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The best Filipino Software Developers are headed for Singapore




An article at the Inquirer last night revealed that Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) has expressed alarm over the rampant recruitment of Filipino software professionals by Singaporean companies. Migs, opened up the discussion at PTB: Can Pinoy Software Companies Stop the Exodus to Singapore?

The obvious answer is no. And we all know why.


An old friend and high school classmate is going to work in Singapore in two weeks. That, after over 4 years working at a semicon company in Cavite paying him a measly 15k a month. Half a dozen other friends and former officemates are already in Singapore with starting salaries in the range of Php80,000 and up. Another friend and schoolmate has been working for a hardware (hint: camera, printers, etc.) company for 6 years since he graduated and has worked in their Japan office half the time but until now, he hasn’t reached the 6-figure salary. I told him, if he’d look for a similar job in Singapore, he’ll easily get double or triple of what he gets now.

The sad thing is — this is not an isolated case in the tech industry in the Philippines. So many other sectors have been going thru this mass exodus for decades. Need I enumerate the number of nurses, engineers and teachers flying out to other parts of the world seeking for a better paying job? During my visits to Taiwan, Pakistan and Indonesia, I’d always get a nice smile from people telling me Filipinos are all over. I’d laugh and reply half-joking that our biggest industry is exporting people all over the world.

Is there a way around this? I certainly hope. If the government and the private sector can’t do anything about it, the individual should. My aunts and uncles (including my mom) would always use to budge me to go and find a job in the US and I’d always say no. Told them, I’ll show you one can make a good living staying in the Philippines. One just needs to be more enterprising.



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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49 Responses

  1. Miguel says:

    The companies could also help by providing a better work environment and giving value to developers (Alistair’s comment). As for the pay, they could compete if they get more high value work.

    Few people are as entrepreneurial as you, bossing!

  2. Mindanao Bob says:

    Doing something like software development is a worldwide industry. When you develop a piece of software you can sell it worldwide, not just in the Philippines. Because of this, there is no reason that a Philippine company cannot provide a better salary to it’s employees! For example, a Philippine company has the opportunity to earn just as much from the software as the Singaporean company does – because they can sell it to clients all over the world. If they can both ear the same amount of money, they are playing on equal ground, and the Philippine company has ever possibility to offer the same pay the the Singaporean company does.

    Offer a Filipino the same salary if he works here in the Philippines as he gets in Singapore – 99 out of 100 will stay here and not go abroad! The PSIA should be able to figure that out!

  3. This line encourages me more ” Told them, I’ll show you one can make a good living staying in the Philippines. One just needs to be more enterprising. ” Thats why I’m still here in the Philippines, You’re right Yuga! Technology itself will help us earn more income. Everything is on the net, you’ll just have to be on the track.

  4. BrianB says:

    Again, unethical. Sure the money’s great but there’s no bribe on earth under a million pesos that will make me forget you need to give two weeks notice.

    Once I resigned and went to another company the same day but only because my ex boss invited me to leave any time I want. And I’m not even a programmer or a manager, I was highly dispensable.

    But besides the two weeks notice, it’s natural for workers to go where they pay you 5 times your salary here. We’re in the kind of muck we’re in right now because the business sector does not INVEST in INNOVATIONS and INNOVATORS. Singapore expects constant innovations from their employees. and would pay a lot for your skills and talent because they know the return is exponential. Di lang talaga marurunong mga capitalist natin dito. Again it’s that haciendero mentality. Pano gaganda trabaho sa pinas kung puro outsourcing at retail trabaho? At pano tataas ang sweldo kung trabaho napakababa?

  5. franz says:

    yeah. my classmate’s brother who studied in UPLB and graduated BSCS is working in Singapore. Gets paid 80k monthly.

  6. dennis agulo says:

    There are still many left, that I know of, here in Pinas who earns more compared to working in Singapore.

    You just wouldn’t find them on company offices.

  7. yuga says:

    Yeah, you’re right Dennis, most of what I know stays at home and work for offshore companies. They need not go out to earn dollars.

  8. es-i-ow says:

    Web developers can also make it on their own. No need to go out the country to earn dollars or work under any company.

    Some proof:
    http://img519.imageshack.us/my.php?image=junedc7.gif
    http://img521.imageshack.us/my.php?image=julysb7.gif

    And those were just from google adsense. You can make more from other sources

  9. Eugene says:

    Hooray for staying in the country! :-)

  10. Miguel says:

    Yes there are good opportunities for webmasters, earning from Adsense/online means, and web developers (PHP and maybe Rails?)

