Pagtratrabaho sa Abroad: Magagamit ba ang Tinapos na Kurso sa Kolehiyo?

Sa maikling salita ito ay depende sa bansa kung saan nagtratrabaho ang isang OFW.

Kilala ko ang isang Pilipina na nagtratrabaho sa isang bansa na nasa Hilagang Europe at nagagamit niya ang kanyang degree.

Siguro sa mga bansa ng Hilagang Europe mas malaki ang posibilidad na gamitin ang tinapos na kurso sa unibersidad, ngunit dito sa Italya may dalawang hadlang:

Una sa lahat ang isang Bachelor degree na kinukuha sa Pilipinas, o kahit sa ibang bansa kung saan may tatlong uri ng college degree (Bachelor, Master at PhD), ay hindi ang katumbas ng Italyanong college degree: dito sa Italya walang shortcut sa pagiging doktor, ibig sabihin na isa lang ang degree dito na tinatawag na “laurea” at (more or less) katumbas iyon ng isang PhD.

Halimbawa ang asawa ko ay may Bachelor degree sa Accounting na tinapos niya sa Pinas at dati teacher siya sa Pinas, ngunit dito hindi magagamit ang kanyang degree dahil hindi iyon katumbas ng Italyanong “laurea”.

Ang isa pang hadlang ay na dito napakaraming mga Italyano na may college degree ay hindi nakakasumpong ng angkop na trabaho, ibig sabihin na kahit may PhD ang isang dayuhang Pinoy, may maraming mga “PhD” dito na nagtratrabaho bilang waiter, tagaluto sa restaurant, tagalaba ng pinggan etc. dahil medyo bagsak ang ekonomya…..

Kaya, at least dito sa aking bansa, hindi masyadong uubra ang ideya na “tatapusin ko ang kurso sa kolehiyo at mag-aabroad ako para masumpungan ang disyenteng trabaho sa mayamang bansa”.

Baka pwede iyon sa ilang mga bansa, ngunit may mga Western na mga bansa (tulad halimbawa ang bansa ko) kung saan wala gaanong saysay ang pinag-aralan, kaya kailangang timbangin lahat ng mga aspekto bago tapusin ang isang kurso upang, sa bandang huli, magabroad.

Why Rich Employers Hire Filipino Workers

Since I started courting the Filipina who later became my wife, I have seen some of the most luxurious penthouses, mansions and condos that there are here in Rome.

Filipinos whom I know work for famous Italian politicians, actors, singers, C.E.O.s and otherwise rich people.

There are employers who are particularly generous with their Filipino katulong and pay some of them rather well and treat them well.

I know a Filipino family that works for the owner of a big mansion situated on top of Monte Mario, a hill overlooking downtown Rome, and he lets his Filipino employee’s family occupy the entire ground floor of his mansion and lets them freely invite whomever they want to have a party around the swimming pool and even swim in the pool.

Other Filipinos sometimes receive their employer’s slightly used Audi, Mercedes, Bmw etc as a gift.

Generally speaking a Filipina or a Filipino earns more per hour than an Italian cleaner or domestic helper.

But why is that?

One reason is perhaps the fact that, while an Italian or another European domestic helper only does what he or she is paid for, Filipinos do a little bit of everything.

Generally speaking Filipino men have diskarte skills or, in other words, have a way with D.I.Y. and each one is a Jack of all trades. So they don’t just clean the mansion of their employer: they do some gardening, fix their employer’s car, do some plumbing, baby sitting, walk the employers’ dogs, do some ironing, cooking etc.

So, despite the economic recession, quite a number of Filipinos here have mabait at mayamang amo and know how to get those amo to like them.

The downside is that many Filipinos here have very little budgeting and saving skills and often run out of money and even get into debt and this tendency keeps them stuck for a lifetime in live-in jobs that may even pay well and yield some benefits like second hand Mercedeses or other expensive gifts but, quite honestly, give them very limited free time. Most live-in domestic helpers only have time off on Thursday afternoons and Sundays and spend the rest of the week working almost around the clock.

