Is Being An OFW (Overseas Filipinos) Worth It?
One of the main reasons parents leave their children to work abroad is to be able to provide the needs of their family. It is a difficult decision for the parents to sacrifice their obligation to be physically present to their children for a higher salary abroad. Most of the OFWs spend half of their lives working hard in a foreign country. Also going abroad means they are sacrificing the opportunity to spend their lives with their family for a chance to give them a prosperous and abundant life working overseas. Most of the OFWs don’t see their families in months or in years. But is it really worth it to go abroad, and leave your family behind?
Being an OFW is one of the back-up plans of some Filipinos to earn a lot of money. OFWs are one of the biggest contributors in the country’s economy. They are sending remittances to their family and loved ones and the remittances are helping the country stabilize the peso against the US dollar. (Laura, 2017) Philippines are sending its people to the world with pride because Filipinos are hard-working, and talented people. It is also one way of the government to boost the Philippine economy. As a result, the remittances sent by the OFW helps the Philippines to sustain its economy.
OFWs are facing a lot of challenges overseas despite of the high salary and being able to provide for their families. One of the struggles of an OFW is that they are longing for the presence of their family members. They long for warm hugs, kisses, and comfort of their family. Secondly they are dealing with different cultures and having a hard time communicating with the other nationalities around them in a foreign land. (Magpali, 2014) Also, even though technology is providing a way to communicate with their family it is still not the same when you have them around. One of the articles that Rappler had published it says that being an OFW will not always bring you to a greener pasture in financial stability. (Magpali, 2014) Working abroad also means that you’ll be struggling getting out of your comfort zone, and starting to face the new world ahead of you.
There also silent struggles that the OFWs are facing. They are emotionally and physically away to their loved ones. According to one of the Rappler’s articles regarding to the regrets of an OFW is that one of the hardest part of being away too long to your family is returning home. It is hard to catch up for all the lost time with their spouse, and their children. Returning to their respective homes and realizing that they had lost so much time being away. One of the evidence presented by the article is that the OFW don’t have an idea of what kind of person their children were. They don’t know what their attitude is or what their favorite meal is. ‘’My children, and I saw each other but they didn’t talk to me. I left them when they were just kids. I had never been with them since… Now, I’m trying my best to figure out their personalities” (Lacostales 2017). Lacostales is one of the OFWs that have been away with his family for 25 years, and as a result, Lacostales took a lot of time reuniting with his family and making up for all the he has lost time while he was working abroad. One can assume that leaving your family behind is not the only struggle you’ll be facing when you decide to go abroad but you’ll also struggle returning home, and reconnecting yourself emotionally to your family.
Regrets are in the minds of an OFW often times. One articles shows 5 of the most common regrets that OFWs are facing. First is that their parents forced them to take a course in college that will bring them abroad even if it’s not their dream career. Second is that they hope they traveled more. Most of the time they are busy working, and they don’t get the chance to travel. In addition to that they are also saving money to send to their family in the Philippines. Third regret is that they hope they just hope to establish a business in the Philippines. Most of the OFWs go overseas in order for them to save money to build a business in the Philippines but for some they end up working half of their lives working as an employee abroad, and returning home with just enough savings to provide their need for one month. Fourth is that they wish that they took care of themselves more because as an OFW they have family members that are expecting their remittances monthly as a result they tend to forget to take good care of themselves. Lastly, they hope they just stayed home with their family. Most of the OFWs spend half of their lives away from their family as a result their children are emotionally distant to them. They are having a hard time to connect with their own family members, and worst case scenario is that families are breaking up because of the parents is having an affair to compensate for their longing for each other.
The children of an OFW have a lot of struggle to face. One is that they don’t have their parents by their side to guide them emotionally while they’re growing up. But despite of the fact that their parents are away some of the children are excelling in academic performance. Another article by Rappler has shown 10 incredible students who won BPI’s 6th annual search for the Ten Outstanding Overseas Filipino Children. Most of the student said that one of the biggest struggles that they faced is when the parents are not around during their graduations, birthdays, Christmas etc. The children also said that even though they are talking to their parents through video chat it is still not the same having them around to share their problems and see them grow as an individual. One of the students said that “Every Christmas when he can’t go home because he is one of the heads of the company he works for. It’s one of the most fun moments of the year and it’s always so sad that he’s not here” (David, 2012 cited in Visconti, 2012).
According to ABS-CBN news in 2008 it is said that 6 million Filipino children are OFW children. The news also said that the government should make more jobs that has a decent salary so that the parents of these children will not have to go abroad just to provide for their children. Children are the most affected in this kind of set-up. They may view the absence of their parents in a positive or negative way. Children whose mother was working abroad have the tendency to be more confused, angry etc. Children have different way of accepting their situation, some sees it as an ‘’abandonment’’ while for the older children some view it as a necessity. Some parents compensate their shortcomings by giving their children money with no proper guidance. As a result the children tend to become materialistic. ‘’Children are also vulnerable to abuse and violence with the parent’s absence’’ (Rufo, 2008)
Technology has played a major role in helping the OFWs to cope with their families. Video chat makes the OFWs closer to home. They can easily have an update of the lives of their family members through internet and social media. Almost everyone in the Philippines knows or has a relative that is working abroad. (Ramoran, 2013) Technology also helped the Filipino people to fill some of the gaps that exist in every family that has an OFW family member.
One study shows that even though the parents are working abroad their children are not automatically become materialistic or have life with no directions. (Bernardo, Mansukhani, Daganzo 2018) Research also suggests that OFW children look at their parent’s migration in different point of views. Some of the children view the migration of their parents as a way to provide for their needs but some of the children are seeing it in a negative way. It is also said that children who has more materialistic attitude has is less thankful and they appreciate less the work of their parents abroad. (Bernardo, Mansukhani, Daganzo 2018) Study shows that the OFW mothers, specifically, spoil their children with material needs the children want. They give whatever her children ask just to compensate her absence without parental guidance. One cannot assume that this kind of treatment may result to materialism. (Bernardo, Mansukhani, Daganzo 2018) It is also mentioned that the older child tends to be more materialistic compared to the younger sibling. (Bernardo, Mansukhani, Daganzo 2018) The study also shows the relationship of Materialism, Well-being, and Gratitude. In addition to that it is also indicated that Materialism negatively relates to gratitude and in contrast Gratitude positively relates to Well-being. (Bernardo, Mansukhani, Daganzo 2018) One cannot assume that most of the OFW children are materialistic; it still depends on how they were raised by the people around them.
In conclusion being a child of an OFW and being an OFW is a hard lifestyle. Being far from your loved ones requires courage, strength, perseverance, and hard-work. Working overseas has a lot of heart breaks along the way. One can say that sometimes practicality wins over your emotions. Some of the OFWs are forced to work abroad just to be able to survive and provide the needs of their family. They sacrifice so much that they can sacrifice half of their lives away from their family. They choose to take care of other children than their own, they choose to be alone just to meet the needs of their family, and they choose to go out of their comfort zone just to fulfill their obligation as a parent.
One of the advantages of being a child of an OFW is that they grow up with an independent mind, and with a strong heart. Their basic needs as a child is easily provide by their parents abroad. In addition they also enjoy the advantage of being financially capable to buy their ‘’luho’’. Their parents can send them to a good school and give them a decent education in order for them to have a better opportunity in the future. Also they are enjoying the luxury of vacations and ‘’pasalubong’’ whenever their parents are returning home.
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