By Mila Glodava
With nearly $5 billion in remittances from its 2.5 million U.S. immigrants, the Philippines made the top five of the home countries receiving individual remittances from expatriates (see table below). The Index reports at least $95 billion of private giving to home countries of immigrants. That's more than three and a half times what the United States government give in foreign aid.
Individual Remittances from the United States to Developing Countries
1) Latin America $16.8 billion
2) Mexico $13.3 billion
3) India $ 5.0 billion
4) Philippines $ 4.8 billion
6) Caribbean $ 4.5 billion
7) All Africa $ 1.6 billion
8) Other $ 1.0 billion
-- Index of Global Philanthropy, 2006
This impressive amount comes from you and me sending $25 here or $100 there toour families and friends, multiplied by 2.5 million, and that’s quite a sum for our impoverished country. According to the Index of Global Philanthropy issued by a Washington think tank, the Hudson Institute, such remittances “were equivalent to 20 percent of export earnings and 5 percent of the GDP for the Philippines.”
What does it mean for a developing country like the Philippines? The Index reports such remittances enables developing countries to 1) bolster their foreign exchange reserves, 2) strengthen their banking systems, reduce dependence on the cyclical nature of aid and trade, and provide direct and cost effective economic benefits to families for education, housing and health care.
In addition, the Index reports of community foundations, e.g., Metro Infanta Foundation, comprise about 7 percent of the total number of foundations that make international grants. Community foundations raise funds from the public as opposed to independent foundations which are from contributions from a single source, such as a family.
While community foundations give only 1 percent of all international giving by foundations, its rate of growth in international giving was highest in community foundations. The Index reports an increase from $6 million in 1998 to $29 million in 2002.
Metro Infanta Foundation (MIF) has distributed, since 1997 nearly $350,000 or more than 15 million pesos in grants towards religious, educational, humanitarian, development and civic causes in the Metro Infanta areas of Burdeos, Infanta, Panukulan, Polillo and Real and the towns under the jurisdiction of the Prelature of Infanta (mostly in scholarship). In addition, it facilitated more than $200,000 or more than 9 million pesos directly from other funding agencies.
This fiscal year alone (July 2006-June 2007) Metro Infanta Foundation already has distributed more than $27,000 in grants for scholarships and other causes chosen by donors, such as the Prelature of Infanta, Carmelite Seminary and Socio Pastoral Institute which distributes and monitors all MIF grants. In addition, MIF served as conduit for the Discalced Carmelites' mission appeal in the Archdiocese of Denver, netting more than $35,000.
Of course, what we give is almost insignificant, especially considering only a handful of Infantahins really give to the foundation. However, when added to all the other private giving and the community foundations and home town associations involved in philanthropy, it's a staggering amount.
No wonder there is growing interest in migrant philanthropy. The Hudson Institute is only one of those studying this new phenomenon of private giving in the United States. In the Philippines, the Institute for Migration and Developments studies the impact of "Offshore Giving" and has noticed and reported on the growing network of “Diaspora philanthropy” benefiting our native land, including the work of Metro Infanta Foundation.