed.) LIKE, Pystykorva-kirjat (second, renewed edition 2008). ISBN 952-471-237-7. Price 5 Euros. Available.

Tulikärpänen - filippiiniläisiä novelleja. (Firefly - Filipino Short Stories) Ed. Riitta Vartti. Kääntöpiiri, Helsinki, 2001. Out of stock.

Marko Auer: Filippiinien katkera ja makea sokeri. (The Bittersweet Sugar of the Philippines.) Helsinki 1990. Out of stock.

Filippiinit - idän ja lännen kohtaaminen. (Philippines: Where the East and West Meet.) Ed. Tove Selinheimo. Helsinki 1992. Out of stock.

Filippiinien kestämätön kehitys. Filippiinien ympäristöongelmia kestävän kehityksen näkökulmasta. (The Unsustainable Development of the Philippines: Environmental Problems from the Point of View of Sustainable Development.) Ed. Maarit Huhtaniemi. Helsinki 1993. Available.

Kauniit ja rohkeat filippiinat. Filippiiniläisnaiset meillä ja muualla. (Bold and Beautiful Filipinas: Filipino Women in Finland and Other Countries.) Ed. Maarit Huhtaniemi. Helsinki 1996. Out of stock.

Riitta Vartti: Gulay - pieni filippiiniläinen kasviskeittokirja. (Gulay: A Short Filipino Vegetarian Cook Book.) Helsinki 2012. Price 7 euros. Available.

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kirjan kansi
Bold and Beautiful Filipinas
Filipino Women in Finland and Other Countries.
Published by Finnish-Philippine Society (FPS)
Edited by Maarit Huhtaniemi

Helsinki 1996, 2nd edition 1998. Out of stock.

The book was launched as an effort to give more accurate information about Filipinas against the stereotyped image created during the big Finnish media debate on Filipina mail-order brides in 1995. Now the edition is out of stock, but some of the topics are updated and published in "Filippiinit - myrskyjen ja mahdollisuuksien saaristo", look above.


(Numbers refer to pages)

Preface Maarit Huhtaniemi
Women of the third world Sr. Mary John Mananzan 1


A country of powerful women? Riitta Vartti 6
Short history of the Filipina Riitta Vartti 14
Squeezing corset or Rizal's image of woman Anna-Laura Talvio-Elone 17
The country of women's organizations Riitta Vartti 20
List of most important women's organizations 23
Women as political prisoners Ulla-Maija Aitakangas 25
Sisters of the church Sari Nurminen 30
Family politics a la Pope Riitta Saarinen 35
The prostituted women Kukka Honkasalo 42
Peasant women Paula Väänänen 47
Joy and livelidood from the forests Minna Hares 52
Overseas (a short story) Marinne Villanueva 57


The great migration Riitta Vartti 66
Chicas of Spain Riitta Vartti 72
Filipinas of Italy Marilla Palmén 75
Judicial murders and sexual slavery Maarit Huhtaniemi 78


Wives and migrant chains Päivi Vänttinen 84
Integration into labour force Pirjo Paalanen 88
True stories from the country of icecles Maarit Huhtaniemi 94
Finnish authorities and Filipina kababayans Katarina Jungar 99
Sir Vili phenomenon Riitta Vartti 106
Love over borders - marriages between two cultures Teresita Ruutu 111

Writers 114


by Maarit Huhtaniemi

This book displays images of Filipinas at home and overseas. The articles are based either on the writers' own experiences, or on interviews and research. As well there are articles with a concern, and also literary texts. Most texts introduce conditions in the home country of the Filipinas offering views from its history, culture, religion, politics as well as everyday life. Overseas, the short story of Marianne Villanueva opens the doors to the world. The Philippines is being called Asian Ireland; six million migrants contribute their home country with their remittances. In this book we follow the treatment of migrant women especially in Europe, Asia and Middle East.

In autumn 1995, a lively debate burst out on Filipino wives imported to Finland. During discussion, all of the then 500 immigrant Filipinas in the country were labeled as purchased wives, even though many of them immigrated because of job opportunities or accompanied their Finnish spouses whom they met while working abroad. But what is also true, some really arrived in Finland via marriage agents whose activities are forbidden by Philippine law and possibly soon by the Finnish legislation also. In the end of the book Teresita Ruutu tells about the dark side of the traffic in women. Besides statistical and research data, we have included also a few descriptions of everyday life of Filipinas in Finland.

In the start sister Mary John Mananzan, the chairperson of GABRIELA, tells about the position of third world women at large. Most of the writers, both Finnish and Filipino women, are somehow connected with the group called PINAY founded in 1994 under the umbrella of the Finnish-Philippine Society. PINAYs emphasis has lain on both supporting Filipinas and searching information, which is here displayed in the wide variation in views. The opinions of the articles do not necessarily mirror opinions of PINAY or the FPS, but everybody is responsible for her own article.

