Tag Archives: OFW

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.


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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Remittances: Our Nation’s Lifeblood

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
The past three decades have seen the most dramatic number of Filipinos migrating to other countries to work as overseas contract workers. There are now more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. These overseas Filipinos often work as doctors, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects, entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, students, caregivers, and domestic helpers. Many of them eventually become permanent residents of other countries.

Money sent by the overseas Filipinos back to the Philippines thru remittances has made a significant and considerable contribution to the Philippine economy. By providing a steady stream of dollars in the market, remittances have helped stabilize the peso and boost the economy through consumption and investments. Last year in 2007, the OFWs remitted around US $14.45 billion, up from $13 Billion in 2006 and more than $10 billion in 2005.

Because of the role that they play in propping up the economy through the money they send home, the migrant Filipino workers abroad have been referred to as the Philippines’ modern-day heroes.

The Philippine Central Bank announced a few days ago that remittances from Filipino workers overseas grew 24.6 percent in July to US$1.366 billion — the fourth month in a row that money sent home from abroad posted double-digit growth. The July inflows brought remittances for January to July 08 to US$9.608 billion, up 18.2 percent from the same period last year. The strong inflows boost the likelihood that remittances for 2008 will hit US$15.7 billion as projected.

The bulk of remittances from January to July 2008 came from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In a study by Stella P. Go (2002) who studies the behavior of the remittances of migratory workers, it shows that there is no direct relation between the quantity of remittances and the geographical concentration of these workers. For example, Saudi Arabia, which is the major destination of overseas workers, only represents 5.4 % of total remittances; the United States, to the contrary, which has less than 1% of the migrant Philippine workers is the origin of 42.5 % of total remittances to the Philippines.

Perhaps, Filipinos who immigrate to the US earn more or have more income left over to send abroad than those OFWs from Middle East and Asian countries.

Karamihan kasi ng mga immigrants dito sa US, nasa health care industry, at kumikita ng mas malaki kaysa sa mga OFWs sa ibang bansa. And the health care industry is not much affected by economic recession,” said John, a resident intern in an LA hospital.

How do the families of OFWs spend the remittances? According to a study by the United Nations (INSTRAW study 2008), remittances are used to cover first the households’ basic consumption (food, clothes, electricity, etc.), education and health. When remittances are sent regularly, they can also serve to pay a domestic worker or a person who will be in charge of dependent persons. For migrant parents, it is a priority to provide education to the children who remain in Philippines, while for migrant sons and daughters, to provide care for elderly parents is a priority in a context where public services are very poor.

When remittances are more than enough to pay the bills, the families invest for the future. In the same UN study, it was reported that after women succeed to cover basic consumption needs, education and health, they invest in a house or in land for agriculture. Men are inclined to invest in consumption goods, assets, or property. 

Without a doubt, the economic gains are the most tangible positive effect of labor migration for both the family and Philippine society. Foreign remittances have improved the quality of life for the average Filipino family. Within a short period of time, families and household have been able to buy appliances, improve their houses or buy new ones, finance the education of their children or siblings and for some, start a small business. Because of these economic gains of labor migration, thousands of Filipinos continue to leave the country everyday to work overseas.

The Central Bank sees the trend rising even higher in the coming months and years. For example, from January to July 2008, nearly 762,000 Filipinos left the country to work abroad, up by 28.2 percent than in the same period of 2007. “This reflected foreign employers’ preference for Filipino workers who remain competitive due to their skills and proficiency in the English language,” said the Central Bank.

Central Bank Governor Tetangco said workers’ deployment abroad may rise further as a result of the recently concluded arrangement among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, to standardize and regulate professional standards for accountants, dentists and medical workers. The arrangement will facilitate professionals’ mobility in the region, he added. Discussions continue between the Philippines and prospective employers in France, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Finland for possible deployment of more professionals from the nursing, information technology, and engineering fields, he said.

The remittance boom is partly a product of a period of very rapid global growth that increased both demand for Filipino migrant labor and the earnings of the huge Filipino community in the US, the largest single source of remittances. However, there are some fears that this rise in remittances from the US might not continue for long, specially with the looming US recession.

This was belied, however, by a Western Union agent interviewed by Asian Journal. “Our regular customers have not decreased their remittances to the Philippines,” said Fae, who works in a Western Union remittance agent store in Eagle Rock. “Many of the Filipinos who come here send money weekly or bi-monthly to their families. Even when the gas prices went up, the remittances were not affected,” she reported.

