Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Strong rise in Gulf remittances to Philippines

Remittances from the millions of Filipinos working abroad rose strongly in September from August, data from the country’s central bank showed, contributing to upbeat forecasts for the economy.

But with the Gulf accounting for more than half the number of Filipino workers hired abroad last year, they are unlikely to escape the slowdown unscathed. At the same time, buoyancy in other markets is expected to boost remittances growth and keep the overall economy on track for expansion this year.

People are the Philippines’ biggest export, with 10 million of the country’s population of 92 million living outside the country. They send home, on average, at least $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) a month in remittances. Filipino workers sent home $1.44bn in September, up 8.6 per cent from a year ago, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

The September figure brought total remittances for the first nine months to $12.79bn, up 4.2 per cent from the same period last year, Amando Tetangco, the governor of the central bank, said. While the Philippines and its banks have had little exposure to the recent call for a six-month debt delay by Dubai World, it has many commentators and labour group activists concerned.

There are up to 350,000 Filipino workers in the UAE, of which about 250,000 are in Dubai. Last year, more than half of newly hired or rehired Filipinos were based in the Middle East, government data shows, and 193,810 of those were in the UAE.

This compares with 44,631 in 2001 and means the country accounted for nearly one in five of the total number of new hires and rehires last year. Remittances help to drive consumer spending in the Philippines, which accounts for more than two thirds of the country’s GDP.

They have grown with demand for Filipino labour and improved, wider access to remittance products and services. “These factors support the optimistic outlook for the sustained growth in remittances through the rest of 2009,” said Mr Tetangco. He forecast that remittances from Filipinos would grow by 4.2 per cent this year from last year’s record figure of $16.4bn.

Overseas nationals were also sending more money back than usual to help with reconstruction efforts after typhoons hit the archipelago in recent months, Mr Tetangco said. The importance of overseas workers to the Philippines can be seen in the special queues for them at the country’s airports, and special deals at local hotels and restaurants for their trips home.

There are also a number of state agencies aimed at protecting the rights of Filipino expatriates, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai . Many Filipino workers are employed in the services sector.

Filipino nurses are also in great demand worldwide. The ministry of health estimated last year that 85 per cent of the country’s trained nurses, or 21,500 of them, have left the country, and many doctors retrain as nurses to take advantage of the demand. Much of the world’s shipping is crewed by Filipinos.

The rise in remittances means the Philippines is on track to meet its growth target of between 0.8 per cent and 1.8 per cent this year, although Mr Tetangco said it could be at the lower end of this range after weaker growth than expected in the third quarter. In the nine months from January to September, the main sources of remittances were the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, Italy, and Germany.

“The deployment of Filipino workers abroad is anticipated to increase given the continuing hiring arrangements between the Philippines with existing and non-traditional labour markets, as well as the forthcoming relocation of US military facilities from Japan to Guam over the course of the next five years,” Mr Tetangco said. The IMF raised its forecast for remittances to 4 per cent growth from an earlier estimate of a 4 per cent contraction.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


                 To make Global Pinoys feel the Christmas spirit in the air and “on the air”, The Filipino Channel (TFC) of ABS-CBN Global recently unveiled its Christmas station ID featuring Willie Revillame, one of the top believers of the channel and the host of the most watched noontime show, Wowowee.  Willie is very apt for the station’s Pasko ID as Wowowee also happens to be a must-see live show for balikbayans especially during the holiday season.
                 Throughout the month and beyond, TFC viewers will see images of Filipinos from different countries longing to spend Paskong Pinoy with their loved ones in the Philippines.  To respond to their yearning, the Integrated Creative Communications team of ABS-CBN Global headed by Elizabeth Siojo pulled together the directorial expertise of Randy Santiago and the natural candor of Willie to come up with a touching network ID to convey the message that “although our kababayans may be far away from home, they have a true Kapamilya in TFC who will be with them during the season, bringing warmth and joy and the sense of family when it matters most.”
                Completing the poignant channel ID, several testimonials of top ABS-CBN talents expressing their candid thoughts and personal Pasko wishes to loyal viewers were also aired during its launch.  Those who have not seen Sharon Cuneta and KC Concepcion, Edu and Luis Manzano, Aga Muhlach, Maricel Sorianno, John Lloyd Cruz, Kris Aquino and other Kapamilyas talk about Paskong Pinoy can still catch their favorite celebrities on air until January.

A Buffet of Options to Savor TFC
 TFC has been entertaining and informing overseas Filipinos since 1994.  For almost fifteen years, it has endeavored to reach out to its viewers all over the world in more ways than one.

