Record  remittances from  our overseas workers

Published September 23, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The latest report from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on remittances to the Philippines from Filipinos abroad  stresses the big role played by our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the national economy.

In the first seven months of this year (January to July, 2018) ,  cash remittances sent through the international banking system totalled  $16.6 billion. Over 79 percent of these remittances came from the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore,  Japan,  United Kingdom, Qatar, Canada, Germany, and Hong Kong. This amount is 3 percent more than last year’s $16.09 billion,  said BSP Governor Nestor  A. Espenilla Jr.

Land-based Filipino workers – construction workers, engineers  and architects, doctors and nurses, information technology experts, caregivers and home workers, etc. – accounted for  $13.1 billion. Sea-based  workers – Filipino sailors and officers aboard  the ships of all maritime nations in the world today – accounted for  $3.5 billion.

These are the remittances sent through banks. Personal remittances, sent between households, through personal deliveries, and  means other than banks, accounted for another  $18.5 billion.  This is 3 percent more than  the 2017 figure of $17.9 billion.

These are substantial amounts that go into our national economy.  Without them, our total national income as measured by the Gross Domestic Product  would be so much lower. It is for this reason that our OFWs have been called heroes of the nation; without them and their remittances, the national economy would be in dire straits.

The unabated increase in the number of Filipinos going abroad every  year to take up jobs in so many countries is testimony to the capabilities of Filipinos in such a wide range of economic activities, from positions of the highest technical and managerial skills to ordinary construction and household work. There is also a personal element – so many employers abroad have expressed appreciation and preference for Filipinos, especially those in caregiving work such as in hospitals.

Filipinos have been able to fit  into various foreign communities. They are most welcome in many European cities where they fill the churches for Sunday Mass. They have risen to positions in local governments in some American communities. They are ready and able to  fit in and be part of whatever group they are with and in whatever part of the globe.

We must not, however, forget that most of these OFWs long to be home with their families. If they had a choice, many would rather earn a living here, see their children grow  up, and be with their families; the family lies at the center of Filipino life. The government must  not lose sight of this fact and must therefore  continue to strive for  stronger  national economic development, so that overseas work will no longer be a necessity for so many, but rather an opportunity for better pay, training and experience,  and professional development.

In the meantime, we must cite the very positive BSP report on our OFWs with their increasing  remittances. At  the present rate, and with the Christmas season approaching, we  will surely exceed last year’s record total of $59.35 billion.