Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) is a program by the Philippine government that aims to help Filipinos migrating or working abroad to have a better understanding of the country they will work or migrate on.
Many Filipinos, especially those who are unaware of the benefits of PDOS, have expressed doubts in its usefulness and often complain of the added procedures on their way to moving to another country. With PDOS, Filipinos get to learn more about the laws, culture, and things that are not often observed and practiced in the Philippines. In a way, PDOS helps ease that feeling of culture shock which brings anxiety for many newcomers.
Still, many are not impressed how this orientation program is conducted. For instance, some who have experienced working abroad in the past, applying for a new job in the same country subjects them to attend the seminar as they did before. Others claim to have more knowledge than those conducting the seminar, having worked and lived in that country while classifying some topics as already irrelevant and outdated.
So how do we make PDOS more helpful to OFWs without having to initiate a call to abolish it?
8 ways PDOS can be more useful to Filipinos going abroad
1. Talk about airport procedure
Among the first things Filipinos need to accomplish before going abroad is how will they be able to deal with arrangements at international airports in the Philippines. They have probably heard about offloading, extra charges and misbehaving airport employees. We have outlined a bit of guidance for first-time travelers abroad but we acknowledge it is not enough. People pay PDOS to have a worthwhile time and get out of the session equipped with knowledge on do’s (bring passport, photocopy documents, luggage limits) and don’ts (liquids in cabin luggage, shut off cellphones on take-off and landing) of airport and airplane matters.
2. Talk about settlement concerns
Filipinos are known to easily adapt on new environments, following the folk saying kung maikli ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot, yet it is nonetheless important that Filipinos going abroad deserve to be told what awaits them in their destination countries. What will the weather be when I arrive? How do I find my first job? Where do I find a Filipino community? What is the meaning of jet lag? Answering these questions help ease anxiety and provide a great head start on living in that new environment.
3. Talk about cultural differences
Many Filipinos are aware of the Filipino time tardiness, littering without penalties and urinating at any available vacant lot in the Philippines. We all know that’s a no-no everywhere. But these reminders deserve a place in PDOS, and more. For instance, male and female workers in Saudi Arabia have much tighter restrictions regarding interactions or a Catholic is forbidden to carry a rosary in public. Or feel embarrassed when talking to a local in Russia who barely show positive gestures during conversations.
4. Talk about opportunities
Filipinos go abroad for opportunities. In the case of emigrants, one of the first things they’d like to know is how do they find jobs, and what requirements are typically asked during hiring process. PDOS needs to have these topics in the outline. Filipinos who work abroad wants to know how to cross to another country legally. For example, if a domestic helper wishes to land a job in Canada but chose to work in Hong Kong first, does she need to go back to the Philippines before making the Hong Kong-to-Canada transition?
5. Talk about possible risks and dangers.
Before they become victims of scams or illegal activities, OFWs or migrant Filipinos need to understand the commonly practiced scams so they’ll become aware and avoid such malpractices. What’s the protocol when dealing with police or those pretending to be in authority asking for your personal identification or how to deal with kababayans befriending you in Singapore’s Lucky Plaza or Hong Kong’s Worldwide House offering you to join their networking business? For laborers in hot Middle Eastern weather, how to avoid heat stroke and other related ailments? Is it legal for employers to keep passports? Such type of questions help Filipinos abroad feel more confident and guided in cases when these things occur.
6. Talk about benefits provided to residents
For Filipinos migrating abroad, commonly asked questions are benefits they ought to receive as new migrants. Are they qualified for a home mortgage assistance? How much health insurance is provided for family members who are hospitalized? How long will petition for parents or younger siblings be approved by immigration ministry?
While these topics may be discussed during orientation seminars at these host countries, having that necessary knowledge helps migrants have that peace of mind.
6. Talk about responsibilities
Talking about what to expect in countries they will soon depart for is something that’s crucial to every Filipino leaving the Philippines. How much tax is deducted from my personal income tax? During Ramadan, what kind of adjustments do domestic helpers need to do? As we’ll all agree that ignorance of the law excuses no one, being knowledgeable of Filipinos going abroad hinges on how PDOS is delivered to them, especially on their responsibilities to their employers and the country as a whole.
7. Arrange topics according to first-time and returning Filipinos
Some Filipinos complain that PDOS are not updated and even though they are required to join upon taking another job abroad from a period of hiatus in the Philippines. To add value to repeat attendants, PDOS at least should be made relevant to veterans abroad, and not assume that attendees have zero knowledge about the country they’re about to move in.
8. Information on how to seek help from Philippine consulates and embassies
When things go wrong, there should be enough information for Filipinos on where to go, or whom to reach. Philippine embassies, POLO offices and labor attaches and their phone numbers need to come handy. We’d assume they’re indeed handy on places that are, unfortunately, experiencing troubles like Egypt and Syria. If PDOS of the OFWs working there were comprehensive enough, they’d be glad they attended the seminar.