Filipino expats’ homecoming blues | Inquirer Business
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Filipino expats’ homecoming blues

/ 02:01 AM December 05, 2023

In the coming days, many Filipinos who are residing or working abroad are expected to come home to spend the holidays in the country.

The saying, “be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,” may explain the surge in arrivals of Filipino expatriates (which presently number approximately two million) to celebrate here what has been described as the happiest time of the year.

For some Filipino professionals overseas, the motivation to come back goes beyond being in the company of their loved ones and friends. They want to stay for good.


The results of a survey conducted in July by Robert Walters Phils., Inc., a company that specializes in the recruitment of professionals, showed that 62 percent of those expatriates plan to relocate to the Philippines within the next five years so they can take care of their aging parents or be closer to their families.


The others want to do it for emotional, social and cultural reasons, or to spend their retirement days here, or to explore possible career opportunities.If those expats pursue their plans, their action may be described as “reverse brain drain” or the movement of human capital in reverse from a developed country to a less developed country that is developing rapidly.

In the process, they would bring with them their earnings and, most importantly, the skills or expertise they had gained abroad that would be beneficial to their home country.

They would also, in a manner of speaking, be paying back the costs and expenses that their home country had spent for their education that enabled them to secure gainful employment elsewhere in the world.

For the expats who had already made their pile and are close to outliving their usefulness to their employers, retiring in the Philippines would be a meaningful reward for their years of toil abroad.

Those who are not as financially blessed and would want to start another career here face two challenges, namely, a) the availability of positions that match their training and expertise and b) the prevailing compensation level in the industry they could get into.

It is common practice in the business sector that, to the extent possible or feasible, if there are vacancies to be filled or promotions to be made, priority is given to those who are already in the organization.


That is done to promote sound morale within the company as the insiders can look forward to getting the first crack on any vacancy or promotion in their group. Something like charity begins at home.

In companies with collective bargaining agreements with their employees, that arrangement is often compulsory. Failure to comply with it could result to internal unrest or labor complaints.

Thus, expats who may be interested in being considered for existing positions would have to show that they have qualifications that are better than the rest of the existing staff as to justify making an exception for them. Assuming that hurdle is satisfactorily managed, once they get in, they would be under pressure to prove, under the watchful eyes of those they beat to the position, that the company did not make a mistake in getting them.

Then there is the issue of compensation. The returning expats should not expect to get the same salary or employment perks they received from their former employer.

Most companies observe compensation scales or schedules that correspond to the functions and responsibilities of their employees. That matrix is closely watched by the staff because it represents their financial lifeline. Besides, any deviation from it could create a bad precedent at their expense.

Unless the expats concerned possess credentials that make them worthy to be given employment benefits that go beyond that list, the company would have to adhere to it closely or risk demoralization within the ranks of the affected employees.

Bottom line, the expats who want to start another career here have to lower their expectations and adjust to the nuances of the local work culture. INQ

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TAGS: Business, expats, Filipino

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