Next Philippine president should cut Ph dependence on easy OFW money

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) rock. They number in the millions and, collectively, are the bedrock of the Philippine economy. They account for up to 10 percent of the value of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and fuel the massive expansion of the Philippines’ retail and entertainment industries.


But the question most often asked about this disturbing dependence on OFWs is, this:

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Are OFWs part of the future of a truly prosperous Philippines?

The answer to this question is most likely to be a key issue that will mark the administration of whoever will be winning the presidential elections in 2016 and, most likely, subsequent ones.

It seems, the Philippines’ party days relying on the bonanza of more than $20 billion in remittances that fill the pockets of Filipino islanders to boost consumption and prop up the economy are nearing an end. According to a Bloomberg Business report, the Philippines’ 10 million-strong OFW remittance mill may be badly hurt by crashing global oil prices.

“Before, when the trouble would be concentrated in one of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the workers could just simply move to a neighboring country and find employment,” central bank Governor Amando Tetangco said Jan. 25. “Now the trouble is more widespread.”

As well as declining oil prices, a more general slowdown in global trade is affecting the job prospects of Filipino seamen. Many drillers and oil-service companies have suspended operations and shipping companies are also hurting, said Nelson Ramirez, the president of United Filipino Seafarers.

“I have talked to one of the biggest crew suppliers of offshore vessels,” he said in Manila. “They have many laid-up ships. There will be more job losses.”

The OFW industry should be regarded by the Philippine government as a sunset industry that it needs to get rid of. There should be a strategy in place to wean the Philippine economy off the easy money of foreign employment. This will involve implementation of robust measures to lay the foundation for a strong capital-intensive domestic industry that is fuelled by productivity, innovation, and an appetite for entrepreneurial venture.

In short, it’s time Filipinos learn to make money off its own cleverness and industry. That is the challenge for the Philippines as it aspires to takes its place amongst the truly great nations aiming to compete for a big piece of the pie in the 21st Century. It will be a world for the taking — not by passive people but by people who rely on themselves to succeeed.

33 Replies to “Next Philippine president should cut Ph dependence on easy OFW money”

  1. I respect your dream, but the Philippines never join the world greats. Without a revolution nothing is going change. The people are dumbed down by a very weak education system and brainwashed by moronic TV shows. I am willing to bet OFW is way more than 10% of the GDP.

    If you want change open the country to foreign investors, then you will see how noncompetitive the Philippine conglomerates truly are.

    Roll on TPP and the associated constitution changes necessary for membership of TPP.

    1. If you are talking about the TPP being espoused by the USA let me clue you in to a few things. For 1, the American public does not want it but it is being rammed down our throats regardless. I voted for Obama twice but the TPP is a terrible thing for American business. Second, The Philippines is not party to the TPP and 1 reason for that is your totally inept business sector which has only 2 products, babies for shipping abroad and babies to grow into hookers.

      Even if the TPP does get passed and American factories close down as a result, the jobs will not come to this country because of several things. Your STUPID 60/40 Constitutional mandate being number 1. Then, you can’t produce enough electricity to power the places you have now so you could never have enough power for new factories. Third, your populace is woefully under-educated and lazy to boot. As if those things weren’t enough to discourage businesses from coming here, your road infrastructure is so bad you can’t even get goods to and from the ports! Factor in the massive bribes someone needs to shell out for the bazillions of useless forms and permits and there is your back breaker.

      Oh, just as an aside…if you ever go into an American office or business and find someone playing Facebook while on duty you will see a person who will be fired the first time the boss sees such behavior.

      You, Sasquash, are correct in 1 thing and that is if foreign companies ever come here your current crop of inefficient retarded businesses will be out-of-business in a short time. For one thing it does not take 17 young nursing school and Elementary Ed graduates to sell me 1 shirt @ SM. Nor does it take much in the way of business education to understand that ALL the shirts in SM (pick your mall department store) should be in a SINGLE shirt area with a combined management, not a different manager and sales staff for each brand. The same follows for shoes, men’s clothing, ladies clothing and everything. Ooooooonly in The Failippines……………are there different sales staffs for each brand. One set of workers selling Nike and another selling Addidas and yet another separate staff selling Skechers. What is with that stupidity anyways?

