Are you a new Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)? Are you joining the diaspora? Prepare to meet different types of kababayans out there. Don’t worry; most OFWs are decent, friendly, and helpful people. They will be eager to give you a hand, from finding a bargain sale to overcoming a lonely heart. However, some can be a pain in the neck and possess annoying traits. They can make you feel uncomfortable, and in some cases, they can even get you into trouble.
Know who they are and be prepared to deal with them.
The “Bag of Wind”
OFWs with inflated ego and delusions of self-importance. First, there are the “oldies.” They are not necessarily old, but they “got there first.” Maybe, they have been working in that country for a year or a decade — it does not matter. What matters to them is that they got there before YOU did. And that makes them acquire that cocky attitude. “The boss asked for MY opinion.” “I will be sent by the company to the Timbuktu conference.”
“This new office chair was bought for ME.” Yes — I, ME and MY — those are the only pronouns they know. They will show you that they are a force to be reckoned with and that you better be helpful to them.
Then, there are the “newbies.” They are the newcomers who, like the “oldies,” like to boast. Swaggering like smart-alecks, they blurt out lines mentioning that they are the best guys the company now has.
Deal with them tactfully. You can give them the compliment they always fish for. But eventually, you can ignore all the brag. Nothing hurts their ego more than being ignored. Give a little smile, though.
The “Ultra Tightfist.”
These are the OFWs who would do everything in their mortal power to save and keep their own money — at the expense of other people. Here are their dirty tactics. First, they “always” run out of loose change or cash of small denomination for the taxi or small purchases. Or they always “forget” their wallet, and then borrow a small amount from you: one riyal, half-dinar, one dollar.
Of course, they never pay you back. And because it’s embarrassing to collect a small amount — yes, that’s the trap — you choose to let it pass. After a month, they stupidly assume that you have forgotten and then borrow from you again.
And are you wondering why your shampoo bottle is getting lighter faster than a speeding bullet? No, you didn’t spill it. Your stingy housemate is using it to save her own! And have you noticed whenever she has to make an “important” phone call, her phone is either low on battery or has no calling load? So, she borrows your phone to make that “urgent call” (which is about getting a facial at a spa). She offers to pay you something for the call — but of course, you don’t accept it. She knows you won’t.
And do you remember the other day, she didn’t buy snacks from the cafeteria because she was “on a diet.” But when you offer her your sandwich, “kain tayo,” she’ll likely grab it like a starving beggar.
Well, we’re talking about hard-earned money here. You left your family because of that money. Don’t let some penny-pinching kababayan play games with it. Wait for a week or two then collect. You can come up with a creative excuse (I need that one riyal to buy some peanuts.) Or say it straight. (Can I have the half-dinar you borrowed from me two weeks ago? Yes, emphasize the time.)
Another tip: don’t leave your shampoo and other stuff in common areas. Keep them in a portable utility box or a small pail that you can put under your bed. Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed. Remember, you are sacrificing a lot for the money.
The Bootlicker or Sycophant”
We have the exact word: sipsip. We all need to survive. We usually need to be politically correct to keep our jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when people resort to excessive ass-kissing or bootlicking, that becomes so annoying! They always flatter the boss. “You look so beautiful, madam!” (even if she looks like a cross-breed between a pit bull and a Persian cat). They bake cookies and cakes for the boss (who owns two pastry shops). They buy presents for him (from his souvenir shop). They offer to massage his back (and other parts of his anatomy).
These are dangerous OFWs because, in many cases, they manage to “hypnotize” the boss who eventually believes whatever they say about other people, including you. So, you have to watch your back!
The “Over-Flirtatious and Promiscuous”
OFWs who have problems controlling their groin area. Well, there’s nothing wrong with a little flirting here and there if you are single. It can even help you cope with life overseas. But some of our kababayans are just going too far. Women in this category contrive ways to bait a hunk from feigning drowning to faking overtime so that they can be alone with that guy in the office. (They won’t fake choking because that looks ugly). They can not stay put in the presence of handsome men. They fidget, they squirm, they revolve.