    But for those of us who are Java developers, or “corporate developers” – we can’t work solo. (Well yes you can, telecommuting, but it’s hard.)

  11. itainteasy says:

    Yugatech,

    The Headline should read…The Best Filipino bloggers stay in the Philippines. Yugatech do you think it is possible to be the first millionare or billionaire blogger? Do you think blogging will be that lucrative?

  12. yuga says:

    I’m not specifically referring to blogging per se. I started out my first online business in the web hosting industry back in 2003, when I was still working as a developer for Microsoft. Today, that web hosting business has grown and has allowed me to quit my day job and focus on the business.

    As for blogging, or online publishing, if Inquirer.net was able to do it, then there is hope for others too. The business model is the same.

  13. itainteasy says:

    why do you make it seem like you can earn money blogging when you also have a web hosting company? I bet most of your mula comes from the web hosting company?

    Yuga… Remember you use to have a message of blog about your passion and you can change people lives because it is voice blogging that will help get your message across… something do that effect… Why do you always talk about how much money you can earn.. i guess that is not a passion since you worship money… Do you help support your family? Do you do charity work?

  14. yuga says:

    The key here is to diversify — spread the source of income. This blog is partly about problogging and not web hosting. We have a web hosting blog and it’s on a separate site. There we discuss about web hosting and domains. Here we talk about blog monetization. I also run a travel blog and there we discuss things about traveling. I also run a motorcycle blog/forum and guess what we discuss there?

    And since you were asking, other Filipino bloggers have also confirmed that it is doable — to make money from blogging. Check this recent poll we just made a couple of weeks ago.

    And yes, I do annual charity work. You are welcome to join me help those homeless kids in Paco.

    What I do not understand is your utter disgust about this issue and why you spend or waste your time culling over other people’s lives. Frankly, dude, if you don’t like my opinions, I’m not forcing it on you. You are always welcome not to visit this blog or read anything that I write. But the fact that you are here and we’re debating means that blogging, as new media is effective. If I didn’t have a blog, I don’t think we’ll ever get acquainted nor be able to discuss these issues. I also don’t think you would you be willing to meet face-to-face and tackle the same. But if you do, lunch is on me! ;)

    Btw, your domain says it’s for sale. :)

  15. itainteasy says:

    im sorry for the comments. Do you also do charity work for your family?

  16. yuga says:

    Tell you the truth man, I quit my day job and looked for other opportunities outside the corporate world because the salary ain’t enough to support the growing family.

  17. itainteasy says:

    How many kids do you have? Which one is your wife?

  18. itainteasy says:

    Im sorry but im confused.. Your quit your day job? So you quit blogging?

  19. yuga says:

    Sorry, not comfortable talking about family/personal stuff in public. My lunch meeting offer still stand. Or you can email me and I’ll be glad to answer your questions.

  20. itainteasy says:

    Sorry for the questions. I sincerly apologize. Isang Mahal

  21. BrianB says:

    I was actually thinking of getting neutered. Mahal magkapamilya.

  22. BrianB says:

    es-i-ow,

    Can you monetize my blog?

  23. issai says:

    hi yuga, engineers take pride in staying in the country, ofw engineers take pride in being the modern heroes. is the place where you work really that relevant? i mean singapore, there’s also the fact of cost of living. i work in San Francisco, CA, as a software engineer. I’m a newbie in terms of experience. i get paid more than the average here, but it doesn’t mean i don’t struggle. the cost of living here is just crazy here. If my son was here with me, since I’m a single mom, it would be a bad place for him to grow up knowing that I can’t afford even just a private school for him. if i wanted to have an easy life, i would’ve stayed in the philippines, but i wanted to give my son a better future, maybe not right now, but eventually. Like BrianB said, mahal magkapamilya. That’s the reason why I’m here, for my son. Doesn’t change wherever you go. I graduated from UPLB, it’s embedded in my brain that I should serve my country. Everytime i read an article about filipino skills exported to other countries, it hurts me. I love the Philippines, it’s by choice that I left, but i’m not disrespecting my country. Unknown to most of the population, ofws do serve their country. For example, OFWs donate to charities which in the philippines they couldn’t do. So again, is where you’re working at relevant?

  24. issai says:

    oh another thing, ads are a source of income but it is not directly a source from the philippines. it’s a collective source from advertisers all over the world. we have to accept that in a way, we are dependent on other industries not from the philippines. think of its as work outside the philippines is just another source for money.

