BERN – A growing number of Filipinos consider Switzerland, one of the richest countries in Europe, as their second home.
Jorgie Bien Stockmann has been traveling to Switzerland for many years as a tourist. The first time she applied for a tourist visa to Switzerland, she was denied but this did not stop her from pursuing her dream to visit one of Europe's top tourist destinations.
The second time she applied, the Switzerland Embassy in the Philippines gave her a tourist visa that allowed her to visit her relatives in Zurich for a few months.
Visiting Switzerland is just part of her big dream to look for opportunities here.
But she didn’t expect that after more than three years of flying in and out of Switzerland as a tourist, she is now a permanent resident here.
Last November, she tied the knot with her Swiss boyfriend.
She admitted that although she considers Switzerland her second home, she still misses the Philippines.
“Sometimes I miss Filipino foods. On weekends if we have time, my friends and I go out together,” she said.
“I’m lucky that my Swiss husband is not strict. I can always go out with my friends anytime,” she added.
Like any other overseas Filipino worker, she and her Filipino friends overcome homesickness by going out together during their free days.
Jogie is just one of the estimated 10,000 Filipinos now living in Switzerland.
According to Lyn Rutz, a Filipino community network coordinator in Bern, many Filipinas here are married to Swiss nationals.
“I could say many Filipinas here are married to Swiss. You know some Swiss men are very conservative. Sometimes they prefer their wives staying at home,” she said.
Rutz, who is also married to a Swiss national, stressed that this is not the case for everybody since she has been working for more than 20 years already. She works as the head of a laboratory in the university hospital here.
Many Filipinos in Switzerland, especially in Bern, work for different embassies.
“Since Bern is the capital, many of the embassies are here where some of our kababayan work. Some are office clerks, accountant, messengers, drivers,” she said.
She is proud that Swiss and foreign employees prefer Filipino workers because of their dedication to their job and their work ethic.
“Filipinos can easily get a job in the embassies because we have a good reputation as a worker. We can speak English well and we are educated. I could say foreign embassies here are ‘managed’ by Filipinos,” she said.
Rutz also shared that some Filipinos here find a job through recommendations by other kababayans.
The Filipino community in Switzerland is considered as one of the most united groups in Europe. The Philippine Embassy in Bern noted that many Filipinos reside in Bern, Zurich, and Geneva.
In June, Filipinos are invited to one of the biggest Philippine Independence Day celebrations in Europe. The event will be held in Bern.