Away from the prying eyes of the old conservative folks in the Philippines, they spin out of control. You’ll surely get embarrassed if you go out with them. Maybe it’s their raging hormones, or loneliness, or deep psychological issues.
OFWs like them, whether men or women, are in constant need of the attention of the opposite sex (or same-sex) and quickly get into illicit relationships. They hunt for prospects everywhere: in the office, at the park, at the supermarket, and of course, in bars.
If married back home, they would invent stories of marital disputes. A nagging wife, an abusive husband, or an overbearing mother-in-law. Whether the marriage conflict is actual or not does matter. These people are merely justifying their immoral acts and reckless behavior.
Flirtatious and promiscuous OFWs always get into trouble. The effects of what they do are usually severe and irreversible: career problems, broken families, and HIV-AIDS.
Stay away from them. You don’t need them as friends. They will gradually pull you down in the same disgusting mudhole they are in. Never forget what grandma said about playing with fire.
The “Nosy Rumor-monger”
They are the OFWs who live to gossip. They have eyes as sharp as an eagle’s and tongues as deadly as a viper’s. They snoop for issues: from an ugly handbag to “who’s dating who.” They tiptoe behind you, pull you to the toilet cubicle or the kitchen, and then dish out the juiciest gossips. Peter has been scolded by the boss; Jane is wearing a borrowed dress, which looks so lousy anyway; Vicky’s husband has squandered all the remittance on his kabit (mistress) — blah blah blah.
How do you deal with them? If you are new, smile politely but DON’T say anything! Never, never utter a word of approval. If you show even the slightest hint of belief or agreement — you’re dead! They will be pointing out to you as the source of the gossip. And because they are also perfect liars, complete with drama and swearing on the Holy Books of ALL religions, some people will believe them.
Remember, DON’T SAY ANYTHING! Even a fish will stay out of trouble if it keeps its mouth shut.
The “Control Freak”
These are the OFWs who act like dictators. First, let us assume that the person is not your boss. If he is —- I’m afraid you don’t have much choice but to be at his beck and call. Let’s assume that he is just a colleague or a housemate. He wants you to do what he does or what he says. He tells you how to do your work — even if you’re the company nurse and he’s an accountant.
Control freaks are difficult housemates. They meddle in everything that all the other housemates do: how they do their laundry, which mall they should visit this weekend, what TV programs everyone should watch (They keep the remote control, by the way.) Of course, they also make the house rules. Maybe, you can play along at first. But if playing together is making you uncomfortable, then you can speak with them politely but firmly: “Sorry, I have other plans.”
If you are not bothering anyone, you should not be afraid to say so. Be polite with all your housemates, but you have to show them that you can not be pushed around just because you’re new.
For me, these are the most annoying types of OFWs. Dealing with these people is not easy. They can get on your nerves, but I suggest patience, diplomacy, and firmness. Don’t get into a shouting match with them. That would destroy newbies like YOU.
Don’t stoop to their level. Try to understand them as much as you can but cover your back all the time. YES. ALL THE TIME. Well, you have been warned.
But let me repeat it, most OFWs are wonderful people. Enjoy your life abroad with them, kabayan!
Marily Sasota Gayeta is currently an English lecturer in Salalah City, Oman. She has held this job since September 2013. Before coming to Oman, she was also an English lecturer in Sebha City, Libya, for three years. Marily studied Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Tomas Del Rosario College in Balanga, Bataan ( her hometown ), and earned her MA in English Language Teaching from the Philippine Normal University.
Her career, which spans more than 20 years, also includes teaching Vietnamese refugees in a training camp in Bataan and teaching collegiate English in three private colleges in the same province. She enjoys watching action movies, listening to rock songs, reading, and writing. Her articles and poems are available on www.gardenerofthoughts.blogspot.com and mgatulamulasamalayo.blogspot.com. Marily is married and has two children.