Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are Filipinos who are working abroad or overseas. They are considered to be modern-day heroes because of their selfless dedication to giving their family a better life and the remittances they send back to the Philippines have been a big help to the economy.
The remittances sent back home by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) make a tremendous contribution to the Philippine economy with some studies suggesting that remittances account for 10% of the country’s Gross National Product (GNP).
Overseas Filipino Workers share many experiences while working in different countries. They can stay for a few months or even years depending on what kind of contract they have signed up for. They usually leave the country because of poverty and lack of employment opportunities in the Philippines.
What is an OFW?
OFW is an acronym that stands for Overseas Filipino Workers. An OFW is a person from the Philippines who usually lives and works in another country temporarily. This includes OFW on land and seafarers/OFW at sea.
For most Filipinos, OFW may refer to both male or female workers who go abroad in search of employment opportunities, either contractually or voluntarily.
Although OFWs have to go through a lot just to provide a better life for their families, they remain committed and dedicated that is why a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers are successful today.
What are the types of jobs an OFW can do?
Many of those who leave home become nurses, construction workers or domestic helpers but as times change there are now more job opportunities for Filipinos overseas so there are professional jobs in IT, business, administration and other sectors.
It should be noted that an OFW is NOT limited to skilled workers. The term also covers professionals, technicians and managers who are recruited by foreign employers through the government’s overseas employment program or through private recruitment agencies.
How do you become an OFW?
To be an OFW, you must first have an idea about the processes you need to undergo to work abroad. You need to know also that documentation is needed. You must be mentally, physically, and financially prepared if you wanted to be an OFW. Please also see your local employment agency for necessary information.
These are some of the requirements needed to apply to be an OFW.
- 2 x 2 picture Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
- PSA-issued Birth certificate
- High School/College diploma
- Transcript of Records
- Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Employment contract / Job contract
- NBI clearance
- Marriage contract (if applicable)
- PRC ID
- Certificates (e.g. training certificates etc.)
These are the processes you need to undergo to be an OFW.
1. Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS).
You need to attend this PEOS Seminar before applying for jobs. PEOS helps in building the necessary basic knowledge for overseas employment. Funded by the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) and held in select places, this will also cover topics like orientation on prevailing rates and conditions of work as well as living standards to expect.
2. Find a recruitment agency.
Search for legit agencies using POEA’s website (www.poea.gov.ph) to make sure you avoid becoming a victim of illegal recruitment when applying for jobs. These job agencies have official contracts with employers for their recruitments.
3. Process required documents.
Get the documents required for your job application. You may need to process your school Transcript of Records and diploma, get a medical certificate, and other requirements needed by the agency. These documents will depend on the type of job will take abroad.
4. Interviews and screening exams.
Attend interviews and screenings related to your job. After all, you need to make sure you pass the interviews and screenings. Employers spend money for the training of employees who work abroad; you need to make sure you are worth their investment.
5. Medical tests and assessments
Get medical tests and secure a medical certificate. You should be healthy enough to work abroad as you become the responsibility of your employer who will sponsor you.
6. Employment contract signing
Sign the employment contract to proceed to the next step of becoming an OFW. Bear in mind that you need to be aware of the terms of your contract so that you won’t be relieved or dismissed from your job. You will also face consequences if you break the contract.
7. Payment of fees
Pay the required fees depending on the job you will take abroad. You need to pay for placement, processing, and other fees as stated in your contract. Be careful with this as there are a lot of people who fall victim to unnecessary payments and overpriced services.
8. Pre-Deployment Orientation Seminar (PDOS)
Attend the PDOS in person or you can do it online. The PDOS is an orientation program about the country where you will work. The session offers information that will help you adjust to your new environment. You can also ask questions during the session.
9. Submit requirements to POEA and other government agencies.
The recruitment agency you are in will submit your requirements to POEA and other government agencies to validate your employment. After the validation, you will be issued your overseas employment certificate (OEC) which is needed to get a working visa.
10. Validation and Flight
Before your departure, present your receipt at the Labor Assistance Center and Bureau of Immigration for validation and for you to be exempted in terminal fee and travel tax. You will also present your OFW documents before you are allowed to travel abroad.
11. Begin working overseas
Now, you are an OFW. Keep in touch with your family via social media apps. Keep your communication lines open with your agency. Keep safe while working abroad.
12. Getting your salary.
Follow the right channels to get your money whether it is monthly or on lump sum basis. It will depend on your contract which you should be responsible for reading and understanding.
Why do Filipinos want to become an OFW and work abroad?
There are many reasons why Filipinos want to become an OFW and try their luck working abroad. Some of these common reasons are:
1. More money
Filipinos want to work abroad because of the higher salary they will receive compared to the usual income they have at home. OFWs can earn around 20,000 Philippine Pesos (P20,000) for a minimum wage job in the Middle East and as much as P100,000 per month if their jobs are high-end or executive. Take note that in most cases, the cost of living is also higher so make sure to prepare beforehand a budget plan before taking that leap of becoming an OFW.
2. Better Return of Investment (ROI)
OFWs become more productive because the cost of living in their country is lower than that in other countries. OFWs can maximize their money to provide for their family and children’s needs, education, business ventures, other needs that can’t be provided at home or in the Philippines. We could say that they become an OFW to support their loved ones back home especially when there are no jobs available in the
3. Lack of jobs in the Philippines
Unemployment is a recent trend in the Philippines. Filipinos choose to leave the country to get better jobs to help their families financially.
4. Get away from poverty
Working abroad allows Filipinos to become financially stable and save up for their future family’s needs. This also gives them more opportunities to provide a better life for their family.
