YET another proof that the Overseas Filipino Workers are the foundation of our being a new “Tiger economy”—with Gross Domestic Product numbers that make us one of the star performers in Asean and the world—is top business news today.
Nine out of 10 people who enter a mall have a relative living or working abroad. This is from the SM Shopping Center Management Group’s vice-president for operations, Glenn Ang. He said every day 3 million people enter the SM chain’s 48 malls throughout our archipelago.
We can extrapolate this to mean that–whether in full or only in part—our OFWs (including Filipino seamen without whom the global shipping industry would suffer) spend for the expenses of these 3 million people in SM malls and the millions more who go to other malls daily.
Various estimates made by Philippine government offices as well as OFW associations, including Migrante International, place the number of Filipinos working abroad at 10 million to 11 million. This is 10 percent of the current Philippine population of about 100 million.
According to the 2010 census (the latest we have had) Filipinos below 15 years old made up 34 percent of the population. Seniors made up 6.8 percent. Deduct 40.8 percent of the population from the total and you get 52 million. This is our total adult population (excluding seniors) from which the 10 million OFWs come. These 10 million make up 19 percent of the adult population of Filipinos. And they are abroad working so that their families can be fed, clothed, housed and educated.
This means nearly 1/5th or 20 percent—or 20 out of every 100 adult Filipinos (excluding seniors)—are working abroad to support their families back home, thereby also supporting the Philippine economy.
Great Balance-of-Payments standing
Their regular remittances help make the foreign currency reserves of our Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas one of the largest among the world’s central banks. That the Philippines has an impressive Balance-of-Payments record–aside from our impressive rate of GDP growth (driven mostly by the active shopping in malls, department stores and public markets of our OFW families)–is why we are given high credit ratings by Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. And why world leaders, like those of the World Economic Forum, respect the Aquino administration–despite its failure to address the massive poverty and corruption problems, the scary water and electricity shortages that are hindering proper development, the incompetence in handling infrastructure and socio-economic development in general.
Last March, the personal remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) amounted to $2.08 billion, which is 6.9 percent more than the remittances of $1.99 billion in March 2013.
SM, both as a retail merchandising leader and a major real estate developer, is sanguine about the OFWs’ continued support of their families and therefore the Philippine economy. OFWs and their families are not only the consumer targets of SM but also similar corporations in our country, including the Ayala, MetroBank and Robinson groups. They are opening malls and shopping outlets all over the country as well as various forms of housing developments.
We are once again dwelling on this subject to remind Filipinos that the OFWs are real heroes.
This fact must be repeated and stressed over and over again. For many government people who deal with OFWs are still disrespectful of them. Or uncaring about their welfare.
Beginning with the President himself, Filipinos in government and in the private sector must learn to look up to OFWs as heroes, persons to be grateful and respectful to.