Opinion: The middle class OFWs and the cost of higher income

It was the year 2010.

Having been voted by more than 15 M Filipinos, President Noynoy Aquino delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). His electrifying speech against corruption and the culture of “Wang-wang” or special treatment to VIPs was a hit in local press and the business sector.

Noynoy Aquino

A photo of President Noynoy Aquino. Credited for fixing the fiscal policy, reducing foreign debt, and tightening of spending. During his term, income taxes were unchanged. Good or bad for middle class?

Back then, I was working in one of the largest Universal Banks in the Philippines and was drawing a moderate salary but it was not enough for me to be financially free.

Related: Did you know that as OFWs, you can send remit smarter to your families’ household needs from groceries to medicine?  Register now for free and let BeamAndGo help support your family needs

Like many middle class college degree holder employees, my dream was to own my own house and be financially independent. I asked myself the question,” How long would it take for me to accomplish my noble aspirations? 20 years?”

So in January 2011, I finally boarded the cheapest flight to Singapore after months of deliberation with my family.

I armed myself with the very small stash of savings from the past 4.5 years. That’s it! #Bahalanasibatman ika nga but I was confident with my qualifications. So I bid goodbye to my parents, lola, and friends. It was painful, hard, and dramatic. A month after, I landed my first job to oversee the marketing and fundraising programs of a Singaporean NGO. I drew a salary more than 5 times my take home pay in the Philippines.

There were many things I learned while working overseas from cooking, washing of clothes, moving flats, and even dealing with abusive landlords (that’s a different story). But the most important is sending cash remittances back home and its enormous repercussions if not planned wisely. I could just imagine how much more I’d saved and invested if BeamAndGo was already available with its digital gift certificates on supermarkets, medicine, and other basic needs. If you don’t have an idea how it works, just watch this video below:

From my own personal experience and from the testimonies of dozens of OFWs whom I’ve personally met, many of us choose to work overseas because of better employment opportunities and lower taxes.

I will emphasize this because I want our next President to focus on the immediate welfare of middle class Filipinos. You can be assured, just like the millions of Filipinos who left their families, I will be watching your first State of the Nation Address! All of you promised to reduce taxes.  I will be taking down notes and I will hold you accountable. Tandaan niyo, sinabi ninyong lahat na babawasan niyo ang taxes. We are not endorsing any candidate but what we want is for the President to walk the talk, make the biggest sacrifices, and lead by example.  Don’t we all deserve this?

While OFW remittances has been widely acknowledged as the driver of the Philippine Economy (USD 29.7 Billion in 2015), the high costs of absentee parents, loneliness, and risks to life on both physical and mental are enormous. That subject cannot be brushed aside because their are serious concerns. Just read the story of a domestic helper who took her life a few days ago here.

We invite our fellow OFWs to become a member of the Beamer family. It’s a community for OFWs where we freely share stories and provide advice on a range of topics from saving, budgeting, and money allocation, to healthy nutrition.

Not long ago, my blood pressure went up to 160 / 100 in Singapore, when I gorged on chicken rice almost everyday. That was before I noticed that all of my Singaporean friends were eating vegetables and fish soup. Did you know that the mortality age in the  Philippines is 68.5 years as opposed to Singapore at 84.5 years? Stop the chicken rice,  friends!  If you want to learn practical tips on how to live longer, sign up at BeamAndGo now.

Laoagposter

I was in Laoag, Ilocos Norte last Saturday delivering a workshop with Vanessa Cartera, our director of sales, to retired OFWs on the keys to claiming victory in both health and finances. One of the highlights was the subject on 8 dimensions of Wellness. I will discuss more on our findings and also learnings from the participants in my next blog. We will give you tips from Dr. Raymond Escalona, a lifestyle nutrition specialist, on how you can reduce the risk of cancer and live a healthy lifestyle. We thank the Laoag City LGU and its Community Affairs Division for inviting their OFW associations to attend.

But right now, since we only have less than 30 days before we elect a new Chief Executive, let’s  watch the debates attentively and cast our vote according to our conscience, wisdom, and knowledge on what is best for our country. There are more issues from poverty alleviation, crime, drugs, women’s rights, contractualization, and K-12.

We have less than 30 days before we elect a new President. Let’s move away from personality politics and focus on knowing how our presidential candidates will solve our nation’s issues.

I believe it’s time to lower income taxes. There are 1.3 M of us OFWs that can cast a vote and make a difference. We will never forget all the days when we thought about quitting, when we reluctantly left our families, and when we almost lost hope in life. But we can always choose to change the game. We may find the ideal president who can walk the talk.

If you are an OFW and you like what you read, join the Beamer Support Community now. We’re now helping 80,000 Filipinos and you could easily be one of them. Together, let’s cast our votes and be heard by our government.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s