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Blessings from Abroad: The Long History between Filipinos and Money Remittance

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and money remittance has a longstanding love story. The thing about this relationship is that one strongly depends on the other while the other gladly opens its arms to serve without objection. And while it may seem one-sided, it has been a very healthy relationship throughout the years. The routine of sending money back home after every payday is one which can always be expected of from OFWs, and repetitive as it may seem, they would never grow tired of it. Which is why the parallel existence of OFWs and money remittance stood the test of time, rich in history, rich in progress, and rich in purpose, it is a part of modern culture that will always be associated with Filipinos.

From the Very Beginning

There is no money remittance without immigrants and overseas workers, hence, let us turn back the hands of time and take a peek into the history of Filipino’s conquest for employment around the world. First of all, there are two types of Filipinos who would send money back home. You might have caught a glimpse of them in the first sentence of this paragraph:

1) Immigrants – These are people who have fully migrated towards foreign territory. They take oath in being citizens of their chosen country (with due process, of course) and are entitled to the benefits of being citizens of that foreign land. Immigration took its roots in the 20th century (at least for us Filipinos), following the Spanish-American war, which lead to the Philippines becoming a US territory.

The common misconceived destination for OFWs is the Middle East, however, the influx of Pinoys towards the said location didn’t even begin ‘till the 70’s, made possible by an overseas employment program launched by the government, which enabled the Filipinos to work in the Middle East, especially those countries which are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

So, you may ask, “If the Middle East wasn’t our first choice of destination back then, where did Pinoys of the golden years choose to migrate to?” Well, remember when we said that immigration took its roots in the 20th century,   following the event that lead to the Philippines becoming a US territory? One of the main territories affiliated with US back then was Hawaii (as evident by the happenings in Pearl Harbor), hence, why it was estimated that there was an influx of around 120,000 Filipino workers between 1906 and 1934. Their employment choice? Sugarcane and pineapple plantations. Definitely a sweet lasting career.

2) Overseas Workers – Unlike immigrants, who take on permanent residency in foreign countries, overseas workers usually sign a temporary contract to work within a given amount of time, more or less lasting for a few months or years. Having a temporary contract doesn’t entitle them much to citizen benefits, since they aren’t local nationals under oath of that region, nonetheless, they enjoy the benefits given out by the company that they work for.

Overseas workers make up the bulk of Filipinos who were given the chance to work in the Middle East during the 70’s, forming the current cultural trend of Pinoys signing up for employment in the Arab lands. This extended towards the pop culture reference of Filipino entertainment, with movies and primetime dramas giving a routine image of protagonists going abroad to provide financial support for their families, with Dubai and Saudi Arabia as their backdrop.

Do take note that the aforementioned countries aren’t the only chosen locations for both immigrants and OFWs. You can also find Pinoys in the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Non-Pacific and Middle East countries have become the focal point of some Filipinos in the early 2000’s, obviously the result of foreign influences in film, TV, and radio. Some Pinoys would even factor in the cultural dominance of a country in their list of reasons to work for a particular region, perhaps preferring to bask in the wonderful sights as an additional inspiration for their work abroad.

Now that we have an understanding of the two types of Filipinos sending money back home to their families, we should also understand the significance of these remittances to the Philippine economy. If you think that their families are the only ones harvesting the fruit of their loved ones labors from the foreign lands, you’re definitely mistaken. Here are two important factors to consider:


1) Remittances from OFWs are vital to the country. It helps in sustaining the country’s domestic consumption and growth. As a matter of fact, remittances actually represent 10% of the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Products).

2) According to data gathered by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in 2017, the total cash remittances sent home by overseas Filipino workers rose to 4.3%. If that percentage doesn’t look much at first glance, then you may be surprised to find out that it amounts to $28.1 billion. Take note, that’s in Dollars and not in Philippine Peso.

Now, you may think, “Okay, the country definitely receives a “share” of those remittances, but how much impact do they have towards the economy in the long run?” According to a financial coaching website:

“The bulk of remittances in the country are important because it plays a pivotal role in boosting the economic standing of a nation in the world, by keeping it competitive through its dominance in providing services in export business, like in the export of goods and merchandise.”

Much like how the import and export of goods makes our economic cycle go round, money remittances somehow assists in that process. You’re not going to find a much better spin cycle than that of our economic structure. For the most part, it is a knowledge that only our avid marketers would understand, but for the average Filipino, it is an unseen part of their lives which are integral for their lifestyle. Needless to say, OFWs are the unsung heroes of this process, being the participating initiators of this cycle, even without their physical presence within the country.

To make the long story short, the timeless parallel of money remittances and Filipinos can be traced all the way back to the 20th century, throughout the 70’s, and up to this present day. As long as there are OFWs and Filipino immigrants/expats, remittances will continue to flow and assist within our economic structure and financial make up, signifying a much stronger economic stance and a brighter future for the OFW’s families.

But that is made possible only by a well-trusted remittance center, and nothing indicates a more trusted name than Cebuana Lhuillier. With Cebuana Lhuillier’s Pera Padala Service, you are ensured an easy, quick, and safe way to send and receive money. With 2,500 branches nationwide and accredited international partners, this money transfer service is made available to clients within and outside the Philippines. All transactions are real time, which enables clients to claim the money as soon as the sender completes the sending process in the branch. So for our beloved OFW patrons, feel free to visit any of our international partners – we assure a fast, easy and secure transaction.

For a complete list of our international partners, you may visit our website at