Support for the printing costs we have received from Finnida, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Committee of Refugee and Migrant Affairs under Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. In addition to sponsors and writers I want to thank also Riitta Vartti among others for the layout of the cover and for making the information pages.


Women of the third world, p. 1
By Sister Mary John Mananzan
Translated by Ulla-Maija Aitakangas

In her article, shortened by the editor, sister Mary John reminds us of the oppression of third world women; rape, incest, wife battering, everyday discrimination, long hours, triple work load of peasant women, bad conditions in working places and mail-order bride phenomenon. She also criticizes religions that are hierarchical and male-dominated.


A country of powerful women?
by Riitta Vartti

In every culture the position of women has both good and weak points, says Riitta Vartti. She describes Philippine culture and gender system from diffe-rent angles, its colonial past with the inheritance of machismo and familial ideology, and contemporary legal and educational equality under conditions of poverty and migration mentality.

Short history of the Filipina, p. 14

This list of most important occasions and turning points in Filipino women's history is actually an appendix to Riitta Vartti's article above.

Squeezing corset or Rizal's image of woman, p. 17
by Anna-Laura Talvio-Elone

Anna-Laura Talvio-Elone has read both "Noli and Fili", the most famous Philippine novels by José Rizal, turning an eye on his female figures. The image of a pure and virtuous but passive Maria Clara has been raised to an idol for the Filipino women. This idolization is said to have been the worst thing that happened to them in last hundred years. The other female images in Rizal's novels do not seem to help much. He did not give women any active place in his writings.

Country of women's organizations, p. 20
by Riitta Vartti

Just like Finland, the Philippines is a country of non-governmental-organiza-tions. Women have been particularly active during national uprisings and other turbulent times. The third wave of women's activism, still continuing in the early 90's, started during the period of opposition against Marcos. Typically, nowadays women can be seen in leading positions in astonishingly many NGOs - and radical nuns are a Philippine specialty. The article is followed by a short and very insufficient list of women's organizations.

List of most important women's organizations, p.23

Women as political prisoners, p. 25
by Ulla-Maija Aitakangas

The article begins with a horrible torture scene from the times that are hopefully past now. Human rights violations and also detentions of women used to be everyday occurrences in the Philippines during Marcos era and president Aquino's regime. While the book was in print, president Ramos had eased the situation a bit, but, on the other hand, negotiations with the revolutionary organizations were stopped.

Sisters of the church, p. 30
by Sari Nurminen

Sari Nurminen, who worked two years in the Philippines as a community organizer, tells in her article about religious women who work in the barrios. In a patriarchal institution, the religious women, priests and nuns as well as other workers, gain power from communality. In their work they also practice grassroot ecumenicalism, cooperation between different churches.

Family politics a la Pope, p. 34
by Riitta Saarinen

In conditions of environmental destruction, diminishing of forest cover and arable land-area, millions of Filipinos are already bound to leave their country. In this situation family planning is necessary, but during past years resources have not been sufficiently allocated to this purpose mostly because of opposition from the church. During Ramos regime the atmosphere changed, also due to AIDS. In her article Riitta Saarinen points to women's health situation that requires better care.

The prostituted women, p. 42
by Kukka Honkasalo

According to highest estimations about half a million women are prostituted in the Philippines. This is no joy, but a necessity, says one of Kukka Hon-kasalo's interviewees. There are social and historical backgrounds. Both sex tourism and the rest and recreation industry around US basis emerged by deliberate activities of the state that profited economically of it. However, the women themselves do not gain much and locally the economical influence of prostitution is very small.

Peasant women, p. 47
by Paula Väänänen

Rural problems are also women's problems, tells Paula Väänänen, who visited a village in Pampanga, Central Luzon. Almost half of the population gets their livelihood from agriculture and at least 40% of the women belong to this group. Lack of cultivable land, toxic chemicals, natural calamities, bad land tenure system, non-existing genuine land reform - all these problems meet also women. Organizing is an answer, says AMIHAN that is trying to find alternative livelihood possibilities for women.

Joy and livelihood from the forests, p. 52
by Minna Hares

Tropical forests are vanishing rapidly. They have been a source of livelihood for millions of Filipinas, who had a close tie with this natural resource. From the woods they got fruits, roots, leaves, honey, spices and medical herbs, energy, water and material for handicrafts. Minna Hares, who has done research in Eastern Mindanao, describes agro-forestry cultivating methods and social forestry methods in that island. Women's participating, networking, organizing and cooperating could help them in future.

Overseas, p. 57
A short story by Marianne Villanueva
Translated by Riitta Vartti

Sepa is a girl from a slum area in Manila. Almost all the men have left for the sandy Saudi Arabia to construct buildings. One day also Sepa's own brother wants to leave, to earn money. This story of Marianne Villanueva draws us a melancholy and touching picture of life in slums and in diaspora.


