Filipino dependence on overseas employment is what is at the root of the Kuwait “diplomatic crisis”

Back in the old days before social media there was a particularly “viral” email going around that enjoined humanity to “imagine a world without Overseas Filipino Workers”. The author of the email went on the wax poetic about such a world where there’d be catastrophic shortages in nurses, elderly care, welders, and all sorts of other professions and services that the First World “depend on” for their prosperity.

I found the author’s presumption of the First World’s “dependence” on OFW labour quite astounding. We are made to believe by this obscure author that Filipinos are the source of First World wealth. The facts, however, say otherwise. It is the other way around. Filipinos are pathetically dependent on First World employment. What Filipinos who swallowed the drivel of this old “viral” email hook line and sinker fail to understand is that the First World, over centuries, accumulated and created the capital that accounts for their wealth. And it is this vast capital base now baked into their national economies at work for them that employs Filipinos.

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Seen in this bigger context, the Kuwait “diplomatic crisis” that the Philippine government is currently embroiled in is a debatable “disaster” that, in actual fact, has long been waiting to happen. The incident reveals Filipinos’ long-recognised inability to do things by the book. At stake are tens of thousands of undocumented Filipino workers in the affluent Arab state. And in the spotlight is an illegal rescue operation that the Philippines’ diplomatic outpost over there may have been undertaking for years. An illegal activity that serves illegal workers: That’s just two layers of behaviour that falls outside of Kuwaiti law. It is quite understandable that the Kuwaitis are fuming.

It is interesting too the multiple layers of desperation highlighted in this latest circus — the desperation evident in the lengths Filipinos would go to for employment overseas and the the lengths their own government personnel would go to to rescue them from that employment.

Two layers of desperation; plus,

Two layers of unlawful activity;


Four layers of national dysfunction.

In short, there is a bigger cause-and-effect system happening way above the level of discourse within which the Kuwait diplomatic crisis is being “debated” by the Philippines’ foremost “thought leaders”. The national thinking’s got it all wrong. OFWs aren’t heroes. They are liabilities. Their enormous numbers expose the Philippines to the sorts of diplomatic risks that disproportionately set the agenda for the Philippines’ beggared foreign policy. In the middle of pracitcally every transaction or negotiation the Philippine government enters into with a foreign government is the OFW chip. It is played shrewdly by most foreign governments that deal with the Philippine government and it is a chip most feared by the average Filipino foreign mission or delegation.

If shabu and basketball are the opiates of the average Filipino, foreign employment is the opiate of their national economy. Like the convesations about jeepneys, environmental disasters, and drugs, the bigger conversation that needs to be had following this recent Kuwait diplomatic brouhaha is the issue of the Philippine economy’s serious OFW addiction. Perhaps this is an addiction worth waging a war against. Perhaps President Rodrigo Duterte is the man to lead such a war.

5 Replies to “Filipino dependence on overseas employment is what is at the root of the Kuwait “diplomatic crisis””

  1. I agree with the accurate assessment in this letter. Personally I will not hire a Filipino here in America, BUT when my fiancee arrives, she will be able to get a job earning at least the equivalent of P2000/hr. here. She will be hired in the health care business, but will be hired using American resident salary standards and not that of an OFW who would be paid the US minimum wage of P376/hr. No doubt she will send some money home to her daughters, but if they are lucky they will marry either an American, or better yet, a Norwegian and get the hell out of the Philippine sh*thole forever.

    1. Out of sheer curiosity: why doesnt your girlfriend (fiancee is not an official/legal title in my country) bring her daughters with her when she will go to America?

  2. If Filipinos are addicted to foreign employments; the Arab countries, and other rich countries, are also addicted to Filipino foreign servant/slaves.They can do anything to their Filipino foreign servant/slaves. Take their passports; feed them with crumbs; make them work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pay them starvation wages… Maltreat them better than their dogs. Rape them. Murder them, and put them in freezers. It is really pathetic, what we have gone as a nation. While our politicians, enjoy the earnings of our OFW servant/slaves.

    The Philippines is agricultural country. It did not industrialized. We were colonized, and the Feudal Oligarchs were encouraged by the colonizers, to become our leaders and rulers. To perpetuate, our being an agricultural country.
    We have also our Oligarchs monopolized: the retail, wholesale, service industries.

    We were too much engrossed in our political activities. Our leaders, are mostly corrupt, and have no visions, for us to encourage entrepreneurs that could start the industrialization of the country. So, what do we have ? Oversupply of labor , massive unemployment.

    Our leaders, remedied this problem, thru foreign employment, or Overseas Employment Workers (OFW).

    It will take time to solve this problem. Or it will never be solved at all.

    In this Age of Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robots. Human Labor and services will be replaced by Artificial Intelligent Robots. Factory works, assembly line workers, service workers , including nurses and medical workers, office workers will be replaced by Artificial Intelligent Robots. Even Law enforcement and military personnel like soldiers, fighter pilots, etc..will be replaced by Artificial Intelligent Robots. These Artificial Intelligent Robots, can teach each other, like humans…It is the wave of the future of mankind.

    Our leaders, must thinks now, how to solve this coming problem, of excess population. Massive unemployment…More mouths to feed; agricultural lands don’t grow. Oil states will lose their wealth, as our civilization will find, a news source of power. The new source of power is on this Planet Earth. It is cheap, abundant and free.

    We just have seen , a slight view of the future of our civilization.

  3. My correction : Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW), it should have been. It became the solution of our massive unemployment. There was the Emergency Employment Administration (EEA), during the term of the late , Pres. Diosado Macapagal. Unemployed people worked on building roads, and other public works projects, by hands.

    It resulted to massive corruption. Building it thru mechanized power is better , less expensive and faster. Another idiocy by the government.

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