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Skilled workers desert Philippines

Skilled workers desert Philippines
By Nick Higham BBC News

Michael Duque is a nurse in the accident and emergency department at a London hospital. Six years ago he left his home in the Philippines to seek his fortune abroad.

As a nurse in Britain he earns about £24,000 (US $47,000) a year; doing a similar job in one of the top hospitals in Manila, the Philippines capital, he would be earning just £1,800 ($3,500).
He is one of some eight million Filipinos living and working overseas.

The money they send back in "remittances" - about $15bn in 2006 - is vital to the Philippines economy.

But there's a substantial cost involved as well, for Philippine society and for the individuals involved.

The personal cost lies in long-distance family separation, something familiar to generations of Filipinos.

Every month Michael sends up to £600 home to his family: wife Glenda, daughter Ella, aged 7, and son CG, aged 4. They live well on it, in a house in Manila's suburbs.

Glenda, who trained as a nurse herself, is now a full-time mother. And Michael, like many exiled Filipinos, is paying not only to support his family but to educate the next generation of overseas workers: Ella goes to a local private school.

But Michael has worked abroad ever since his daughter was born, originally in the Gulf and for the past four years in the UK.

He keeps in touch by phone and e-mail and via the videophone on the computer and he gets home perhaps once a year to see the children.

But he misses his kids growing up and he misses being a father to them, he said.

His absence puts a strain on his relationship with his wife as well: "It makes her crazy and stressed; she gets jealous," he said.

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