This is certainly good news for the Philippines. First, spurred by remittances, the peso’s increased value has raised people’s confidence in the currency and overseas Filipinos have begun to remit their earnings and savings, not just for basic necessities, but for investments as well. Secondly, the higher the peso, the more dollars have to be remitted to meet the school, food and other peso bills of families back in the Philippines. Thirdly, remittances are expected to continue to increase from the oil-rich states of the Gulf, the second largest source of money from abroad.  And fourthly, East Asian demand for Filipino labor remains high; so the exodus of OFWs, and with it, foreign remittances are expected to continue to grow even more considerably in the near future.  (www.asianjournal.com)


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Overseas Filipinos help typhoon victims

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – The Bayanihan spirit is alive and well in various Filipino communities abroad as relief efforts are underway to send aid to the victims of Typhoon Frank/ Fengshen which hit the Philippines recently.

In Bahrain, a Filipino community group set up a helpline and relief fund for families, specially those of workers working there. Among the workers in Bahrain who lost their family homes in the Philippines are Francis Paguntalan, Oliver Huertas, and Eddie Arollado.

Filipinos in Vancouver, meanwhile, have decided to send their aid through churches. In coordination with the Filipino Fellowship Baptist Church, around 125 Filipino community organizations in Canada are being encouraged to send money so victims can buy necessities since sending things will take two months to arrive.

In Hawai, the Filipino Community Center has joined with the Hawaii International Relief Organization and the Aloha Medical Mission to collect at least $30,000 to provide relief for the typhoon’s survivors. Geminiano Arre Jr., the president of Hawaii’s Filipino Community Center, said their priority is to raise money to buy medical supplies.

The Filipino American community is also extending assistance to their kababayans. While on her US trip, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed embassies in the US, Europe and the Middle East and Asia to open disaster relief donation accounts, set up websites, and provide mobile phone numbers where donors could send their assistance through text messaging.


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Overseas Filipinos Remit $4B in Q1

by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com

MAKATI CITY – Overseas Filipinos sent a whopping $4 billion to their relatives in the Philippines during the first quarter of 2008, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) documents obtained by the Asian Journal.

Remittances coursed through banks climbed to $1.42 billion in March 2008, the highest monthly level recorded thus far.

The March 2008 inflows brought the first quarter level of remittances to $4.0 billion, higher by 13.2 percent than the year-ago level of US$3.5 billion.

Prior to March, remittances reached a high of $1.38 billion in December 2007 and 1.38 billion in October of the same year, bringing last year’s figures to $14.45 billion, a 13.23% increase from the $12.76 billion remitted in 2006.

“Remittances during the first three months of 2008 reflected the rising number of Filipino workers abroad, the shifts in skill composition as well as the growing efficiency of banks and other financial institutions as remittance channels,” the BSP statement said.

According to the BSP release, the number of deployed workers for the first three months continued to grow, with preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as of 24 March 2008 showing an expansion by 13.6 percent to 263,129 from 231,647 a year ago.

Classified by type of worker, the number of land-based workers grew by 11.7 percent during the three-month period to 200,398 while the number of sea-based workers rose by 20.1 percent to 62,731.

Overseas Filipinos’ remittances were also strengthened by additional tie-ups established by domestic banks and other local remittance companies with foreign financial institutions to promote a faster and more efficient delivery of remittances of overseas workers to their beneficiaries.

To date, the significant portion of remittances continued to come from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.



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Overseas Filipinos Come Home

by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com

MAKATI CITY – Overseas Filipinos from around the world gathered at the First Global Filipino Nation International Conference, which opened at the University of Makati on Thursday, May 8. The three-day event was touted as the biggest gathering of overseas Filipinos.

Convenors said that one of their goals is to get migrants to join the campaign for effective governance in the Philippines. They also hope that the conference participants would be able to review, refine and adopt detailed action agenda called logical frameworks (logframes) which can be implemented and actualized.

“We have been working on this for the past six years and in my travels here and abroad, I have found out that there is a convergence of thought among Filipinos wherever they are. We are hoping that through this conference, we will be able to come up with ideas on how to empower the global Filipino,” Victor Barrios, lead convenor of the conference said, as he welcomed the participants.

Barrios also explained that the theme, “Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance,” is anchored on three aspirations: grassroots economic empowerment, resolution of issues facing migrant workers and their families, and raised consciousness of a nation ready to march as one.

Makati City 2nd District Rep. Marlen Abigail Binay led the ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the art exhibit which featured works of upcoming Filipino artists.  The first day of activities also included a job and trade fair.

Different sessions and workshops that tackled issues concerning the global Filipino were held on the second and third day of the conference.

The three main modules focused on the economic, social and political aspects of migrant life, and the media as a tool to empower global Filipinos.

The social module focused on the most urgent problems encountered by migrant workers and their families and what the Global Filipino Nation as a group can do about them.

The economic module highlighted the possibility of converting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to become world-class players and encouraging entrepreneurship on a nation-wide scale, while the political module focused on the goal of empowering global Filipinos, their families and onshore Filipinos with a global mindset as a force for governance change.