5. Financial Freedom
The benefits as well as the salary you’ll be getting as an OFW is much higher than being employed in the Philippines, considering the taxes deducted from your salary as a regular employee in the country.
6. Responsibility as a family member
OFWs are often the breadwinners of their families. They become responsible in the finances of their families.
7. Pressure from family
Growing up in a poor family gives a family member the pressure of getting their families out of their poor condition. They choose to be an OFW since it is the only accessible way to send more money to their families.
8. Better Job Opportunities
Better opportunities are waiting abroad for those graduates who want to improve the mastery of their field. Lack of career opportunities in the Philippines pushed graduates to find this abroad. OFWs can get better careers in other countries when they work abroad. They may be able to get high-end jobs they cannot find at home.
9. Discrimination in Educational Background
Jobs in the Philippines required high qualifications even if it doesn’t suit the needed skills in working. For example, being a cashier in a mall requires you to be a graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Another example is that a fresh graduate applying for a job is required to have at least one year of experience. These cases are one of the reasons that Filipinos resorts to becoming an OFW.
Many workers in the Philippines are in contractual status. This means that after 5 months of being employed, contractual workers will end their contracts thus, losing their jobs. Workers will not receive any benefits given that they are employed in a short period of time with a minimum wage. This is one of the reasons Filipinos are thriving to be an OFW.
11. Family migration
There are families that are planning to go abroad and live in the country of their choice. They will have a family member that will work abroad, and that family member will be the way that the other family members can gradually migrate.
12. The ‘backer system’ (Padrino system)
There are Filipino graduates with great achievements and qualifications but are either unemployed or underemployed. Padrino system is the cause of this incident. This happens when a fresh graduate has great qualifications but is rejected due to not having a backer or connection while the other one with a backer but doesn’t possess any skills is accepted.
13. Communication is now convenient
With technologically-advanced communication, OFWs can easily communicate with family members thus reducing their homesickness and they can contact someone if they are in a dangerous situation.
Top Countries Where Filipinos Go to Work
If you don’t have any idea where to work as an OFW abroad, here are some countries with the most OFWs.
1. Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia is the top destination for OFWs. They needed OFWs for household work, construction, healthcare and many more.
2. Qatar – Skilled workers and domestic helper are in demand in this country.
3. Kuwait – This country is considered as one of the leading employers of domestic helpers.
4. United Arab Emirates – Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the popular city emirates of this country. This is an open country so there are many opportunities for OFWs to land a job and earn a decent amount of money.
5. Australia – There is a growing community of Filipinos in Australia. This country is highly recommended for OFWs because of the job opportunities and the beautiful places. Skilled workers are in demand in the country.
6. Oman – The jobs in demand in this country are in the healthcare, retail, and beauty(cosmetics) industry. This country also has a few cases of violence against OFWs.
7. United Kingdom – Healthcare workers are in demand such as nurses, physicians, and caregivers. Despite the high salary, the country has also a high cost of living.
8. Bahrain – Bahrain is in demand of professionals such as accountants, engineers, government staff, and more.
9. Angola – OFWs in this country work in oil and marine industries.
10. Brunei – Domestic and skilled workers are in demand in this country. The cost of living in this country is cheap that some OFWs prefer to work in Brunei.
How do overseas Filipino Workers contribute to the economy?
There are 2.16 million OFWs as of 2021. 11% of the GDP are the remittances sent by OFWs to the Philippines(2018).
Why are OFWs considered modern-day heroes?
OFWs are called as modern-day heroes of the country. The reason of this is they are one of the main contributors to the Philippine economy’s growth because of the remittances they send to families . Also, they are still considered as the Philippines’ heroes because of their numerous sacrifices to support their families back in the country.
What are the most common problems OFWs face abroad?
Here are the common problems OFWs face abroad.
- Abuse and violence – As of 2020, almost 5,000 cases of violence against OFWs are presented by Senator Joel Villanueva of the Senate Labor Committee.
- Delayed salaries – Delayed wages is one of the sign of abuse to the OFWs.
- Homesickness – A first-time OFW will encounter homesickness as a result of being away with his or her loved ones.
- Imprisonment – OFWs who committed crimes or those who are wrongfully accused are imprisoned and worse, beheaded or being sentenced to death penalty.
- Loans – OFWs have loans because of processing and placement fees.
- Security – OFWs lack security and safety that’s why POEA and the recruitment agencies is responsible for it.
Reminders about working as an OFW
Keep these reminders in mind as a guide for the OFWs.
- Learn the language of the country of your destination.
- Respect the culture and traditions of your designated country.
- Follow the employment contract.
- Follow the rules and regulations of the country of work.
- Live within your means.
- Don’t carry illegal substances.
- Don’t receive or accept packages from strangers and people you barely know.
- Don’t engage in illegal activities.
- Don’t lend your personal devices such as mobile phones and laptops to your friends even to your family members you don’t trust.
- Don’t believe in easy-money offers.
Being an OFW is not as easy as you think. It needs a lot of thinking to decide to be one. Every aspect of your life will change if you will be an OFW. You will miss, and be separated from your family and loved ones. But this is a good opportunity to earn money and live a better life in the future.
Don’t forget to seek help from our Philippine embassy and consulate in case you need assistance from our government. Always stay updated with news and information from PH government agencies assigned to help Filipinos abroad.
So, before considering to be an OFW, think of your reasons and be firm in your decision. When you have already decided, you can go for it and explore the world outside. For your safety, be reminded of what you should never do, shouldn’t do, and don’t ever do when aiming for OFW employment.