If there are unwritten laws that govern families of Filipinos working and living abroad, here are our suggestions:
1. Maintain communication. Family members maintain healthy relationship by keeping in touch regularly. This is even more important when certain members are separated by geography, timezone and culture. A simple hello via Whatsapp, Facebook or phone call is greatly appreciated. And don’t communicate only because you need money.
2. Understand life isn’t easy abroad. Contrary to a common belief, most OFWs do not live a life that’s easy and life is great. Many of them endure the extreme weather, they deal with racial and sexual discrimination, they suffer verbal abuse and homesickness. They smile at photos shared on social media partly to assure family members back home that they are fine and relatives need not worry.
3. Do not demand more than what they can give. Accept what they offer, and do not demand more. With their genuine love for families, many OFWs resort to loans that carry high interest rates that likely bind them in a vicious cycle when not paid in time.
4. Make them happy. OFWs make their families feel special by sending them balikbayan boxes, calling them from via long distance phone communications, and, of course, allocate portion of their hard-earned wage every month. Remember their birthdays, anniversaries and even milestones — how many years did they start working abroad? Send them good news: achievements in school, promotion at work or growth in business they invested.
5. Let them know when you receive the money remittance. In many cases it’s you — family members — who will contact them because tuition fee is due, allowance is running out or bills need to be paid. But don’t forget to get back to them when you receive the money.
6. Pray for their success, safety. There are plenty of uncertainties in life, whether you’re with the family or not. While all families look forward to the next homecoming, unfortunate OFWs arrive in a box. So while we have little control over their fate as they go through each day at work, we can pray for their well-being.
7. Prepare for their life after abroad. Understand most OFWs do not stay that way forever. They will eventually go back home, start a family, setup a business or retire peacefully. After years of toiling hard abroad, they deserve something nice. Upon their return, value their worth even though they do no longer send you monthly remittances.