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“Lalayas na ako ng Pilipinas (I’m leaving the Philippines).”
One might have heard this statement from a friend or family member, perhaps in jest, as news exposed the Philippine government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
For some Filipinos, this went beyond a mere expression of frustration.
Even before the pandemic, millions of Filipinos migrated out of the country in search of greener pastures. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that, as of 2020, there were 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). However, but this figure could stretch to 10.2 million, according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, if permanent migrants are included.
When COVID-19 hit, migration in some cases became uniquely related to the health and economic crisis. Workers across industries were affected, pushing Filipinos to seek opportunities abroad.
In a series of profiles titled COVID-19 Pushed Me to Leave the Philippines, Rappler spoke to five migrant Filipinos: a disgruntled nurse, a domestic helper struggling to fund her daughter’s education, a culinary student worried over the Philippine hospitality sector, a recruitment associate laid off from her job in Manila, and a first-time teacher who couldn’t land a job at home. Each of them took a leap of faith and left the country amid the pandemic’s lockdowns and uncertainties.
Read their stories here: