My 1st year as OFW

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This is a depiction of my first day at work back in 2015. I was happy, sad, and nervous at the same time. The first few weeks were okay, I was excited and I didn’t miss home or my family that much cos I’m experiencing a new chapter in my life where home and work environment is far more different than before. I was always in awe of everything here especially with the beautiful places that you can experience for free, even simple parks and outside gym, masaya na akong mapuntahan. I was always curious about everything. I always compare Singapore to my home town, that here is much nicer, safer blah blah blah.. That time it was clear to me that I wouldn’t want to return home for work. That I want to stay as an OFW for as long as I can because working here, I can provide and finance my own needs and wants, and I can help my family back home (I’m not the breadwinner by the way).

For 6/5 days a week (Alternate half day Saturdays), I wake up at 6:30am, leave for work at 7:45am, start working at 8:00am, and leave office at past 6:00pm (on the dot employee. lol) were my daily routine. At work, the first few weeks are the only challenging part, where you train, study and analyze the work itself and your colleagues in different race. Not to mention the conversation  with a non-english speaking client you have when you call and chase for payments (btw I’m a Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry). Paulit ulit. Same old routine.

I used to think that working and living here and in Philippines is similar in most ways. That the only difference is that you are now surrounded with people in different race and personality, speaking in english (mapa-carabao english man) is a must (malamang!) and the salary is way better than what we have back in PH (engineers are underpaid. period). But as I reached my 1 year as an OFW, I realized living/working abroad isn’t all glitz and glamour.

  1. When you miss your mother’s cooking. Yes they have Jollibee. Gerry’s grill and other pinoy foods here but in all honesty, nothing beats your mother’s cooking. Mapa simpleng lutuin man, kahit fried food, it just tastes better when you know it was cooked by your mother. And everytime I call back home, I always ask them Anung ulam n’yo? (syempre kamustahin mo muna sila. haha!)which is why sometimes I don’t want to call them. Naiinggit lang ako. 😦
  2. When you get sick. You don’t want to get sick here. Ang mahal ng gamot (though we can reimburse $25.00 when we go to clinic).There’s no one to look after you (though I have my sister in the other room), you still need to buy your own food and meds. Unlike if you’re home, mas madali ang buhay. Iba pa din talaga yung me nanay na magbabantay sayo. 😦 
  3. When you miss another family gathering/occasion. I felt envious when I saw photos uploaded on instagram by my brother during my mother’s 66th birthday. My mother was happy when I called thru facetime, recalling what others ordered during their lunch out with the whole family, the taste of dish they ordered, the things they did after lunch blah blah blah and there I was, alone in my room , contented with the pansit canton that I cooked for late lunch to celebrate her birthday (yes tamad akong lumabas or magluto). I wonder what more will I miss 😦
  4. When you see your old friends get together. Some of my closest friends are also here and we see each other twice or thrice a month. But it’s far better when you have your whole squad with you when you just want to chill in the mall or just stay in someone’s house just to catch up on everybody’s lives.
  5. When you really had a bad day at work. Here, if your senior/manager scolds you about something bad/wrong you made, or just when you want to talk back to your colleague about her effin’ attitude towards you, the day will pass by as if nothing happened.  You leave the office and go straight home without stressing out all your anger and frustrations. Different than before, when you had an argument with someone at work or you just had a bad day, your friends will ask you to have a chitchat over a bottle of beer or emperador, or just stroll around the mall and eat wherever you want. (stress eating at its finest. haha) Ang mahal kasi dito, lol and most of my friends live halfway across SG so no choice but to go straight home and divert all your anger and frustrations to other things.
  6. When you miss your family. This is normal for every overseas worker and I don’t know about others but sometimes, even when I’m too busy at work or enjoying my friends’ company, I just suddenly miss them and want them here with me. I just want to see them, or hear their voice or see what’re they doing. I tend to browse photos I had with them during the last family gathering or even just a simple sibling session we had. Everyone knows that there are a lot of airline ticket promotions nowadays, and  you can actually go home once or twice a month if you want. Pero kailangan na lang magtiis. Sayang pamasahe. 😦

For a year now, these are the few struggles that I can think of as of this moment. The excitement and curiosity that I had on my first few months here gradually fade away. My plans on being an OFW for the rest of my life suddenly changed. When you see my facebook account (if you happen to be my friend), you may say that I’m living a great life right now, with all the places that I’ve been to and all. A few friends of mine even told me they envy the life I have now,  but to tell you honestly, being an overseas worker is never easy.

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I’m not saying I’m already successful in the path that I chose. I still have a long way to go, but I know I’m one step ahead in reaching my dreams. Pero habang tumatagal, mas lalo ko nang gustong umuwi. Not that I couldn’t handle an independent life or home sickness, but I just don’t want to be working thousands of miles away from home and miss all the important happenings.Gusto kong makita or makasama sa pagtanda yung parents ko. We are busy growing up we often forget they are also growing old. These are the priceless and simple things that will make you realize that there is so much more than earning. I’m not sure how long will I work overseas (I still have 2yr bond with my company), but there’s one thing I’m certain of.  Nothing beats home, and the people you share it with. 🙂

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PS: Happy 1 year at work from me and my Iranian friend, Sepideh!(we’re both hired the same day)

PSS: Salute to all the brave OFW, our modern heroes!

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