            TFC is available via cable, direct-to-home satellite, the worldwide web and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).  

 The cable signals are programmed to specifically suit the various time zones and viewing habits of customers in the different regions that ABS-CBN Global serves.  Via direct-to-home satellite, other 24-hour TV and radio channels aside from TFC are aired: ANC, Cinema One, Kapamilya Channel, DZMM and WRR 101.9 For Life.

 Committed to serve more and more Filipinos in the country, ABS-CBN utilized the worldwide web to offer homegrown shows and movies online through TFCNow.  An audio and video streaming internet subscription service, TFCNow allows one to access his or her favorite shows with just one click of the mouse.

 Moving further, it took advantage of the latest technology to offer more channels and unique features when it launched its video-on-demand service known as TFCko.  This IPTV service gives the viewer control over what he wants to watch with its capacity to fast-forward, pause or rewind any program.  

 Knowing how TFC has become an integral part in the lives of Filipinos abroad, the global Filipino company has been flying in Kapamilya stars from the Philippines to visit Pinoys abroad for the on-air experience to become a more intimate encounter. 
 Christmas in the Philippines can be described as incomparable not only because of the endless festivities and sumptuous food but more because of the fond memories shared with family and friends that a person who has chosen to live abroad hardly ever gets the chance to relive.  With TFC creating an imagined community, Filipinos worldwide are able to celebrate happy occasions together no matter how miles apart they are.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Luck

Repatriated Filipino workers in the Middle East who lost their jobs arrive at Manila international airport September 24, 2009.

Reuters Pictures

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why More and More Women Are Migrating for Work

UNIFEM, a UN agency that specializes on women’s issues, identified the following factors that influence women migration abroad:
  1. increasing poverty and insecurity of livelihoods;
  2. increasing work pressures under globalization’s unregulated market model of development;
  3. family pressures on women especially in those contexts where women have a greater degree of mobility to work abroad, to complement the family income;
  4. desire for better living standards, material gratification, more competitive lifestyles, desire for adventure and broader horizons – mostly induced by the media and new information and communications technologies;
  5. emergence of “women-specific” skilled and unskilled jobs in the formal and informal manufacturing sector;
  6. the perceived suitability of women in certain sectors because of stereotyped images (domestic service is an extension of women’s traditional role in the home and is not work), submissiveness, suited to simple repetitive tasks, are sources of cheap and flexible type of labor; and
  7. influence of informal social networks that facilitate, sustain and perpetuate the demand abroad.
Most women move abroad voluntarily but a significant number are forced migrants who have fled conflicts, persecution, environmental degradation, natural disasters and other situations that affect their habitats and livelihoods. Others have been trafficked into sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Population and migration

Every hour, about 121 Filipinos leave the country to work abroad due to lack of jobs available in the country.

Every year 1.5 million new jobs have to be created to absorb the large number of Filipinos entering the labor force.

The number of Filipinos overseas has soared over the past decade - from 2.9 million in 1997 to 3.8 million in 2006.

But some estimates pegged their number at eight million, including undocumented ones.

Jay Bautista, executive director of Nielsen Media Research - Philippines, has cited estimates placing overseas Filipino population at around 12 million.

Remittances constitute 36 percent of Philippine dollar reserves in 1989 and 67 percent in 2005.

OFWs tend to come from bigger families. A study using data from 2000 Census of Population and Housing found that households with overseas workers were larger by one child than households without migrant worker members.

Growing population

The Philippine population increased fourfold in the last 50 years, from 20 million in 1950 to 86.4 million at present, the 12th largest in the world.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) projects that by 2010, there will be 94 million Filipinos, 103 million in 2015, and 142 million in 2040.

The main cause of rapid population growth is sustained high fertility.

Although the average number of children born to a mother has gone down to 3.5 (from 6 in 1973), a large number of women born in the 1970s and 1980s, who are now of childbearing age, keeps the population growing.

Every year, about two million new born babies are added to the population.

A big segment of the Philippine population belongs to the 0-14 age group. Half of the population is below age 21, meaning a high dependency burden. The high unemployment rate worsens the situation, since many of those of working age are jobless. And in reality continue to be dependents.

Each employed Filipino supports an average of 2 dependents.

Source: Population Commission’s fourth State of the Philippine Population Report (SPPR 4).

The SPPR is a periodic publication of the Popcom funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This year’s report focused on the issues surrounding Filipino international labor migration.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Country profile: The Philippines

More than 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, but the bulk of its fast-growing population lives on just 11 of them.

