A few times a week, Riza would go live online to sell China-made apparel, most of them brand-new items that are very affordable. She buys them by the sack and sells them online for cheap. She was able to buy a small e-bike so her husband could handle most of the deliveries more easily. Riza is just one of the Philippines’ adult workers who are currently unemployed (19 percent as of March this year; that’s 8.7 million Filipinos). But because she has three children and plenty of bills, she needed to find a way to earn money while staying home to take care of the kids.
Aside from live selling, many Filipinos are turning to informal occupations: cooking or baking food items to sell online, participating in pop-up stores to sell pre-loved or DIY items, capitalizing on their skills and interests to be able to offer services like hosting, designing, coaching, and many more. The new digital/online platforms are creating new possibilities for enterprising Filipinos.
Others have turned to freelancing. The country’s gig economy has been flourishing for years now since it offers many Filipinos the opportunity to get paid as virtual assistants, encoders, writers, graphic designers, researchers, and so on. But the challenges related to the gig economy seem endless, and that merits a different discussion.
Many Filipinos are relying on jobs being offered abroad, leaving their families at home so they could earn a decent living. There are Pinoys who are leaving stable jobs in the country to go abroad because our local wages are so low. Never mind the heartache related to leaving their loved ones behind.
The OFW community has taken a hit with Kuwait’s recent suspension of working visas for Filipinos. Our kababayans are boarding ships, working on farms, taking care of the sick and elderly in other countries, teaching, working as domestic helpers, etc. just to make ends meet. After all this time, how come we can’t provide stable jobs for our own people?
The labor sector has been asking for decent salaries for many years now. Aside from that basic demand, more jobs are needed urgently, workers’ rights have to be upheld/implemented, and job security must be offered to more workers, which again opens up the conversation on contractualization, which is still rampant in the country. The laundry list of labor issues is quite long.
There’s a new Social Weather Stations survey released recently stating that 69 percent of Filipino adults are finding it hard to get a job these days. Just thinking about the fresh graduates this year and the students going into college now is enough to make anyone wonder: What’s the government’s game plan? Apparently, we haven’t fully recovered from the economic consequences brought about by Covid. It’s not sustainable to keep relying on Filipinos’ resourcefulness. We need to be able to give our people good opportunities on our own shores.