Tag Archives: Filipino Expatriates

The Global Pinoy: The Modern Day Heroes

by Nickee De Leon/AJPress

With the onset of technological advancements and the birth of new industries, the hardworking Juan has learned to broaden his horizons and has become a citizen of the world — a global Pinoy.

There are two kinds of global Pinoys — the immigrants, who have found permanent residence in another country and possibly have become naturalized citizens of the country that they’ve migrated to, and the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates. OFWs or expatriates are Pinoys who work with multi-national companies abroad on a temporary (and oftentimes,contractual) basis.

Family always comes first in Filipino culture. This trait does not only apply to immediate family members, but extends to relatives, even relations through affinity as well.

Traveling long distances to work abroad or reside permanently in another country does not make the global Pinoy forget — in fact, it makes him long for home and his family even more. In the midst of homesickness and loneliness, he strives hard to meet his financial goals and provide a better life for his loved ones.

In the beginning of his arduous journey to financial success, he comes across a familiar face, a kababayan, who would help him go through the rudiments of starting a new life in a foreign land.

With his newfound support group, the concepts of family and kababayan become synonymous and synergized for the global Pinoy. He finds reprieve and pays the kindness he receives forward. If his ventures become lucrative enough, he may even be willing to make patriotic investments on the Philippines, either through retirement or business endeavors.

Filipinos never forget their roots and will always find means to visit their home country– thus, the moniker balikbayan (balik means to return and bayan means country). After all, a Pinoy will always remain a Pinoy at heart, no matter what citizenship he has acquired or what new culture he has adapted to.

The OFW

Every year, a considerable population of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates seek greener pastures by working in different industries abroad. The spectrum is expanding further, with Pinoy professionals in different fields now working in developing Asian countries as Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

In a 2007 survey conducted by census.gov.ph, the report stated that “the number of OFWs who worked abroad at anytime during the period April to September 2007 was registered at 1.75 million. This represents an increase of 15.3 percent over the estimated 1.52 million OFWs in April to September 2006. Out of the total OFWs during the period April to September 2007, 92.4 percent (1.61 million) were Overseas Contract Workers (OCW) or those with existing work-contact abroad. The number of OCWs in April to September 2007 went up by 16.6 percent over the 1.38 million OCWs estimated for the same months in 2006.”

In the same survey, it was elaborated that “OFWs sent a total remittance of Php110 billion for the period April to September 2007, an increase of Php8 billion (7.7%) from the estimated remittance of Php102 billion for the same months in 2006. Included in the total remittances are cash sent (74.6%) cash brought home (20.7%) and remittances in kind (4.7%). Of the total cash remittance sent for the period April to September 2007, 76.8 percent were sent through the bank, 14 percent were sent through door-to-door and the rest (9.2%) were sent through the agency and or local office, friends or co-workers and other means. OFWs working in Asia, comprising 78.1 percent of all OFWs, sent the biggest cash remittance of Php57.7 billion. Among occupation groups, OFWs working as laborers or unskilled workers posted the highest cash remittance of Php17.6 billion.”

With his intelligence, ingenuity and industry, the Pinoy expatriate has elevated his country’s stature and competence in the global job market. The stigma that was once associated with OFWs has now become a myth. The OFW is no longer deterred nor disheartened by derogatory perceptions, because his sacrifices prove beneficial not only to his family and loved ones, but to his beloved country as well.

The Pinoy immigrant

Filipino immigrants are a common sight around the world — countries as the United States, Canada and Australia are fast-becoming new settlements for migrating Pinoys. In the United States alone, there is already a significant population of Filipino-Americans who have found their place and have adapted to the ways of American culture. The numbers continue to increase, especially with the continuing high demand for medical professionals. Times are changing and opportunities are rising for nurses, physical therapists and doctors.

In an article by Aaron Terrazas from the Migration Policy Institute, it was reported that “the number of Filipino immigrants in the United States tripled between 1980 and 2006, from 501, 440 to 1.6 million, making them the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexican immigrants and ahead of the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese foreign-born.

“Over two-thirds of all Filipino immigrants resided in just five states, although their numbers are growing in places like Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas.”

Other notable facts in migrationinformation.org include: (1) “There were 1.6 million foreign-born from the Philippines residing in the US in 2006. The 1960 census counted 104,843 Filipino immigrants, a number that increased 15.6 times to 1,638,413 Filipino immigrants in 2006. The Filipino-born were the second-largest foreign-born group in the US in 2006 after immigrants from Mexico. (2) Filipino immigrants made up 4.4 percent of all immigrants in 2006. In 1960, Filipino immigrants composed 1.1 percent of all foreign-born in the United States. That share more than tripled to 3.6 percent in 1980 and increased to 4.6 percent in 1990 but decreased slightly to 4.4 percent in 2006.”

From balikbayan to balikbayani

According to Inquirer.net,the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced in October 2007, through a study that was released in Washington DC, that the Philippines ranked fourth in dollar remittances among developing countries with $13.7 billion of global remittance flows in 2006.

In these trying times, The Philippines has found refuge in the new income-generating global Pinoy — the foremost contributor in revving up dollar revenues and boosting the Philippines’ economy. They have become a new breed of heroes – the balikbayanis, instigators of an economic revolution that counters poverty. Global Pinoy Power has become the new People Power, a teeming source of economic stability and empowerment.

Specialized needs

Global Pinoys have become a formidable force to reckon with — a potential market with unique needs. These unique needs necessitated the inception of a new industry — one solely dedicated to ensuring that their exigencies are met with ease and convenience. Remittance centers, balikbayan box companies and travel agencies are all part of this singular group.

Their specialized services have made this industry an indispensable part of global Pinoy culture. They may even be considered as balikbayanis themselves. They are the mediators that turn the global Pinoy’s dreams into reality through balikbayad (remittances), the balikbayan box and of course, the balikbayan.

The balikbayani ecosystem operates with such efficiency and symbiosis. Remittances to the Philippines provide our economy with much needed dollar revenues. Balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines not only bring the global Pinoy’s parcel of love home but also generate jobs and added income for our kababayans. Reasonable airfare rates and travel packages attract millions of global Pinoys to come home every year, thus increasing income for the country further through tourism.

Indeed, it’s always a win-win situation in the balikbayani ecosystem — a manifestation of Pinoy’s ingenuity and adaptability wherever in the world he may be. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Put Your Money WhereYour Heart Is – Invest in Your Homeland

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
Recently, while having my hair cut in a beauty salon in Glendale, I heard two Korean women talking about buying retirement homes for their parents.

One was relating to the other woman how happy her parents have been in their new retirement home inside a plush community with a golf course and country club amenities. She said it was so cheap and their money went a long, long way rather than if they just continued to live here in California. The other woman was excited to hear this and said she will surely call her friend’s sales agent. My interest quickly perked up when I heard where the parents retired. The Korean said hundreds of Koreans are doing what she did — investing and retiring in the Philippines!

Yes, many foreign nationals are buying and investing in the Philippines. With the baby boomer generation just about to retire in a few years, many are planning where and how to spend their retirement. People are realizing that in America or Europe, the high costs of living and the low interest their pensions are earning will not give them a good lifestyle in their senior years. Moving to retire in the Philippines has become a very attractive option. If foreigners are buying real estate in the country, all the more should Pinoys invest into their homeland.

Over the past decade, the Philippines has become a retirement haven for thousands of foreigners. Our country has developed communications, infrastructure, and service delivery systems that meet the needs of foreign retirees. Better yet, unlike most other countries, nearly everyone speaks English in the Philippines.

There are so many good things happening in our country, despite what you may read and hear from mass media. The Philippine Stock exchange hit a nine-year record in 2006, opened in 2007 some 30 percent higher, and continues to be strong. Among the 25 priority infrastructure projects expected for completion by 2010 are the LRT line 1 to NAIA, the P21-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the P6.9-billion Subic Port development the P1.3-billion North Expressway-South Luzon Expressway connection via C-5 Project, and the Edsa Rehabilitation Project. Six of the major projects have been completed.

The Philippines has also emerged a strong second to India in the global outsourcing market. In 2006, it recorded $3.6 billion in earnings, a 50-percent jump from 2005. By 2010 it is expected to earn as much as $12.2 billion.Big outsourcing players in the U.S. such as Sykes Enterprises, Convergys, PeopleSupport Inc, Accenture, and eTelecare Global solutions have already set up headquarters in the Philippines, and Dell computers recently opened a contact center. The Philippines is becoming a much-preferred option as it has stronger cultural ties to the United States than India, and it is expected to catch up and even overtake India as market leader.

But more than all these good news, the best news is that the Philippines offers a significantly lower cost of living. The Philippine Peso exchange rate is approximately 45 to $1, which means your dollar will go a long, long way there than in the US. Housing, food, and labor costs are very reasonable. Cable Television, Hi-Speed Internet and Satellite Communications are cheap. One can hire an air-conditioned taxicab for eight hours for less than $30. In a country where a provincial Governor’s salary is only about Php35,000 per month, and a Presidential Cabinet Under-Secretary earns something like Php45,000, your pension can go a long way. So, if you have a retirement income in the region of $1,500 to $2,000 per month (Php70,000 to Php90,000) you can live like a rich man in the Philippines.

Where can you find a 3-bedroom home with a garden for only $30,000? You can in the Philippines, and you can even get up to 14% per annum ROI from rental returns. These figures probably seem unbelievably crazy to foreign buyers —and all of this comes complete with average 85 degree temperatures and sunshine nearly all year round.

Recent studies indicated that more than 85% of all condo sales in Metro Manila were to international clients. While Metro Manila is still a popular choice with international buyers, quite a number of people are also investing in year-round vacation destinations, like in Tagaytay or Boracay. Unlike other offshore rental properties, where the rental market is largely seasonal, in the Philippines there is a strong market for rental properties year round. This gives buyers greater flexibility in choosing when to use and when to rent their property. The strong rental/second home market also has resulted in a proliferation of professional property managers and rental agents, making property ownership and rental easy.

Philippine real estate, medical, social services, and employment agencies are now working together under the government’s Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to set up standards and make the retirement industry truly world class. The objective is to turn the country into the retirement haven in Asia.

The best time to invest in the Philippines is now, when we are on the verge of a phenomenal future. The Philippine currency has reached a 5-year high in 2007 and continues to be strong and resilient, fortified by the economic management of the current administration. They say the country could be on the verge of the biggest real estate boom in history, set to totally eclipse the 1997 Asian crisis, and fueled by money from Filipino Expatriates, foreign investment, and a bullish economy.

One of my friends in the Philippines wrote to me recently, saying Koreans have bought a large part of Session Road in Baguio. She was so concerned that thousands of Pinoys are leaving our country everyday while many foreigners have been investing and buying real estate. She said that the day might come when there might not be enough attractive land for Filipinos in the Philippines. So, if we have money to invest, let’s start investing where our hearts are. In our homeland — the Philippines.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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