In the 90s in the Philippines, at least 2,500 citizens leave each day to earn their living in foreign lands. Many times you will see a couple of persons in a family usually working and residing abroad. The same is a fact with other regions in Asia and other poorer places in the world. What are the factors influencing this exodus of citizens from one region to the other?
The first factor is for financial reasons. The OFW category belong in this section. These are workers who want to obtain a better life. Alluring openings like high paying jobs, better working situations and finer standards of living. The second most permanent factor, the capitulation and hopelessness of the political, law and order, corruption in our country leaves the whole family to leave the Philippines altogether. All of these tempt many people to go abroad. These are the permanent migrants who renew their citizenships altogether.
The Philippines sent 1.1 million workers abroad in 2007, the same as in 2006, meaning that an average of 3,000 Filipinos a day left for foreign jobs. They included 810,000 land-based migrants and 264,000 sea-based migrants. Recruiters say that Filipino migrant workers account for 30 percent of the air passengers entering and leaving the Philippines.
Filipinos are about 28 percent of those manning the world's ships. Most seamen work on eight- to 10-month contracts, earning at least $1,100 a month. About 20 percent each are deployed on cruise ships and bulk carrier ships, followed by 13 percent each on container ships and tankers; most carry crews of 21, seven workers for each of three shifts.
The government reports migrant outflow data in several ways. About 312,000 land-based migrants, 38 percent, were going abroad for the first time; the other 498,000 were rehires who had been employed abroad before. About half of those being deployed for the first time were classified as service workers, a third were production workers, and an eighth were professional and technical workers.
The leading destination for Filipinos leaving in 2007 was Saudi Arabia, which took almost 30 percent of Filipino migrants, followed by Hong Kong, 15 percent; UAE, 11 percent; and Italy and Singapore, seven percent each. Remittances were $13 billion in 2007, up slightly from 2006.
Some 8,000 nurses went abroad in 2007, including 6,100 to Saudi Arabia. The Philippines Health Secretary, Francisco Duque, estimated in January 2008 that 85 percent of the newly graduated nurses leave the country each year. Most go to the oil-exporting countries of the Middle East, but many want to go to Europe or North America, including some doctors and MBA graduates who are retraining as nurses in order to improve their chances of going abroad.
Figure 1: Global Distribution of Overseas Filipino Workers, June 1997
On average, Filipino overseas workers are 34 years old; 38 percent are single and 53 percent are male. "Production and related workers" and "domestic servants" are the two largest occupational categories, each accounting for 31 percent of the total.
In terms of household position, the most common categories are male heads of household and daughters of the household head, each accounting for 28 percent of overseas workers; sons of household heads account for 15 percent, female household heads or spouses of household heads 12 percent, and other relations 16 percent (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Philippine Migrant Workers by Household Position, June 1997
Some 10 percent of the country's population – 7.41 million as of December 2001 – live and work abroad. In the late 1990s, the yearly deployment of Filipino workers averaged 800,000 each year. In 2003, 867,969 left to find work in more than 100 destinations. In the same year, some $7.6 billion worth of remittances were ploughed back into the economy, a major boost to the country's lifeline.
TOTAL FILIPINOS OVERSEAS SINCE 2004
Overpopulation compounds the problem
In 1970, both the Philippines and Thailand had about 36 million residents. Today, the Philippines has over 90 million residents and Thailand has 66 million. Thailand is the world's leading rice exporter, and the Philippines is one of the leading importers of rice. In response to the surging price of rice in 2008, the Filipino government provided subsidized rice to those in families with per capita incomes below $24 a month.
The Philippines is one of three countries of origin in Asia – along with Indonesia and Sri Lanka – where women comprise the majority of legal migrant workers deployed every year. In the case of the Philippines, women are the majority of the new hires (land-based) deployed every year.