Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to 'milk' an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker)?

The diaspora of OFW's and Filipino citizens around the world has been a phenomenon since the early 1980's.
Filipinos has reached on every continent around the globe, the only destination that we have missed is the North and South Poles.

It is simple math. Filipinos are working abroad to have a better quality way of life. The hefty remittances from OFW's are able to send their kids through nice schools, pay their home mortgages, food and electricity, and the important thing is, they can save some money on the side for emergencies and other uses. You can never ever do this in the Philippines. Because after you have paid your electricity (this is the topic i'm researching from now), water, LPG, transportation, food, kid's allowance, taxes, insurance, and miscellaneous expenses, mobile phone cards, you will never get anything afterwards. You are not able to save. And with contractualization is the 'IN' thing for various companies, job security is another problem. You must have that extra money on the side for emergencies.

Yes they suffer a lot through homesicknesses, high cost of living, culture shock, and sad to say, fellow OFW's who are such 'crabs' who put you down while your back is turned away.

I know and we all know that 'money' is the answer why OFW's are leaving the country. But is it really the solution? Who have implanted this way of thinking on our heads?

In the 1960's, the Philippines has been regarded as the second wealthiest nation in Asia, next to Japan. But something came along the way, it was Marcos, due to political and economic mismanagement, our country was in disarray. This prompted some Filipinos to work abroad. They already knew that there is something bad going on. And that was told to me by my father.

"Damn, this Marcos is so stubborn, he wanted to run the Phils in his own hands!"

"Anong gagawin natin? (What we will do now?) My mother said.

"Let us leave for a while, let us go out. Paris, Cali, Tokyo."

"How about the kids?"

"Leave them. Istorbo lang sila, papatakbuhin ko Pinas sa abroad" (They are a disturbance, I'll run the Phils in abroad).

So much for parental love.

A lot of Filipinos left, and they watched in horror how the Philippines, like a deck of cards fell little by little.

During the 90's where my dad talked to various government agencies, he was really worried on how to improve our economy. They are planning again to borrow from IMF, but of course they need something substantial, something where we can repay back our debt and future debts.

While on a meeting, my dad overheard a conversation from a DFA official to his staff, about the deployment of workers in the Middle East. After the conversation, he talked to him.

"How many Filipinos are going abroad in a day?"

"That depends sir, but right now it is more than 2,000 a day."

"Hey, that is too much (in 1990's). Is there an epidemic or something?"

"I don't know sir, but, it seems we are getting good money from them."

My father saw the 'idea light bulbs' on a lot of government officials. My father made a quick look at some financial papers and held a calculator. Yes, the OFW's remittances can contribute to the country's GDP of about 13% to 20%. This is easy money. Without any form of operating cost or expenses, rent, or any other expenditures. Just take a portion of their remittances through agreement with banks and other foreign exchange centers. Increase of prices of basic commodities and imported items sold in the Philippines is another way of getting the money from OFW's. Taxes and government processing fees. They always think that every Filipino has a relative who is an OFW. Just get any amount of money from them, they will give it immediately without any questions.

And if someone wants to leave the country, make it hard for them. So hard that they must pay and various fees before they leave the country. Make the process slow and tedious, so that both parties, the employer from abroad and the employee (OFW) will have to pay the government just to fast track the processing, settlement of fees, etc. No wonder illegal recruitment and human smuggling is rampant in the Philippines.

In simple terms:

* Job application for abroad = money
* Remittances = money

And where those the money go? Philippine Government, into the pockets of corrupt government agencies.

Philippine media has its share of 'brain washing' as well. Always broadcasting and reporting that the 'grass is greener' on other countries. Just look at those endless advertisements from agencies and recruiters who are willing to take Filipinos outside the country.Actors and actresses who are half-Filipino / half-foreign blood are featured and given priority. We do have an 'off' button but sometimes, if it is shown into your face many times, you can't help but to watch it. And the media is also giving credit to those who are half-Filipino or Filipinos who are away from a long time in the Philippines. Duh. They are already living successfully, why waste our time with them?

My dad, then again, has no choice but to approve of the idea. Since our economy is in shambles. There must be something out there where we can get some money. Money that will keep the Philippines afloat. But sacrificing our fellow citizens, leaving their families behind, is truly a sad sight to see, especially crying children and relatives where they send off OFW's onto the airport. More harrowing if they found out that they come home mentally incapacitated, or worse, in a 'box.'

Hopefully, Filipinos are smart and strong enough to show their disgust - LET US STOP THE GREED!

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