Imagine this: your husband has finally landed a high paying job that can pay the bills and secure the children's future. The prospect of financial freedom finally seems to be within reach. There is only one catch: this high-paying job would place him in a different country.
Overseas employment has drastically changed the set-up of the Filipino family and the entire society over the decades. The pros and the cons are in a constant see-saw as to which outweighs the other. While a higher salary and better benefits are enticing, there are security issues and uncertainties in working abroad. Take, for example, the current situation where Filipinos from Egypt and other countries where civil unrest is rampant had to seek safety by flying back home immediately.
Still, most families are left with no choice but to endure the absence of a parent and the issues that come with it. In this article, five women discuss how it is to be the wife of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), and the joys and challenges that their families face.
On deciding to be an overseas Filipino worker (OFW)
Many Filipinos believe that the way to improve one's economic status is to work abroad. However, a lot of factors must be considered first, and it is important for both spouses to know what they are getting themselves into before making the decision to work abroad.
Rachel: "There are better employment opportunities abroad with higher pay. Working locally will not earn us as much to cope with the rising costs of commodities and getting better education for our children."
Nina: "it is difficult to work abroad but the decision is made much more difficult when the family is left behind. If you can bring your family or spouse with you abroad, do so. Find work for your spouse too. Stick together if at all possible."
On lifestyle changes
Any overseas worker will attest to the difficulties that they endure just to earn a living. This stresses the importance of saving up.
Jona: “Not only are our kids’ tuition fees fully paid, we could now afford to invest on an educational plan. If we were both employed locally and living on standard pay, maybe we won’t be able to go beyond maintaining a savings account. We could now buy our children the toys they like. However, getting a huge monthly remittance is not always a good thing. I know of people whose relatives take advantage of them; they think that just because you have a husband who works abroad, you are well off, which is not always the case. They think that giving them financial aid would not make a dent at your finances. This is usually where the conflict begins. "
Nina: "A lot of people, especially those back home, assume that OFW's are very lucky because they earn a lot. They should remember that the OFW situation is volatile and that the contract could be cut short anytime. While the pay may be higher overseas, the cost of living is usually higher, which is why some OFWs prefer to shop for pasalubong in Manila."
Click here to read about OFW parents on handling finances and on long-distance parenting and communication.