The Plight of OFWS & Toots Ople’s Fight
May 22, 2009 § 1 Comment
For those who don’t know, I’m a former OFW. I worked for many years in Singapore and came back because I want to get married.
Like all 10 million other Filipinos like me, working and living abroad has its ups, and downs. Living in a 5 bedroom house in Mcpherson Estate in Singapore is like prison. I do my own cooking, laundry and cleaning the house. I do everything. For more than two years, I tried to survive. But, after my two and a half years of not seeing the Philippines, I decided its time to go home.
Yes, the pay is magnificent. You get to enjoy life. Singapore is unlike Saudi or other places where you just don’t get the fun of life. Occasionally, my friends from way back visit me there. Some of them, Amina Rasul and Atty. Argee Guevarra and for one short moment, former president Fidel Ramos.
Singapore is one of the nicest, coolest and the most livable city I have ever been. My colleagues are okey. I admire my boss, Nick and my managing director, the beautiful Nora Nordin. I’m in pretty good terms with Thiru, our finance guy and the accounts team.
Yet, despite this, nothing beats living in one own’s country. Some times, you feel alone. You feel depressed. You feel somewhat hollow, empty. What I do to forget my loneliness is I go ride a ferry to either Bintan or Batang, Indonesia or cross the Singaporean border and go stay in Jorong, Malaysia. Sometimes I go to Kuala Lumpur.
My journey went as far as Cambodia. Yet, again, nothing beats being in one own’s country.
In Singapore, Filipino workers have their own share of travails and suffering. Many OFWs who work as domestics, earn just S$ 350 a month (roughly 11,000 pesos). Those who want to compensate their lowly pay, either work in other homes as nannies, or some, enter into relationships with construction workers. Other Filipino domestics in Singapore, as some say, work as sex workers. They’re nannies by the day, sex workers at night.
I also encountered a Filipino doctor who agreed to be paid S$ 700 a month to work as a nurse. Imagine, she rents a room for S$ 250 and she’ll only send about S$450 back home. Such is the humiliation. But, as usual, it’s a problem of economics or the lack of it here.
That’s why I fully understand how these 70 stranded drivers feel there in Dubai. It’s soo sad that they have been misled by this recruitment agency and they are now suffering there. We need to help them. We need to ask government to help them. It’s a traumatizing experience. Fortunately, the Blas Ople Labor Policy Center headed by good friend, Susan “Toots” Ople is there to help them. But, Ople and the rest of the guys over at that policy center needs our help too. As citizens and Filipinos, it is our duty to extend help to our kababayans in dire straits.