Leaving on a jet plane? How to ensure your loved ones’ security while you’re away
So integral to the national socio-economic character, most Filipinos are acutely aware of the country’s well-earned reputation for massive labor force. As it is, the inclination to seek employment overseas is so common that most are likely to know at least one Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) within their immediate social circle...if they are not the OFW themselves.
Numbering approximately 9.1 million according to government estimates, the Philippines owes a great deal to these adventurers that seek greener pastures outside of home and all things considered, the reputation of the foreign worker as a modern-day hero is much deserved.
Stories here vary. Most documented is the parent that ventures abroad to accounts of employer abuse, differences in culture, and physical and emotional distance from their families, enduring loneliness to provide their loved ones with a better life, sometimes ironically becoming the cause of the family’s breakdown. In other cases, it is the ate or kuya that sacrifices youth for their siblings.
Elsewhere, stories are less bleak: several journey abroad driven more by opportunities than poverty, settling in their adopted country with little regret, while maintaining ties with the Philippines. For others still, labor migration is simply a fact of life – step one in joining family already abroad. Coming from all walks of life, these enter into the national narrative, going beyond the migrant by embracing the ones that they leave behind.
Importantly however, these accounts focus only on the beginning and end, eschewing the middle that recounts the ways OFWs take to secure the future of their loved ones, and the mistakes committed along the way. To this end, what are the measures that OFWs can take to ensure the welfare of their families when they are miles away? Here are a few:
- Financial Investments
The bulk of what OFWs send home is cash by way of remittance, handy for immediate concerns such as tuition fees, rent, groceries, illnesses and emergencies. While its necessity is incontestable, the problem with regular cash remittances is that it caters more to short-term needs while cultivating the temptation among recipients to spend more, knowing that more will come soon. This is a precarious arrangement because, first, most OFWs are employed under work contracts and are therefore dependent on their renewal, second, because present spending impacts on the family’s long-term savings upon retirement.
Many, of course, have the foresight to set aside funds for rainy days and some have even gone further by investing in long-term money-growing ventures. Unfortunately, stories of scams specifically targeting OFWs with less money to spare have been discouraging. The good news however is that big Philippine banks have long established operations in cities with a high concentration of Filipinos. Significantly, banks such as RCBC, Metrobank and BPI are partnered with international and reputable insurance companies that offer prolonged payment schemes that allow the generation of long-term servings and financial investments for clients.
- Cashless Transfers of Basic Necessities
A constant in the post-millennium, modern finance has evolved to an extent that the purchase of goods and services no longer require physical cash – the credit card has been in use for decades now and its little sister, the debit card, is following suit. An increasingly digital and liquid world has also allowed mobile phones to do the job of the wallet via applications such as PayMaya and GCash. All things considered, it should come as no surprise that in an increasingly digital and liquid world, it is even possible to purchase goods and services without actual cash.
For example, gift certificates through services such as BeamAndGo are now joining a digital family that allows for purchases everywhere from supermarkets, pharmacies, cellphone credits and even tuition fees.
Such services especially cater to the migrant worker, and provides the advantage of choosing specific prepaid variants of material security for those at home – food, medicine, or education, while reducing the risk of overspending or re-allocating funds set aside for one purpose for the use of another. They encourage recipients to work only within a set budget and present them with another means to look into long-term saving.
- Ensuring Health Security
A burden for the migrant worker is the absence of company-sponsored healthcare for dependent parents, spouses, children, or siblings back in the Philippines. Adding to this is a lack of certainty that the employer will provide the OFW with healthcare, the consequence of this is the drawing of the family’s health-related expenses from the remittances they receive. Especially in the case of more dire health problems and depending on the income the OFW is able to secure abroad, this may take away from the amount allotted for other purposes such as food, schooling or savings.
Fortunately, in recent years the comprehensive healthcare provided by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) have moved away from an exclusive corporate clientele to developing products that also cater to individuals employed outside the Philippine corporate structure. This range includes the usual comprehensive health insurance provided to employees by big Philippine companies, as well as prepaid health cards suited to a wide variety of budgets, that allow the client a choice of which health services to avail according to his/ her preferences.
We at Maria Health believe that everyone should have simple, easy access to healthcare no matter where you are in the world and how many miles you are separated from your loved ones. Visit Maria Health today to get a free comprehensive insurance quote or a comparison of all available health plans from the top providers in the country.