      It also is Business 101 that you never have a “no stock” situation in a supermarket more than once or twice a year. The SKU on items is NOT for ease of check out. It is for inventory control. The management should learn approximately how much or how2 many of each item sells in a sales period and always have that much plus a surplus in case something odd happens and an item sells out unexpectedly. The SKU inventory is computer oriented and when an item reaches a preset low level of stock, the computer reorders with little or no human intervention. If an item DOES sell out the space on the shelf is left empty so that new stock can be rapidly placed in the empty place. Presently in this disaster of a country, other products are placed there to give the appearance of full shelves. Not only is that a waste of time, but counterproductive. The head manager should be able to walk the aisles and know from the empty spaces which department managers are doing their jobs well and which ones are lacking.

      A store should hire employees and keep them so they can become knowledgeable about the store and its product lines rather than being hired only short term. That creates an atmosphere that is conducive only to laziness and an unwillingness to learn the job because, “why learn, I’ll only be here a few months anyway?” kind of attitude. Several years ago I visited a supermarket in America that my youngest brother manages. I had known casually the bulk of the employees from e3ven before he was manager because supermarket sales and stock help are generally the less well educated members of society so once they get hired they tend to stay at the job for a long time. They learn their jobs and the brightest and hardest working people eventually get promoted to whatever position their highest level of knowledge allows them to do. When I visited that store after being out of the USA for about 6 years I still saw most of the same employees although some had retired or died or just left for one reason or other. I could ask any person in the store, “where is *****?” and they would have instantly said, “In aisle # 4 about half way down on the left.” THAT is because they know their job from experience.

      I really hate it when I go to a hardware store and have to draw a picture of a common item in order for the employee to try to figure out what I want. It is even more frustrating when I have to go home and print a picture from the internet and take that back to the store because the employee has only worked there a month and has only 3 more months of employment left in order to (usually not) learn their job. The other employees are equally as incompetent because they also have no incentive to learn the job they will only have for a few months at best.

      If foreign telecoms come here there will be a sea change in how that sector functions. The infrastructure would be rebuilt to actually provide service and the internet I would be using to send this would soon be at least 20 Mbps, not 2 or 3 Mbps as is the “system” here now. The days of free Facebook would soon be gone once companies realize that by giving that away to non-paying customers takes away from the service they provide to PAYING customers like myself. I’m not sure what would happen to TV because no foreign company would want to dumb down their entire line of shows just to satisfy a few million children in adult bodies. The level of TV programming here is so low that it looks up at the bellies of fish. How anyone can produce such drivel is beyond my comprehension and how anyone can watch it is even more unbelievable! I wonder what Failipinos watch when they go to other countries? I can assure you that nothing so stupid ever appears on American, Canadian, Korean, Japanese or even Saudi TV stations.

      1. Wow…as an American living here in the Philippines for the last 2 years, you’ve hit so many nails on the head here! I’m always questioning why there are so many damn sales clerks to one department at the department stores. It’s a ridiculous waste of money, not to mention nobody here is trained in proper customer service, whether it be retail or working at a restaurant. Everybody is always out of everything…and…they look like they will die of fright if you don’t give them exact change. How many times have I been asked…do you have 2 pesos, ma’am? No…if I did I would have given it to you. As someone who worked in retail for over 15 years in the US, it’s enough to make one go even more insane than dealing with a Black Friday crowd!

        1. I try to calculate my bills so I am assured I will get coins even if I have a full pocket of them. Coins in correct change is often required in jeepneys in order not to get overcharged. I make it my business to know what the fare is supposed to be and pay exactly that much so I’m not forced with demanding change.

