February 1, 2016

ofwHow long have you been working and living abroad, thousands of miles away from your love ones?

How long are you planning to stay overseas to reach your goals?

Before answering, you should first honestly identify your BIG WHY of going overseas.

Why? Why? Why have you left?

To earn more money?

To have a brighter future?

To provide a better life for your love ones?

What is your emotional why according to Bo Sanchez? Your deeper reason of working away from home.

Whatever that goal is, it is necessary to always put that in your heart because that will keep you going once faced with circumstances while you are away from your home, from your family, from your friends.  That goal will keep you on track to achieve success and to unlock the chains to escape from poverty.

According to mtholyoke.edu, 12% of the Filipinos work and live abroad. From this approximately 11,280,000 Filipinos working abroad, the psa.gov.ph noted in 2014 that 35.2% have savings from their cash remittance sent to the Philippines, and majority of them save less than 25% of their remittance.

So, if an OFW remits 20,000 pesos, he saves less than 25% of this amount, which is less than 5000 Pesos. This is not bad. If this happens, say every remittance the OFW saves 4000 Pesos or more, in a year he will have 48,000 Pesos. In 5 years, he will have 240,000 pesos.

How about the other OFWs? Well, according to psa.gov.ph, 64.8% have no savings from their cash remittances. No wonder why there are many OFWs who are still poor despite the fact that they have been working overseas for many years, receiving higher pay that they usually used to receive in the Philippines.

I’m also an OFW and have been working abroad for a decade, and for ten years, I’ve realized that I still haven’t reached my goals of why I became an OFW. I am one of those 64.8%. So, after 10 years, it is only now that I am starting to save and grow my hard earned money abroad.

I believe that I’m not alone in this road. I believe there are also several OFWs who share the same sentiments with me, that after working for so many years away from their families, they still can’t afford to go back home because they have more bills to pay and no savings at all.

After many years of working and living abroad, I experienced firsthand, observed and recognized 3 misunderstood obligations and practices that makes many OWFs still poor despite of the length of working abroad and the money they are receiving.

1. Uncontrolled REMITTANCES

Sending money back home is of course a responsibility and an obligation of an OFW to support their families in the Philippines. However, many overseas workers do not properly account their remittances.

Several OFWs do not prepare a proper budget of how much money to send, to keep for emergencies back home or abroad, to save, and how much money to pay debts.

Several OFWs spoil their love ones by sending money every time a family member asks for more. As a result, their love ones left in the Philippines gradually form an irresponsible money spending habits. They gradually form the notion that they don’t need to spend wisely because they are well provided by their OFW mom or dad, daughter or son, brother or sister.


balikbayan boxLately, the issue on balikbayan boxes was all over the social media. It is undeniable that may OFWs send stuff, different stuff –imported goods to their families in the Philippines.

I myself had done it before. But one time, when I went to the mall, I realized that most of the goods in my balikbayan box were on the display shelves. I forgot that we are indeed living in a globalized world.

Sending balikbayan boxes is inevitable especially for sending personal and especial stuffs. There are also companies that provide goods to their workers that the OFW may also share them to his family in the Philippines through balikbayan boxes. There are times that sending balikbayan boxes are necessary.

However, if you spend much of your salary buying the content of your balikbayan boxes and spend more for the shipment fee and taxes, it is more practical to send money. If you are already making a habit of sending boxes once, twice, thrice a year, I personally believe that you need to go back to your “emotional why” and account your expenses on these balikbayan boxes.

Besides the financial burden of shipping, the disappointments from the shipping company and customs give emotional distress to you and to your family as well. And if unfortunate, your family still needs to pay for taxes before they can bring the box home.

If you add up all your expenses from buying the boxes, the contents, the shipping, the taxes, the inconveniences, most of the time, sending balikbayan boxes cost more that sending cash for your family’s needs.

3. Pasalubong Practice

As an OFW for the first time in 2006, I was so excited to go home and tried to buy my love ones pasalubong. Then for the succeeding holidays, I gradually stopped buying each individual a pasalubong.

Not buying pasalubongs for everyone is not being greedy. I personally believe that I can help better by keeping the cash. So, when someone will be needing help for real, I have extra cash to give.

Many OFWs obligate themselves to buy pasalubong for everyone-pasalubong for mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, friends, classmates, neighbors, tricycle drivers.

The question is, how much are you earning abroad? If you can afford, then why not?

But if you just want to show off and try hard to buy everyone a pasalubong until your money is almost gone, I believe it’s time to review your goals again and think it over if it is really a need to buy that pair of branded shoes for tito or that branded shirts for your barkadas or that trending smart phone or that advanced computer even though your children still have functional gadgets.

Then when in the Philippines, party here, party there, then eventually you will sell your gadgets because you no longer have enough cash left.

If this is the case, I think you better look at the mirror and see your future old self and your children’s older selves and think again of your big WHY of going abroad.

I still buy pasalubong, I do.  I buy chocolates. Then, I cook. Then we get together.

I’m not telling don’t buy at all. My point is, If you can and have enough then go, otherwise, hold on and mind your budget. 

Remember, that the most important thing is the quality time you spend with your love ones.


So, if you want to be wealthy and be together with your family soon, revisit the main reasons why you left home and work far away from home.

Think long term!!!  and let’s escape from poverty!!!




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