Sunday, May 4, 2008


This is a Los Angeles Times article on the Filipino Diaspora.

They nurse the sick in California, drive fuel trucks in Iraq, sail cargo ships through the Panama Canal and cruise ships through the Gulf of Alaska. They pour sake for Japanese salarymen and raise the children of Saudi businessmen.

They are the Philippines' most successful export: its workers.

Three decades ago, seeking sources of hard currency and an outlet for a fast-growing population, then-President Ferdinand Marcos encouraged Filipinos to find jobs in other countries. Over time, the overseas worker has become a pillar of the economy. Nine million Filipinos, more than one out of every 10, are working abroad. Every day, more than 3,100 leave the country.

Philippine workers sent home more than $10.7 billion last year, equal to about 12% of the gross domestic product.

The current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, calls them "the backbone of the new global workforce" and "our greatest export."

For the sake of supporting their families, the overseas workers endure years of loneliness. Some, especially maids in the Middle East, suffer beatings and sexual abuse. In countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, they are jailed for running away. Yet the Philippines has grown so dependent on remittances that the thought of doing without them is frightening.


It is a job of the government to send our workers to much safer places in the world. Sending them in countries where there is a huge possibility of being harmed is unbelievable and makes some lip-serving people complicit to the crime committed against them. This was written in 2006 but the news feels fresh as if nothing changed...nothing really ever changes in the land of pain.

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