          I have been known to pay for a loaf of bread with P1000 after seeing another customer try to pay with a large bill and the cashier needs to go get change for that SINGLE bill only even though she can see that the next 2 people in line also have large bills in hand.

          I once saw a cashier in an almost empty supermarket leave the register for 3 consecutive customers to get change even though she was fully aware that the next 2 or 3 also were going to need change. That time I paid for bread with a P1K because that was the only denomination in my hand. The lady behind me also had a small purchase and aP1K bill in her hand. What I did was walk to the package counter, check my loaf of bread and went back in for a candy bar with which I proceeded to pay for with a P1K bill. The cashier was REALLY flustered when I came back in 5 minutes for a second loaf of bread and paid for it with…you guessed it, a P1K bill. Now why, after all that register closing and walking around, did she just not get a drawer full of change instead of closing down for EVERY customer? Stupid is as stupid does I guess.

        2. Your derogatory pompous remarks about the Filipino people makes you sound ignorant as to the ways and culture of the people. Why are there a number of sales ladies? Jobs ! Secondly, I think it is stupid of you to compare the Philippines to USA , it is like the fight is between Goliath and a midget. Why not compare USA to other countries of same caliber. And why do you live in the Philippines if it is horrible and dissatisfying to you. Go back to your country where you have all your needs.

      2. Sad but True..These was our woes to all the past Administrators of the Philippine Government.. All these past and present Presidents don’t Care what will happen to us after their Terms as Admin…As an ex OFW I really agree on what you wrote down…Sometimes I think the biggest Culprit is Religion just like how the Conquistadors use to Brainwash and make the Occupied Country thier Alter Ego…

      3. Yes, but if they were an advanced people the GDP would grow…It would evidently become somewhat expensive to live like say, Japan.

        I’m assuming the different sales staff per brand assists in vetting out the possibility of companies giving incentives on sales of purely their products. In some ways this would limit the ability of sales staff to act in a corrupted of bias manner.

    2. As someone whom invested heavily in the Philippines managing an IT company, I view your assumptions as narrow minded.

      I’ve given hundreds of Pinoys IQ tests as part of the selection process, the vast majority of these IT graduates ( the cream of the crap ) performed dismally.

      After two years operating we decided to close up and retain Singaporean Chinese staff and Brazilians. One staff member does the work of approximately 10 Pinoys.

      The biggest issue was a sheer lack of common sense, they can do black and white but seldom grey. Higher order thinking skills and abstract reasoning skills seemed to me missing, as they would perhaps with someone diagnosed with mild Asperger syndrome.

      As people I found them nice, but rarely kind. Big difference there, anyone can smile.

  2. Dependence on easy OFW money will be very hard to reform since every Failipinos–in the country and abroad–have already been brainwashed into the ‘consumer mentality’by the PH government and Chinese-owned businesses to buy their condominiums and automobiles, shop in their gigantic malls, dine and sleep in their 5 star restaurants and hotels, and vacation in their beach resorts. Failipinos have been spoiled into this aristocratic, regal, and “concrete jungle” lifestyle for far too long; and, it has made life in the Failippines that much harder, and expensive, to live—especially for those who cannot afford to keep up with the trendy lifestyle.

  3. We should take a second, more serious look at “Agriculture”; this time, not just as the vehicle for food sufficiency, but also as a way to soften the impact of a reduced OFW generated foreign currency inflow, as well as a solution to Metro-Manila’s squatter problem.

    Food sufficiency has been a dream since the 1950s with Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Cotabato, (now four provinces), and Iloilo as the top rice producers in the country. While a case might be made that owing to the explosion of the population.. from about 30 million then, to some 103 million now.. rice production could not cope; it is interesting to note that in the last two years, the shortfall from self sufficiency was less than 10%. Arguably, the country could be totally self sufficient with more irrigated land and with less, (or no), interference from a ‘Rice Cartel’. Some subsidies in the prices of Certified Seeds, Fertilizer and Pesticides wouldn’t hurt either.
    In the process of working towards a more rational thrust in “Agriculture”, a serious need for farm labor would arise. This might discourage emigration to urban centers.. perhaps, even draw some of the people back from the slums and ghettos of Metro-Manila.

    Agro-industrial processing and Agri-business aren’t just catchy buzz words. Linked together they are proven profitable endeavors. Just ask the trail blazers in this sector of”Agriculture” now thriving in Cebu, Davao, Misamis Oriental and Iloilo. Their products of ‘Dried Mangoes’, ‘Dried Jack Fruit’, ‘Banana Chips’, Coconut Milk, (canned ‘gata’), and frozen ‘Cassava’, ‘Durian’ and even ‘Malunggay’ and ‘Grated Coconut’ can now be found in the US, Canada, and in a few countries in Western Europe. Except for Malunggay, (I’d imagine), all these products are being gradually adopted as food by the locals themselves.. in the host countries. These are all dollar earning exports. With encouragement and some technical and financial assistance from government, ‘Agri-busines’ could really help solve the problems earlier mentioned.

    These aren’t just idle thoughts; nor are they new ideas. Those trailblazers have long been involved in these trades. Government just has to flog this effort onward.

    1. Big thumbs up to this.

      As Aeta often points out, Filipinos want to pretend they live in the First World while ensuring that everything around them is definitively Third World. There are no short cuts to development. Getting agriculture right is the first thing you do, especially if 80% of your population is (theoretically) living on the land.

      Get that right – get good food into people’s bellies at the right price – and a lot of other good things follow.

  4. @vagoneto rieles I agree with you, but it is very challenging most especially when these environmentalist interfere. Just look at what happen to BT Talong and the fight against cocolisap infestation. These environmentalist interfere with the research of agricultural scientist, citing GMOs cause harm to our health when they don’t the have strong scientific evidence to prove their claim. What made things worse is that the Supreme Court decided against the BT Talong research siding with environmentalist claim. I have nothing against environmentalist, but why would they blocked the research that would benefit all of us in the long term unless they have ulterior motives of their own.

    1. Why do you need GMOs Poil? Especially if you have no OFW $$$ to buy them with?

      Develop your own landrace crops. Use modern techniques that don’t create pest epidemics. Stop giving away your money to foreign corporations for technology you don’t understand.

  5. It is only in getting us out of Feudalism, and to industrialization, that our reliance on being OFWs can be removed.

    There is no other way. Aquino and the rest of the Oligarchy class, do not want this to happen. They want the Filipinos, to be OFWs; earn money in foreign countries, and remit the OFW money to the Philippines.

    The OFW money make the Oligarchy class very rich thru: consumer buying the imported products; consumers living on imported/smuggled rice from Thailand or Vietnam. OFW money buying imported food and basic necessities.

    The Aquinos’ strengthened the Oligarchy’s stranglehold on the Philippine economy. Only by tearing it down, can the wealth of the nation be shared by all Filipinos.

    1. It isn’t that Aquino, his alter-egos, his subalterns and his assorted other flunkies like to perpetually nail the OFWs to their overseas jobs.. separated from their families. It is that way simply. because he and his entourage of hangers-on do not have the foggiest on how to plan, develop and start an alternative to raising and stabilizing dollar reserves.. nor do they have any solution to the unemployment problem. For as long as these leaders remain clueless, so long will our OFW’s be consigned to work away from the motherland.
      Agriculture and agro-industrial processing… food production.. is one practicable first step for the country to take, to dig itself out of this malaise.

      1. The Aquinos have no program to provide jobs, or create jobs in our country. All they did was, to protect the interests of the Feudal Oligarchs. They strengthened the Oligarchy in our country.

        The root cause of this is: their ownership of the Hacienda Luisita, that they scammed from the Philippine government.

        They shelved the Land Reform program, that would had made us self sufficient in rice. They have no program creating Jobs, other than dumb the Filipinos with their false propaganda, making themselves, Saints and Heroes. See how they worship themselves?

