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."