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For the past five to six years, we have been taking a cruise with my parents in different parts of the world. This time we are doing a bit of a repeat of a cruise we did six years ago which started in Istanbul. We are about 45 adults and children, by far the biggest Pinoy contingent in every cruise we have taken. And as usual, people always congratulate my parents for the number of children and grandchildren they have.
This is something that I am very thankful for. By Godâ€™s grace, our family is blessed with love and good values that each of the family members treasure and share.
Being a Catholic country, I guess this is one thing that I see common among Filipino families. Aside from the spirit of bonding together and times when we have no choice but to eat together daily and talk to each other, we always enjoy talking to the Filipino crew whose numbers are increasing every year and we also see many of them getting promoted to a higher positions.
Clearly, this is a good indication that more and more Filipinos are finding ways to move up in life, not only to help themselves and their families but also to show the world that Filipinos are never destined to be poor. Perseverance, hard work, determination, creative, friendly with a warm smile and positive character are just some of the inherent traits that Filipino workers are known for wherever they are.
We have been sailing with Crystal Cruises for the past years and I am glad to see that Filipinos are gaining the respect not just because of Manny Pacquiao but because of the Filipino excellence in service. It is not a job for them; it is a passion to serve that makes Filipino workers the best. It is also, in a way if one looks at it, what poverty has done to our country.
It has pushed Filipinos to fight poverty and by working abroad they do sacrifice family time which is extremely precious but they in exchange have put it into their mission to lift their families out of poverty.
I always share this line with many, that if one were to look at being a Catholic country, we can be faulted for having a very high population but that same human resource asset has become our competitive edge in providing services abroad. The countryâ€™s high level of OFW remittances that have been growing at five-six percent annually reaching over $22 billion in a year, have sustained the Philippine economy and propelled consumption spending and private investments, even in times when the world economy was slowing down.
While it has created poverty to some extent, perhaps more because of irresponsible parenthood, Filipinos have fought back poverty by now being the largest foreign migrant workers abroad, and within the Philippines, as call center agents and BPO workers. Their prosperity has pushed-up demand and economic boom in real estate properties, growth in number of malls due to continuous consumer spending, clothing and accessories, vehicles and local travel and tourism.
Yes, there is a social cost to this phenomenon in terms of maintaining family relationships, but we see more and more families managing the issue better now. The wifi technology is a help in allowing more frequent Skype and Facetime communication between OFWs and their families. I know that some countries like Italy also encourage the families of the OFWs to join them.
Challenges in getting what we want to achieve in life will definitely come our way. It will test our values and character. The best thing that we can do is to remain focused in our work, in our purpose, in our passion. In the end, we will realize that all the sacrifices that we did for our family and love ones are all worth it once we have surpassed the difficulties.
Through the years, we were wondering whether we will ever be a great nation. It will happen when people start to take control of their own destiny and work on how to be a contributor and productive member of society. We strive to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. We can fulfill our purpose and passion in life, to make a difference and as we do that, we do something good for our country.
Filipinos are indeed starting to get the respect we deserve, not just because today we are an investment grade country, but taking pride of how Filipinos work and serve others regardless of who they are.
God helps those who help themselves and through the years we pondered if there would ever be an end to the misfortunes of the Philippines from 20 years in a dictatorship. Yes we did it. It has taken us 41 years to finally become an investment grade-country that is fast gaining the respect of every nation all over the world. Add to this our OFW remittances that add great flexibility during times of crisis.
So many lives were lost fighting dictatorship which led to democracy and this was not easy as it took many presidents from that time to bring it to where it is today. There are a lot of imperfections still in our society, poverty is still around but as a nation, indeed, God has started to bless this country whose citizens have never abandoned their faith in Him. I salute all our hardworking Filipinos all over the world for being part of the Philippine great economic recovery story.