Why OFWs find it hard to return
I left the Philippines in 2001 with my wife and then 3-year-old son. We came to Dubai not out of economic necessity, but for a sense of adventure and as an escape from the Manila traffic, floods and pollution.
Through the years, the adventure we thought of eventually became a mission, as we got involved with an international Catholic lay ecclesial movement and with the Filipino community.
Last year, I tried to reach out to two companies I worked with before coming here, as well as other companies in industries that are familiar territories, such as healthcare and logistics.
My current job in Dubai is managing the corporate reputation of an oil and gas logistics service provider.
Last September, I found an opening for corporate communications manager for the “fastest-growing oil company” in the Philippines. I was interviewed via video chat and face-to-face.
Unfortunately, I have not received a reply.
These were my realizations with this publicly listed independent oil company:
1. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), specifically those in the Middle East, are stuck where they are because of the wide gap in salary, considering that the US dollar is above P50. The highest salary you can get is half of what you are earning overseas, but doing the same deliverables. It is also tax-free in the Middle East.
2. OFWs in the professional sector who would like to return to the Philippines are at a disadvantage, because they have been away for a long time and might be perceived as “outdated” with the Philippine setting.
It’s about time to give back to the motherland. I need to break the sad reality of OFWs being stuck where they are because of the salary gap. I am willing and ready to accept a big cut in my package, as long as all my obligations as a father and husband are met.
ART POPOY LOS BANOS, [email protected]
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