Quantcast
Latest Stories

The little perks of being an OFW

By

Illustration by Steph Bravo

EDMONTON, ALBERTA—It is estimated that about 11 million Filipinos or 11 percent of our population live abroad. That’s a lot. We can create our own country: population-wise we are twice the size of Singapore or half the size of Australia.  Our remittances, which make up 13 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, is enough to sustain a country.

About 670,000 of these Filipinos live here in Canada—and the number is growing every year. About 110,000 are adopted Albertans. Some of us are immigrants, some are temporary foreign workers, back home we are called OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).

I can write many things about being an OFW: the ordeals we go through in a foreign country, how distance affects marriage and relationships, how we feel about our government, and the list goes on. But at the moment, I want to write something light. I’m a fan of “feel good” movies. So here goes.

The little perks of being an OFW:

Illustration by Steph Bravo

1. Every time you get on a full packed bus, you always see Filipino passengers inside. If you are a lady or elderly, somebody will immediately offer a seat. “Dito na po kayo.” This line says everything about our culture. It’s so heart warming! Our parents and teachers should be proud that anywhere we go in the world, we carry the values they instilled in us from grade school.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

2. Buy coffee at McDonald’s or Tim Hortons, you will always meet an OFW. These places are obviously run by Filipinos. Sometimes, you get an upsize for free. Sometimes, you hear Gary Valenciano or Eraserheads music being played in the background.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

3. One time I bought a picture frame at the mall. It was scratched. I went to a till manned by an OFW. I asked if I could get more discount. She phoned the manager. Request granted. I got a discount for an already-discounted item.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

4. You dial a 1-800-number to complain or to request for some changes made on your account, big chance you will talk to a Filipino. Some of them are call center agents working back home. It’s nice to talk in Tagalog when you least expect it. You are able to convey the message clear and your requests are all granted.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

5. You fly home for a vacation at any time of the year, you will always meet two or three OFWs at the airport. When you are alone, seeing another Filipino gives you a feeling of relief. And immediately you bond together like you have been friends for years, when in truth you have only met at the airport.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

6. One time I went home, I flew Philippine Airlines. Up in the air half-way to Manila from Vancouver while everyone was sleeping, an announcement was made: “If there is a nurse or doctor aboard, we need your help with a passenger who is sick. Please come to the front.” Immediately, I saw five Filipino passengers approach the front. I was reminded that our nurses are all over the world, some of them work as caregivers. It was a nice feeling to sit in that plane for the remainder of the flight to Manila, knowing that if I get sick, someone will take care of me.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

7. You are never alone at Christmas time. Go to any Filipino house, there is food, party and karaoke. We can’t deny party is part of our culture. And OFWs brought that trademark abroad. Did I mention dancing too?

Illustration by Steph Bravo

8. In Canada, Tagalog is the fastest-growing immigrant language. And you can feel it. Sit inside the bus and you hear a conversation in Tagalog. Go to the mall, the couple walking in front of you and behind you are talking in Tagalog. In fact, at Western Union outlets, there are already flyers in Tagalog. Someday, Tagalog will become the other language in the “bilingual skill” referred to.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

9. If you are homesick, go to church on Sunday, you will meet hundreds of Filipinos. Needless to say, this is also part of our culture. We may belong to different religious denominations but generally we are a church-goer flock and mind you, people notice. I have been asked countless times by strangers if I was on my way to church on a Sunday.

Illustration by Steph Bravo

10.The “bayanihan spirit” is very much alive abroad. Where I live, we take care of each other. We have a strong and tight-knit Filipino community. This was proven and tested during the tragic car accident in March 2012 where four OFWs died. We gathered, we prayed, we mourned and we gave financial support even if we didn’t know the victims.

I know I shouldn’t have called the above list “little perks.” They are actually blessings in disguise sent from somewhere over the rainbow. Some days, they could mean the world to you. Just when you think it’s time to give up, you realize life is worth moving on after all.

The author, an engineer by profession, writes a column for the Alberta Filipino Journal (http://www.filipinojournal.com/alberta/)


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Canada , Migration , OFW , overseas Filipino worker



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Cebu has hair of John Paul II and piece of John XXIII’s skin
  • LTRFB denies victory liner appeal
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace