My 'Speaking Out' Article for Baguio Midland Courier

The exodus of skilled Filipino workers and professionals such as nurses, doctors, physicians as well as teachers in mathematics, science, and special education is not a new issue anymore.
For several years now, the Philippines has been considered as one of the major exporters of skilled workers and professionals in foreign shores. Records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency show that there are about 2,558 Filipino workers and professionals deployed every day, maintaining a yearly increase of at least two percent since 1998. This suggests that in just one year, approximately one million Filipino workers are deployed in different parts of the world.

But why do Filipinos prefer to work abroad than stay here in the Philippines? Why can’t we control or curtail the swelling flood of skilled Filipino workers and professionals overseas? The answer is obvious and simple: Because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. In contrast, “the grass at home has grown brown and sparse and full of cow dung” according to columnist Conrado de Quiros. “Filipinos are…being driven resolutely by their circumstances to abandon this country and leave it not completely figuratively to the dogs.”

Indeed, in a country like ours where unstable political and economic conditions exist and are hardly fathomed; where unemployment problem is at its peak; where peso depreciation, inflation, exorbitant red tape, extrajudicial killings, insurgencies, summary execution, and other social evils exist, the only option that has come across the people’s mind is leave and pore over the more lucrative opportunities offered abroad.

I know someone, a nurse in a government hospital, who left our country a year ago because, according to her, there’s no room for career growth and personal enrichment in our country. I also once had a high school algebra teacher who left our country to teach abroad. I know a lot of teachers, most of them have a master’s degree, who left for the United States and Hong Kong just to work there as domestic helpers. While it is true that overseas Filipino workers’ remittances play a crucial role in keeping our economy afloat, we shouldn’t be oblivious of the fact that the exodus of skilled Filipino workers and professionals is dangerous to our country’s national health.

Some years back, the Asian Development Bank propelled some key sectors in our country to take the necessary steps to curtail the brain drain phenomenon that is impoverishing the country due to the enormous overseas deployment. The ADB warned these sectors that “brain drain has an impact on foreign direct investment as capital will flow only into economies with perceived adequate supplies of skilled labor.”

The exodus of Filipino workers should not be viewed as something economically beneficial or advantageous, rather it should be viewed as a pernicious national disease that is now deliberately snuffling the light out of this country.

Note: The title of this article is Exodus. This was published at the Speaking Out section of Baguio Midland Courier back in April 12, 2009. Baguio Midland Courier is the leading and the most read newspaper in Baguio City and nearby provinces.

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