        1. Hacienda Luisita wasn’t scammed off of the government. This vast sugar estate was purchased from the Spanish-owned ‘Tabacalera’ in 1958 with a loan from the GSIS and the New York Trust Company. It was, as early as 1950, being eyed for purchase by the Lopez family of Iloilo and Negros but then President Magsaysay wouldn’t allow the sale. The ‘Lopezes’ already had several sugar mills and plantations in Iloilo and Negros, as well as the Meralco, Negros Navigation and the Chronicle corporations.
          Hacienda Luisita’s seeming immunity from land reform, while puzzling, is no different from the immunity of, say, the ‘Del Monte’ pineapple plantation in Bukidnon, the banana plantations in Davao and the sugarcane plantations still owned and operated by the sugar centrals in Negros Occidental. Rightly or wrongly, I am thinking that, were these plantations parceled out to many individual owners in small lots, say, of one or two hectares each, these lands would no longer be the viable ‘dollar-earning’ corporate farms that they are now. More likely than not, the resulting small farm lots would have reverted to ‘rice and corn ‘carabao-farming’.
          To my mind, the owners of these plantations ought to be judged solely on the basis of whether they compensate and treat their employees equitably. The fact that they live ‘high-and-handsome’ is a function of their productivity. I wouldn’t begrudge them for that.

    2. You are overstating the importance of the OFWs. You are forgetting there are people who actualllly work locally who does the same thing as the OFWs and contributes more. The OFWs contribute I can give you that.

      You cannot change the OFW phenomenon since nations like China who have been growing 10% have more overseas remittances than the Philippines while 1st nations like France still have OFWs.

      you are overvaluing the contributions of OFWS and insulting the rest of the Filipinos who actually outcompeted the OFWs for the local jobs.

      Lastly, all of our politicians are part of the oligarchy. I don’t know what planet you get your definition oligarchy come from to except everyone else including our chosen politicians, when they are also part of it.

      Please research first thoroughly and based it on hard facts rather based on emotions. Otherwise, foreigners will laugh at Filipinos more because Filipinos don’t know the meaning of oligarchy and undervaluing the non OFWs who actually contribute more to the economy than the OFWs.

      1. The terms ‘oligarch and oligarchy’, as used in this blog-site by many contributors, could in fact be right on target. From ‘Wikipedia’ and ‘Britanica’, we learn that these terms are rooted on the Greek words ‘Oligos’, (meaning ‘few’), and ‘Arkhos’, (meaning ‘rule’). Considering that less than 100 families own and control nearly 80% of the Philippine economy, (that’s how few); and, either directly or indirectly, influence government policy, (that’s how they rule); these terms seem to be appropriately used. The sheer concentration of so much power and influence in so few, is definitely ‘oligarchy’.
        On the matter of the OFWs not being the big dollar earners they are touted to be; we would be at a loss in pointing to an individual, corporation or industry that might exceed these OFWs’ ability to do so. Their remittances in the all-important USdollar has been the backbone of Philippine foreign currency reserve earnings for nearly a half-century now. The traditional heavy weights on whom the country once depended upon.. exporters of lumber,copra, sugar, copper and nickle.. have been struggling to merely stay afloat for just as long a period. The new ‘kid on the block’ as a dollar earner is the ‘Call Center’ (BPO), operation. It has demonstrated its ‘high ceiling’ in terms of dollar earning potential and its capacity to become a full-fledged industry; but, it has yet to match the dollar value of the foreign workers’ effort. I don’ t think that now is the time to scoff at the OFWs.

  6. @Vagoneto Rieles:

    Exactly. Aquino, Mar Roxas, and the Liberal Party are , “snake oil” salesmen and scammers. They scam people to vote for them.

