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.