The great migration, p. 66
by Riitta Vartti

Most of the over 6 million Filipino migrants are women, of whom a big majority works as domestic helpers in different countries from Hong Kong and Singapore to Southern Europe. This big flow is caused by both Philippine OCW politics and big remittances, that ease the country's debt burden, and by several other reasons: unemployment among educated women, threat of poverty and drive to better living standards, and cultural factors. Filipinas are free to emigrate, but they also have to.

Chicas of Spain, p. 72
by Riitta Vartti

Educated Filipinas are cleaning houses for instance in Spain, that is after Italy the second recruiter of them in Europe. Spanish women's increasing participation in the labor force and lack of such socially arranged services like day care centers increase the demand for foreign domestics in this kind of so called "servant countries". Because of discriminating migrant policy the Filipinas actually find no other job in the country despite their high education. However, the relatively high income level in Spain attracts them to stay.

Filipinas of Italy, p. 75
by Marilla Palmén

Like Spain, Italy is also a newcomer among European immigration countries. In the 1980s Italy stopped sending migrants and started instead to receive foreign job seekers, mostly from developing countries. Nowadays there are about 200 000 Filipinos in Italy. Maybe half of them are undocumented. Filipinas are so common servants in Italy that domestic helpers are simply called "Filipinas". In the circumstances, illegal Filipinas will forever remain second class citizens without proper rights and support from the government.

Judicial murders and sexual slavery, p. 78
by Maarit Huhtaniemi

Three occurrences concerning Filipino migrants have especially raised attention lately, the cases of the hanged Flor Contemplacion, raped Sarah Balabagan, and violated Maricris Sioson. These cases show cultural discrepancies and cruel treatment of women. They have also shown how the position of women and particularly that of a domestic helper is sometimes unbearable in many countries.


Wives and migrant chains, p. 84
by Päivi Vänttinen

563 Filipinos lived in Finland in 1995. The majority, 80% were women. Every fifth of them has immigrated via marriage agencies though the media has labeled everybody as mail-order brides. When millions of Filipinas work abroad, it is no wonder that many of them intermarry, reminds Päivi Väntti-nen. How can you measure the emotions and motives behind these marriage decisions? She also corrects common ideas of the men who marry Filipinas. They are not farmers from remote areas. A big majority of Filipinas are living in the capital area or other big cities.

Integration into the labour force, p. 88
by Pirjo Paalanen

Pirjo Paalanen did a survey among educated Filipinas in Finland. In her study she shows that they cannot usually find work that corresponds with their abilities. Language barrier, xenophobia, economic recession of the country and small supply of suitable vacant jobs were the main reasons in the early 1990's. Most of them complained of not being able to use their skills in any way in their job, which is usually caring, cleaning, serving or assisting work. Several of them had more than one job, but many had also been unemployed for long periods. From the government Pirjo Paalanen demands for better migrant services.

True stories from the country of icecles, 94
by Maarit Huhtaniemi

Maarit Huhtaniemi interviewed several Filipinas living in Finland. Didi, 37, has lived only for three months in the country. She was persuaded by her friend Salud, whom she knew already in Singapore. Now Didi is working as a domestic helper in an embassy, and sends money to her family. Leah Garfin, 28, came after her sister, who is married to a Finnish man. She herself is also working in an embassy and cohabiting with a Finnish man. She managed to get a residence permit for her son also. Susan A. Bondad is a mother of a big family. Two of her children and her husband remain still in the home country. As the others above, Susan is working in an embassy. Antonina Bernaldo-Ilomäki, is an exception. She is satisfied with her job as a nurse, an occupa-tion she was educated for. She came to Finland via Libya, where she also met her husband.

Finnish authorities and Filipina kababayans, 99
by Katarina Jungar
Translated from Swedish by Ulla-Maija Aitakangas

The problems of migrants are often interpreted as problems of their own culture, writes Katarina Jungar. She shows, how in Finland oftentimes the authorities unfairly take sides when they are dealing with these intercultural family problems. The husband is not accused even if he has been drinking and beating her. In other cases the authorities do not believe their Filipino client, who insists that her problems are not caused by the husband, but her work mates. The network of Filipinas helps them to manage with problems they meet when living in a foreign country.

Sir Vili phenomenon, 106
by Riitta Vartti

In September 1995 Finland got a new permanent media star, Sir Vili (pet name of a matchmaker, Veli Karppanen). As his colleagues in Central Europe, he regards his business as selfless support both to the Filipinas and their home country, and as charity to his male clients. Some Finns see all kind of trafficking in women as quite normal activity in human relationships. The others compare it with prostitution, which again has both defenders and opponents. Like for instance in Australia, Filipinas are seen here as savers of the old-fashioned marriage, Orientalist myths over Asian beauties have been circulated again, and women of different nationalities are made to compete with each other. The opponents of trafficking in women are in trouble because of labels: moralist, xenophobic. Sex trafficking as an institution must be opposed before it becomes a matter of course.

