Filipino Workers Abroad Become 'Techies'

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MANILA-- Apart from sending billions of dollars home, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have turned into modern wizards, showing family members and friends the ways of modern technology during their stay abroad, according to a study by research firm Synovate Phils. Inc.

Family members and beneficiaries interviewed said the foreign workers' exposure to technology in other countries made them more aware of new tools for communication. They learned to use computers to send and receive e-mail, chat, and logon to social networking sites, saving them precious time and money compared to sending letters, which was the norm years before.Their remittances to family members, in turn, give beneficiaries the means to acquire gadgets and use them for improved communication.

Cellular phones (23 percent) are at the top of the list of gadgets most popular among OFWs and their beneficiaries, followed by “gadgets in general” (20 percent) and laptops or desktop computers (20 percent).

OFWs have refrained from using snail mail and sending voice tapes, preferring e-mail, web chats, and social networking nstead.

“Now there’s text, call and chat. We can just post a picture on Facebook and we already get updated on each other’s activities,” according to a beneficiary of an OFW in the Middle East. “Every day we talk to each other on Skype, and we text each other all the time, so it feels as if they are just nearby,” said another beneficiary with a family member in Australia.

The study covered 300 respondents in Metro Manila and the nearby province of Batangas. The study, done mainly through focus group discussions and self-assessment, was conducted in July.