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The term “foreign worker” once conjured the image of a man digging coal or laying bricks.

But across the globe, today’s migrants are as likely to be changing diapers or cleaning hotel rooms.

Marla Asis, a Filipino migration scholar, did two studies in the mid-2000s on the impact of parental absence.

In the first, migration was more beneficial when the migrant parent was a father.

In the film, written in the 1990s and released in 2000, Josie mourns the double standard: when a man goes abroad to feed his family, “people say what a good father he is,’’ but a woman who does the same is labeled a bad mother. She is part of a large extended family of Filipino migrants I’ve followed for three decades to trace the rise of global migration.

Like Josie, Tess was taking up for a feckless man who couldn’t feed his own kids.

But as migration has feminized and digitized at the same time, millions of migrant mothers have seized on modern communications to try to be in two places at once. Tess had another child, hoping her husband would change, but when he threatened to blow up the house, she decided that “leaving the country was the only way I could escape him.” Her parents agreed to raise the girls, and Tess answered an ad for a Singapore hospital that needed nursing aides. “Once the realm of science fiction and boardroom meetings, videoconferencing at home is now highly sophisticated and, in many cases, free,” had recently announced.

Not all migrants have the same access to technology—or use it as avidly. Like many 2008 models, it had a gizmo called a webcam.Studying Filipino mothers in Britain, Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller emphasized the sheer variety of options mothers had in an age of “polymedia.’’ Phone calls offered intimacy. Texts were ideal for saying something without having much to say; the chime says, “thinking of u.” Webcams appeal to young children—some mothers played virtual hide-and-seek.Others took their daughters on online shopping trips.But the biggest difference between Tess and her fictional counterpart was that, shortly after Tess went abroad, a communications revolution offered new ways to stay in touch. After two years, she came home for her first vacation, then quickly left again.Josie wrote letters and waited weeks for a response. She bought her mother a cellphone and called constantly. When the girls were fifteen and ten, Tess took a nanny job in Abu Dhabi.

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