Around 50 thousand people live on the Faroe Islands. But too many of them are men. Faroese women go abroad to study. Many don’t return. Men stay behind to live off the sea. Now the islands are enjoying a growing influx of women from the Philippines.
Antonette gets her folk dress out of the closet. Like a native Faroese woman, she’s getting ready for the Ólavsøka, the national holiday of the Faroe Islands. The 36-year-old actually comes from the metropolis of Manila. But life in the Philippines was too loud, stressful and uncertain for her. Antonette sought security and safety and married Regin Egholm a year ago. Her first daughter was born nine months later. Her new happiness on the other side of the world is complete.
Antonette is one of about 200 Filipinas who now live on the islands in the North Atlantic. Rain instead of sun, dried fish instead of tropical fruits – at first, their new life on the edge of Europe was a culture shock for many of them. And yet Filipinas and Faroe Islanders often share the same values. Family, faith and tradition are important in both cultures.
These values are often reason enough for young, liberated Faroese women to leave. The only university is too small and most men too old-fashioned. As a result, there are about 15 percent more men than women living on the islands today. The government is trying to make the Faroes more attractive. New courses of study and more jobs are supposed to draw Faroese women back to the islands. But in the meantime, women from the Philippines are settling in their new home, where they form the largest ethnic minority on the islands, closely followed by women from Thailand.