Almost every other Filipino family would have a member or two who works overseas. And with the current economic situation of the country, I bet a lot more people will take any opportunity to work if abroad.
If you are a new OFW or if you are just planning to work abroad, here are some things that you need to know:
1. Set Your Goal
Before you leave the country, it is important for you to know what exactly you are leaving for. Do you just want to have the experience of working abroad? Did you get a better offer than your job at home? Do you plan to migrate? Do you need to support your family?
2. Always Take The Legal Way
Shortcuts aren’t always the best even though it’s definitely faster. But this is quite risky and might get you into more trouble instead. It is always better to leave the country with proper documents to keep yourself covered. Remember that once you step into the plane, you are going to another territory and it’s not always good on the other side.
3. Never Trust Anyone
Wolves can smell new prey and they come to you in sheep clothing. Always analyze the people first and see what their motives are. Overfriendly people can be red flags. Never trust anyone, not even your own countrymen with your life and especially your money.
4. Never Trust Anything Online
By now, you must have watched a lot of episodes of Raffy Tulfo in Action and you must have seen a lot of OFWs complain about fraud investments and fraud love. OFWs are usually (not all) lonely because they are away from their families and are usually very vulnerable. Please, please, never trust anyone you’ve only met online. Never trust them with your money. Never invest in anything you haven’t seen. And never ever, fall in love with someone online and send them money. If your alleged online lover has already asked for money, it’s a sign. You wouldn’t want to be the complainant on Tulfo’s next episode.
5. Don’t Think That Two Years is Enough
Every OFW (or maybe not all) says, I’ll finish my contract (which usually is two years) and I won’t go back again. Well, if your salary for the duration of two years and just yours and yours alone, then this could be possible or unless you are super highly-paid. But if your goal is to pay your deep depths, your kids’ tuition fee, mortgage, and everything else, then two years will never be enough. Once you step out of that Philippine border, expect that you’d be out for more than two years.
I also told myself in September 2006 that I’d be back home after my two years contract. And here I am, still overseas after 16 years.
6. Never Invest in Material Things
In 2016, after my 10th year in Dubai, I had to pack all my stuff and send them home because I was moving to the Maldives and I can only carry a piece of luggage and my guitar. Before I left for the Maldives, I realized that after ten years, I only saved a lot of shoes and clothes. I also found it funny (but it’s really not funny at all) that I arrived in Dubai with zero money in my pocket and departed just the same. Believe it or not, after ten years, I don’t have any savings. I also don’t have my own house yet. I don’t have my own car. I was only able to send home Kabayan boxes full of shoes, clothes, books (well, this is an investment for me), a sewing machine (an investment too), and nothing more, really. I was shocked. Don’t buy things that you don’t need.
The first investments that I usually see when an OFW goes back home will either be a house or a car. I don’t have anything against this but I recommend investing in business first or stocks or bonds which will give you passive income. But then again, before anything else, do your research and know the basics before investing.
7. Prepare Yourself for LDR
Obviously, LDR is a given if you’ll work abroad unless you’ll bring your spouse or partner with you. If you are not ready for this then don’t even think about working abroad.
8. If You are Physically or Mentally Exhausted, Treat Yourself
Working abroad can be very exhausting in all aspects. And it is not bad to treat yourself every now and then. Although, don’t use your exhaustion as a reason to spend all your money on eating out or shopping because later on, it is not your physical or mental exhaustion that you need to treat anymore but a different type of affliction called shopaholic.
It’s ok to have a fancy dinner or coffee from time to time or a nice watch or shoes too. You can always reward yourself for working hard but always know the limitations.
9. Keep Your Faith Intact
It is not easy to be out in a sea of strangers. You will be put to a test; your patience, your kindness, and everything else. Some nights you will wake up feeling cold and lonely. Some mornings you don’t have the energy to move forward anymore. Sometimes there’s no one to talk to and no one who could understand your situation. Pray. And keep praying. You will be guided. You will be embraced in His warmth. God is all you need.
10. If You Feel Lost, Go Back to Number 1
We cannot avoid distractions in our life and this could sometimes lead us to the wrong path. Whenever you feel lost, always go back to number 1. Remind yourself what is your goal. Why are you there and why do you need to keep moving forward.
For seasoned OFWs, you’d probably experienced most of what I mentioned and I’m sure you might have experienced a lot more. Feel free to share them in the comments and I’d add them up on this post.