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Pinoys abroad

The latest good news about our economy that is true is courtesy of our overseas workers, as usual. The BSP reports a positive momentum in their remittan-ces in Aug 2017 as it posted a 9.4 percent growth rate year-on-year to reach $2.8 billion.

This brought personal remittances for the first eight months of 2017 to $20.7 billion, higher by 6.4 percent relative to year-ago level. Cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks rose by 7.8 percent to $2.5 billion in August 2017. With a weaker peso, this kind of growth supports our consumer-led economic growth.

 Our export of labor, initially intended to be a temporary measure during the martial law era to absorb workers who cannot find local jobs, has apparently become a permanent solution. Despite the high social cost decades after, Filipinos still go abroad to escape poverty at home and because the world market offers more for their skills.

I think it was Jessica Zafra who once wrote a satire about Filipinos conquering the world through our overseas workers. Indeed, what better way to spread our culture and future global hegemony than through the Pinay nannies from London to Riyadh, Singapore and beyond.

Stories have been told and movies have been made about how, for example, Singaporean children have grown attached to their Filipina nannies. There was also a story about a Saudi royalty who had to recall a Filipina nanny because his children got emotionally attached to her. Our adobo and sisig may yet be the most familiar Filipino dishes abroad and Tagalog more widely spoken than expected in countries where the cradle was rocked by a Filipina nanny.

For us who have been fortunate enough to stay at home, it had always been a source of pride and joy to meet our kababayans abroad. In Dubai’s large international airport, it is best to speak in Tagalog for the best bargains. The sales clerks at the Duty Free shops are mostly Pinays and so are the ones handling fast food outlets.

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In the few cruises I have been, my party always got special treatment from the Pinoy waiters and cooks. We always have a plate of adobo and caldereta added to our table.

In my recent visit to Hanoi, we were welcomed at Halong Bay by Edgar Cayanan, the Filipino general manager of Paradise Vietnam, a five-star tourism group offering accommodation, dining and cruises around Halong Bay.

Owned by Vietnamese entrepreneurs, Paradise Vietnam employs 21 Filipinos in managerial positions and many more providing various services typical of a tourism oriented enterprise. It is not surprising that the singer and pianist in the ship we took are both Filipinos, from Davao City and they both personally know the most famous Davaoeno.

Cayanan is from Pampanga and graduated from Angeles University Foundation. Among the Filipinos he recruited is Jade Karam, the cruise manager of Paradise Elegance II, the latest and most premium vessel of Paradise Cruises. Between the two of them, our group got top VIP treatment during our overnight stay.

According to Cayanan, they will have half a dozen interns from a Manila university soon to train with them at Paradise Vietnam. Good to know that Filipinos are contributing to the fast growth of Vietnamis tourism and economy. It is good to see the Vietnamese so welcoming of our talents and not insecure about giving top jobs to capable Pinoys.

NAIA

The good news is that NAIA is no longer among the top 20 worst airports in the world, and even in the top 5 worst airports in Asia. Indeed, there has been some progress in the management at NAIA. But the problems left behind by the Aquino administration and still there and so much work still must be done.

Ed Monreal can take a minute to savor the recognition of work he has done by not being recognized among the world’s worst. But as I experienced at T3 last week, he can’t rest on early laurels.

The list of things to do when they took over is long. It is welcome news that they mustered the courage to impose restrictions on general aviation in NAIA to relieve congestion.

Prioritizing commercial flights to reduce flight delays is a low hanging fruit. But making that happen required political will. The Aquino administration didn’t have enough political will to offend their fellow elite in their private jets and so did nothing.

Yet, as the Lopez Group’s INAEC proved, it was easy enough to move their fix wing operations to Clark. They pick up their clients from Makati by helicopter and fly them to Clark where they ride on the fixed wing planes. They avoid ground traffic in Metro Manila, are able to take off and land as scheduled and get their clients to their destinations and back hassle free.

NAIA claims they are imposing the five-minute rule [where pilots who declare they are ready to take off must depart within the prescribed time or they would be put at the back of the queue] to reduce flight delays and instill discipline among airlines.

I am not sure this is being followed strictly. My experience with recent flights still involves a long wait to take off even if the plane was ready to go before published departure time.

The construction of rapid exit taxiways to allow an aircraft to leave the runway at higher speed and increase flight movements was something Mar Roxas identified as a solution to NAIA’s congestion problem way back in 2011. But neither he, nor Jun Abaya after him, managed to implement this rather simple solution.

The last thing I heard about the project is that Abaya ordered a study. It is therefore extremely good to know from airline sources that NAIA is finally working on rapid exit taxiways and these will be ready for use by 1Q18.

One thing positive with Ed Monreal is he seems responsive. I had my problems with NAIA’s services and he responded quickly. After he found the problem’s causes, he humbly wrote that he had no excuses. His private corporate background has likely given him this sense of accountability which ordinary bureaucrats do not have.

But I still hope Mr Monreal will tell us why it is taking too long to get T3’s air conditioning spare parts. I have an idea why, but it will be good to have him acknowledge it. It will prove my point that government cannot run airport terminals as efficiently as the private sector.

I don’t expect miracles at NAIA given the gravity of problems. I appreciate incremental gains. Mr Monreal has made some incremental gains. There’s still so much work to be done, many of which are also above his pay grade.

Condolences

I just want to offer my condolences to the family of Edwin Coseteng, a business executive who left us in a most tragic and upsetting way.  I have known Edwin as a friendly and capable manager who was on top of the Lopez Group’s industrial park operation.

A first cousin of former Sen Nikki Coseteng, Edwin was always helpful with information on his projects every time we bump into each other. Just in his early 50s, I am sure he will be missed.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address isbchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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