Much of the country is mountainous and prone to earthquakes and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes. It is often buffeted by typhoons and other storms.

Two presidents of the Philippines were forced from office by "people power" in the space of 15 years.


The Philippines - a Spanish colony for more than three centuries and named after a 16th century Spanish king - was taken over by the US in the early 20th century after a protracted rebellion against rule from Madrid. Spanish and US influences remain strong, especially in terms of language, religion and government.
Self-rule in 1935 was followed by full independence in 1946 under a US-style constitution. President Ferdinand Marcos, a close ally of the US, imposed martial law in the early 1970s but was forced to step down in 1986 after mass demonstrations cost him the support of the armed forces.
Although the country has remained a democracy it has enjoyed little stability. President Joseph Estrada was forced out of office in 2001 after months of protests at his corrupt rule, and there have been a number of coup attempts against his successor, Gloria Arroyo.
Churchgoers in Manila
The church's influence is strong in Asia's largest Catholic nation

On the southern island of Mindanao, rebels have been fighting for a separate Islamic state within the mainly-Catholic country. The decades-long conflict has claimed more than 120,000 lives. Sporadic violence has continued despite a 2003 ceasefire and peace talks.
The Abu Sayyaf group on the island of Jolo has a history of violence towards hostages, and the government has declared all-out war on it over its alliance with al-Qaeda.
Although it once boasted one of the region's best-performing economies, the Philippines is saddled with a large national debt and tens of millions of people live in poverty. The economy is heavily dependent on the billions of dollars sent home each year by the huge Filipino overseas workforce.
The Philippines has the highest birth rate in Asia, and forecasters say the population could double within three decades.
Governments generally avoid taking strong measures to curb the birth rate for fear of antagonising the Catholic Church, which opposes artificial methods of contraception.


  • Full name: Republic of the Philippines
  • Population: 92 million (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Manila
  • Area: 300,000 sq km (115,831 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Filipino, English (both official)
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Philippine peso = 100 centavos
  • Main exports: Electrical machinery, clothing, food and live animals, chemicals, timber products
  • GNI per capita: US $1,890 (World Bank, 2008)
  • Internet domain: .ph
  • International dialling code: +63


President: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gloria Arroyo's efforts to tackle corruption and to focus on economic reform have been undermined by a string of scandals.
Philippines president
President Arroyo: Her first term brought mixed results
The president won a second six-year term in June 2004, defeating her main rival, the film star Fernando Poe Junior.
But a year later her popularity rating had fallen to a record low amid opposition claims that she cheated in the 2004 elections. Opponents also levelled corruption allegations against her husband and other family members.
She apologised to the nation for talking to an election official about her hopes for victory in the run-up to the 2004 poll, but denied any wrongdoing. Two subsequent attempts to impeach her have failed.
Mrs Arroyo faces the challenge of delivering on her promises to create jobs and to improve living standards. Social and economic reforms introduced during her first term did little to ease poverty and the country's debt burden.
She advocates constitutional reform, proposing to swap the country's US-style presidential system for a parliamentary government.
She has taken a strong line on law and order and allied herself closely to US President George W Bush's "war on terror".
Gloria Arroyo comes from the political elite in the Philippines. She is an economist whose father was president in the early 1960s.
She was elevated from vice president to president in 2001 after protests led to the ousting of her predecessor, Joseph Estrada. In 2003 she survived an attempt by military mutineers to unseat her.
She is keen to emphasise her Christian faith. Observers contrasted her approach with the hard-drinking lifestyle favoured by President Estrada.
The Philippines has a two-house legislature - the Congress - which comprises a House of Representatives, with up to 250 members, and a 24-member Senate.


Powerful commercial interests control or influence much of the media.
The lively TV scene is dominated by the free-to-air networks ABS-CBN and GMA, which attract the lion's share of viewing. Some Manila-based networks broadcast in local languages. The country has a well-developed cable TV system.
Films, comedies and entertainment programmes attract the largest audiences. Many TV broadcasters also operate radio networks. There are more than 700 FM and mediumwave (AM) radio stations, most of them commercial.
Press freedom is guaranteed under the 1987 constitution. The private press is vigorous, with tabloid newspapers being prone to sensationalism.
However, violence against media workers is a problem. Reporters Without Borders noted in 2008 that "constant threats and physical attacks make some regions, particularly Mindanao island, dangerous areas".
By 2007 there were 14 million internet users (ITU).

The press
  • ABS-CBN - commercial
  • GMA Network - commercial
  • IBC (Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp) - government-owned
News agency
Source: BBC