Overseas Filipino Worker. That's what we Filipinos working overseas are called - regardless of your position and your job. Unless you're a citizen in the country you're working or have chosen to live in the country of your choice, you are otherwise known as OFW. I am a proud OFW to start with and have been an OFW for the past 15 years.
And being an OFW isn't an easy thing. Starting from the processing of your passports, securing NBI clearances, completing documents needed to be submitted to POEA, undergoing medical and psychological tests, and attending Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS - once in 3 years). I go through this every time I go back home after my contracts. Even if I've already done these things in November 2010, I will do these things again when I have a vacation back home next year. Tough huh?
Makes me wonder why OFWs are called the "modern heroes" of our beloved country when Filipino who are wanting to work overseas are given such a hard time. Many say that the "modern heroes" cliché or mga bagong bayani (Tagalog) refers to the money that we are bringing into the Philippines to help our otherwise sagging economy.
But for me, it's more than that. It's the courage and strength of OFWs who went to work out of the country to give our families a better life. Our courage and strength are tested the moment we step in the departing airplane. I'm an OFW mother and I know how it feels to leave not only the life I've known, but also to leave my daughter. I left her when she was just merely 2 months old. Although I try very hard to go back every year and even though I make it a point that she spends her holidays with us wherever we may be, there are so many things that I missed in her growing years. I didn't see her mold before my eyes. I don't even know what her first words were, when her first tooth came out, when she took her first step. It's like a puzzle with a missing piece.
Eleven years of my daughter's have passed by and here I am, still an OFW. And I know I have to be strong for her. Let's just say, this is what I am called for to do and I got used to it already. And most OFWs are like me and share the same sentiments with me. Although we are very family-oriented, we are courageous and strong-willed and will always put our family's sake in line before our very own sake. I have come across this moving Tagalog article which I'd like to share with you: Bakit mahirap maging inang OFW?
We all have to make our sacrifices in life. I guess the only consolation that I can look up to is the money that I'm earning and that I'm with my husband.
To all OFWs like me, mabuhay po tayo! :)