Tips for OFWs Returning to the Philippines
Time flies so fast. It didn't seem like it's been 11 years since I've been living abroad away from my home country. It is here where I have given birth to my 5 children and it is here where they have grown-up. Although they have already visited the Philippines, their stay is only about a month every two years. We have learned to be content with the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) lifestyle here - quiet, comfortable and happy because we are together.
The other day, my husband came home bringing some news that really surprised us all. He said, "My boss said that my contract will only be until the next six months." What? Really? Truly, their company is implementing the Saudization policy. It's been a long while since my husband mentioned about the Saudization, but it is only now that he received a notice of his nearing end of contract. "It's not yet final," he said. "There may still be changes." But one message is clear. "We need to be ready - ready to go home."
When we told the news to our children, they asked "Why?" And upon asking them whether they want to go home to the Philippines, their answer is "No"...they don't want to leave their friends here; they don't want the hot climate in the Philippines; how about their schooling? And so on and so forth. Hmmm. I guess the first and foremost concern that we need to address before we go is to prepare the hearts and minds of our children.
If we are going to live again in the Philippines, surely it will entail a big adjustment on our part.
First, we need to tighten up our expenses. I don't consider our present lifestyle as extravagant. We are actually quite frugal compared to others. But it is still possible to be more frugal to save. I just always take into consideration that we are 7 in the family and four are already going to school.
Second, there are many questions in our minds that are still left unanswered. Where will we live? Where will our children go to school? Will we buy a car? (Gasoline in the Philippines is quite expensive, unlike here where a liter is less than 10 pesos or 25 cents.) In what way can we earn income there? (All expense with no income is not a sustainable idea.) Will my husband find another OFW job? Will I return to the academe or the food industry which I once knew?
Preparing to Go Home
In view of this, it is best for many OFWs to think of plan A-B-C even before they decide to go home or be sent home. Working abroad is not forever. One must be ready to go home any time so that there will be another source of income to count on to meet the family needs and not be a burden to somebody else.
The question is "How can we prepare ourselves as OFWs?" Let me share some tips and suggestions to fellow OFWs returning to the Philippines:
- As much as possible, SAVE. I know that not everyone can do this because many of the OFWs I know are just break-even with their finances. Some even are lacking in meeting their basic expenses. However, it is very important to save even a little for those times of expedient needs.
- Think of an OPTIONAL JOB when you won't have any more work abroad. Study if necessary. I know many who took computer courses, photography courses, cooking courses, medical transcription, auto repair and mechanics, caregiving and more. One can also learn to be a VA or Virtual Assistant. If the OFW himself cannot undergo these study options, why not his dependents? There are free and affordable courses being offered at TESDA, Informatics, Manpower Training Center and at TLRC. Of course, it is more rewarding if the children finish their schooling.
- INVEST, if able. I am not familiar with this area but there are many who have become profitable in investing in forex, stocks, mutual funds, treasury bills and other financial investments.
- START a BUSINESS as a source of additional income. There are many businesses that one can engage into. The most popular and needs less capital are opening a mini-store at home, direct selling, network marketing and the cellphone e-loading business. There are also businesses that can be franchised but it requires a bigger capital. There is the option to make a loan like from the loan program of OWWA and National Livelihood Support Fund. A qualified person can loan P200,000 and a group of 5 members can loan P1 million with an interest of 9% per annum. (Call the OWWA hotlines (02)551-1560 and (02)551-6641 for more information about this.)
Additional Tips from Former OFWs Who Are Now Their Own Boss
Based from my experience, because I am a stay-at-home mom taking care of 5 children, I found ways of earning from the internet. I was able to get VA jobs from oDesk and Freelancer and I also earn from blogging and writing in HubPages. Thank God because He gave me the courage and the skill so that I could venture into the online world to earn some income from home.
The Big Question
The big question is - Are we ready to go home? My 8-year old son, when he heard the news, said "Let's pray about this." If the Lord wills that we indeed go back home, I pray that we will be ready especially our children. By the grace of God and the promises of His Word, I - We trust that we will have a good future ahead.
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:19
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." ~ Matthew 6:33
This hub is the English translation of my entry written in Tagalog for the Philippine Expats Blog Awards (PEBA) for 2011 with the theme "I Will Return, I will Bring Change. The original article can by found in my blog Stay at Home Blessings - Paghahanda sa Pag-uwi.