There is an estimated 10.5 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) spread all over the world, with a huge concentration of them currently employed in the United States, with a population of over 3 million. Although unemployment is no longer as bad in the Philippines, it is still evident that the estimated 94.01 percent of the population leaving abroad will continue to rise. Despite the boom of the BPO industry in the country, people are still looking for greener pastures.
Leaving home to work abroad, however, is not a simple and straightforward process. Aside from the usual recruitment procedures that an OFW hopeful must go through, there are plenty of preparations that must be done.
Comply with the Paperwork
Every migrant worker must have a valid passport. It is only after they have been accepted for a job that a visa will be filed for entry purposes. Other documents that applicants must comply with, depends on the requirements of the POEA or the manpower agency that an aspiring OFW is connected. It is vital that all paperwork is taken care of before any placement fees are paid or any amount of packing should be done. Depending on the manner by which a worker is recruited, such as by referral of a family member, some of them may bypass processing at POEA. Still, documents must be completed for legal and security reasons.
The pre-employment orientation seminar (PDOS) is not offered to everyone. Again, this depends on the recruitment process. Most workers who went through agencies and the POEA must undergo PDOS. This is where various topics are discussed, as specified by the POEA MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO.3 series of 1983. These include the following:
- Code of discipline for and obligation of Filipino workers overseas support for family, payment of taxes, forex remittances, etc.) at least one hour discussion.
- Terms and Conditions of Employment (contract) – at least one hour discussion.
- The Job-site or the vessel – thirty minutes discussion.
- The Host Country: customs, practices, religion, social, economic and political system, labor laws and administration – at least two hours discussion.
- Government Services to Workers Overseas (Embassy, consular offices, labor attache service, WELFUND, POEA, etc.) – at least thirty minutes discussion.
- Travel tips – at least one hour discussion.
Comply with Medical Examination Requirements
Medical exams vary, depending on what are required by the host country. When workers are bound for the Gulf region, for example, they must be tested for various diseases to rule out possible infections. If they will be classified as unfit to work by the Gulf Cooperation Council-(GCC) Accredited Medical Clinics Association (GAMCA), because they are infected, they would no longer be allowed to travel to the Gulf region. Medical exams usually have two phases: Laboratory, and physical and psychological examination.
Stay Healthy Prior to Departure
Since workers must undergo medical exams, they need to stay healthy before they leave. When health problems show up during the exams, OFWs can always seek a doctor’s advice on how to pass the exam and be fit enough to work abroad.
Some employees get caught up with all the excitement, they end up packing their entire closet. But due to the luggage weight restrictions at the airport, it’s best to pack right and light. There should be clothes suitable for various seasons in the host country, especially if the possibility of buying a new wardrobe is slim. Medications for various ailments should be packed, particularly for common diseases or for other pre-existing health conditions.
Most importantly, workers must prepare mentally for the challenges ahead.