There Goes The Dollar

The U.S. dollar has long been the darling of wallets and bank accounts all over the planet but it's continuing decline vis a vis other currencies have not only worried American tourists but Overseas Filipino Workers as well. As someone who earns in American dollars, I feel I'm really losing more when that money is handed out at currency exchange counters in Europe or Asia. That's why I prefer travelling to South America where the US dollar still reigns supreme. But then, the world is round and there are other continents to explore. Is it time I shift to saving in Euros instead? Is it time OFWs open Euro accounts in the Philippines?

Travelling to Europe now is definitely more expensive as the Euro and British Pound have grown more muscular. In the Philippines, the Peso has appreciated to PHP 40.60 against the Dollar as of today (1/12/08), its highest in 8 years and considered Asia's best performing currency in 2007. This is certainly not good news to the millions of Pinoy workers - me included - whose remittances back home have significantly been impacted. Exactly a year ago, 1 US dollar was 49.14 Pesos. That means sending USD 1,000 last year would have netted the recipient PHP 49,140. At today's rate, that's only PHP40,600 - or even less depending on the local bank.
Back in 1993 when I started working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a US Dollar was 27 Pesos. When I left the Kingdom in 2001, a US Dollar was 51 Pesos. The Philippine Peso devalued through the years to the delight of OFWs of course. I even suspect a colleague's mood was dictated by the fluctuations of the Peso's value. At work, any decrease in value of the Peso, even by Centavos, would send some Pinoys scampering to remittance centers in Balad to ensure a better exchange rate. It goes to show that as the Peso plummeted against the US Dollar, more and more Filipinos back home were enticed to join the diaspora. As they say, there's nothing like earning the Katas Ng Saudi even if in Jeddah, I was actually paid in Saudi Riyals. I remember gleefully counting crisp 100 US Dollar bills after having exchanged my last Riyal paycheck before going back to the Philippines: it felt heavy even if it was just a wad of paper money.

Today, that wad of American money isn't as heavy anymore.

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