Overseas Filipino Workers as heroes are already becoming a cliche. We send money back to the Philippines, sustaining the lives of our families while stabilizing the dollar reserve that revived an otherwise lackluster Philippine economy.
While we acknowledge our capabilities, we are also humans like everyone else. We get tired, and we get confused, we make bad habits and bad decisions.
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We trust everyone else very easily.
Since we are working abroad, the sight of a Filipino seems a relief to us. We think that they are our long-lost friends and put trust in them so easily. No wonder many get duped by so-called friends who borrow money from us, use us as reference or guarantors on loans, or even got our relationships and reputation in trouble because they circulate gossips to everyone. Online, we befriend people who, in the end, could only do more harm than good.
We send all our earnings to our families.
It’s a common argument that we are working abroad for the sake of our families: we send kids to school, we want to provide a decent house to our parents or make our relatives more self-sufficient with our financial help to support a business.
Coupled with low salary and declining peso equivalent, we are bent on sending all our earnings back home. We deprive ourselves even to the most necessities like toiletries or meals just so that we can send more to families.
We want shortcuts.
We want to go abroad as quickly as possible. This could mean bypassing the necessary steps would be OFWs need to follow like skipping the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar, paying a fixer to arrange our papers to save time, or bribing the medical examination agency to conceal our health condition.
As a result, we continue to sustain the corrupt system (bribery and corruption) that we criticize later and suffer the consequences (terminated due to health condition) while we’re already helpless abroad.
We spend more than what we earn.
Many of us are social climbers. We try to please everyone with our latest gadgets, jewelry, and clothing. This is not bad only if we are spending within our means. But many OFWs tend to be overshadowed by the lures of spending as we seek attention and admiration from others. Worse, some of us had to take loan sharks or pawn our passports to get more money to fuel our worldly desires or spending lavishly while on vacation in the Philippines.
We don’t save for our future.
Putting our families above ourselves is a hallmark of a hero, but it also meant risking our future. We seem to ignore the fact that our stint as OFWs is finite, and one day, we’ll pack our bags and go back home. We disregard investing in the stock market or choose to spend on weekend escapades than saving for a modest piece of real estate in the Philippines because we enumerate the list of expenses while complaining of our low salary and paltry currency exchange market.
We complain first before we research.
When the dollar falls against the peso, we blame the corrupt officials. When we hear news of Filipinos trapped in war zones, we blame corrupt officials. When someone is sentenced to imprisonment for drug trafficking, we blame corrupt officials. We make hasty conclusions before we try to find out more about the issue. Our limited knowledge is hazardous, especially if we assume we are faultless. Let’s try reading the news more and less on listening to what other people say.
We encourage corruption
For us to avoid offloaded at airports, we choose to bribe officials and proceed with our journey, then report the offending official and, in turn, change the country for the better. To expedite the processing of papers, we rely on “insiders” and fixers who do wonders in exchange for grease money. We are only willing to criticize but not ready to sacrifice, especially if it means doing so will inconvenience us.
We don’t know how to say NO
When people approach us for favors (friends, family, colleagues, bosses), we grant these favors more often than not. Maybe it’s because of our nature to put others ahead of ourselves, which also permeates at work and dealing with other people. But it also brings a false impression on us. If someone borrows money, and we say we can, these people might say we’re generous but also creates an impression that we’re financially well-to-do. Saying NO isn’t bad.
We easily get jealous
Some of us feel insecure and get jealous if a kababayan has emerged from just a mere OFW to a full-fledged balikbayan. Whether they are promoted at work or found a suitable partner, some of us can’t help but reveal that crab mentality and bash them instead of feeling happy for them. It seems that we are happier if our kababayans are down, laid off from work, or abused by employers than improve their lives through honest, hard day’s work.
We can easily get involved in unwanted relationships
The feeling of homesickness can be used as an excuse to get involved in extramarital affairs. In doing so, we may have forgotten our families back home, just like beer, that erases problems even for just a moment. Blinded by what good friends might say, we tell them to mind their own business even if only they wanted is our well-being.
These habits refer to many of us OFWs, but it should be understood that it’s not a generalization. If anyone of us can relate to any of these bad habits, we’re likely doing it.