before you pass on any bills again…
Dear Philippine Government Officials and Lawmakers,
We are Overseas Filipino Workers - WORKERS, WE WORK and WE WORK HARD. Do not rob us more by passing a bill or signing any deal just to make sure your seal and ink dry on the papers and not in the shelves.
While we are thankful for having secured a tax-free monthly salary for what we have worked for abroad, we are not slot machines where money just rolls out when you spin three cherries. Yes, we are thankful that we need not to cling to our purses and mobile phones for our lives but how sad is that that we feel more secure on others’ sidewalks than in our own country? Yes, we enjoy safer and faster mode of transports but shouldn’t we have them in a country with tax-paying citizens and considered as 2nd largest recipient of remittance?
WE ARE NOT MONEY-MAKING MACHINES:
· WE are citizens who have explored the hospitals, lobbies, offices, shops, hotels and etc.. of other parts of the globe because we did not find better opportunities at home and in return endure emotional torture of being away from our loved ones. Apart from the torture of filling up papers upon re-entry and exit in the Philippines which you just throw out in the brown box underneath your table anyway.
· WE also get sick and we also worry if a family back home is not well. Even if we have our health insurance, we also encounter foreign doctors who hand us weird and doubtful diagnosis or prescriptions. When it’s a new set of vocabularies we heard from physicians and Google makes it scarier, we spend the night wanting to hop on the earliest flight but it is easier said than done.
· There are places or instances WE experience prejudice and racial discrimination. Okay, this one begins at home – even at some places abroad, Filipinos are divided by dialects or regions. But my point is there will always be something somewhere that is disappointing and privileges we do not enjoy here and not handed freely because we are outsiders and we are workers.
· WE also work beyond office hours and some, work more than what they have signed for and being paid for because we are dependent on our visas.
· WE live with weather conditions we are not accustomed to, abide to the country’s laws, miss the food cooked at home and settle for replacements, patronize foreign brands and respect other’s cultures and bend backwards if needed because we are foreigners.
· WE pay for roof on our heads, for the food on our table, for clothings, for hygiene, even for Filipino channels – we also spend to live and in currency we also earn.
· Even if you have floods with very little rain, Christmases, birthdays of even mother’s day are different when you are away. Before we knew it, it is only home seeing grays in our parents and in our own head.
· WE are ‘expats’ in foreign countries, when by misfortune we die abroad, we are being ‘repatriated’.
Increased contributions are not welcome news especially for those who earn just enough to support their family in the Philippines. Just how much are you thinking of to impose each year to OWWA and Philhealth contributions because you claim you have no emergency fund or you have deficit from the previous years? That is with 2.5 million OFWs around the world. Apart from it, there is Php 100.00 POEA processing fee that we pay each time. We wouldn’t mind if by going to POEA, we need not to queue at no. 2,000 and clearance processing is automated. But we have to bear the manual encoding and stamping of forms by the not-so-happy-to-serve-staff and the stinking restrooms.
We sacrifice and work hard and yes, 'to splurge a little' during the very little time we are home and enjoy our family and loved ones, but not because you picture us with LBC boxes of Spams and Victoria Secret lotions and electronics in airport trolleys mean we live our everyday life like tourists holidaying in Europe or retirees cruising in a ship. So while you take a break from standing as sponsors at wedding pictures, draw bills that improve our benefits and not bills increasing our contributions – that will be more sincere nobility.