And not all rich employers are mabait, some don’t want their katulong’s family around, they only pay like 500-600 a month and their katulong has to sleep in a small 10-15 square-meter room in the basement of the condo.

But the point is: regardless of whether the employer is mabait or not, live-in jobs drain so much time and energy that they could destroy family life.

One may end up having a slightly used Audi or Bmw while being a foreigner in his own house because his children grow up speaking the local language while their parents are too busy working.

Yes, rich employers do like Filipino workers and a Filipino could stumble upon a very generous one, but before being tempted to move here and accept a live-in job, even a well-paying one, it would be better to consider all aspects involved and particularly how to buy out quality as well as “quantity” time for the family while working these jobs which is a very tall order to fill.

Do Filipinos Really Need to Work Abroad?

The first time I visited the Philippines I met C. (I am not going to reveal her name for privacy reasons), a young lady who used to be some kind of au pair in my mother in law’s house.

She was studying agricultural engineering at the Bulacan Agricultural State College.

C. is now a successful engineer and she also travels abroad for work, she was in Japan recently.

What struck me is that I saw C. ‘s house that is situated in a nearby barangay close to the Sierra Madre Mountains and I noticed that her parents’ house is the simplest of homes which evidently means that she is from a very poor family. Her parents’ house is one of those “patchwork” homes made out of different materials including hollow blocks that are not coated with plaster and that have a metal sheet as roof.

C. is not the only Filipina I met in the Philippines who never thought of moving abroad and if a very poor lady like C. can do it this means that many more could do it.

It is true that life is tough in the Philippines but while people like C. are masipag (industrious) a lot of Filipinos ay nakatambay lang, they just hang out aimlessly. Sometimes you can spot them sipping hard drinks while being engaged in kwentuan or maBOTEng usapan.

So by being masipag and staying away from bisyo some Filipinos could actually make it in the Philippines, not necessarily becoming as successful as C. but at least managing to create a situation where they have a decent life and, more importantly, don’t have to leave their family members in the Philippines to go to work as seamen or somewhere in places like Hong Kong, Saudi or even in wealthy Europe, U.S. or Australia.

As I have already mentioned in this blog, I know Pinoy families here in Italy that had a very hard time reuniting and, actually, even when they managed to obtain the entry visas for their spouse and kids, they kept living apart from them because they were working live-in while their family was living in another apartment.

As husband of a Filipina, and observer of the Pinoy culture and mentality, what strikes me is that Filipinos are very religious and their religion is theoretically all about “family first”, I mean that the Bible talks about being physically present to raise and train one’s kids and it also says that it is better to eat vegetables in a house where there is love (and by the way veggies are good for you, I’ve lost 30kg by going green….) than a fattened bull (or maybe baboy, I have never heard about Filipinos eating bull) in a house where there is no love (perhaps a 10 square meter basement in the mansion of your employer in a rich country where you only communicate with your spouse and kids through internet).

I actually know a Pinoy family that left Italy for good and moved back to the Philippines and they are doing pretty well (and when they left they had neither a mansion in the Philippines nor big savings). He is a guy who has no bisyo whatsoever and is very masipag and has a “family first no matter what” mindset.

Becoming an OFW is definitely not the only option and even if you do become an OFW I am here to tell you that there is a very big chance that the cost and the pain involved could turn out to be far greater than the gains.

So, mag-ingat….

Italian Edition of “Noli Me Tangere” by Jose Rizal

My country and the Philippines seem to have more ties than I suspected.

Here in this country we have the largest Pinoy community in Europe, the only Jollibee restaurant in Europe, the Luneta Park in Rome with a monument to José Rizal standing in the middle of Manila Square and, on top of that, an Italian scholar named Vasco Caini became so interested in the work of José Rizal that he translated his novel “Noli Me Tangere” into Italian.

