Pinoys face tough remittance choices as loonie declines

Rowena Papasin, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jan 21 2016 02:31 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2016 12:24 PM

VANCOUVER - Filipino-Canadians are worried about the free-falling Canadian dollar and its effect on the money that they send back to the Philippines.

Former caregiver Rowela Vargas barely gets enough sleep these days because of the stumbling Canadian currency.

Just a couple of years ago, the exchange rate was still at P41.52, but it steadily declined and was pegged at just P32.70 on Tuesday.

These days, Vargas has to work double jobs to send enough money to her daughters in the Philippines.

"Hindi na ma-budget ang pera tapos makikita mo na imbes na dati medyo sumosobra, ngayon halos hindi na. Kailangan mo talagang kumayod, mag-iba po ng extra job kasi hindi naman enough yung isa mong work," said Vargas.

Vargas is just one of many Filipinos, the majority of whom are temporary workers or caregivers, whose families depend solely on their remittances.

Those without second jobs are forced to tighten their belts.

Filipino store owner Alice Almirol said this is the lowest rate she has seen since she took over the store five years ago.

Some of her regulars have held off on sending money, most of them just don’t have this luxury.

"No choice sila eh. They have to send money kasi nga dahil sa mga families nila in the Philippines. So talagang ke mababa o mataas, talagang nagse-send sila ng pera," Almirol said.

Former PNB Remittance Center-Canada president Alex Barros does not see the Canadian dollar improving any time soon as the price of oil in the world market continues to tumble.

He said if this trend continues, Filipinos back home will definitely feel the pinch.

"Pag sinabi ni nanay dito, 'Anak, ito lang talaga yung kaya kong ipadala, so ang baon nyo ngayon, kung ang expenses niyo a month is 10,000 --- 7,000 na lang, kasi yon lang ang halaga ng kaya kong ipadala e'. Tapos yung expenses mong ipinanggo-grocery, maapektuhan din yung mga retail kasi konti na yung ginagastos ng OFW sa kanila," said Barros.

Barros advised Filipinos to look for opportunities to save when sending money home like promos for discounted remittance fees and better exchange rates.

But he also appeals for more understanding from Filipino families.

"All over the world, hindi naman tayo namumulot ng pera. Alam natin na nahihirapan din yung mga kababayan natin dito," he said.

Read more on Balitang America.