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As we end our 19-day cruise with 42 family members (including parents, siblings, in-laws, and grandchildren), we shared our time with 300 Filipino crewmembers. They compose more than half of the total crew of 500 on board Crystal Symphony, which is just one of the many cruise ships that Filipino workers dominate. Back home, Doris Ho of Magsaysay Maritime Corp., Robie Delgado, and Carlos Salinas are some of the big names that supply the cruise and cargo vessels.
Out of the 800 guests, we were the only Filipinos on board, and many of the Americans, Australians, and Europeans that were cruising with us have heard about the Philippine turnaround story. It feels good to share with these people that our country has now achieved investment grade, and it feels good to see how hard our Filipino overseas workers sacrifice their time to work far just to be able to get a better life for their families back home. We met Filipinos in every place we went â€” in Cabo, Costa Rica, and even in Cartagena. Who would think that there would be around three thousand Filipinos living in a small island like Cayman, as well as Filipinos manning the security counter in a place like Charleston in South Carolina as you disembark?
It was amusing to listen to the stories of the Filipino crew who are doing Go Negosyo aboard the ship. With the permission of their administrators, some of them do the haircutting of other crewmembers and sell cellphone load as a sideline. Many of the Filipinos are happy to know that our country is doing well. Their sacrifice in giving their families a better life gives them greater hope to come back, especially now that we have a much better macro-economic environment that opens more opportunities for them. To sustain this, Go Negosyo does its part by mounting a lot of seminars on how to start and grow a negosyo.
But for how long will we continue to see this migration of workers overseas, now that the Philippines is Investment Grade and is poised to have more investments pouring in? I believe the migration will still continue for some more years, since the salaries that they receive are much higher that what they can get in the Philippines. Opportunities here are just starting to multiply. As long as the Philippine peso will trade above P40, Filipinos will continue to seek jobs abroad. The disparity of the wages we have in Manila versus that in abroad is big. As our economy builds more momentum, there will be a shortage of highly skilled laborers, but over time the gap will narrow. Our export of labor comes in two forms: inland through the growing Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) services mushrooming in the different cities in the country, and actual labor going abroad. This has saved us through the years and is one of the reasons why our foreign reserves today have reached record levels.
Consumption spending has improved through the years and purchases of real estate continue, with many Filipinos abroad wanting to own a home or a condo back home. The stock market has reached levels too that we have never seen before. Our foreign reserves will soon breach the $100-billion mark in two years. The political climate now is much better and candidates from Team PNoy won most of the electoral seats in the Senate, Congress, and in many local posts. Interest rates are moving lower, where borrowing cost range between three to eight percent, depending on the quality of the borrower. But for how long will the good times last?
At least for the next three years until 2016, I think the Philippines will be on a roll. VP Binayâ€™s daughter winning the senatorial seat at number five shows the immense popularity of the Binays. Three years is still a long way, but the concern for continuity as to who will succeed PNoy will build up as we come close to 2016. For now, we should let it roll on while we still have it, as it has been a long time since we have achieved this much. Hopefully by then, whoever takes over will build on the structural reforms that were set in place, to continue the growth momentum. For the Philippines to achieve a developed economic status, it should have a good long run of high economic growth just like how the developed economies around us did it.
We are still accepting participants for the third run of Go Negosyoâ€™s Negosem Basics tomorrow, May 24, at the Auditorium of RFM Corporate Center in Mandaluyong. This is a four-hour seminar that tackles the fundamentals of venturing into business with dedicated discussions on Cultivating a Positive Attitude and Enterprising Mindset as Key Ingredients to Business, Life Success & Strategies on Spotting Business Opportunities, and Product Development and Marketing. Learning Fee is P600, inclusive of two seminar topics, Certificate of Attendance, and a Go Negosyo book.
Also, catch Go Negosyo as we roll out its very first Magandang Business Advice (MBA) on Marketing & Innopreneurship with Go Negosyo Angelpreneur and the Philippinesâ€™ Marketing Guru Josiah Go. We will be in Cebu on July 6, Davao on July 13, Naga on July 18, Pampanga on Aug. 9, and in Lipa on Aug.t 30. For more information, call 6379229.