By Regina Mae Parungao
Decades ago, every other Pinoy student wanted to be a nurse.
The demand for Filipino registered nurses abroad was so high and the success stories of those who ventured out were so many, that no one could avoid the thought of considering a career as a registered nurse. Those already on other careers even shifted their paths.
And so the dream to work abroad and earn a very good salary continued for many years and expanded to many related fields.
Thus, the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) is now more than 10 million, according to the latest data released by the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (COF). Other groups estimate that to be 12 million.
According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in-charge and labor undersecretary Bernard P. Olalia, nursing and other health-related jobs are still some of the most in-demand jobs overseas.
Saudi Arabia alone needs at least 1,000 nurses while POEA is now also accepting applications for 400 nurses under the Triple Win Project of Germany, according to the website of the main government agency assigned to monitor and supervise recruitment agencies in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, other countries have expressed the need to hire Filipino nurses in their hospitals, clinics, private companies, ships and private homes.
In 2018, the labor agency said that aside from nurses, other professionals that are in demand abroad are land-based and sea-based engineers, teachers, and information technology (IT) professionals.
The reason for the dream to work abroad is obvious — the financial compensation is more than what one can get from a similar job in the Philippines.
In China, an English teacher can earn a monthly salary of at least $1,200 — thats about P62,224 a month!
In the Middle East, an engineer could earn at least R90,000 a month. Anywhere in the Asia–Pacific region, jobs fore the IT professionals could earn a salary of at least P60,000 a month.
Another job that has built a strong dream among many in the Pinoy workforce is that of a household service worker (HSW). At home we refer to them as the “kasambahay.” With a minimum monthly wage of only R3,500, it is no surprise that many domestic workers look to foreign shores to earn at.
In 2018, at least 10 million Filipinos work overseas and the number keeps growing.
least more than four times that amount!
2.2 M HSWs
The good reputation that the domestic helpers have established in many homes overseas has created a strong demand for Filipinos in many countries. Records of the POEA as of December 2017 show that the number of Filipino HSWs overseas has reached 2.2 million – the highest number in the last 25 years.
Unfortunately, this job is now considered high-risk and prone to abuses. It is no secret that many OFWs had suffered quietly, one of them even being discovered dead for a long time inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait. The case even threatened our diplomatic relations.
Despite the many reports on abuses or deaths, many more still carry that dream to work abroad as an HSW.
Protecting the OFWs
To protect the OFWs, DOLE-Bureau of Labor relations has created the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC). It functions primarily as a forum for organized labor, employers and government in the formulation and implementation of labor and employment policies. The National TIPC is responsible for processing major issuances affecting labor, employment and other related concerns.
“The TIPC serves as a communication channel for joint programs among government, workers and employers towards enhancing labor-management relations. There are trending issues about our OFWs and it’s very important to address that, which is why TIPC is here to adopt and cascade its own program of activities and rule, amend it if necessary for our development objectives,” Olalia explained.
Olalia is proud to say that Filipino workers have world-class skills that’s why there is always a strong demand for them — which is reflected in more than 10 million OFWs out there today.
“Filipino workers are well-loved abroad because they do their job and get it done flawlessly. They are multi-taskers, too,” he said. OFWs are “dedicated and responsible”
and can easily adapt to different cultures, he said.
$28.1 billion in 2017
Because of their large number, OFWs have helped boost the Philippine economy through their remittances.
According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data, the remittances from OFWs reached US$28.1 billion in 2017.
Personal remittances during the period was driven by steady inflows from land-based OFWs with work contracts of one year or more, which totaled to US$10.2 billion, and compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts, which reached US$2.7 billion.
Similarly, cash remittances from OFWs coursed through banks rose by 6.9 percent year-on-year to US$2.5 billion in May 2018. In particular, cash remittances sent by land-based workers (US$1.9 billion) and sea-based workers (US$0.5 billion) grew by 5.3 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.
‘Don’t ever pay online’
The labor undersecretary said applicants for jobs abroad must only deal with placement agencies authorized by the POEA.
“Get the correct information, deal with proper authorized person, and don’t ever pay online. Also make sure you have complete requirements like passport, diploma, and birth certificates, among others,” he said.
Placements fee should not be more than the offered monthly salary.
“Maraming mapagpanggap ngayon (there are many impostors these days), so we need to be careful.”
Save for the rainy days
And remember to save for the rainy days or for the time you may have to go back home for good.
“Be financially informed and start a business. Don’t just waste your hard earned money for things that are unnecessary.
Be responsible OFWs,” he said.