There are plenty of reasons why Filipinos should feel comfortable in my country: we have the Italian version of the “Noli”, the Jollibee, a growing number of big shopping malls, good food, nice weather. What prevents more Filipinos to come here then? Maybe a little economic recession……

The “Isang Kahig isang Tuka” Mentality

Filipinos use the expression isang kahig, isang tuka that literally means “one scratch, one peck”.

Because mahirap ang buhay or “life is tough” Filipinos go through life “scratching and pecking” to earn a living.

In the Philippines wages are low and circumstances are really tough and natural calamities make things even more difficult so, often, there is no alternative to scratching and pecking.

However, being married to a Filipina who has been living overseas for over 20 years and being constantly in touch with Filipinos who live in my country or in other European countries, has given me some insight into why even Filipinos who could have got past the “scratch and peck” way of life still find themselves scratching and pecking, barely making it through the day and endlessly living from paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong, living from paycheck to paycheck is not wrong in and of itself. There are people who choose to live a simple and minimalistic life to be able to focus on other things such as religious and voluntary work for example.

So a simple life is not bad in and of itself. I am an advocate of a minimalistic lifestyle which, in my experience, leads to greater happiness. But a financially minimalistic life is no excuse for lack of planning ahead, getting into debt to buy the latest electronic gadgets or supporting tons of relatives who have many wants rather than real needs. And I think this is the real problem of expatriate Filipinos who often live a life of unnecessary striving. Some even share an apartment with another family to be able to buy a mansion in the Philippines that they only inhabit once in perhaps 5 years.

A poor personal organization and having one’s priorities messed up create a life of scratching and pecking and get in the way of a truly simple life.

Filipinos find themselves constantly out of money and working hard to make up for their lack of money which, while in the Philippines is the result of difficult circumstances, in the West is often the result of poor choices.

It breaks my heart to see expatriate Filipinos living in a constant state of financial emergency and having to scratch and peck and resort to diskarte to cope with the hirap (difficulties) they often are the ones to create.

Life is tough but sometimes Filipinos make it unnecessarily tough.

Much of the hirap could be avoided by making better decisions upstream.

The Jollibee in Milan: the “Mecca” of Expatriate Filipinos

As I keep saying in my posts, marrying a Filipina entails marrying a woman who comes from a culture that has been massively shaped by the USA.

In the Philippines there are shopping malls and fast-food restaurants everywhere and if your Filipino spouse moves to your country she will most likely want to spend much of her free time going to the mall or eating out at some fast-food restaurant.

I live in Italy and, theoretically, in my country there are plenty of places where a couple could enjoy romantic moments together, like walking hand in hand on a street of cobblestones under an old street lamp in downtown Rome for example.

Yet, the reason why many Filipinos like going downtown Rome is not the ancient buildings or the streets of cobblestones, rather it is because near the main train station there is a KFC restaurant, it is because of the Mc Donald’s restaurant near the famous Spanish Steps and so on.

But, because most shopping malls and fast-food chains are situated in the outskirts of Rome, most Filipinos would rather go to a mall in the suburbs than to the magnificent historic section of Rome.

Nowadays Filipinos in Italy have one more place to visit in the country and this place is becoming a sort of Mecca where hundreds of Filipinos go on some sort of “pilgrimage” from various parts of Italy: the Jollibee in Milan, the first one in Europe.

Jollibee is the largest fast food chain in the Philippines, operating a nationwide network of over 1100 stores. The company has also embarked on an aggressive international expansion plan in the USA, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei and now Europe and it’s considered a Top 20 Employer in Asia.

So, even if you come from a country filled with natural or historic beauty and places that would be ideal to spend romantic moments together, there is a much greater chance that you will end up doing some “romantic” window shopping at the mall or, if you live in Europe, you will go on a “pilgrimage” to Milan’s Jollibee!