Sunday, 3 April 2011


by Earlie Doriman

I met a lady in her 50’s who sat next to me in the plane whilst on my way to Cebu, Philippines a few years back. She  restored my sanity while few kilometres above the ground (I was honestly crowded with anxiety then). She was a very intelligent woman, I should say, who shared her thoughts concerning her disappointments about the exodus of many Filipino intellectuals, leaving the Philippines scarce of proficient, skilled, and capable professionals. I forgot to ask her name, so I’ll just call her Ms Clever.
At present, there are more than 10 percent of the Filipino population working in different parts of the world. Every year more and more are leaving the country, looking for the greener pasture in different lands. Sadly, few hundreds are exploited and abused. What is very depressing is that many of these skilled professionals are doing non-skilled works just to get a far better pay than the more venerable works they left aside in the country. The greatest number of the OFW population found their niche in the different country states of the Americas. A good number found their second home in the countries of Europe particularly in the UK. This throng are mostly of health related profession such as nurses, doctors, medical technologists, pharmacists, and etc; IT experts; and even teachers. The irony, some of our specialist doctors, consultants, and medical experts, study nursing just to get qualifications and possibly work in hospitals and nursing homes in New York, Chicago, Florida, London, Manchester wherever possible and even risking life and soul to the impossible ones like Iraq, Libya, Bahrain, and Afghanistan.

Few years ago, many of our nurses and caregivers have flocked to the United Kingdom digging day and night for the sterling pounds. In the name of better living, what else one can do to stick in a country where the ordinary people is never given a chance to prosper, while the rich and famous continue to take advantage on the vulnerability of the many.

Ms Clever did not aggressively show her disgust over the government’s disregard of the long term effect of migration, but you can feel how angry she is about how irresponsible most of the supposed agencies that should take care of the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Many workers abroad especially the one’s in the Middles East are victims of exploitation not only from their employers, but also from many unscrupulous recruitment agencies. Some stories of nightmares in the hands of their employers are so intricate to figure out. Maltreatment and discrimination in other countries are also reported. Many went home with unaccomplished dreams and shattered lives. The once brighter hope to a better living condition for their families back home is further crushed into gloomy pieces of brokenness and helplessness. Extremely to say, some wives leave their husbands and husbands having extra marital affairs while away. Whilst Ms Clever continued her litany about the disheartening plights of many migrant workers, I shared to her about a neighbour, who tried her luck working in the oil-rich desert, but went home mentally disturbed. Her family said, she was raped and did not even receive her salary for four months. Although the case was heard in court, they are no longer interested to follow it up for the simple reason of poverty.
What made Filipinos so desperate to leave the country and find a better job abroad is perhaps a question with so many different answers. To different individuals are equally diverse responses as to what triggered or perhaps inspired them to leave home and try abroad. But certainly one common answer is to make life better and prosperous. On the other hand, the economy benefits from the millions of remittances every year. However, the inability of the government to make use of these funds productively, disables the possibility of economic ascent, thus OFW’s sacrifices are awfully overlooked. This political neglect does create a vacuum that further separates OFW’s to returning in the country for good. Desperately, migrant workers continue to work even harder not only for their families but also for the economy of a country whose government does not even care to pay them back in return.

