Signing a Labor Contract
Digital History ID 10
Filipino migrants signed labor contracts that required them to work for three years in Hawaii. Their pay consisted of $18 a month, plus promises of housing and health care.
The agent was just coming down the steps when I halted my horse in front of the recruiter’s office. He was a fellow Filipino, but a Hawaiian.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I would like to present myself for Hawaii, Apo,” I answered as I came down from my horse.
“Wait, I’ll go see if I can place you on the next load,” he said, and turned back up into the door.
When he came out, he had a paper in his hand. “Come up, so we can fill in the forms,” he waved; so I went in.
“You write?” he asked.
“No,” I said; so he filled in for me.
“Come back Monday for the doctor to check you up,” he said, patting me on the back. “When you come back, bring beinte cinco, twenty-five, and I’ll make sure of your papers for a place,” he said, shaking my hand.
It was like that. “Tip” is what we call it here. But that is our custom to pasoksok, slipsome, for a favor.
Source: Virgilio M. Felipe, Hawaii: A Filipino Dream (University of Hawaii Master's Thesis, 1972),158.
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