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Malcolm Conlan on Overseas Filipino Workers

The Filipino people are in my opinion generally a hard working, resourceful and caring people. There are around eleven million OFW's or Overseas Filipino Workers around the globe.

Why is this?

Life can be tough in the Philippines if you don't have a job or anyone in your family working overseas. Yes, the Philippines is abundant with natural resources and a climate and land which is able to host crops of all varieties, fruits, rice etc. However if you don't have any land or indeed seed income to plant anything then you are left with little choice but to go abroad to survive.

The Philippines does not have a state benefit system or free health service like we are fortunate to have in the UK, also although it does have a free education system as such, within the school year, there are certain costs one must pay for like, books, materials, school trips etc and of course graduation events.

Personally life is not so easy for me right now, however I guess we are all fortunate in the UK that we do have a state system to rely on.

Of course there is wealth in the Philippinnes, there are some incredibly wealthy individuals who do support charities, build schools, hand out food to the poor etc, however like in the UK and I guess entire world, the richer you are the less tax you pay.

I am quite sure that if everyone in the Philippines who had the financial means to do so, was paying all the tax they were due to pay, there would be the financial resources for a free health service and maybe even benefit system? However this is a worldwide issue, not just a Philippines one.

By resourceful, I mean nothing goes to waste and Filipinos are very creative in running businesses. Take for instance recycling. In the UK, we throw so much away still.

In the Philippines, there are organisations like the Philippine Community Fund who collect ringpulls from cans and other materials like cartons from drinks and turn these into jewellery and bags for school, pencil cases and other items which they are then able to sell to raise funds.

Local villagers even sell Ice cubes to neighbours, some set up small stores were they sell various goods to neighbours again. In the cities, there are even people who would help park your car for a few pesos, or hail a cab for you, again for a few pesos. This in my opinion shows that the Filipino people will do anything they can to make a better life for themselves and their families.

When I went back home last year, I visited the cemetery to pay my respects to family members who had sadly passed away and there are even people living in the cemetery who can pray for your relatives, sell candles, flowers and take care of you, again you would give them a few pesos donation. This is still very resourceful.

Many of the Filipino people working abroad are employed in the care sector, be it in nursing, as doctors, medical staff, working in nursing homes, hospitals, private houses, hotels or indeed in other caring professions.

Not sure why it is that so many choose that profession, other than to say that in my experience, Filipinos seem to have been brought up to respect their elders, fellow citizens and really care for others. I guess one of the pathways of leaving the Philippines to work abroad is by getting a job in the caring industry.

I know I have said this a few times now, I also aware that it has been the desire at least verbally of some politicians, that we look forward to a time when leaving the Philippines and getting a job abroad would be a choice, not a necessity.

Malcolm Conlan


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