The monetary aspect came as a secondary consideration when I decided to work overseas. I’m at the point wherein this is where the wind blows for the type of profession/field I’m in. I have a considerable amount of risk appetite and even the point of which job offer from which country to take involved too much risk taking already. I prayed hard to be led to where I should be. That time I didn’t know exactly why I chose to come to UAE over heading to the more popular countries. But not too long, the One up there showed me the reasons. In life, there would be decisions and indecisions like that – you don’t need a reason at the moment, but that would feel right. Sooner or later you’d say, “Ah, You really know better.”
That day I had no assurance that I’m going to like it here or not. There are too much information from the net and a number of people. But I wouldn’t really know until I got here. I’m braving myself secondary to prayers, by thinking that I can always return, anyway, in case the situation is totally hellish. With corresponding cost, of course. That night the plane landed, there was this certain air that embraced me telling me that I’m in good hands.
My being away has caused me advantages and disadvantages. Without the necessity of giving details, let’s just say that the Lord has blessed me/continuously surprises me with graces that even if there are little or big trials along the way, I seem to hardly mind. That’s me accepting the fact that in whichever part of the world we are, whether we’re home or not, there’s always an incurred opportunity cost. You just don’t notice it at times because it depends on how we perceive the things around us.
I’ll speak only of my circle. That when we left, some of us had pre-conceived wishes (after at least 2 years) to explore other opportunities in another country or in the same country, migrate, return home and set up own businesses, and/or get employed . I noticed that their/our plans (My colleagues, who are either based also in UAE or in other countries, and I keep in touch and occasionally discuss short-term and long-term plans) change depending on what’s been transpiring on a personal level and causes by external factors. I realized that with all these, whether it’s reasonable to go with the flow or not, it’s very important that we should be really firm on where we really want to be.
I was undecided during the first year. Of course, there would be times I’d be swayed by my closest people’s plans. But things got clearer when I went home for a vacation last year. I became certain that I want to retire in the Philippines. It’s strange, when you’re away that’s when you’ll get to see clearly what you’re missing and how much of it, that there’s nowhere else better, but there.
Yesterday, I read an article titled Was working abroad for 25 years worth it? It was written by Mike Bolos for the book Migrants’ Stories, Migrants’ Voices 1. He talked about his success story and its corresponding cost. He shared how he rose from the ranks, how his relationship with his wife and children got affected, even lead to annulment of their marriage, how he shared his blessings to the community, and other things. That was genuine and awakening. This is the most interesting part of the share:
Is it worth working abroad?
Was working abroad worth it? I do not know. At the personal level, I know what I got out of it and what I achieved. I know I tried hard and proved I could do it. I worked hard in my profession and I think I was a financial success. But my marriage and my children suffered. But life is not perfect.
Hence, to me, working abroad doesn’t seem really worth it. If you were to ask me, I think it is still best to work here, close to one’s family. This is the best situation because money is not everything, especially for women. It is tough enough for a family when the father is not there. It is even tougher when it is the mother who is not around to hold the family together.
In terms of our country, ideally, we should find jobs here. There should be no need to go abroad. At the same time, people should be free to make choices, to travel, and to find jobs when there are none here. But the social costs are just too great. The greatest advantage of working abroad then seems to be the financial gains.
OFWs should maximize their stay abroad. They should not waste their time and resources because they can do a lot that can contribute to their early return to the Philippines. They should continue learning and improving themselves so that they do not have to work abroad forever. They should maximize their stay abroad because they are paying such a high price for it. They should preserve and not squander their earnings (e.g. on consumer goods like electronics, cell phones, and signature goods).
They should save and invest their earnings well so that when they return home they would not have to start from zero. Savings no matter how small will eventually amount to something over time if done consistently and invested wisely.
Based on my experience, I enjoin OFWs now to do everything possible to preserve their families at all costs. Knowing what I know now, I would have done things differently to preserve my own. Despite the distance, OFWs should try to be as close to their children as possible so that they will not become delinquent children.
