Many Filipinos consider the United States as the “Land of Milk and Honey,” and that if you had the chance to go there, your life will never be the same. If you just get there, you will be swimming in dollars and you can lift yourself and your family out of poverty.
Some Filipinos may have found that to be true. And even for those who do struggle, life in the USA tends to be more comfortable than life in the Philippines. The good thing about working and living in the US is that you earn dollars. And if you convert your money to Philippine Pesos, you’d get a lot! If you had $1,000, that would be equal to around PhP50,000, depending on the exchange rate.
Alas, you earn in dollars, you also spend in US dollars. And if you’re not careful, you also get into the consumeristic, materialistic lifestyle of most Americans.
I don’t know if you are on track to be an American citizen. Or if, like me, you have a work visa. But nonetheless, in the first 2-5 years of working in the USA, you’d still be considered an Overseas Filipino Worker. An OFW.
You’re an Overseas Filipino Worker, what now?
- This means that you are about to join the ranks of what the media and government called “Bagong Bayani.” You will soon join millions of Filipinos worldwide who are helping keep the Philippine economy afloat by their remittances.
- OFWs are simply Filipinos working abroad–they may be working under contract, or hired in a permanent position. Unless they renounce it, they are still citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. This also means that the government will extend important services to them in the countries where they are present.
- This also means saying goodbye to all that is familiar. You will be far away from family–your immediate family (wife, husband, or kids), or extended family: brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, and even your friendly neighbors.
- When you go to a different country, you will soon realize how many things you take for granted. You will need to relearn so many things and adjust your expectations from the people around you. Your family back in the Philippines will also adjust their expectations of you.
OFWs have certain benefits that you can avail of.
- Your income is tax-free in the Philippines because you earn it in another country. However, if you have business earnings or investment income in the Philippines, that will be subject to tax.
- As an OFW, you are exempted from paying the travel tax and the airport terminal fee at the airport. You just need to get your Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). To learn how to get the OEC, please visit this link: http://amightylife.com/apply-overseas-employment-certificate-oec/.
- You can also continue your mandated government memberships and savings such as SSS, and PAGIBIG Fund.
I looked at some articles about the myths and realities that OFWs are facing. I found the following articles helpful.
Realities faced by OFWs:
The Realities Faced by an Immigrant Caregiver, New Yorker Magazine
Myths about OFWs: