How do you spend your time off? It depends on who you ask. Filipinos abroad have plenty of opportunities to do during their rest day, a term that’s often a misnomer and should be replaced with a free day.
Spend time on TV or mobile phone
Working abroad can be very tiring. With limited time for rest, many OFWs would instead love to stay at home and relax by watching television shows or explore YouTube videos and engage in social media using their phones all day. Korean drama, TFC, and news on cable channels are among the most popular shows to watch, and access using mobile devices has been growing steadily.
Earning extra through part-time work
Some Filipinos try to augment their income abroad by working even on their days off. They help tend to Filipino stores, clean someone’s house, or distribute flyers to earn extra money to supplement living expenses or send back to the Philippines. There are places, notably Hong Kong, that disallow foreign domestic helpers from working other than in their employer’s premises. That makes part-time work illegal and a violation of the law.
Call families back in the Philippines
Days off are the most convenient time to keep in touch with loved ones in the Philippines. Using phone cards or free calls via the Internet in their mobile devices is a popular means of communicating with families and friends in the Philippines. But with the prevalence of broadband connection and cheap data costs, calling families in the Philippines can also be done quickly on a wifi connected location or the go.
Many Filipinos spend time online on their day off. Whether a few hours or the entire day, OFWs spend time online on Facebook, write blog updates, or contact family members through Internet chat rooms or video communication. Some of them are engaged in playing online games as a way to relax, while others make use of the online platforms to learn new skills (watching YouTube videos to learn to play guitar, read patterns in the stock market or cook new dishes).
Do sports and outdoors
For Filipinos who have enough energy to spare for the weekend, they prefer to sweat it out to stay healthy. Playing basketball with a local group of Filipino expats, learn martial arts, hit the beach, or explore the countryside hiking are some of the ways Filipinos spend days off outdoors. Some of them are engaged in cultural activities such as organizing Filipino festivals with dances and cultural presentations.
At least window shopping! Whether as therapy, a method to flaunt newly-acquired material things or make someone happy, shopping is arguably one of the activities overseas Filipinos look forward to do, sooner or later. Shopping can also be done to fill out the balikbayan boxes for families back home gradually. OFWs are good at identifying where to buy discount chocolates, canned goods, clothing materials, or other valuable items their families back in the Philippines will genuinely like.
Render church service
Many churches abroad have Filipinos serving as choir members, lectors, altar servers, and other services rendered at churches. They spend their time teaching catechesis, do volunteer work at the church, and gather for Bible studies. From Monastery of the Infant Jesus in Prague to St Joseph Church in Hong Kong, Filipinos help keep church services alive everywhere.
Do volunteer work
Filipinos abroad gifted with the virtue of altruism always find ways to help others. They can join local groups to assist impoverished members of society, the aged, disabled, or work towards environment-friendly initiatives. Others live up their bagong bayani title further by helping local Philippine mission in information drive, assisting fellowmen in things like passport renewal, OEC application, and others.
Stay at home
On many occasions, there are just too many things left undone during a busy work week, so days off are spent at home. Sleeping, cleaning, video games, or karaoke. This is a convenient option if OFWs stay at their accommodation, and the weather is unpleasant to stay outdoors. Unfortunately, domestic workers who are living within their employer’s accommodation are forced to stay out.
Send money home
Filipinos abroad also take time to head to remittance centers to send money back to the Philippines. This is especially true before school enrollment, Christmas and special occasions. For many others, it’s a regular activity right after receiving their well-earned wages. Even if there are now more ways to send money back home (including using online banking and mobile apps)
Filipinos abroad have the opportunity to rest, make more money, or serve others during their days off. Having this right gives them a chance to achieve a better work-life balance while dealing with problems associated with being overseas Filipino workers.