It appears to me that the risk is high and the probability is great that the children may not grow up like those with both parents around them. In which case, is the social cost worth it? Most OFWs would say they had no choice.
I know it’s too much to ask, but I just want to think out loud. I believe in preserving the family at all cost. I wonder why, with the kind of position that he had, he did not bring his family with him in his 25 years of being away. But clearly, he/they must have had their own reasons.
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0 thoughts on “The cost of being away”
Very interesting article and a very interesting perspective from your point of view. I have family who live / work abroad as well (I guess I can be classed as one of them) and wonder what makes some of them stay away from home for such a long time. At the moment I’m getting itchy feet and looking at opportunities to do some business travelling, but like many, worries are being away from home too long.
The Lady in Green Ruffles
I’ve written a piece about working abroad but can’t seem to finish it.
Anyway, my father was an OFW. I know first hand what one is sacrificing for a “better” future. Every member of the family suffers, not just the parents, even the kids, e.g., I grew up not knowing how to play basketball because my dad wasn’t here.
So if ever one entertains the possibility of working abroad, one has to have his wife/family with him.
true for me! i believe that if one is earning enough naman here in the Philippines, no need to go abroad. ako naman i really have no dreams of becoming rich. so basta i’m living comfortably, ok na. ayoko mahiwalay sa loved ones. 🙂
such a great post. thanks for sharing this article and a part of your story. 🙂
I wish we have a better government to produce more jobs and give us the best salary so we will not be opted to leave our family and be far from our loved ones. 🙂
it’s hard to be far away from your loved ones. kaya ako in case mag work abroad i’ll bring them. hirap din ng di nakikitang lumalaki ang anak. pero like what kg said, kung ok naman dito why go abroad. maybe for a vacation ok cya. pero kanya kanya pa rin tau ng pananaw sa buhay
Trailing after my husband in diff. countries is not really easy. For one, I am not working. But that’s a minor sacrifice I have to make just so we can be together. I don’t believe in long distance relationship.
interesting article. my family is here in the US, but we’re scattered in different States. one reason why i’d like to go back to the homeland is because i miss it so much, and i, also, want to retire there.
I’m not an OFW, but before I migrated to US, I was thinking of leaving the country to be an OFW. It had nothing to do with monetary gains, as I slaved working in a school setting for very little salary and ENJOYED IT. I wanted to experience something new. I wanted to see different places.
I salute those mothers/wives who kept the house and earned a living to support the remittances of their husband’s from overseas. It’s not a joke the job their doing.
I’m proud to say that even if my mom worked overseas for 20 years ( with yearly vacations of 45 days) and my dad being the one who raised us, we turned out very well. We never resented our mom for not being there for us physically because my dad made us understand the sacrifice she had to make because she loved us. My parents celebrated their 34th year wedding anniversary last March, still together and in love.
I think it’s all about balance, commitment and knowing what your priorities are if you’re someone who has a family and has to work overseas. And if you have the choice to take your family with you then that would be the best.
i wouldn’t want to stay away from my family if i’m gonna settle down with my loved one, just the same reason i gave when u asked if i plan to migrate. i don’t wanna be away from my husband and kids to be because i know how difficult it is to be a mostly lone parent. my mom was like that bec my dad was always away.
i guess the single life serves this best.
A well written and well-thought of article. It gives us an insider’s view of what the feelings of the OFW upon her/his decision to go abroad for the sake of a better future.
In the long haul, it’s really the family that gives us that extra inspiration to work hard and look forward to a brighter future.
This is a tough situation either way. Whether or not one leaves or stays in Pinas, he/she is sacrificing something (e.g. higher salary, being away from family, etc.). Its all about happiness — will staying or leaving make the person happier?
