KASAMA Vol. 10 No. 1 / January-February-March 1996 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Filipino Women Lured By Religious Sect

Immigration official questions wedding via satellite

Hundreds of Filipino women are being illegally recruited by alleged members of the "Moonies" either to be brides, domestic helpers, sex slaves, prostitutes or factory workers. Philippines government officials raised the alarm when a series of "mass weddings" were hosted by the Seoul-based Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity founded by its controversial leader, Reverend Sun Myung-moon.

Last month, 984 Filipino women were married mostly to Korean men at the Philippine International Convenion Centre. Rev Chung Hwang-kwak representing Sun Myung-moon officiated the weddings which also included a few men from America, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. This latest wedding ceremony was the second held in Manila auspiced by the religious group. Last year around 3,000 Filipino women were married by Sun Myung-moon himself to Korean men via satellite from Korea. These Filipinas were among the 360,000 couples married worldwide in that ceremony.

Immigration Commissioner Leandro Verceles Sr. is linking the mass wedding ceremonies to the unscrupulous activities reported by Philippine Embassy officials in Korea. According to the embassy report, 184 Filipinas arrived in Korea last year aboard a chartered plane. For three days these unsuspecting women were trained as domestic helpers and prostitutes. Some recruits ended up as full-time workers illegally underpaid as "trainees."

In another report, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration confirmed that South Korea needs 40,000 workers to boost the manpower of that country’s small businesses. Coincidentally, Sun Myung-moon has business interests in various industries such as soft drinks, machinery, mechanical parts and publishing in countries including the U.S. and Japan.

Many of the women came from the provinces visited by middle–men connected with the Moonies. Young daughters of farmers in Nueva Ecija said that a Caucasian man arrived in their village with photographs of Korean men looking for wives. Women who showed interest in meeting these men were told to attend a seminar run by the Moonies in Cabanatuan City. Apparently the seminar is intended to educate women about the "ideal family" as a preparation for their meeting with their prospective husbands in Manila.

Since there is legislation banning introduction agencies in the Philippines, the women were advised by their recruiter to tell authorities that their relationships with these Korean men are genuine and that they have been in communication with them for some time. For his service, the recruiter gets $2,000 from each man. This amount, according to the Philippine embassy in Seoul corresponds with fees usually asked from Korean men wanting "housemaids" and "sex partners."

by Emere Distor