At the Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific construction yard and port in Batangas, about 90 minutes south of Manila by car, workers are putting the final touches on a combination of pipes, electronics, and crisscrossed steel beams that will become part of a gas refinery in Australia. The unit is about 50 meters (165 feet) high and 50 meters long and will connect with others like it, also made by AG&P.
Each day, thousands of Filipino welders, pipe fitters, and other workers arrive at the yard, where cranes tower over open-air sheds that resemble airplane hangars, to make pieces of infrastructure projects destined for final assembly in locations worldwide. “Everything is meant to fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” says Joseph Sigelman, the U.S.-born chairman of Manila-based AG&P. Average daily pay for construction workers in the Philippines last year was $7, according to the Ministry of Labor and Employment.