Ilocanos speak the language of migration


Most Filipinos are non-movers both from within and those that are bound overseas.

There might be 12 million or more Filipinos overseas and 6,000 plus leave daily, but the majority of Filipinos stay home or maybe leave the present place of residence to a new destination outside the region, but still within the archipelago.

Reflecting the trend of moving to areas where jobs are aplenty and opportunities abound – both in the legal and illegal forms – the National Capital Region is the top destination of domestic migrants referred to by the National Statistics Authority (NSA, formerly National Statistics Office or NSO).

The NCR is the counterpart of the First World and resource-rich nations in the global scheme of things: the First World countries being the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Australia, while Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Brazil, Australia, Iraq and Venezuela represent the mineral resource-rich nations.

The US, Canada and Australia are also among the top 10 countries with the most natural resources in the world (

Immigrants move to countries where their skills are needed and are remunerated well for their services instead of being underemployed or underpaid in their own country. In addition, the immigrant parents brave the uncertainty of overseas employment and the unfamiliarity of a new domicile to spare their children the hardship they encounter for not getting anywhere in their chosen occupations despite their talent, skills and dedication.

In my visit to the Ilocos region last week — Laoag, Ilocos Norte in particular, as part of presenters during the Career Pathway and Job Fairs for college graduates of Mariano Marcos State University, Northwestern University and Northern Christian College – I believe that had my grandparents been able to compete on a level playing field, they would not have migrated to Pangasinan (now part of Region III) and my father would not have moved to Antipolo, Rizal (now within the CALABARZON area) where I was born.

Like most of my peers then and the millennials now, NCR remains the top choice to roll the dice because the chances of hitting the jackpot are better than staying in place or being a non-mover.

The regions with proportions of non-movers lower than the national percentage were Region III with 96.3 percent, CAR with 96.0 percent, NCR with 95.3 percent, and Region IVA with 94.3 percent.

Among the movers, the NSA report shows that 16 percent of these immigrants were residing in NCR, 14.9 percent in Region IVA, 13.0 percent in Region I, and 12.9 percent in Region III.

The NSA report also indicates people move within 5 years for the period 2005 to 2010.

That could have changed especially among the college graduates including the current year’s batch from the three of the most prestigious and established educational institutions in the private and government sectors.

Fueling the expected rate of inter-regional and overseas movement are the Business Process Outsourcing industry, tourism, the flow of expatriates and retirees (closely allied with the first two reasons), and the prospect of continuing conflicts in regions of traditional migrants destination (Middle East, Europe and Africa), or decreased threat of being discriminated and outlawed in nations previously rolling the red carpet for immigrants – this includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.

Cebu now rivals Metro Manila in terms of IT-BPO centers. Davao, Cagayan de Oro/Northern Mindanao and even the Ilocos region have started attracting major BPO companies.

In fact, Accenture and Expert Global Solutions had representatives in all three Career Pathway and Job Fairs held in Laoag.

When asked what they intend to do after getting their diplomas, most of the graduate attendees said they would look for jobs. While the IT-BPO industry welcomes graduates and undergraduates, one of the most essential requirements is the ability to communicate in English.

While the technological sector may need 1.2 million employees in 2016 alone, the IT-BPOs will require applicants with multiple language skills, English on top of the list. Candidates must also have “basic/functional skills: learning ability (verbal and numerical), English proficiency, perceptual speed and accuracy, problem- solving skills and computer literacy.”

In fact the Accenture representative from California emphasized the fact that undergraduates are welcome as long as they are proficient in each of the English components – speaking, writing, listening and reading.

Yet, as the table above shows, for the academic year 2015-2016 there would be only 62,941 graduates in the IT-related industry. There could be some applicants who have completed non-BPO related courses but are proficient in English but just by the numbers alone, 2016 will be another year of mismatch.

Asked where they would look for jobs if there are none in the region, the first choice for the graduate attendees was Metro Manila, then overseas. One good thing going for Ilocanos is the ability to communicate in English better than Tagalog. In fact, even among the manongs in Hawaii, the medium of communication among themselves and newcomers or Movers is in English.

Ms. Dina Valdes, Managing Director of the Northside English Center says that enrolment in the IELTS review classes continues to increase not just among those seeking to be employed in IT-BPO companies in Ilocos but also individuals who intend to pursue further studies overseas – with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, UK and the USA as favorite destinations.

Fueling the increase in enrolment in English classes is the support of family members (parents, uncles/aunts, even godparents) egging the students to increase their English proficiency to be competitive for job referrals. A student in Canada or New Zealand, for example would not only be able to work 20 hours a week while studying (and English is essential if not required in the workplace); nor would the same student be able to pursue full time employment and permanent residency without meeting the required scores for either the academic or general training module.

So the Ilocano migration continues as English by default is the language of migration – and migration keeps the world moving.


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  1. And it is in NCR that you find the most STUPID voters. They are stupid because they still prefer Binay, the corrupt to be their president. NCR has access to all forms of communication divulging the corruption of the Binay family and yet they seem to be blind on the corruptions of the Binays (even if the NCR residentshas a open knowledge of the Binay’s corruption).
    Based on the two debates, it seems that Binay cannot expressed himself as a UP graduate. Did he really graduated from UP? Binay can only say in response, ah, ah, eh, eh, etcetera, etcetera. From these two debates, he ranked 5th because he did say anything to debate the other candidates.
    Let us keep praying to save the Philippines from the Binay family, his corrupt lawyers and followers. May they suffer the wrath of God.

  2. I would say not only Ilocanos but Filipinos in general, speak the language of migration. We should give credits to these people, tried hard to get an education of their chosen fields and apply for jobs overseas for better opportunities and pay. The United States is the top choice because they learned during their learning years that this country’s inhabitants came from all over the world and their laws are enforced to treat everybody equally, and the American Flag stands for Freedom.

    Ask any Filipino, either migrant worker or became American Citizen by naturalization process how they would describe living in the United States. They would tell you it is great to be living in a free country with bounty, access to health care, work, education, opportunity, and basically become anything you want to be.

    I have personally witnessed, thousands of Filipinos that were once migrant workers that went to the U.S. to work, came back to the Philippines after retirement to live peacefully and comfortably. They can look back now and say that ” ang aking tagumpay ay bunga ng maraming pawis at luha”. I would like to add that most of these retirees are still in their mid to late fifties.

    To the younger generations, there are still lots of opportunities out there waiting for you. But first, you need to define what you really wanted to do and how you can execute your plans. An example of a profession in demand right now, and this demand is coming from all over the world is Health Care provider.

  3. I disagree with your observation that Ilocanos speak English better than Tagalog. Have you heard a person speak English with an Ilocsno accent? Ayna apo, awan ti nakitam? The tagalog language has that flow and rhythm which enable Tagalogs to learn to speak in English without that Visayan or Ilocano twang.