  25. yuga says:

    issai, this issue has been cropping up time and time again. In the end, I think it all boils down to personal choice. I agree with you. Location should not be a huge factor. It’s not where but how much is the meat of it all. How wonderful would it be if you are able to earn in US standards and spend in Philippine standards? :)

  26. issai says:

    it would be great if it were that easy. i believe there are freelance programmers that do that, but it also has its challenges. i guess we just can’t have everything. :)

  27. BrianB says:

    Issai,

    Don’t feel so guilty about being abroad. On the contrary you should feel angry that you had to leave your family to give them a decent life, and you’re an engineer. Half my high school classmates (we’re only 90 in an entire batch) are now abroad. Some do feel guilty about leaving but when I ask them why, the answer pretty much boils down to higher pay abroad, lower pay here… for the same job. It’s not your fault because it’s the way it is. Think about it. Oh, somebody is to blame but not the people who choose the higher pay. Blaming yourself is like blaming your eyes for seeing or your ears from hearing.

  28. BrianB says:

    In the same way that no one should blame the messenger, no one should also blame people who hear the message.

  29. Fleeb says:

    I already thought about going there (Singapore) among other countries.

    Aside from the salary issues, also consider our TAX. Grabe. Ok lang na malaki, the thing is I can’t seem to find where my taxes went.

  30. issai says:

    thank you for your understanding :)

  31. wites says:

    i’m always a firm believer that staying here in the philippines is a much better choice. but lately, i have noticed a patern of working abroad among my friends and relatives. and to tell you the truth, they are already earning well here. but what made them think otherwise?

    allow me to enumerate some of the reasons why

    1. opportunity
    2. higher pay
    3. standard of living

    yes, it’s “possible” to earn big moolah here in the philippines, but i couldn’t say the same for wielders, security guards, electrician, carpenter, etc. *smile*

    @yuga: ako pre yugs walang free lunch?

  32. chinesemafia says:

    Bai, being one of the many Filipinos who left for Singapore, I would like to share my reasons for doing so:

    1. Income. My gross income here is 5 times of that while I was there. But more importantly, my net income is more than 7 times due to the low income tax (32% vs 4-5%).

    If only our government could put our taxes to good use, then I’d only feel half as bad.

    2. Safety. I can have the latest gadget or jewelry; walk alone in the middle of the night; take public transportation; cross the road; and do all sort of activities without any fear of getting mugged, kidnapped, or killed.

    The peace of mind I experience is definitely worth it.

    3. Efficiency. The first cab you get within 5 minutes will take you wherever you want to go. The document you need from any government office is available immediately at a fixed price.

    4. Stability. I was informed that the chicken rice meal here has remained in the same price from the past 10 years. I heard that our Chicken Joy now costs over a hundred.

    Filipinos are usually seen as an inferior race. I would be happy to see more highly skilled professionals going overseas to change this perception. I am always proud to see a Filipino excel in a foreign land.

    Besides, the millions of pesos we send home every month supposedly helps our economy.

  33. marquee2 says:

    I agree with chinesemafia, it is more safer to stay in foreign soil than to stay in the Philippines, you can feel the security and prosperity which I think we supposed to have in our own country. Thingking of the companies which earns the same millions or even more than the Singaporean IT industry is earning, I would say , I agree to what Mindanao Bob had said that if only the Companies are giving the same offer then it would really be a fair competition. Unluckily, if you have not tried to work abroad then you cannot see and feel the difference of earning it in other country than in Philippines. Especially on taxes!
    ask your self ” were does it really go?”

  34. rob says:

    Interesting, because I haven’t felt I was ‘safer’ abroad. Though the area I live and work in is relatively safe, I still get that uncomfortable feeling when walking at night. And less so in the Philippines (as you know which places to avoid, and how not to attract attention).

    In the Philippines, people will rob you to get your cash and cellphone. The motivation is mostly financial, perhaps from not having a job or having to feed hungry families. Whereas in the US or other countries, murders and robberies are mostly due to psychological issues.

    There’s also this notion that the standard of living is better abroad. This is partly true. Yes, you can buy more luxuries, and the living conditions are better. But that’s not all there is to it. Standard of living can also be measured in terms of family and friends. That feeling of stability and comfort being with the people who matter the most to you. You need to look at the overall picture, not just the material stuff.

  35. Jim says:

    I worked in Singapore as a manager for 2 months. I didn’t like it so I came back to Manila. Even if my salary was 3 times what I was getting in Manila (and I’m making almost P100k in Manila), the cost of living is very high.

