The OFW Family: A Personal Narrative

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I never experienced having my parents with me all the time. My real dad has been working overseas since I wasn’t even born yet. I was nine years old when my mom left to go to US. My parents are OFW.

What is an OFW?

OFW means Overseas Filipino Workers/ Pilipino sa Ibayong-dagat. This term applies to Filipinos who goes to a different country to work. The purpose of this narrative is to highlight the OFWs experience. Filipinos are well known to have close strong family ties and it is hard to be separated from your own love-ones but being an OFW means you only have two choices which are to leave your family to go abroad or let your family suffer poverty. Being related to an OFW is hard because you will always worry about their safety and not every OFW wants to be far away from his/her family.

Philippines is considered a poor country, and this is one of the reasons why Filipinos become OFWs. Imagine if the Philippines can provide good paying jobs to every OFW. Filipinos will be so happy to stay in their own country, but Philippines can’t provide good paying jobs. As I talk about this subject even more, I realized that being an OFW is not easy. It takes a lot of sacrifices to become an OFW. I found a website called “OFW On Air” that talks about the seven advantages and seven disadvantages of being an OFW. First of all, I want to talk about the Seven Advantages of being an OFW.

The first advantage is having a job instead of just sitting around the house. The second advantage is earning a high income. Most Filipinos choose to become OFWs because they know they’ll be paid higher compared to what they will receive or are receiving as a worker in the Philippines. The logic is, having more earnings = more money for your family = a better life for you and your loved ones. The third advantage is exposure to lot of new things. For example, working abroad will certainly introduce an OFW to new cultures, places, people and new ways of life. The fourth advantage is gaining international experience. The international experience will be extremely helpful in future job applications, either locally or internationally because not everyone can get international experience. The fifth advantage is the opportunity to start over. Working abroad can give an OFW time to reset his or her life and give opportunity to think more about life and where it’s headed. The sixth advantage is acquiring important life skills like being independent and knowing numerous basic skills like cooking, doing laundry, budgeting, communicating and many more. In short, being an OFW will help a person grow better, inside and out. The seventh advantage is representing the Philippines. Finally, becoming an OFW gives a person the wonderful opportunity of representing the country.

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An OFW gets to show what Filipinos are capable of to the world and by communicating with other people, an OFW can also share Filipino values, culture and traditions. By being ambassadors of the Philippines, an OFW makes a positive impact on the impressions of foreigners on Philippines and countrymen which increases the chances of Filipinos to become OFWs or letting foreigners visit Philippines to establish and or strengthen good relationships between Philippines and other countries. Now, I will talk about the Seven Disadvantages of being an OFW from the website called “OFW On Air”.

The first disadvantage is separation from loved ones. This is the biggest disadvantage OFWs face, no matter where they work abroad. Loneliness and homesickness are common among OFWs. The second disadvantage is pressure to earn. There is a strong misconception among Filipinos that being an OFW means you are earning tons of money. There are OFWs who think they have to live up to this misconception by overworking or by leaving little to no money for their own personal use abroad, while sending majority of their pay to their loved ones back home. The third disadvantage is abuse and discrimination. Abuse and discrimination of OFWs still happen in certain places abroad. This is pretty common, and it is scary. The fourth disadvantage is working in a field unrelated to your background. For example, I know someone who graduated with a degree and she end up working in a cannery factory. This disadvantage happens to some OFWs. The fifth disadvantage is the bad fit with place of work abroad especially cold weather. The sixth disadvantage is being an OFW has a time limit. Being an OFW is a temporary “job” because sometimes contracts get expired or they terminated an OFW which leaves a Filipino without a job. The seventh disadvantage is brain drain. Finally, being an OFW helps you contribute more to the development of other countries than to the development of your own country, the Philippines. Some Filipinos don’t think this is a disadvantage, but it will impact the progress of the Philippines in the long run since there will be less professionals available to steer the country in the right direction.

Being a child of an OFW is not easy. My parents are always gone. Sometimes, my dad or my mom will go home once a year, but it was never enough. They missed a lot of my birthdays or my sibling’s birthdays which is really sad. As I remember, I only experience one Christmas and New Year’s Day with my mom. It was a very difficult time for me because I feel so alone. It is great to receive a lot of gifts from my parents but sometimes I wish I will see them every time I go home from school. I rather exchange the gifts that I received to be able to be with my parents. I always envy kids who have their parents with them at all times. I feel sad whenever I see a whole happy family together and it is terrible because I start to feel that I rather live a simple life than wealthy life. One time, I asked my mom “Why do you work abroad?” and she said that “I work abroad because this is for your future and your sibling’s future. ”

Overall, I think that it is important to highlight the sacrifices of OFWs because they work so hard to provide a better future to their love-ones.

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