Life on the Faroe Islands, 2




don (2) minority far out (2)
await majority homeland
proud sign (3) role-model
adjust privilege outpost (2)
reach chilly (2) as soon as
alone pluck up make friends
follow courage look forward to
pluck get away all the way
prove baptism fit/fit-fitted/fit
bit (2) land (2) come back
annoy pregnant struggle with
expect courage in the meantime
diverse boast (2) make the most of
stay (2) costume surrounded
spoil consider unspoiled
abroad abide by outnumber
role tough (2) in particular
gender look for generation
offer volcanic at that time
effect height (2) mission (2)
affect jet-lagged do laundry
give up shortage surroundings
remote discover separate (2)
accept security work up the courage
loud cheat (3) go for a drive
refuse prepare resign myself to
lonely satisfied support my family
miss focus (2) By contrast, In contrast
custom head for partner (2)
regret exciting leave it all behind me
realize constrain compared to
decide no matter do away with
hope all-round long for/long to
thrilled challenge strive/strove–strived/striven
aim (2) comprise self-confident
equal fabulous run/ran/run (3)
goal (2) thing (2) opportunity
era homesick take to the street
pride share (3) on a mission
event mindset run away from
queer comprise emancipated






Far out in the North Atlantic. The Faroe Islands. Surprisingly, Filipino women comprise the largest ethnic minority here — some 10-thousand kilometers from their homeland.

Beng Litang, from the Philippines: “I don’t know how they found the Faroe Islands. It’s raining Filipinas!”

Antonette found different traditions, the love of her life and a new life awaiting her on the Faroes. So she’s thrilled to celebrate Ólavsøka, the islands’ national holiday. She’s donning the national dress of the Faroes for the first time.

Antonette, Wife from the Philippines: “I feel so proud to wear it, because everybody in the city center is also wearing it. So as a foreigner, I feel privileged to wear the national costume of the Faroe Islands.”

Antonette has created a new life for herself. To be with her great love Regin Egholm, she left the Philippines and all she knew behind her. For the last five years, the Faroe Islands have been her new home.

Coming from the tropics, adjusting to life in the chilly North Atlantic was a real culture shock. It rains 300 days a year in the Faroes. At the height of summer, the temperature reaches just 12 degrees Celsius. And in winter, it’s only light for a few hours each day.

Antonette, Wife from the Philippines: “I know how it feels to be alone, because the first time I arrived on the Faroe Islands I thought there are no Filipinos or Filipinas in the Faroe Islands.

So I was just like regretting that I came to the Faroe Islands. I am thinking: How can I make friends? They don’t understand my language and I don’t understand their language.”

Antonette and Regin first met on Cyprus. She was working in a hotel there and he was a guest on holiday. For two years they wrote emails and phoned one another.

Then Antonette plucked up her courage and followed Regin to the Faroes. A year after they married, their daughter was born.

Antonette’s mother has come all the way from Manila to the Faroes to meet her 24th grandchild. The whole family is looking forward to the baby’s baptism. Naturally, she’ll be wearing the national dress of the Faroes.

Regin, Local Husband: “It fits, right?”
Antonette, Wife from the Philippines: “Say hello to Papa.”
Regin, Local Husband: “Hey, hey. How’re you?”

The baptism has proved a bit of a challenge for Antonette. There’s one Faroese custom she still struggles with:

Antonette, Wife from the Philippines: “Yeah, she already has a name, but to follow the tradition in the Faroe Islands it’s a secret. We are not allowed to tell it to anyone, unless she’s baptized. We are only allowed to say it when she’s already in the church and we are ready to give her a name.

In the Philippines, when you get pregnant you are already thinking of a name. I do the same. I was so annoyed, because I feel like I cannot give her a name.”

But Antonette has resigned herself to waiting until the baptism. In the meantime, she makes the most of the few hours of sunshine. Her husband Regin is a pharmacist. He spends most of his free time working on their house in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands.

The first time Regin told her where he lived, Antonette had absolutely no idea what to expect. She’d never even heard of the Faroe Islands.

Antonette, Wife from the Philippines: “I thought the Faroe Islands is ‘Pharaoh’, it’s part of Egypt. So I was thinking: Ah, you’re living in Egypt. I’m actually thinking of the Egyptian houses and all this stuff.”

But he said: It’s part of Denmark and I need to google Denmark and looking where is Faroe Islands. I cannot find it. Then I put again ‘Faroe Islands’ and ‘Denmark’ at the end, and I can see Denmark and I try to google? Oh, it’s very far away from Denmark actually!

And even farther away from Antonette’s home city of Manila. The capital of the Philippines boasts some 13 million residents. Barely 20-thousand live in her new hometown.

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The Faroes comprise 18 islands made of volcanic rock. Some 50-thousand people call this European outpost home. But living on an island surrounded by unspoiled nature can get lonely at times. Especially for the men, who far outnumber women on the Faroes?

For years, young women have been leaving the Faroes, to study and start a new life abroad. The men left behind practice traditional professions and abide by traditional gender roles.

At the Port of Tórshavn, Morten Johannesson sells his catch of the day. His father and grandfather were also fishermen. It’s tough work for the guys. But that’s not what Faroese women are looking for these days.

Morten Johannesson, Fisherman: “Times have changed. When I was young it was totally different. Today, young women are mainly looking for excitement and the Faroes doesn’t have as much to offer them as Denmark, Germany or France, for example.”

Morten’s son Andreas is also a fisherman. His generation, in particular, is affected by the shortage of women on the Faroes.

Andreas is single, but many of his friends have partners from Southeast Asia.

Andreas Johanneson, Fisherman: “These days it’s easy to find a beautiful young woman. You sit down at the computer, click ‘Enter’ and they’re right there.

And there’s a big difference between them and Faroese women. With a Filipina you get all-round service: she cooks, cleans and does laundry for you.”

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While many Faroese women are leaving the islands, Filipinas are arriving and taking their place. Beng Litang is among them. She was one of the first Filipino women to come to the Faroes.

Beng Litang, from the Philippines: “On my first day I was so tired, jet-lagged, and the surroundings is dark and it’s snowing at that time. I arrived in wintertime, so I didn’t see so much nature. At that time, I didn’t plan to stay here for long, just to try to work. But in 2004 I met my ex-husband.”

For twelve years, Beng lived her dream life. She’d found love, security and started a family. As the mother of two daughters she enjoyed her life on the remote Faroes.

But then she discovered her husband was cheating on her. Unable to accept this, she worked up the courage to separate from him. Since then, life hasn’t been easy.

Beng Litang, from the Philippines: “The house, there’s so much memories there. I cannot just stay in the house, so I just go for a drive. I like driving alone with loud music. Then I can think about my life and relax, yeah.”

Beng wasn’t prepared to give up the life she’d made for herself on the Faroes. But she refused to stay with her husband purely for financial reasons. So she’s found work to support herself and her children.

Beng Litang, from the Philippines: “I don’t regret anything. Maybe some changes I would do, but I don’t think there’s anything. If I did it, then maybe there’s something juicy! No, I don’t regret anything. I’m satisfied right now.

Beng has only ever returned to the Philippines once, with her daughters Carina and Joanna. That’s because Beng considers the Faroes to be her home. She supports her parents in the Philippines whenever she can. But never for a second did she consider returning there after her separation.

Beng Litang, from the Philippines: “I miss my parents, but honestly I don’t miss the Philippines. I think I am contented here with my children. My focus is my children.”

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By contrast, Ingilín Didriksen Strøm wanted nothing more than to leave the Faroes. Like many Faroese women of her generation, she headed for Denmark as soon as she finished school.

After attending university in Roskilde, she landed a job in Copenhagen. It was more exciting than life in the Faroes. That’s why many young Faroese women never return — though Ingilín has.

Ingilín Didriksen Strøm, Foroese Reptatriate: “Life here can be very constraining. Compared to the big cities, it’s completely different here. I just wanted to get away and leave it all behind me. That was the main reason why I left back then. Everything was just too small. But after a time I realized that, no matter where I go, the life here will always be a part of me.

So when she was 24, Ingilin decided to return. She was homesick and longed to raise a family on the Faroes. Three years ago she and her Faroese husband Teitur moved back. Not long afterwards, their son Uni was born. Ingilín is striving to be an independent and emancipated woman in this traditional society.

Ingilín Didriksen Strøm, Foroese Reptatriate: “In the past it was a huge problem that the women left and didn’t come back. But I think that things are slowly changing here. That someone like me has returned to the islands in their mid-20s is actually quite unusual.”

Now she’s on a mission. Ingilin aims to become a role model for a new generation of self-confident Faroese women. That’s why she’s running for parliament. She aims to make the Faroes a place women no longer feel the need to run away from. A place with opportunities: equal opportunities.

Ingilín Didriksen Strøm, Foroese Reptatriate: “After being away for so long, it was really important for me to return to the Faroes. I realized I can make a bigger difference here than I could in Copenhagen or elsewhere. I come from here. I know the place and how things work. Now I want to use that to change a few things on the islands.”

Her goal is to become the first woman under the age of 38 in the new parliament. She says it’s time to do away with old gender roles. Today she’s taking to the streets of the capital, Tórshavn, to get her message out. Ingilin is the face of a new generation and a new era.

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The remote islands are starting to move with the times. This is a Faroe Pride parade, held in Tórshavn. Not long ago, such an event would have been unheard of here. For Ingilín, the parade is an important sign that mindsets are changing.

Ingilín Didriksen Strøm, Foroese Reptatriate: “It’s a fabulous sign that so many people are here to show: ‘We don’t want to go back to the last century. We want the Faroes to be an even more open, more colorful country.’ That’s a great feeling. It’s fantastic.”

Colorful, queer and modern. Ingilín’s hopes for a more diverse future aren’t shared by all Faroese people.

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Denmark.. The largest ethnic minority on the Faroe Islands are Irish and Norwegians. True or false?

Norway. On the Faroes, do Filipino women wear headscarves, hijabs, niqabs and burkas?

Sweden. Has it been easy for Filipinos to adjust to living in the Faroes? What were some culture shocks or major differences between the Faroes and the Philippines?

Finland. Antonette and Regin met online, on an online dating platform. Is this right or wrong?

Ireland. In the beginning, do all foreigners know exactly where the Faroe Islands are? Where did they think the Faroes were?

United Kingdom. Have the demographics of the Faroe Islands remained exactly the same throughout the years, or has it changed?

The Netherlands. Why have young local women been leaving the Faroe Islands? Why do Filipino women come to the Faroes?

Iceland. All Filipino women find everlasting love, joy and happiness on the Faroes. Is this correct or incorrect? Do they wish to return to the Philippines?

Germany. Is Ingilín Didriksen Strøm a typical Faroese woman? Is she happy and satisfied with the traditional ways of the Faroes? Is she complacent?
France. Many foreigners and migrants live in my city and country. Yes or no? If yes, where do they come from? What do they do?

Austria.Do foreigners assimilate or blend into mainstream society?

Switzerland. Are there (lots of) intermarriages between people of different ethnicities, race or nationalities?

Italy. Do some or many people from your country emigrate to other places? What are some popular destinations?

Spain. My friends and I would like to live on the Faroe Islands! Would you like to visit the Faroe Islands?

Portugal. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live? If I could live anywhere in the world, I would like to live in . . . . .

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