Wednesday, June 12, 2024

10 Bad OFW Experiences During Holidays in the Philippines

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The Philippines is undeniably one of the best places in the world to unwind and explore. However, as with any other destination, there are both highs and lows — and returning citizens are no exception.

Here are some of the adverse experiences overseas Filipino workers have reported through the years. Of course, it is needless to say that these do not happen all the time. If they do happen to you or someone you know, the things listed below are good to know.

Corrupt airport workers

Whether you’re a foreigner or Filipino, there might still be a few airport employees who can’t help but take advantage once you get to their section. They will generally ask arriving passengers to pay high fees for certain products brought in, like appliances and gadgets. They might also tend to confiscate food and other items that are supposed to be prohibited when, in fact, they only take these for their use.

But as President Rodrigo Duterte said, once you encounter abuse, slap the offending airport worker, and you have the President’s backing.

Overcharging taxi drivers

Several cities around the Philippines have taxi drivers that do not turn their meters on when you step in. They instead ask you to pay an excessive fixed rate. If this happens, never negotiate and instead insist on having the meter turned on. Otherwise, walk away and look for another cab.

Long waits on many activities

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Long lines are a constant problem in the Philippines regardless of where you are (hopefully, the new e-gates will help ease the problem). As soon as you arrive at the arrival hall, you should expect to stay for another 30 to 60 minutes, at least because of inefficient personnel and outdated checkout systems.

Queues are not only limited at airports (especially during Christmas): waiting for taxis or withdrawing money from ATMs. Since OFWs have had experiences with more efficient processes overseas, they have short patience on unnecessary hold-ups. For example, encashing a cheque in the bank requires a couple of hours waiting for a customer’s turn, while it can simply be deposited on an ATM booth and money instantly credited to the account holder.

Luggage lost or delayed

Many OFWs also experienced having their baggage lost or placed on a different flight to a different destination. Some are fortunate to get their luggage back while others have to settle for reasonable reimbursement. Such things happen even if security guards handling the exit doors occasionally check luggage tags to catch baggage thieves.

Such an unplanned hiccup on the road wastes precious time that could be spent on catching up with family or catching up on rest.

Nagging neighbors asking for pasalubongs

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Whenever OFWs come home, they don’t only need to worry about their immediate and extended family. That’s why they need to prepare gifts or pasalubongs to extended family and neighbors, barangay officials, parents’ kumpares and kumares, etc.

“Magtatampo yun si Tito Manoling mo kung hindi mo bigyan ng key chain galing Dubai.”
“Matagal na nanghihintay yung inaanak mo ng Toblerone.”

OFWs are generally generous givers, but they also have limits. And as their vacation drags on, the more they realize they made the right decision to go abroad; so many folks back home are in dire need.

Some neighbors will be asking for gifts and money. Solicitation forms for graduation. Money to claim pawned jewelry. Money to buy an ailing relative’s medicine. It looks like the vacationing OFW has suddenly become a walking loan officer.

Family members demand more money

Many Filipino families also think of OFWs as endless sources of financial resources, so they ask for cash aside from the gifts you already brought. This is because many believe vacation in the Philippines is a luxury and not a necessity, so they think you must have enough money in your wallet to afford travel.

Sharing your hard-earned savings while abroad is a culmination of a long-awaited visit to the family, and it warms the heart to see parents thankful smile when they receive cash. But there are also cases when family members seek more, even if in a subdued, non-aggressive tone.

Everyone else is also asking for money

OFWs, regardless of the duration of their stay, have to deal with additional expenses since they will be targeted by family members who would like to ask for money to apply for a job in a different place, start a small business or purchase new appliances.

Airport personnel asking for tips. Taxi driver asking for tips. A jeepney or bus barker is insisting on carrying your bags, asking for money. We expect to give money to our loved ones, but there are also instances when neighbors or former classmates ask to loan money to help with medical bills, delayed salary, or are simply unable to find means to sustain daily needs.

Children do not recognize parents anymore

Some overseas Filipino workers have to stay abroad for a year or longer, so they find it very sad and disappointing how their children barely know or respect them when they return.

For example, the child will seek the attention of his nanny than the waiting arms of a mother. It’s a painful reality many parents encounter. It’s a paradox in the life of OFWs: going away to build a better future for children; children blaming parents for the wayward life they’ve gone through without guidance during their formative years.

If you’re working overseas, it’s best to have constant communication with the people at home: parents, siblings, cousins, and of course, immediate family members. With the technology available, all this is very much possible.

Confirm gossip that spouse already has another family

The long-distance relationship between spouses usually puts a strain on the marriage. Some couples file for legal separation, while others discover that their husband or wife has been having an extramarital affair and has a second family. Painful. But these sad tales of infidelity and broken families extend beyond ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’; after all, MMK is supposed to be based on real-life stories.

Going back to work abroad empty-handed and debt-ridden

Filipinos are naturally generous, so they usually spend more than what they saved when coming home to visit. They typically charge additional expenses using their credit card or borrowing from their company or coworkers abroad. In the end, they have to work longer and harder to pay back debts, which means that they’re going to need to stay in foreign land longer than before.


No doubt working abroad and away from your loved ones is severe. Manage your relationships (and your finances) well, and you will never have to experience these horrors throughout your OFW life.

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