    Imagine, a bottle of beer at the 7-11 costs $7?! Besides, I hate walking and in Singapore you can’t buy a car unless you’re a permanent resident.

    First thing I did when I got back was have a long drive in my car :)

  36. ImmigratetoCanada says:

    I would just like to mention that Canada is wide-open for IT ( web development etc. ) professionals. Economy is booming and friendly people. Canadian immigration is quite liberal. Further information may be found at the web sitehttp://www.CanadianCitizen.com ( recommended and worth checking out ).

  37. EmmigrateToCanada says:

    I would just like to mention that Canada is wide-open for IT ( web development etc. ) professionals. Economy is booming and friendly people. Canadian immigration is quite liberal. Further information may be found at the web site http://www.CanadianCitizen.com. So there may be an alternative to Singapore plus gum chewing is allowed in Canada.

  38. katz says:

    Wow. Now I know why my cousin is abroad. I’m not surprised about people going abroad to find work. In fact I haven’t seen most of my cousins for years since they’re all abroad. But I’m surprised about Singapore.

    Anyway I’m happy here in the Philippines. You’re right about being more “enterprising.” I want to start my own consulting business. But I also want to work for companies dito sa Baguio before I do so. I’m just waiting for my call and enjoying the fact that I’m jobless (not quite coz I’m helping my aunt manage Health Glow Center).

  39. Hi,

    I am Irish working in the Philippines looking to channel inward investment into the country for the ICT sector.

    I agree with the majority of the comments. Governmental support plays a vital role is stopping migration of highly skilled workers.

    It is however normal for 9-5 orientated people to leave and work all over the world for larger companies.

    I believe where real focus is supporting small software startups. Usually the best are innovative, but here there is absolutely no financial support for starting a business, little advice, only generic do’s and dont’s of starting a business. So the best loose heart, dont see a future and look to progress in other countries.

    There is huge potential here, huge skill, but know one knows about it. I am looking for a simple directory of all software companies in the Philippines.You think I can find one!

    Also half of the software associations sites are dead. It all comes down to support. You don’t have it.

    There is no PR mungers pro actively promoting the software industry here in other countries.

    I gave a small talk recently the topic was the growth of the ICT sector. I have never seen such content free useless information in all my life being promoted as progressive growth.

    Support the small man, that is the key. All top performers get tired of the shackles and the slow pace of their company at some point.

    The key is have the business development support in place which nurtures top performers and encourages them to start small enterprises…

    Anyway, best of luck to you all.

  40. chered says:

    government should be the first to do something on this long time exodus of pinoys going abroad. if you ask them all will say it is better to live and work in other countries than stay in Philippines. yes really filipinos are very good employees as we, here in singapore, will vouch for it..

    http://www.pinoymattersg.com

  41. iRoN says:

    It shows how poor our country is… shit I’ll go abroad too to get a better salary for a good living! slaps to our government.

  42. pete says:

    yuga,
    Been to different places worldwide meeting Filipinos and also working offshore.
    Almost all have the same thinking: more salary in the least amount of work time. But walking near their bedrooms I could hear usual cries of homesickness, depression, cultureshock,loneliness,discrimination, harassment, family wars ndlike. I say there’s no place like home. BUT d problem is: The philippines is not a small enterprise-friendly country. Enterpreneuers are not respected and of lower social status compared to corporate executives I presume. Moreover, our economy is now totally dependent on OFW remittance and our gov’t is very proud of it. Filipinos has now become top export product of R.P. This is bad. Probably will be seeing more Maria and Pedro for sale in your websites soon. I’m an EE by the way but loves I.T. Wish somebody could help me from your end with webdesign, webmaintenance, etc.

  43. If you’ve come this far down in these comments, consider yourself lucky. It’s now more than two years after this article was written; but it’s not too late, specially because the 2010 election is still at hand.

    Why are there more jobs in Indonesia and Thailand than in Pinas? I see several reasons, but two really stand out: (1) there’s very little foreign investment coming in; annually we only get hundreds of millions of dollars, but Indonesia and Thailand each gets billions; and (2) aside from exorbitant taxes, it is really very difficult to start any business here. The red tape and nonsense one has to go through even just to start a cafe are almost impossible to comply with, imposed from both national arms of government and local city offices. We have to get rid of these obstacles to business.

    My solution? It’s very simple: vote for Manny Villar!

  44. Miquel Pod says:

    We generally do not get away from responses nevertheless that has to these times! My personal saved website about reddit!

  45. Does you know when the newer iphone operating system being launched?

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