INTERACTIVE: What unrests in Mideast, N.Africa mean to Pinoys


Posted at Feb 26 2011 01:14 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2011 10:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - If people in other parts of the world are demanding change through protests in the streets or on Internet social networks, should Filipinos be concerned? 

In an interactive map below, we present a visual treat that would help our audience appreciate if Filipinos should be concerned.

Click on image to view larger map
Click on image to view interactive map

In a nutshell, the shock waves from the ouster of presidents in Tunisia and Egypt that continue to roll across North Africa and the Middle East expose the Philippines' vulnerability on the following fronts: 

  • Jobs and security of OFWs 

Middle East is a popular destination of millions of Filipino workers who leave the country to seek better paying jobs. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone hosts an estimated 1.3 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW), but the oil-rich country is not one of those currently experiencing political unrests. It is, however, surrounded by nations whose leaders have fallen (as in the case of Egypt) or are snubbing street and online calls for political change. 

The map shows how many Filipinos are staying in these countries facing a geopolitical challenge. 

But the challenge to the Philippine government is to keep its citizens in those countries safe. A deteriorating security situation in these host countries and the possibility that similar sentiments snowball to other neighbors are beyond the control of the Philippine government, but the magnitude -- and cost -- of repatriation efforts depend on them. 

  • Remittances 

Filipinos in the Middle East send the third highest remittance funds among all destinations of millions working abroad. 

Remittances from the Middle East accounted for 16% of the record $18.76 total remittances received in 2010.

Of the $2.96 billion funds from this region, 87% came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed

The map shows how the remittances from Middle East countries in turmoil compare. Money sent home from North African countries where there are current uprisings are also a few clicks away. 

The map provides a visual perspective of whether we should be concerned if remittances from these countries stop coming due to these unrests. After all, these remittance flows account for 10% of our GDP growth. 

  • Oil supply 

The map shows how reliant we are to these countries that have some of the world's largest known oil reserves.   

While the Philippines has, over the years, reduced its reliance on imported crude oil to less than half of our total energy sources, energy officials are still closely monitoring possible supply issues. After all, we still import about 50 million barrels of crude oil a year. These mostly fuel transport-related industries that move people and goods around. 

Also, oil supply threats usually translate to price hikes, which still hit us as oil importers. Already, oil prices have been creeping up, and has breached the $110 per barrel recently, sparking fears of a similar crisis such as the recent 2008 experience. Oil price hikes are usually accompanied by an increase in food prices, among others. 

To visualize all these, follow these instructions:

Select one of the indicators at the top-left corner of the map. Hover your mouse over the countries to see the corresponding data for the selected indicator. You may also click on the bar graph at the top-right corner and select the country or countries whose data you want to highlight. You may zoom in or out of the map by using your mouse, or by the zoom bar at the lower right corner (above the X button). 

Creative work by Kris Danielle Suarez; Data compiled by Lala Rimando, Ma. Aleta Nishimori and Kris Danielle Suarez, of
Map developed by StatPlanet [Frank van Cappelle (2010). StatPlanet: Interactive Data Visualization and Mapping Software.];