The OFW or the Overseas Filipino workers are Filipino who work abroad. According to Philippine Statistic authorities, an estimated 2.2 million Filipinos are working internationally.
Why do Filipinos choose to work abroad? What are the most common reasons?
I have lots of relative who work at different countries two of them are domestic helper at Hong-kong and Macau. Another one is a care giver at Canada. And my cousin who is a nurse at Singapore. I also have a friend in Dubai who works as a baker. All of them chose to work abroad for the same reason. To give enough financial support to their family. They say that being an OFW is very difficult, but they are willing to bear the pain for their family to have a good life.
Here are some of the reasons why they work abroad:
Poverty. This is one of the main causes of the Filipinos that they are forced to work at a different country. According to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) 48% or 11.1 million Filipino families are suffering in poverty based on the 2nd Quarter Survey of 2018.
Unemployment. Many Filipinos do not have permanent job due to contractualization, age limit, didn’t study in college, and due to a lack of jobs in the Philippines. According to the SWS there was an increase in the number of Filipino who are unemployed in the first three months of the quarter of 2018. More than 10.9 Filipinos are currently unemployed. High unemployment rate and less job opportunities for new graduates are unending problems in the country. These increase the competition among Filipinos who are looking for available jobs in the Philippines. With such high competition for career opportunity, some applicants are desperate to have a job that they are willing to get paid for lower salaries and not enjoy benefits as long as there is security of tenure. Sad to say, these will make most of the employers and businessmen grab such unfair condition that keeps their businesses save labor cost and earn more profit.
Low wages. Many are professionals in the Philippines or other degree holders such as a nurse, teacher, doctor, police, and others who do not receive enough salary thus, they choose to go to another country for higher salary. Even for skilled workers, such as housemaids and other laborers are well compensated in abroad than the professionals in the Philippines. The truth may hurt, but let’s face it, being employed abroad and doing the same work in the Philippines provide us double or more income and salary than being employed in the Philippines.
Great opportunity. Many Filipinos choose to go to abroad because of good opportunities that the other country has to offer. There are a lot of jobs out there that doesn’t require a college diploma and they were being noticed by their skills and not by their age and physical appearance. Nowadays, the world is so very competitive that having a global experience will give you a big career edge among other professionals. Having a worldwide perspective not only broadens your horizons, but also offers you a unique understanding of the skill sets required in a global economy. Furthermore, it can demonstrate to future employers that you have the ability to adapt to diverse workplaces. Whether you like it or not, your skills and experiences are always accounted.
Government supports OFWs. Government have already acknowledged the importance of OFW. OFWs are now covered by better labor protection, better healthcare and insurance plans. Also, they are considered as the nation’s newest breed of heroes because they are pumping in billions worth of dollar remittances to the Philippines.
Unstable economic condition. Many Filipinos are already becoming hopeless to see the country’s economic condition attain significant progress. Let’s face it again, having a corrupt government, mismanagement of the country’s assets, gross inefficiency in government functions, and other things that stop an entire country from developing due to self-interest and greed, what else can we expect from these? Every one of us will always be frustrated with such condition for we know that we will not grow under these circumstances. There has been already a longstanding lack of confidence in the government’s effort to secure a better future for its citizens that many Filipinos have to make they own actions by seeking better opportunities in overseas.
Wants to live in different country. Not all OFW are going to abroad because of the said reasons above but because they want to live there because they like the culture and the place. Just like one of my aunt who lived at Japan and married a Japanese man, and now they have a family there and they often visit here in the Philippines for a vacation.
Opportunity to travel and experience abroad. Working overseas gives you the best opportunity to travel and experience life abroad. It gives you the opportunity to discover new places and people. A chance to meet other people, learn their culture, traditions and ways of life. In addition, working abroad gives you an opportunity to see the other side of the world with your own eyes, then taking pictures of your own adventures and showing them off to your friends and relatives back at home.
If only there are enough jobs here in the Philippines that will provide enough salary then they wouldn’t have to go to another country to look for a better job. I don’t think laziness is not just the reason why people doesn’t achieve success, sometimes they just don’t have enough opportunity even though they are hardworking because they didn’t get a college diploma and sometimes because of age and physical appearance.
They have to work in order to live. And most especially, they have to provide the needs of their family, thus they are willing to sacrifice and leave the country just so their child can go to school.
