In my article yesterday, I talked about progress in business that I see almost every day here in the Philippines. The country is moving from being 50 years behind much of the rest of the world to being a player in many games of business. As I said yesterday, it is something that I enjoy watching, and it gives me hope for the Philippines, and the people here.
One thing that has happened in the past decade or two which is helping the Philippines catch up with the world in many respects is the whole OFW factor. Millions of Filipinos have left the country to work abroad, and they send money back to the Philippines to support their family here. Did you know that OFW remittances are the number one biggest contributor to the Philippine Gross Domestic Income? If you removed all of that incoming currency, the economy here may well simply collapse.
It is really a catch 22 for the Philippines. The money earned by OFWs is badly needed to support the economy here. If not for those Dollars coming in, things like new malls and other such items that are progressing the society would not be possible. However, as Dave Starr recently pointed out on this very site, having millions of people leaving the country to work abroad is also bad for the country. Imagine this, most of the people who are leaving the country are among the most intelligent and hard working people that the country has. Suddenly, if you take the most productive 10% of the entire population, where does that leave the country? Well, in my opinion, from the things I have seen, it leaves the country in deep trouble. Yet, if you give up the money that the OFW provides, the country is also in deep trouble. Catch 22, as I said.
One of the areas that I see as being hugely impacted by this practice of sending the county’s brightest people abroad is in the area of family life. There are young children in the Philippines that have no parents in their dialy life, because both their mother and their father are working abroad. These kids are regularly raised by their grandparents, aunts and uncles and other relatives. It is good that the extended family is there to raise these kids, however, no doubt the child would be best with his own parents. I see signs of many parts of the Filipino Culture being torn apart by the absence of so many industrious Filipinos, and it is a sad thing to see.
I am not here offering a solution to this, because honestly, I don’t know how to solve it. I see a lot of opportunities here, and many people who choose to go abroad to work could do well here, if they could see the opportunities that I see. But, it is a personal choice for each person to make in deciding what is best for him, her or their family. I cannot talk, because I moved away from my country and came to a new country, and it has worked for me. Given my life choice, how could I be down on a Filipino who goes abroad to find a better life? The fact is that I can’t. I am sad, though, when I see a fundamental deterioration of Filipino society.
What do you think? Is it progress to send more than 10% of the population abroad to earn money? Or, is it the first element in the eventual downfall of society? I can’t decide.