OFW is short for Overseas Filipino Worker. Their career tracks may vary; they can be domestic helpers, drivers, construction workers, chefs, managers, doctors, nurses, engineers, and etc., but these citizens have a universal trait lying in their spirits – selflessness.
Your parents, relatives, or friends may have sacrificed for their families’ bright future. With a higher salary and better environment, it is not a surprise why they chose to work abroad rather than in the Philippines.
We constantly look forward to the pasalubong from our parents, close relatives, or even pals who arrived from other foreign countries, but have we ever taken into account the sacrifices they made to put us in high spirits? Have we ever cherished the detail that you entered their minds at some point?
They might have also lied to you when they told you they were happy—genuinely and perfectly happy—because sometimes, they are not. Living away from their families is a tricky and challenging situation. Yes, they may have a higher income suitable for their professions, but it’s not complete. Money is not everything, though it is true we need it to purchase the basic necessities of life. The OFWs can’t be there for their families’ birthdays and special events like graduation, Christmas, and New Year. They are not always there, so you can’t tell them how your day went. This is why I’m thankful for social networking sites.
Although, for OFWs, their efforts never feel like a waste if it is for the family. I salute them for that. Several even sacrifice what they eat just to send money to their families back home. They swallow their pride and absorb every criticism other nationalities throw at them. Believe it or not, even with degrees or advanced education, some of them are discriminated because of their nationality or appearances.
Photo from Maria Jennifer Mejorada Lagat
As a daughter of an expatriate in the Middle East, I have witnessed how Filipinos wrestle with the feeling of nostalgia day after day. I had a lot of time to discover who I truly am while unfolding the mysteries of their lives as well. I made friends who have gone through the same thing—being away with a loved one.
My dad has been an OFW since 2009, but the whole family only migrated here, in the Middle East, last 2013. Since the city we live in is two hours away from the capital, where the Philippine school is located, we were advised to try homeschooling by knowledgeable parents. (Hi, Tito Jun and Tita Alice!) We all have to sacrifice! Many OFWs who are with their families here also considered the idea. It was the only way we could make things easier for both parties.
Year two and I’ve already learned many things from mingling with OFWs. Several problems affect and stress out our fellow nationals in foreign countries. First, they are not all keen about leaving their families for work, but it’s the only choice to keep them in good welfare. The standard of living and the value of education in the Philippines is continuously rising, too, so how can they stay there when they can earn twice as much in a foreign country? They have their goals for the future which seem unattainable in our country. It’s the sad truth.
Additionally, the time difference and distance do not help in formulating an indestructible foundation. They arrive home only to see their sacrifices taken for granted. Their children, wife, or husband may become detached from them. OFWs somehow become different people when they first leave and arrive back.
For them, gathering every now and then lessens the ache they are feeling. It’s the comforting feeling of knowing they are not alone. Sharing activities with other kababayans can help keep themselves from having a heavy heart. I’ve read some blogs by OFWs. It was fascinating to skim through it—it can make you emotional.