Greg Macabenta, publisher of Filipinas Magazine led the discussion on “Media as a Change Agent” as he presented those who joined the group with copies of various Filipino publications from the US to Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

The group agreed that there should be a Global Filipino Media Organization, and as such, a framework was prepared to establish a Philippine-based coordinative body to pursue this objective.

On a much larger scale, Barrios said that the convenors are in the process of coordinating with the University of Makati for the creation of a Global Filipino Institute for Policy Research.

If this comes to fruition, the almost 10 million global Filipinos will be more empowered as they will have an infrastructure which can document the situation of migrants from all over the world, specially Overseas Filipino workers who are abused by their employers, and create policies that will help the migrant workers.

Another way is through the internet and the convenors believe that they can leverage Information Technology and Communications (ITC) as a tool through the creation of a dynamic web portal.

The portal dubbed “The Filipino Global Village” will help organize, educate and connect Filipinos in all parts of the world was introduced during one of the workshops.

The aim is to leverage the efficient use of technology to connect overseas Filipinos. The portal will encourage members to facilitate communication and interaction among members and increase computer literacy to those who are not too tech-savvy. It will include social networking services to interact with fellow members. It will also provide a platform to unify and present a single voice and raised awareness of various social, political and economic issues across the world.


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Immigrant Group Reaches Deal with Remittance Company

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA), an immigrant advocacy group protesting the high transaction fees placed on migrant workers’ remittances has made an agreement with a money transfer company and asking for others to follow suit.

TIGRA has set forth a deal with Texas-based Virtual Money Inc. whose leaders hope, will lead to new business standards for the billion dollar remittance industry.

Among the agreements arrived at were that Virtual Money and its authorized Master Agents ICE Holdings Limited (IHL) would provide fair prices of at least 20 percent lower than the industry standard; commit to socially-responsible investing; abide by customer service standards based on transparency and non-discrimination; and adhere to a community reinvestment strategy which allocates up to 10 percent of revenues to projects that assist transnational communities, according to details of the deal announced last Tuesday in Los Angeles,

“This is the standard we want for the whole [remittance] industry,” said Francis Calpotura, executive director of TIGRA. “It has to have a community redevelopment standard that says, ‘we are committed to the communities that we benefit from and that part of our profit has to go back to those communities.’ Virtual Money is the first one to step up.”

Virtual Money uses the digital infrastructure to transact money. Rather than building branches in strategic locations, the company uses their own ATM cards for clients to access, transfer or check their funds. The low overhead costs can afford the company to lower its transaction fee.

“Because of the new technology, there is no reason why people have to pay such outrageous prices. We can do it cheaper, get it to the hands of people faster, and let the consumer know every cost involved in the process,” said Virtual Money Founder, President and CEO Robert Hodgins,

Remittance Market

Many foreign countries’ economies like Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines rely heavily on the amount of money remitted by overseas workers.

The World Bank estimated that overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) sent home more than $12.4 billion in 2006. There are more than three million OFW’s working in countries like the US, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Europe.

The Philippines ranks fifth globally in terms of remittances received from its overseas workers,” said Amando M Tetangco, Jr, Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) in a statement at the 13th Meeting of the World Savings Bank Institute Asia-Pacific Regional Group.

The World Bank revealed that migrant worker remittances reached $260 billion globally in 2006.

Remittance companies’ transaction price ranges from $2.95 up to $12  depending on the amount of money being sent. With billions of dollars being sent home, remittance companies have been cashing in.


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Wanted: Pinoy Skilled Workers in ME

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – There’s a construction boom in the Middle East and they need hundreds of thousands of Filipino skilled workers fast!

The problem is the supply cannot meet the demand. The Philippines is running out of skilled workers to deploy to the Middle East. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone is asking the Philippine government to fill up some 300,000 different positions this year. Other Middle East countries like United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are also in the midst of a trilliondollar construction binge. Labor demand from these countries has increased in the past three years, with employers offering higher salaries to Filipinos who want to seek greener pasture.

One recruitment consultant, Emmanuel Geslani, admitted that it will be very difficult to deploy 300,000 workers to Saudi Arabia this year as the country’s manpower agencies experienced problems in filling up just over 100,000 job orders which the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) approved for 2007.

“Recruitment companies are vying with each other in attracting the few remaining qualified Filipino construction workers with free placement and welfare benefits,” Geslani said in a press statement. He noted that in 2007, only 1,012,054 workers were deployed, only a little above the one-million mark, with the help of 480,000 re-hires.

Records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that deployment of Filipinos to Dubai and Qatar increased by 200 percent in the past three years. It was estimated that only 350,000 were new-hires in 2007, with the sea-based sector adding an additional 250,000 seafarers to the total deployment.

Geslani suggested that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) implement a massive manpower training campaign to train skilled workers in the construction industry to meet the huge demand in the Middle East and other parts of the world looking for more Filipino blue-collar workers.


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