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Economics

Filipinos Rushed Home During the Pandemic. Now They’re Going Abroad Again

About 60,000 a month have headed overseas for work since the start of the year as more countries reopen.

Lala Abalon in the kitchen of her family’s restaurant in Bulacan, Philippines. 

Lala Abalon in the kitchen of her family’s restaurant in Bulacan, Philippines. 

Photographer: Xyza Cruz Bacani for Bloomberg Businessweek

Lala Abalon spent five years bouncing between temporary office jobs in Dubai before she found steady work as a customer service agent at a real estate company. Then the pandemic struck, and she, along with hundreds of thousands of other Filipino guest workers in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere, was sent packing.

Nine months after returning to her parents’ home in the Philippines, she can’t wait to go back overseas. “I don’t see a future here,” says Abalon, 33, who now manages her family’s noodle shop north of Manila. “Life is difficult in the Philippines. The pay is better and everything is more accessible abroad.”