An economic miracle happened in the Philippines but this time hardly anyone noticed it. Millions of Filipinos abroad keep sending record number of remittances back to the Philippines despite the worldwide economic recession. In March 2010 alone, the Filipino diaspora sent $1.55 billion US back home. This massive injection of remittances were mostly used for personal consumption and it inadvertently buoyed the Philippine economy to avoid a deep recession. It also prevented the current, grinding poverty to become even worse (Business Week). So are we, Filipinos in the diaspora, the new economic miracle ‘heroes’?
Economists have pointed that remittances have buffered the Philippine economy during the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the more recent economic recession of its largest trading partner, the United States (Business Mirror).
“At 10.8 percent of the country’s GDP [gross domestic product], they [migrant workers] are the third- biggest source of the country’s foreign currency reserves and act as primary driver for our economy,” the Overseas Filipinos Worldwide blog entry indicated.
Despite these, however, the Philippines remains grappling in poverty, with nearly a quarter of its 90-million people living on $1 a day. Nearly 10 percent of the population, however, directly or indirectly, rely on their relatives working abroad, now pegged at 10 million in 239 countries and territories.
The Filipino diaspora have made a lot of sacrifices to help their families back in the Philippines and occasionally they have donated to development projects in their hometowns.
Should we make the Filipino diaspora the new economic miracle ‘heroes’? I don’t think so. In fact, 30 years of outward migration and exporting Philippine labor has not made the Philippines prosper much. It only prevented the Philippines from dire economic straits.