This week alone, three of my close friends are migrating. One to the US, the other two to Canada.
These are not people who are from the D and E class of society. They are middle managers in their respective field of endeavor. They earn more than P1M a year. And they are part of the new batch of Filipino citizens that are queuing to the lane called "EXODUS".
I will not venture to ask them why, but wish them good luck.
I understand why they did what they had to. At the turn of events in our country today, all the politics is hurting the economy of this country and the turn towards a financially unstable future in the light of the very high inflation rate of 9.8% is hurting every Juan de la Cruz.
Over two decades ago, the OFWs (overseas foreign workers) were mainly comprised of the poorer sectors of society. They were teachers who gave up teaching in public schools so that they can earn HongKong or Singaporean dollars. They were skilled laborers who traveled to the Middle East so that they can earn US Dollars for their families in the Philippines. Both parties made the ultimate sacrifice - parent(s) working abroad while the children are in the Philippines. Some have seen some of their dreams fulfilled. Others are still migrants of the world, finding their dreams in the midst of nightmares.
About 4 or 5 years ago, I had given a lecture during the annual convention of the Philippine College of Physicians and provided initial data of doctors shifting careers as nurses. While some in the audience agreed, the others scoffed at the numbers. Today, it has become the pride of the Philippines to ship out our graduate doctors who have shifted to a nursing course. And those taking nursing and pharmacy are a growing number, simply because of the enormous employment opportunities.
The inflation rate in the country has swollen to almost 10% from a 3.4% inflation rate same time last year. For the average worker who brings home a net income of P10,000 a month (with nothing saved), where does he get the extra P1,000 to circumvent the hardening economic times? The P20 increase of Gloria is a pittance because that would simply mean an added P440 a month in take home pay. He still lacks P560. And with the escalating cost of basic commodities, he will need to tighten his belt more. And health service will definitely be at the top of the list.
While the markets have locally grown compared to the same month last year, this is not because the market has become more bullish. There have been many players in the various markets. In the pharmaceutical sector for example, the deluge of generic bit players have grown in leaps and bounds, and with due cause. Consider the parameters of food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. Health care will definitely always be at the bottom of the list. And with the escalating cost of almost everything, belt tightening will begin with health.
These are difficult times. Even for those who have a little more, these are trying times. There are not much employment options in the country. And the queue to the international airport and out of the country is biting every working sector in the country. As the middle class takes the exodus now, the gap between the rich and the poor has become smaller and smaller. The middle class after all, serves as buffer to the extremes in social class. The middle class takes the brunt of the taxation scheme of this country. The rich have accountants that can shave off the billions of pesos they should be paying. The poor, well, the poor don't pay taxes anyway. So what's the use of including them in the discourse?
The government must be more palpable during these times. Mendicancy through doleouts by Gloria must be stopped. "Give a man fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats a lifetime." It is with this saying that the government is trapped in a status where they cannot provide more job opportunities, nor decent livelihood programs, or programs where the government cuts down spending so that more funds can be appropriated to its citizens. It then results in inculcating a culture of mendicancy among its people.
The only light we see at the end of the tunnel, is the fact that Gloria's term is about to end. But the way politics is in the Philippines, it has become a way of life, a business venture, and yes, the reason for the exodus.