Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs are considered as our “modern-day heroes” because they don’t only contribute to our country’s economic growth through remittances, but also sacrifice their chance of being with their families. They choose to work overseas to be able to provide for their loved ones regardless of the risks they will have to face in a foreign land.
Today, in every Filipino household there is an OFW family member or relative. Most Filipinos, after working for many years in our country, choose to leave in search for greener pastures while some prefer to leave right after graduating from high school or college. They believe that being an OFW would help them live a comfortable life. The high unemployment rate in our country pushes them to work as household workers, janitors, construction workers or any other blue-collared jobs that would ease the financial struggle of their family.
Here are the common challenges that OFWs face abroad and ways on how to cope with them:
1. Homesickness – One of the biggest challenges of an OFW is homesickness. It is distressing when they miss important events, special occasions and not seeing their kids grow up. Good thing, nowadays, it is easy to communicate with their loved ones through Facebook, Viber, or Skype.
2. Communication gap and culture differences – Working in another country, dealing with the locales and communicating with them can be exhausting. It may take awhile to adjust and adapt, but don’t stop learning their language and understanding their culture. There are lots of ways to do it, given that information is just at the tip of your fingers.
3. Financial – Most Filipinos think that working abroad will earn them big money but sometimes, they don’t receive the high income that they expected. Since they send almost all of their income to their families back home, they need to make sacrifices and even neglect their basic needs while living abroad.
Instead of buying expensive gadgets for the family or splurging on vacation in the Philippines, remember to set a budget and save money before spending. Allot a percentage of your income for savings since you are not sure if your employment contract will be renewed yearly.
4. Maltreatment and other possible risks – We have heard stories told by OFWs about how they were maltreated abroad. As an OFW, keep these three things in mind: (a) know the location of the Philippine Embassy; (b) know the nearest offices that oversee the needs of Filipino workers abroad; (c) be aware of the REPUBLIC ACT No. 10022 which states that:
An act amending Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended, further improving the standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress, and for other purposes.
Philippine government thru Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is implementing a Compulsory Insurance for OFWs both first timers and Balik-Manggagawa, the POEA and OWWA or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration require this insurance before issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and/or renewal of contracts for agency and direct hired.
There are few licensed companies that are accredited by the Insurance Commission (IC) to offer this type of Insurance. Paramount Life & General Insurance Corporation (PLGIC) is the first insurance company that is accredited by IC to cater to this type of Insurance. PLGIC is also the first to make it an online application thru www.ofwinsurance.ph, which makes it hassle-free and convenient for anyone who will apply.
For Balik Manggagawa, below are the benefits of the OFW Insurance which PLGIC is offering thru their www.ofwinsurance.ph website:
• Natural death, with at least $10,000 survivor’s benefit
• Accidental death, with at least $15,000 survivor’s benefit
• Permanent total disablement & dismemberment, $7,500 disability benefit
• Repatriation Benefit
• Subsistence allowance benefit, USD 100.00 per month for a maximum of 6 months
• Compassionate visit for at least 7 consecutive days
• Medical evacuation
• Medical repatriation to the migrant worker’s residence
The Filipinos are known as hard workers. But let’s not forget that we need to value ourselves and our rights as well. We must learn to prioritize our safety and security.