  7. The Philippines has never grown up like western countries through industrialization and responsible economic management. Instead it has been governed by criminals and corrupt officials. Foreign remittances I think power this economy along side the prostitution/tourism industry. That’s mostly all this economy is really being powered from and if you remove either one the economy will collapse. It’s too late for the Philippines to produce anything for export or even for it’s own consumption. People are too stupid, lazy, dumbed down, controlled and uneducated. I would suggest the Philippines LEGALIZES prostitution and gets better at it, regulates the industry with better health screening and develops proper sex tours for sex tourists because that’s all it will ever have a hope in being reasonably good at. Stop blaming foreigners as being just sick sex tourists. Shut up and accept you are nothing and will never amount to anything more as a nation. You have nice enough women, this has been your export industry for the past 100 years and it’s your ONLY hope for the future. It’s that simple. Just become better at what you already do, aim to be the best at it. Thailand is leaving you way behind, with 50 times more sex tourists.

  8. This is catastrophically bad thinking. Filipinos work overseas in economies that are not strangled by the stupidity and corruption of their governments.

    Cutting off this means of training, work experience, and income before you fix the stupidity and corruption in the Philippines will impoverish the people even more than they are now.

    It is backwards thinking and mirrors the misguided antagonism towards foreign investment. Singapore welcomes foreign investment and gets out of their way. Philippines nearly bans it with the 60/40 rule and asinine regulations, permits, bureaucracy, and corruption.

    So workers have to go overseas. Where foreign investment is allowed and government gets out of the way. So in Filipino backwards thinking… ban overseas workers!

    In order to make domestic food production match consumption… ban eating. To match electricity production to demand… ban electric appliances and light bulbs.

    With all due respect, we can write useless sophistry about how the Philippines ought to become the smartest, most creative, most capital intensive nation on the planet. But until Filipinos get rid of this national narcissism and develop the good character that lies at the heart of the first world: honesty, integrity, perseverance, thrift, hard work, etc. it is all just empty words.

    1. In order to make domestic food production match consumption… ban eating. To match electricity production to demand… ban electric appliances and light bulbs.

      lol at banning eating…i doubt the majority of those people that comment on these sites are actually willing to get their hands dirty in agriculture..

      ban electric appliances? lol…basically sending us back to the stone age..i doubt many people would last a day without it..

  9. What is the reason for prohibiting more than 40% foreign investment in any company in the Philippines? Bigotry, envy, and stupid greed.

    Bigotry against and envy of foreigners makes this law a natural for Philippines. Stupid greed is behind dummy companies being set up simply to extort payment for doing nothing except being the Filipino company the law requires.

    So Singapore has enormous amounts of foreign investment and nearly the highest income in the world. There are nearly 90,000 Filipinos working as domestic helpers there, sending money home.

    That’s what you get for bigotry, envy, and stupid greed: instead of capital investment and good paying jobs in the Philippines, you have to go work in countries that welcome investment with open arms and allow people that know how to run their businesses do so without interference.

    Bigotry, envy, and stupid greed are bad character. That is what you need to eliminate to have Philippines compete with the rest of the world. Get rid of bad character and you won’t have a 60-40 law. Get rid of bad character and you won’t have government in the way of business. Get rid of bad character and students will be studying hard and obtaining hi-tech jobs instead of having parties at school.

    1. I’m not sure they have parties at school…However as a manager of an BPO company I can say that they will likely always lack an ability to innovate, think abstractly and function well in a team.

      On IQ tests, the vast majority of my staff achieved dull results at best.

  10. The next presidency can achieve what you demand of them only by making the average IQ of the country 100 or more.

    In other words, it can’t (although you may chose to trust the army of the Franz Boases, and believe that possible).

    1. You nailed it on the head, there average IQ here is 84…In all likelihood that will never reach 100 or above.

      Just as the Aussie Aboriginal with an average IQ of 63, will likely never average to 85 or above.

  11. Too many people saying the consumption-based economy is the only way, and any way out of it is stupid. That seems to be either a lack of open-mindedness to consider other solutions, or a deliberate effort to keep the status quo.

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