OFW is an abbreviation for Overseas Filipino Workers used generally for the Filipinos working abroad. The so-called BAYANI (hero) of the country. Filipinos often have to resort to working abroad for better life for the family they leave behind.
Why choose to be an OFW?
With the unemployment in the Philippines growing every year, youngsters find it even more difficult to make the ends meet. According to the Associated Labour Union of Philippines, over 1 million fresh graduates faced unemployment after completing their formal education in 2017. Most times all they can get the job of a minimum wage worker. This isn’t enough so they have to pick up side jobs so that they can earn enough to support their family.
After exhausting every possible way known, there arrives the moment where they are forced to think the unthinkable. On one hand their family – ‘their world’ and on other … Money! They realise that it will be a tremendous sacrifice; they also know that their families behind will have a much better life and their needs will be fulfilled. That thought alone becomes the driving force behind their enormous efforts. There could be a great chance that while working abroad they could get a permanent residency in that particular country and become permanent citizens.
Employment of the OFW
For a Philippines national, there are many jobs available. Nurses, teachers, engineers, architect are just a few of the fields they can apply in. But only skilled and experienced people can apply for the jobs in these domains. Most aspirants land abroad as a factory worker or a domestic helper.
The Main requirement to be an OFW is to be able to communicate in English. Since English is a universally spoken language now, it is a must to know. Secondly, one must have perseverance and patience at all times. Even though the overseas income is great, it still is a lot of hard work, best to face it and take it head on!
An OFW becomes the protagonist of family and the loved ones. They become the corner stone of the family. When you come across a different culture, you must try to adapt as quickly as you can. Don’t let the change discourage you. Working abroad requires to be flexible.
The sacrifices made by the OFW
There are many sacrifices for being an OFW. First of all, to part from your loved ones is the biggest of all the sacrifices that anyone can make. With a heavy heart one leaves their little children who still need them behind. In order to earn a better living for better future of their tiny tots, they leave their hearts behind. The moment you take that step, you know you will miss every bit of their growing up, their birthdays, the day they cut their first tooth, the moments they get up after they fall, the small meaningless things that hold an ocean deep emotion.
When they say time flies, it really does. Soon your children will graduate from the school, get a job or get married. Sometimes you become a grand parent and get to see your grand baby on the video and wish if you could hold them in your arms soon.
Another big sacrifice is leaving your culture behind. You come out of your comfort zone and adapt to an entirely new culture. Lifestyle, food, clothings, language are some of the things that change immediately which keeps longing you for home. One must be quick to learn how to interact with people and adjust to your new surroundings. You must not be fussy over the food you eat either. Everyone must remember this, “I am not in the Philippines. I should give myself a chance to adapt and like new cuisines.”
Advantages and disadvantages of working as an OFW
There are many Overseas Filipino Workers who have been successful while working abroad whereas some have failed too. That is the risk one can’t foresee. If you’re lucky, you could make a good living and in the end have your own home, land or business back in Philippines over a period of time. Your family could prosperous because of the sacrifices you make. Kids graduating from good school. Even though you were not there when they grow, your presence was always felt.
Some get mistreated by their employers too. Some have faced severe medical negligence as either they were not diagnosed properly or not provided timely medical treatment. Unfortunately they return home sick without money.
It is not easy to be an OFW! However, one must not forget, everyone has a story and a reason. Regardless of how different anyone’s reason could be, it always revolves around the love of their family.
We should all be mindful of the fact that all OFW’s are not internally happy even though they always carry a smile on their face and might be seen happy and enjoying on their off days. It is the vacuum of their loved ones that can never be filled as long as they don’t go home and are able to hold their now grow up sons and daughters in their arms.
Edited by: Himesh Saraf