Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The Philippines Astounds the Skeptics

The sick man of Asia starts showing signs of health
The Philippines Astounds the Skeptics

Maulik Parekh, chief executive officer of Philippine outsourcing services company SPi Global, has a message for local workers accustomed to looking for work overseas: There are jobs at home. Manila-based SPi Global’s 18,000 workers handle customer support, technical problems, and other tasks for overseas clients. SPi last year starting hiring local health-care professionals to help U.S. hospitals get payments from insurance companies. SPi’s doctors and nurses “are pursuing careers in the Philippines instead of moving to other countries,” says Parekh. The outsourcing growth is giving a boost to the local economy, he says. Philippine outsourcing firms took in $11 billion last year and are on track to hit $25 billion by 2016.

The Philippines has long stood out in Southeast Asia as a consistent underperformer, its economy weighed down by a legacy of graft and instability dating back to the bad old days of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. The economy grew just 3.75 percent last year, while China expanded 9.2 percent and India 7.3 percent. What growth the Philippines has enjoyed has often come from its army of construction workers, domestic helpers, and others who have left the country to find work. Remittances from Filipinos living overseas grew 5.8 percent in February, the central bank announced on April 16.