Love over borders - marriages between two cultures, p. 111
by Teresita Ruutu

Teresita Ruutu, the most famous Filipina in Finland, claims that the picture created in this debate about mail-order brides is one-sided. Most Filipinas are happy to be here and they have succeeded in their lives. But there have been also cases of wife-battering and other maltreatment mostly by men who drink. Some women have been deported before they have been able to get the residence and work permits. Some men threaten their wives that they will be sent back if they don't behave the way he wants. Women are not been given enough money to send to their families and Filipinas have to find out ways to get more money. But, as Tessie says, otherwise we Filipinas enjoy and suffer from same things as do Finnish people.

kirjan kansi
Firefly - Filipino Short Stories
Edited by Riitta Vartti
Published by Kääntöpiiri, Helsinki 2001. Price 7 euros.

Back cover text

(by Päivi Paappanen, translated by Riitta Vartti)

"In the course of year hundreds, the Philippines has been occupied by the Spaniards and the Japanese as well as by the Americans. How did they influence the culture and the people? How was life under Marcos' dictatorship? What is it currently like to be a Filipina?

The stories of Filipino writers give a glimpse to the history and today, sex business in Manila, everyday life in slums and to the middle class way of life. The Finns are particularly touched by the stories of Filipinas in diaspora. Tempted by the newspaper ads, many leave the country to be wives to rich Europeans or Americans but life in the West may not turn out so happy after all.

In this impressive and entertaining book there are short stories by prominent writers from the 1920s to date, and additionally a noteworthy article on the history of Filipino women's writings. The anthology was made in cooperation with the Finnish-Philippine Society."

Esipuhe Preface Riitta Vartti
Lapsuuden kesät
Childhood Summers
The Mango Summer

Lilledeshan Bose
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Aswang Tag

Grace Talusan
Translator Ulla-Maija Aitakangas.

The Eye of a Needle

Gilda Cordero-Fernando
Translator Paula Väänänen.

Bata bata pa'no ka ginawa?

Lualhati Bautista
Translators Lynn-Rangel-Mustonen & Riitta Vartti.
Kipeä nuoruus
Painful Youth
Varhain maailmassamme
Early in Our World

Gilda Cordero-Fernando
Translator Maarit Huhtaniemi.

Melkein unohtunut
Almost Forgotten

Cecilia Brainard
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Sinivihreä sifonkipuku
The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress

Cecilia Brainard
Translator Riitta Vartti.
Kuohuvat vuodet
Turbulent Times
Ihmisiä sodassa
People in the War

Gilda Cordero-Fernando
Translator Riitta Vartti.


Edessa Ramos
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Pysähtynyt aurinko
A Standing Sun

Linda Ty-Casper
Translator Sari Nurminen.
Maalta kaupunkiin
From the country to the city
Pieni avain
The Small Key

Paz Latorena
Translator Ulla-Maija Aitakangas.

Pienet juhlat puutarhassa
A Small Party In A Garden

Linda Ty-Casper
Translator Riitta Vartti.


Lakambini Sitoy
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Olongapon yö

Lualhati Bautista
Translators Lynn Rangel-Mustonen ja Riitta Vartti.
Merten taakse

Marianne Villanueva
Translator Riitta Vartti.


Susan Evangelista
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Unelmien kutoja
To Weave a Dream

Nena Gajudo
Translator Riitta Vartti.

Eleanorin keittiö
Eleanor's Kitchen

Edessa Ramos
Translator Ulla-Maija Aitakangas.

The Blouse

Nadine Sarreal
Translator Riitta Vartti.
Filippiiniläisen naiskirjallisuuden historia
The History of Filipino Women's Writings

Riitta Vartti
About the Writers

The launching seminar of Tulikärpänen (Firefly)

Fireflies and Dreamweavers

Tuesday, April 24, 2001
International Cultural Center Caisa
Helsinki, Kaisaniemenkatu 13 A , 3. floor

Program of the seminar

Filipino Women's Writings
Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz
Reasearcher of literature, professor
Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

A Filipina Writer's Story
Lakambini Sitoy
Writer, one of the authors of the book

Reading Differences Among Women
Lea Rojola
Professor of Finnish Literature
University of Turku

Nationality, Ethnicity and Women's Writing
Eila Rantonen
Researcher in the Department of Women's Studies
Unversity of Tampere

Facilitator Jaana Airaksinen

Finnish-Philippine Society (FPS) - the solidarity group
Finnish-Philippine Association (FPA) - the migrant organization
Kääntöpiiri - the publisher of the book

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