Guazon, Wellbeing in Caring

Guazon, Hector. 2013. Wellbeing in Caring: The Alaga System Among Filipino Catholics in Brussels, Belgium. UGAT (Journal of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines) 22: 1-21.

This study examines a caring system among Filipino Catholics in Brussels, Belgium. By ‘caring system’, I refer to relations involving ‘carers’ (taga-alaga) manifesting concern for and acting upon the needs of their ‘care-receivers’ or alaga, [literally: ‘the taken care of’] who are either newcomers to Belgium, or undocumented migrants, or workers that had been abused by their employers. Implicit in this system are Roman Catholic-associated moral values (as stipulated in the Scriptures, Church doctrines and mission statements, reinforced through rituals, using local habits) that Filipino Catholics appropriate as they handle their life-experiences in Brussels, Belgium. The article is divided into three parts: first, the constitution of the Filipino Catholics’ understanding of wellbeing; second. a description of the caring system and duties and responsibilities of the taga-alagas; and, third, a consideration of the making and remaking of parameters of the relations among taga-alagas and alagas. Following Kleinman (2009), I argue that in their pursuit of wellbeing within the shifting conditions of the diasporic context, caring practices transform subjectivities, rework life-relations, and reframe the religious meanings that accommodate and enliven local values.

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