Considering the number of OFW’s leaving every year, legitimate, documented, or illegal, that is the equal number of human resource the country is losing at the same time. Engineers, IT experts, teachers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, accountants, lawyers, and others, name it and it is undoubtedly one amongst those profiles of OFW’s who hope to go empty handed and return with dollars in the bag. Expectedly, most of these ‘migrantes’ do not have works waiting there like the works they used to do in their homeland. Doctors turning into nurses or caregivers, from engineers to factory workers, teachers becoming domestic helpers, accountants selling brands in shopping malls, and many other ironic endings are biting realities of the country’s highly cerebral professionals who swallowed their pride to earn better and live not only a financially stable life but also an emotionally decent existence. Whilst the dollar remittances climbed to more than 15 billion dollars in 2008 and 1.2 billion dollars already in January of 2009 alone, the mere fact that the country is losing so much of its capable human resource, the economy will suffer eventually because of ‘brain drain’. Meaning, the exodus of the intellectuals will cause collapse in management skills, standard of quality, need of experts, and proficient trainers of the new generation. The eventuality of brain drain is a very mediocre economic prospects and planning.
Ironically, more people are leaving the country year after year and sending home with much money yet, the number of Filipinos who are below the poverty line keep on increasing too. I think there’s bad mathematics along the line. Perhaps, the law on social justice has been turned upside down. Or maybe, the product of brain drain is starting to commence itself in the platform. The Malacanang may sing their own praises of its invisible achievements, but the fact remained laid bare and bold, poverty is evident everywhere in the country.
With the new leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, it is very uplifting to know that the new administration has put back the trust of many citizens and believe that the economy gets so much better. Early this year, the new government provided another milestone when for the first time, it reported a budget surplus which is an extreme opposite from the previous' administrations never ending moan of deficits. At least, Filipinos become hopeful of a transparent government, believable, and honest president. It's not yet a dream come for many of us who left our families behind, but the start of a faithful and honest governance will surely make a difference, though not very soon, yet again it is so inspiring to know that there is optmism and promise of change for a better country.


  1. Good luck to you and all the citizens of your fine country! It's the same sad story everywhere-corrupt politicians, unfair laws and practices, the obscene gulf between the rich and poor,

  2. i totally agree with you. however, if you were here in the philippines, the leadership of noynoy wouldn't be that uplifting. prices of commodities are going up. while the wage remains the same. it's a sad reality that pushes our countrymen to different shores. i cant blame. even i personally dream of europe.

  3. Nothingprofound,

    Thanks a lot for dropping a comment. Corruption has always been a culprit of progress in any country,indeed it has pulled down the Philippines too much in so long time, but we are still hopeful we will be able to find honest government leaders. And the new administration though not perfect, is showing a glitter of that hope and progress.

  4. Davaoena,

    Hello kabayan..thank you for taking time to add comments. I believe Noynoy is not a great leader, he is not his father, but what is good about it is that he has genuine passion for public service and his heart is really to help improve the country. He may not attain that vision in six years, but i am already happy to note that at last i see a president who is not corrupt. To transform the country would take many decades, and i am very positive that Noynoy serves the first pitch. I am praying always..I want to take my kids back to Davao in the future and i want them to be proud of my hometown. Salamat and God bless

  5. Reading your post brought back memories ... Eight years ago I started teaching college level political science with passion. I was an optimist, I even thought I'll forever be an incurable optimist and hopefully inspire - without my knowing or planning - my students to believe in the possibility of sincere public servants, among other beautiful things from the political arena ... Unfortunately, life has changed me as today I see myself a little different: it has become hard for me to believe in sincerity when it comes to most public servants around the world (Obama is an exception to me - he is sincere but must follow his country's line of foreign policy, which is and remains a proactive type ... ). I hear you when it comes to immigrants and expectations of immigrants in their adoptive countries; I myself am an immigrant. Well, I have been trying to stay away from politics (family first, interests/passions/hobbies later or never), but there are times when I just can't resist the urge to at least say something.:-) Impressive thoughts you shared here ...

  6. lettertolukas,

    Thanks my friend for appreciating my thoughts. I always love my home country and sooner or later, our ultimate goal to go back where we conveniently belong. I like my community here in England but i honestly feel there is no better place in the world than your own country. Even if in reality it is not the best country in the world, there is no substitute to a homeland. Whether i like or not, i am just an immigrant here and i could not have that same right and freedom that i enjoyed in my dear country. But my gratitude would always be there to the country that treated me like their own. I personally distance myself from politics but as a member of the society i could not avoid to involve myself to issues that affect the people. Politics in my home country is really bad because there are many politicians who do not know genuine public service. I hope they will eventually realize that.
    Thanks so much my friend for you time and sincere words. Keep in touch.