Ten (10) Years, 10 Lessons as an OFW
Disclaimer: All opinions are personal and I don’t generalize all. It’s what I learned and that I notice them too often that it definitely left a mark into this OFW life.
So, I took my passport in 2005 without any intention of an international travel… only to have one solid ID on my belt whenever a government company would require. But at the back on my mind, I told myself – I want it stamped before it expires. Bucket-list checked! ✓
This is another post to celebrate my 10 years in the UAE and as an OFW – I’d like to share the ten (10) of the many lessons learned in my first decade as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)
Related: Abu Dhabi 30 Places to visit. (Anniversary month post)
Here’s my lesson learned. “10 for 10”.
One: Homesickness is Real
On my very first month right after arriving Abu Dhabi UAE in September 2008, I did encounter my first homesick moment. Didn’t expect that its real. I thought I was okay and that its only a word. But – – – bang! I found myself crying in my sleep. Today, it’s been a decade and some episodes of such moment still find me. A weak point for all OFWs indeed. #TheresNoPlaceLikeHome #HomeIsHome
Two: OFW Life Looks Nice but it’s NOT
Social Media POST vs. REALITY
Most of the time Social media will post nothing but good stuffs. As an OFW we have this “pride” to show our food trips, travel here and there… but rarely our struggles. (hats off those who are real!) What happens when we show the “good kuno/ abundant life daw” is that people back home (not all though) tend to believe that money is as easy as 1-2-3. When we go home during our vacation – we seemed to be tagged as walking banks. When in “fact” #WhatsOnOurMind at week 2 or 3 is – “we want to go back”! hahah #relateka if you know what I mean… (ni hubas na! lol)
Sorry to break this – we may get times 12/13 or 15 of our currency – but we also spend the country’s currency which basically almost similar or more to what we spend if we are in Pinas. So to some (not to all) – because I knew of some families who just keep on asking this and that and this and that – and the list continues . . . – PLEASE! Be considerate!
Also, ask how are you? – he/she may answer I’m good/okay – but stay sensitive and listen (or read since its mostly through FB messenger) . . . a little care goes a long way. Plus a THANK YOU whenever you receive the allotment for the month will also bring us a smile. :) #NagpapakatotooLang #BeTrulySensitive #ALittleCareALittleLove
Three: Filipinos’ Crab Mentality
This may sound negative, but indeed that mentality is evident in a place that requires survival. For 10 years I have seen this mentality inside and outside a Filipino community at work (both here in UAE and even in the Philippines). Sadly it is worst in the international playing fields. Again – it’s not for all. I still find kind hearted ones.
Another encounter with this “crab mentality” thought is when you walk into a high-end store in the the malls – and Ate/Kuya Kabayan is the sales person – they tend to greet only the foreigners. Showing off their best smiles and greetings. But if you are a kabayan – it seemed like you don’t exist :( . Sad! A personal experience that Kokobear and I had was when we went to a steak restaurant – when the server puts us on the waiting list but entertained the foreigner who came late. (ooppps – no they didn’t have reservations). And yes we argued and called the manager. I hope it serves as a lesson.
Up to this day, I still experience it. But somehow I have been a little considerate. Patience and understanding will still come handy. :) Of course lots of prayer on the side too! #LordForgiveMe #AskAreYouOkayKuyaOrAte?
Four: Family is always a Priority
At the end of the day, family will always be a priority. To be honest, there is a security in my heart that no matter how far I am with them – love and trust is there. Personally I only chat with them most of the time. A good morning, how are you and a few pictures sharing. True I have been busy with community life – but never ever did I forget to raise them in my prayers and in my heart they are my top priority. After all being an OFW started because I want to help my family. #ILoveYouTheBELTS #ILoveYouKokobear
Five: Kabayan is Single (daw)
Another top of the list sadly OFW life reality. . . There’s been quiet a big number of broken families because Kabayan (both male/female) is “single daw”. It’s hard to identify who is who. It’s hard to trust and it’s hard to “kalas” once you are deeply in love. Judging them will not make us better… I guess it is all up to that person’s conscience and integrity on how he/she brings himself or herself in the public.
A sad story in fact is I have known a few people who is inside the community (religious/church based) that claims to be one – but they aren’t. I have to mention though that I appreciate them being inside the community – because somehow a part of them knows that they need constant reminder of God’s teachings. I hope that with God’s grace and the Holy Spirit will enlighten them.
Your wife/husband and children are waiting for you. Show up and be honest. Have faith that with God, all temptations will be broken. Stay close with Him. God bless! – JM
Six: Leaving home for the —nth time – is always 💔 heartbreaking
Ten years means nine or eight times of opportunity to be back home (for a month’s vacation) and every single time is heartbreaking. It never cease to end… You shed tears whenever its time to say our goodbyes. Even while typing this part of the post makes me teary eyed. It’s always a hard time. But we keep on fighting, we keep on surviving. Thank Lord for that! This is hats off to all other OFWs who have gone long more than me, I know how you feel. #IFeelYou #ThatFeeling #AirportJitters
Seven: A Community will help you get through tough times
I realized that not all people are meant for community life. Some realize that they need it a bit later, some tried and stopped. Some tried, stop, tried again and stayed. As for me, a year later when I arrived in Abu Dhabi – I know I am meant for this community life. Nine years later – with God’s grace I am still here. The Lord has kept me grounded by ebing a part of this beautiful group of diverse lovable & unlovable creatures :D . Community life – again is not an easy journey. This is where your Loving God and Loving they neighbor following thy commandments are bring tested! When all has been said and done – I still find myself in this community of sinners claiming to be better. Being inside the community doesn’t mean you are a saint – in fact it means you are a sinner – willing to change for God. And through all the hardship – it made me appreciate life that CFFL has given me people, teachings and encounters with God worth keeping and sharing. #CommunityLifeIsLove #ItsMoreFun #TrueChristianTestIsHere
Eight: Love life can come in many shapes & forms 💚
Love often is defined for family & to someone special. But being away from home and being an OFW + being a part of God’s community through CFFL, I found out that love comes in many forms and shapes. Love for family, love for your GG (God’s Gift: husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend) is just the base. In my part a new found love has grown too. Love for my FAITH, love for neighbors (including strangers!), love for what actually matters)
*Love for faith – If I didn’t join the community, I guess I will be swayed with another religion. Not knowing exactly which is which. But with this eye-opener – I am solid and secure with God and with where I am as a Catholic.
*Love for neighbors – Second greatest commandment. Practices, tested and survived! Not claiming to be perfect – but hey I know I have become better… What I am practicing now too is – loving strangers & the poor (not just materially but those of spirit). They too are God’s people!
Nine: Patience is tested with Patience
When you pray to God, Lord – please give me patience for my work, for my boss, for my workmates etc… God is actually answering you! He answers you with more test on patience! This realization just came in to me in 2015. When I was tested to the highest level and realize that I shouldn’t pray that my ____ change. With God’s grace – my ___ didn’t change, instead I did! #IkawTalagaLord! #PatiencePaMore #LovePaMore #TestPaMore
Ten: God is never away.
No explanation needed. Amen-Amen to this! He is with me. He is with us at all times and anywhere. Everywhere!
Related Story: My first blog entry as OFW.
What about you?
Are you an OFW?
Which of these lessons resonate so well to you?
Any other additional lessons? Feel free to share it in the comments…
JM Kayne, signing in on my 10th year here in the UAE!
God bless us all,