These OFW characteristics certainly do not apply to all but chances are, some of these items describe you, our modern-day Pinoy heroes!
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You know the meaning of PDOS, TFC, OEC, POEA
These are commonly uttered acronyms and phases associated with Filipinos working abroad. When you’re an OFW, you’ll need to undergo PDOS before departure at NAIA, get OEC when you’re off for vacation, apply for an OWWA scholarship, send LBC balikbayan box or watch TFC during spare time.
You closely monitor the money exchange rate
Since you regularly send money to your family, it’s almost automatic to monitor the best time to go to the remittance center and make the most of your hard-earned money. You have a membership card from Western Union for convenience, a mobile app for instant remittance and sometimes take time to check exchange rates of various providers if it means you’ll end up maximizing the amount your family will receive.
You miss home-cooked Filipino food
Occasionally you’ll taste Filipino food abroad like tinolang manok, pancit palabok or adobo on a Filipino community gathering. But you still miss the distinctive home-style cooking back home in the Philippines. No wonder before your vacation, you make your “request” to your mother what dish to serve.
You are an expert in packing
You have become an expert in packing your luggage so clothes, pasalubong, toiletries, and gadgets will fit within the 23-kilogram baggage allowance in your flight. You also learn how to optimize your balikbayan box to ensure that every cubic inch of the box is made useful. If you happen to live in a small dwelling, you know how to arrange your stuff so everything will be accommodated in that tiny living space.
You have something to say about the staff at Philippine Embassy or Consulate
You can either praise them for their efficient service or despise them for their negligence, indifference, or both. As an OFW, you transact with them when you apply for OEC, renew your passport, check your SSS balance or get verification for an employment contract.
You share your family life in the Philippines
Even if it’s none of their business, your friends can empathize as you share the trials and tribulations of an OFW. A son who will soon graduate from the university. A daughter who just broke off with her boyfriend. Relatives often remind you to send them money. And the list goes on. Even in the age of instant messenger and Facetime, you still feel so isolated from your family and friends around are the best folks to share your joys and sorrows in life.
You are always aware of when your visa and passport will expire
Without checking the details, you have a mental note when you should go to the Philippine embassy or monitor the consular outreach dates so you can avail of the services they provide.
You occasionally drop by at Duty-Free shop when you are on vacation
You feel embarrassed to imagine not bringing enough pasalubong for the entire family and the entire barangay that it’s always good to drop by at Duty-Free shops at the airport just so you have backup supply and nobody back home is disappointed.
You don’t know the names of celebrities you see on the Philippine television channel
Unless you spend a couple of hours watching TFC shows every single day, you might find yourself asking who is this actor, actress, or advertising endorser in a TV commercial. This is especially true when you’ve been working abroad for many years.
You know how to curse in another language
You have become used to the local lingo that you’ve also incorporated into your vocabulary. You unconsciously use curse words or colloquial terms in Arabic, Cantonese, or any other language even if the other person in the conversation doesn’t understand it.
You learn and appreciate food besides Filipino dishes
The longer you stayed abroad, you also got used to the food often served at the table. While you miss the Filipino dishes your family prepares when you visit the Philippines, you won’t mind regularly eating the local fare — Italian pasta, Chinese noodles, or Middle Eastern shawarma.
Your passport has multiple immigration and visa stamps
If you’ve been traveling extensively, it’s not surprising to see your passport stamped as evidence of your entry across many places.
You can distinguish Filipinos from other races
By merely looking at them, you can easily tell this person is a Filipino even if sometimes your assumption is wrong — some Indonesians, Vietnamese, Thai or Taiwanese people also look like Filipinos.
You underwent physical exams, medical, dental, and other forms of check-ups
You already know what diseases might prevent someone from working abroad and occasionally advise someone who is planning to work abroad on the procedures, seminars and required documents.
You know your way inside Ninoy Aquino International Airport
You know when to bring out your passport and to where to check your airline check-in counter to where to get OEC exemption and how to respond to an immigration officer’s question. Since you’ve done this many times, the procedure has become simple clockwork for you.
You have friends from at least 3 nationalities
In a multicultural workplace, it’s not surprising to learn more about a colleague’s culture, food, or language. You also learn about their beliefs and differences and similarities with our very own culture.
You belong to an organization of Filipinos
This can be a cultural group that organizes programs and shows during Philippine Independence Day celebrations, interest groups based on your hobbies such as running club, or church community such as Couples for Christ or choir service team at the church.
There may be other signs that you are indeed an OFW. Did we miss some? Feel free to add in the comment box!