A scene of destruction caused by typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in the Philippines (Image for representation purpose only. Image Courtesy: Niar / Shutterstock)
Much has been said about the resiliency of the Filipino people despite life’s many horrors.
With around twenty storms pummelling the country every year, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, plundering politicians misusing funds meant for disaster management and agricultural development, buses ploughing commuters, bomb threats, and whatnot, we have the audacity to proclaim “It’s more fun in the Philippines!” – not as tongue-in-cheek, but to declare that our capability to find happiness, even in the most terrible situations, is our strongest armour. (It’s not very surprising therefore that we read about Filipino millennial being the least stressed and happiest in the world – our youth, the future of our country, is brimming with optimism.)
Yes, Typhoon Yolanda has clouded our silver lining momentarily – claiming thousands of lives in the southern part of the country and grimly costing our economy an estimated US$15 billion. The UN projects 11 million people have been affected by Haiyan. Recovery will undeniably be a long, arduous climb.
However, make no mistake: the future looks bright.
The Silver Lining to Yolanda’s cloud
Here’s why our optimism isn’t misplaced: the National Statistics Office states, “Basic literacy is almost universal in the Philippines. Of the estimated 68 million Filipinos 10 years old and over in 2008, 95.6 percent are basically literate. The basic literacy rate is 96.1 per cent among females and 95.1 per cent among males. By region, basic literacy rates are about the same for males and females.”
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According to a 2012 report released by business solutions company GlobalEnglish, the Philippines is the world’s best country in Business English: “Only the Philippines attained a score above 7.0, a Business English Index level within range of a high proficiency that indicates an ability to take an active role in business discussions and perform relatively complex tasks. This is particularly interesting because the Philippines, a country with one-tenth of the population of India, recently overtook India as a hub for call centres.”
Add to that the fact that the Philippines has the fastest growing Internet audience (at 22 per cent) in Southeast Asia, mostly comprised by people aged 15-34 – with Internet penetration rocketing from a puny two per cent to 36 per cent in just 13 years – and suddenly, the way to create vast opportunities for the many who have been affected by this recent calamity is evident.
We’ve seen how the Internet has facilitated the quick dissemination of information and distribution of aid to these devastated areas – but how about we use it to equip people to stand up and empower themselves, after the dust settles?
The Internet can help rebuild their lives
It may take months, maybe even years, to rebuild the businesses and infrastructures destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda. Jobs will come at a slower pace. Lives will take quite some time to normalise.
Despite that, with a computer connected to the Internet, Filipinos anywhere in the country can quickly earn money and begin rebuilding their lives by taking jobs readily available online.
At Freelancer.com, we’ve seen the influx of outsourced jobs to the Philippines in the last twelve months, and we believe that there’s more to come, as more business owners from developed countries realize how talented and determined Filipinos are. Currently, the Philippines ranks fourth among the 247 countries on the platform.
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Over the past twelve months, users registered on Freelancer.com have doubled to around 400,000 users, with money earned by Filipino freelancers via the platform exceeding 260 million pesos. The United States, Australia, and United Kingdom are the top 3 countries hiring Filipino freelancers who are experts in content generation, software programming, graphic and web design. Interestingly, opportunities are not exclusive only to the Metro Manila population – a lot of freelancers hail from various parts of the Philippines such as Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Iligan.
What does this mean for us, most especially for the people affected by this recent calamity? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s clear that this is an immediate solution we can offer to our highly-literate people. Once local and international aid – the metaphorical fish – has ceased coming in, we can teach our fellow-men to learn how to fish for themselves.
Through the Internet, Typhoon Yolanda’s survivors can proudly face the future again, like the rest of us.
The views are of the author and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them
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