TORONTO, Canada – Most Filipino migrant workers, including the tens of thousands in Canada, say they are not ready to return to their homeland permanently, a Philippines Overseas Foreign Worker (OFW) study shows.
The research study conducted by Philam Life shows that eight of 10 OFWs are not yet ready to come back permanently to the Philippines. Nearly 10.2 million Filipinos, or about a tenth of the country’s total population, live or work in other parts of the world. In 2014, they remitted more than $24 billion to the Philippines, supporting their families and the whole economy.
Nearly 60 percent of them are migrants, especially in the United States and Canada, while 4.2 million or 40 percent are considered OFWs. Of the 4.2 million OFWs, 2.2 million were deployed in 2013, with 1.2 million or 54 percent considered rehires or repeat OFWs.
“We asked them if they are ready to come home? This is the result. Eight out of 10 said no, not yet. Only 18 percent actually said yes. The ones who said yes said it is better to be with their family because they already have a business or they have enough savings. But the majority or 82 percent said they don’t have enough savings and their kids are still studying,” Philam Life chief marketing officer Jaime Jose Javier Jr. says in a news briefing in Makati City.
Philam Life tapped Taylor Nelson Sofres or TNS, a market research company, to conduct the nationwide study on OFWs in April 2015. The respondents, with a mean age of 37, were mostly on a two-year contract with an average tenure of 6.5 years working abroad and earning an average of P50,000 a month.
“We have millions of Filipinos out there who were not yet ready to come home. If they come home, they said they would use up whatever savings they have. They are looking at scenario of their children and spouse going to work. That is their situation currently, if they are going to come home now. The bottom line, they were saying they would stay abroad,” says Javier.
Javier says OFWs are very worried and fearful of a lot of things. “These include getting sick, fear of losing their jobs, non-renewal of the contract or having a calamity in the Philippines where their families are. About 54 percent are afraid of getting sick, for themselves and their family,” he says.
He says most OFWs actually save for emergency, retirement, kids’ education and to buy a house. “A big bulk of them save for emergency,” he says.
The OFW respondents, with average monthly income of P50,000, Javier says, are saving at a rate of P13,800 a month. “Of the P50,000 a month, they remit half of that to their family. They retain the other half. If you take a look at total savings, about P13,800 a month is saved.”
The respondents were asked how much they need to save that will enable them to come home. “On the average, they said if I am able to save P3 million, I will go home,” says Javier.
Javier says at the way they are saving money, mostly in banks, it will take them 18 years, to save up P3 million. “It is just a projection, with no inflation, no interest yet.
It is a straightforward calculation of how many months it will take. This is on top of six years they have been out of the country,” he says.
Javier says the results of the survey show that most OFWs are quite knowledgeable about financial instruments, but do not invest in those financial instruments. “They know it, but they don’t avail of it. About 97 percent of them have bank savings account. They are saving at a rate of 15 percent of their income, above the average savings of Filipinos onshore at only 2 percent,” says Javier.
Javier says while most OFWs view properties, jewelry and cars as investments, these assets will have to be liquidated usually at a loss in times of emergencies. He advises OFWs to explore other investment instruments to address their needs and concerns.
Javier says Philam Life understands the needs of OFWs and can help them plan their future. “If they are able to save at a rate of P13,800 a month, they can actually do a lot.
They can create a fund, whether it is for their retirement, for buying a house or for capital for a business. It will take them shorter than 18 years to achieve that,” he says.
“We have committed to provide solutions, plans to help our OFWs achieve their dreams and their goals,” Javier says.
Javier says Philam Life can help OFWs plan their future with their families. “They are out there, they are alone, they know that they left their family behind. Anything can happen to them and their family. So, a lot of times, they are worried. What we want to do is give them a product so that they can have peace of mind. So whatever happens, their family is secure. The real desire of an OFW is to come home, as soon as he can,” he says. (Filipino Post)