For most Filipinos, working abroad is a dream come true. Most of us think that our problem will be solved when we or our loved ones start to earn money abroad. But this is not always the case. We all know that behind the care packages and money that they send, is a loneliness and longingness that Filipinos always have in their heart.
Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs simply means Filipino people working in another country. They are workers registered with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). However, not all Filipinos who are abroad are called OFWs. There are people who are called non-OFWs or returning overseas Filipinos, non-OFW students, non-OFW Balikbayan, non-OFW tourists, spouses, and children who live abroad. There are also Filipinos who have permanent resident status or citizenship who are called Overseas Filipino (OFs).
Roles and Contributions
The Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are considered modern heroes because of their economic contributions by paying taxes and sending remittances to their families back in the Philippines. They play important roles when it comes to social, cultural, and economic life. They also help spread Filipino culture around the world and create a bridge between Phillippines to foreign countries.
Types of Jobs for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Filipinos are hard workers and resilient people. We give our best in everything we do just to make sure we can earn money from it. There is a wide range of jobs that we can do depending on the skills, experience, and educational background we have. Here’s the list of jobs that we can have in a foreign country:
- Overseas Manpower (caregivers, household services workers, domestic helpers)
- Construction Industry (construction workers or carpenters)
- Manufacturing (factory workers)
- Engineering and Medicine (engineers, doctors, and nurses)
- Information Technology
- Customer Services
Because of the economic contributions given by the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the Philippine government gave them perks and bonuses they can enjoy such as:
- Fee exemptions. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can avail exemptions on airport terminal fees, travel fees, and document stamp fees.
- Duty Free Tax-Free. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can enjoy shopping at Duty Free and buy pasalubong without paying any taxes.
- SSS or Pag-IBIG housing loan. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can now easily afford a house by applying for a housing loan.
- TESDA Free Language Course. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers language skills like Spanish, English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
- OWWA Benefits. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) provides various benefits to OFWs such as onsite assistance, livelihood training, education assistance for OFWs’ dependents, counseling, legal assistance, and more.
We know that living in an unfamiliar place is difficult and scary. You need to learn how to adapt quickly to a different culture, language, and homesickness. Even with the use of modern technology like the internet and smartphones, it still feels different, and loneliness is always around the corner.
There is also a danger of discrimination and exploitation. Where Filipinos are seen as having low life and don’t deserve a decent workplace and a home. Some of them develop health problems due to work environment and stress, no time for self-care, or rest days. They work seven days a week just to make sure they can send extra money to their loved ones back in the Philippines.
Being an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)
Despite the hardship that we know OFWs experienced, Filipino workers still dream of living and working overseas. So to become an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), here is the list of requirements:
- 2×2 picture
- Philippine passport (with 6 months validity)
- PSA-issues Birth Certificate
- High School/College diploma
- Transcript of Records
- Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Employment contract/Job contract
- NBI clearance
- Marriage contract (if applicable)
- PRD ID
- Certificates (e.g. training certificates etc.)
The application to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is not as tedious as before. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) created a process that will work well for applicants, recruitment agencies, and government agencies.
- Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS). This is a mandatory seminar initiated by the Department of Migrants (DMW) for all aspiring OFWs. It talks about a wide range of topics from job rates to living standards abroad.
- Find a recruitment agency. You can find legit recruiters through the Department of Migrants (DMW) website.
- Process the required documents. The required documents depend on the type of job. However, the most common ones are Transcripts of Record (TOR), diplomas, and medical certificates.
- Interview and screening exams. Employers would want to interview and screen all applicants to make sure they are suitable for the job they are looking for.
- Medical tests and assessments. Employers would also want to make sure that they will hire a healthy person that can handle the job and the stress abroad.
- Employment contract signing. Read carefully the employment contract and make sure you understand the terms given to you.
- Payment Fees. The employment contract also includes the fees you need to pay such as placement fees, processing fees, and other fees needed for the application.
- Pre-Deployment Orientation Seminar (PDOS). This seminar provides information about your host country and gives you tips on what and what-not-do.
- Submitting the requirements to POEA/DMW and other government agencies. All your documents will be submitted by your recruitment agency to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and other government agencies. When all your documents have been approved, you will receive your Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
- Validation and flight. On the day of your flight abroad, you need to go to the Assistance Center and the Bureau of Immigration for validation. You need to show them your documents like passport, PDOS certificate, Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), and receipts that you paid all the fees you need to pay so you can get exemptions from paying terminal fees and travel taxes.
- Begin working abroad. Once you landed in your chosen host country and start working, it’s the start of becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW).
Help for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Everyone faces a lot of challenges and hardships every day. However, most Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) faced it alone. Most of them hide all the pain and endure abuse and maltreatment abroad. And the worst part is, they don’t want to let their families know about it because they don’t want to worry them. So here’s a list of ways how we can help our modern heroes:
- Donate money or time to organizations that help Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
- Raise awareness about the struggles and challenges
- Encourage the government to provide more job opportunities
- Provide scholarships for OFW dependents.
Philippine Government Agencies for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Here’s a list of Philippine government agencies that provide services and projects to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO)
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
- Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)
- Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth)
- Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG)
- Social Security System (SSS)
- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
- Department of Migrant Workers (DMW)
- Philippine Embassies/Philippine Consulates
Video: PHILIPPINE AIRPORT STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR FIRST-TIMERS ABROAD
For aspiring OFWs who don’t know what to do in the airport, here’s a step-by-step guide by Honeylith Rudz.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long have Overseas Filipino Workers been around?
The first wave of workers going abroad is in 1970, making it over 50 years now.
Why do Filipinos want to work overseas?
The most common reason is to earn more money. Filipinos want to give their family a better life.
How many Filipinos work abroad?
There are over 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers.
What are the most popular destinations for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)?
Most Filipinos choose the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates), Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia), and America (United States of America, Canada).
What are the benefits of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)?
Aside from the benefits and services that the Philippine government provides, as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFWs), you will gain experience working with different people and cultures that will widen your horizon and will give you more opportunities.
What is the most difficult thing about being an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)?
Being an OFW means being away from families and facing problems alone. Homesickness is one of the most difficult challenges that an OFW needs to endure along with discrimination, exploitation, and cultural differences.
We call Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) modern-day heroes because of the biggest contribution they provide to the Philippine economy. Because of this, the Philippine government created a series of benefits, programs, and services to help OFWs and their families.
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sacrifice a lot of things just to provide for their families and give them better chances in life. Being away from your home has a big toll on someone’s physical, mental, and emotional health. So when you travel abroad or see OFWs, be nice to them as they don’t only provide for their family but also contribute to our economy.