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Asia Minute: Overseas Filipinos Still Crucial to Manila’s Economy

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who’s familiar with the Philippines knows about the concept of sending money home from overseas. It’s become a critical part of the Philippines economy—and it’s growing. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


The latest government figures from Manila show that nearly two and a half million Filipinos work overseas for at least part of the year.

Over the past decade, the money they have sent home has more than doubled to nearly 30-billion U.S. dollars.

That’s roughly ten-percent of the entire Philippine economy—and such an important component that there is a cabinet-level agency called “The Commission on Filipinos Overseas.”

Many are domestic workers—others are skilled and unskilled laborers.

Nearly a million Filipinos work in countries around the Persian Gulf.

On Tuesday, the government said it would not send any more workers to the nation of Qatar—until regional political conditions have settled down.

Several Arab countries have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar where some 140,000 Filipinos have jobs.

While many Filipinos overseas are working on oil rigs or in private homes as maids—a growing number are professionals.

That’s a short-term boost for the Philippine economy; but it also sets up the potential for a longer term brain drain.

Bloomberg reports a recent study by the Asian Development Bank found a growing number of immigrants with university degrees are leaving to work in wealthier nations.

The ADB study found that more than half of those highly-educated immigrants who left their home countries came from the Philippines.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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