A sad reality for all OFW’s or migrant workers. It’s really a matter of choice really. I’ve been thinking of doing the same but so far, I’ve decided to stay here at home. As others did say, you have to ask if it’s really worth it all in giving priority to better opportunities over family.
this is a very interesting article wits. hindi nga biro ang maging OFW.
i wouldn’t want to stay away from my family.
very true, that is why even before hubby and I got married and before we migrated here, we made a decision that we will stick together, our entire family should be in one place coz it’s just to tough to be separated.
napag-isip-isip moko dito..maraming basehan talaga kung masaya o hindi.marasap o mahirap.
first time kong mag-abroad at magtrabaho..may nakikita ako na ayaw kong mangyari sakin yun yung tumanda na dito sa abroad at hanggang ngayon nagtatrabaho parin.ayoko nun.
at first i was kind of pissed off by the author (mike) because i sensed hypocrisy and self-propaganda in this story. the story lays down all the rewards of working abroad and then suddenly concludes that it was not worth it at all. and then when i shared this with a fellow OFW, i was reminded that this was shared to teach us a lesson. after that, i sympathized with mike.
but for me, it all boils down to your motives, and sticking with it no matter what. working abroad definitely is a very enriching experience, financially and professionally, i for one regrets putting off this decision. but first, u need to ask yourself y u want to work overseas. and there is no more noble motive than to work for one’s family. if u find urself somewhere lost along the way, remind yourself why you are there and get back on track. and if u have the chance to take them with you, take them with you. just like wits, im wondering why mike did not consider this. but to each his own.
my friends, it is worth it, if u make it worth it. let ur family be ur inspiration, if ur single, let ur desire to develop yourself and help others be your motive. build wealth, multiply the talents given by the Master so that He can use you for his works.
thank you wits for this nice post. 🙂 godbless us all.
i have also been contemplating on working abroad. my brother and some relatives work abroad and they also entice me to work there but i think for now, i’ll stay here until i have traveled all nooks and crannies of my dear old pinas.
I am registered nurse and recently I’ve been receiving explicit and implied comments from my loved ones to go abroad. But there are just many things that holding me to decide immediately.
You are so lucky na nakapagtrabaho ka abroad. Hindi ko alam ang feeling. Gusto ko talaga makapag abroad din eversince. Pero having the most wonderful mom in the world qho requested me and having only one wish at yun ay huwag kaming magkawatak watak na pamilya, pinili ko ang desisyon niya.
Your story reminds me of my bro-in-law. He had to work abroad to be able to send their 6 kids to school. His first experience was not so good and decided to get home. Thankfully, he was able to find the second one and is still going on.
Alexis Jay Sapnu
‘ wow.. a typical story of overseas workers.. the dilemma between career opportunity abroad and maintaining a cohesive family..
– a well-written post.. God bless you always.. =)
you took the plunge and now work abroad…i have yet to even think about it for i’m comfortable here …
good luck to you
i remember our letter. saludo talaga ako sa mga nagwowork abroad. ang hirap mawalay sa pamilya and natitiis nila yun. ako nga nagbakasyon lang sa SG mga 2 weeks ata eh panay na text ko sa mama at mga kapatid ko. panu na kaya pag mas matagal pa. baka di ko kayanin. well opinion ko lang naman to ha. kaya kong magtiis basta di lang ako mawalay. hay. naiyak ako jo.
Rach (Heart of Rachel)
It’s so hard to be separated from the people you love. I had mixed emotions when my parents migrated to the States. I wasn’t able to join them because I was already more than 21 years old.
i am considering working abroad but i am scared because i didn’t know what is in store for me there and that’s holding me for not accepting the offer, im too afraid to go out of my comfort zone, but you are right the Lord knows better, i been asking Him to lead to where He want me to be. I miss my brother in Australia, i want him home.
It differs with every case, and I guess his just didn’t turn out as well as he hoped. I grew up with my mom away for the most part of my life. What that inculcated in me is the intense desire to not leave the Philippines. My friends all think I’m silly.