But aside from all of that, OFW’s also contributes to the Philippines economy. When a Filipino worker is sent to become part of a foreign workforce, that person’s sole purpose is to be able to send back a better sum of income, which can help uplift his/her family’s standard of living, pay off loans, credit cards and get out of debt altogether, and be able to provide for better education. Little do we know, their hard work and sacrifice, being away from their families and the comfort of home, not only helps to boost their position in the society, but also helps to enliven the economic standing of the Philippines with the rest of the world. In over two decades, the rate of Philippine remittances have continuously risen throughout the years. Having to consider this is a cause and effect in the value of the US Dollar versus the currencies of the other countries in the world. In a span of 11 years, from 2001 to 2012, remittances to the Philippines have gone from $7B to $21B (US Dollars), or as estimated.
Going to another country is really not that hard. The process and requirements could be done easily. Getting a job out there is easy if you have an agency or if there is someone you know out there who can refer you to a job.
I think they are very brave people. Just like my aunt who is a domestic helper at Hong-Kong, she only have a chance to go home once a year but in some cases like emergencies her boss will let her go home. And also the fact that she is working for another family, cooking for them, taking care of their child is a huge deal because she serves another family instead of hers.
I also admire my aunt at Canada, she’s not just a caregiver she also work other jobs like janitress and baby baby-sitter, sometimes I wonder if she still got time to sleep and rest. But before she moved to Canada she was a domestic helper at Hong-Kong first. If you are a domestic helper in Hong-Kong, you need to live with your employers because the Hong-Kong’s policy is ‘Full-time-live in domestic service’ to prevent them from getting a part-time job. Before arriving to this country, both the employer and the employee must sign a contract which has a statement that the domestic helper can only live in the employer’s house. My aunt wanted to do more thus she worked hard until she saved enough money to move in Canada which has given her a lot more opportunities. My aunt didn’t graduate in college and only finished high-school, but because of her perseverance, she is now a personal care assistant in Ontario, Canada and now she is already back to school wherein 60% of her tuition fee will be paid by the government, she needed this in order for her to get a license. She’s also very generous because one time when my niece was hospitalized she gave us money to add for the payment of the hospital bills, not just to my niece but also to other members of the family who needed assistance.
My cousin at Singapore is a graduate in Nursing and she is now pursuing her career to be a licensed international nurse. Her job has given her family the opportunity to buy a decent house and they recently purchase a car which is a huge achievement for her.
As for my friend in Dubai, he is doing well, most especially now that his wife recently delivered a baby boy. He now have enough inspiration to work hard and provide for his family. This friend of mine is actually my classmate in college but he have to stop since he can’t afford it anymore and choose to find a full time job instead. He lives with his grandma while his mother and father are separated. He never met his father and his mother who is also an OFW is supporting his needs ever since he was a child. It was hard for him to leave the country because he’s also going to leave his wife who is by that time pregnant, but he chose to leave the country for the sake of his new family. He said living in Dubai was hard at first since he have to adjust in the environment and it’s also hard for him to communicate. My friend is fluent in both Tagalog and English but the official language in Dubai is Arabic, although English is also widely spoken. He told me that he was having a hard time understanding Arabic people because of their accent and grammar. He said that they have a hard time constructing correct sentences making it hard to communicate. Another interesting thing he told me is that their culture is really conservative. He told me that women there should be all covered up. They are not allowed to wear shorts, sleeveless or any provoking clothing. Single women are not allowed to go out with married men or men that is not their relative. The reason behind this is because it’s dominated by Islamic religion. And also drinking is not allowed. During his free time he goes to the gym to work out. There are also good things there because it’s a tax free country. He told me that living in another country is a great and he’s looking forward for more experience.
When I was in college I was also thinking of going abroad for my career, turns out I still have no courage to leave the country and I’m not ready yet. But now I think I’m satisfied here and I don’t think I have to go to another country to earn more, although it might be great to have a higher salary. But since I’m still happy and contented here, then I’ll choose to stay.
There are many other reasons why many Filipinos want or need to work abroad. Some of these reasons are personal, others are financial, and there are also reasons that are only temporal. Although working abroad is very rewarding, there are also a number of disadvantages in working in the foreign lands, such as the loneliness of being away from your family, discrimination from overseas employers, and the high cost of living abroad. But overall they would still be the modern hero, not only for their love for their families but more importantly, their significant contributions to the country’s economy。