Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Need responsive strategy for OFWs

Aside from Antonio V. Ranque (Sorry I misspelled his name as Jarque), Ruben Claudio also sent an earnest reaction.

I just returned a week ago from a visit to the Philippines after almost 2 years in between my last and I couldn't agree with you more on the plight of our OFW, are they heroes or hostages to fortune? To me, some of them who are capable are victims of graft, corruption, dishonesty and greed that had plagued the annals of Philippine government bureaucracy for decades.

Francisco, who is one among millions of Filipinos who are displaced and living in the shanties outside Mapayapa Village in QC, has to drive a P200-a-night tricycle as a second job to being a trusted family driver to a millionaire in nearby Capitol Hills that gives him P10,000 a month wages. After paying his shanty landlord P1,400, he has enough saved to see his family in Pangasinan once a month while incidentally spending another P600 for the round trip bus fare via Victory liner and another P80 to reach his barrio by jeepney.

Rosie, for 6 years now, works as a 3rd maid to a physician household in San Carlos City and earns P4000 a month but is available on-call 24 hours daily anytime her services are needed. She sends her savings to support her mother that cares for her fatherless child.

Francisco and Rosie would mortgage their farm and farming animals if only to have a shot of becoming an OFW.

I saw the OFWs replacing the "kings" of the provincial towns of the 50's and 60's which were the U.S. Navy recruits. The latter group were once the "new money in town" owning the palatial homes with their fairest of spouses but now it is the OFW who owns my town. There is Martin from Dubai, Rachel formerly Raquel from London and Greg returning from a power plant installation in Pacificos, Mexico.

For these OFW who remitted to the country over $50Bn last year from all sources, they are the heroes of the republic today. To their families that benefited from the winds of change enabling the operations of the SM, Trinoma, Ayala Centers, 168 and the bustling malls of Tutuban while enduring the loneliness and emptiness of their absence, they are the consequential hostages of fortunes.

I consider myself an OFW without the palatial home in my Pangasinan, with irregular remittances to my folks in Pangasinan, not a hero or hostage to fortune. I chose to live in Los Angeles with my small family where I found the warmer and drier climate all year round conducive to my respiratory health. The winds of change will soon be blowing my way as I expect to be a grandpa soon before Christmas.

Mabuhay kayo, Tony and Ruben!

Recently, a senator observed that there is lack of "responsive strategy" to deal with the rapidly growing overseas employment of Filipinos. In President GMA's recent Sona, "she did not mention migrant Filipino workers in her speech, except in passing when she said that the country's business process outsourcing industry is seen to generate $12Bn in annual revenues by 2010, the same amount remitted by our overseas Filipinos today. If we cannot stop labor migration, government might as well manage the trend, and make sure that outbound Filipinos are directed to the best possible labor markets overseas, where they will enjoy the strongest protection and the greatest possible reward for their skills. Figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) show that a total of 1.1 million Filipinos left the country to work abroad last year alone and from January 1 to July 11 this year, total of 564,320 Filipinos left for overseas employment."

In the meantime, HR professionals are lamenting the lack of talents for local employment to boost local business.


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