6 Things You Should Buy in the Airport

Your employer allowed you to go home for a week. Yay! You packed your things and can’t wait to see your family back home even if it’s just for a week. Of course, you need to make sure that you bought pasalubong to your family because what’s the point of being a balikbayan when you don’t bring something home, right?

Shopping malls are great destination to get your shopping done. Apparently, this place is so much better if you want to save more on shopping: airport. 

Goods sold in the airport are cheaper and tax-free, thereby allowing to save more. Before heading home, here are duty-free deals you need to score:

1. Chocolates and other local confections. 

Your balikbayan box will never be complete without chocolates. Duty-free stores in the airport sell tons of chocolates that it would be hard to miss them. You get to buy chocolates in different sizes at discounted prices, so make sure you can make room for these goods.

Aside from chocolates, each country has its own local goods and confections. Dubai has its famous camel milk chocolate while you’ll go crazy with the goods and delicacies you can find only in Japan, including Kit-Kat in different flavors and Royce chocolates that is way cheaper there.

Buy some as well so your family back home can have a taste of what it’s like living overseas.

2. Fragrances.

Perfumes, especially the branded ones, are expensive in the Philippines. While you’re still in the airport and waiting for your flight, take some time to check the fragrances section and buy something for your spouse or mom. Perfumes sold in the airport are thousand pesos cheaper compared to how much they are sold in the Philippines. Take advantage of it, especially if you are coming from Middle East countries where perfumes are sold at affordable prices.

3. Cosmetics and skin care. 

Do you have a daughter or sister who is into makeup and skin care? The airport can also be a haven for makeup lovers because items are sold at discounted prices. Still, take note that big makeup brands are not necessarily sold at discounted prices in airports, so make sure you check first before you splurge.

4. Home-grown or local brands. 

Uniqlo, Muji, Royce, Tokyo Milk Cheese – these are only some of the many international brands you can find in the Philippines. The difference is that these brands are retailing at cheaper prices in the airport compared to buying them back home.

5. Branded goods. 

Hermes, Dior, Ray-Ban, Chanel, and the list goes on. If you’re thinking of splurging for just ONE item because you truly deserve all the hard work, then the airport might be the perfect destination for you. Branded goods are usually sold at lower prices compared to buying the in retail stores. Check it out and make sure you have more than sufficient amount of money left even if you decide to buy something expensive for yourself.

6. Alcohol and cigarettes. 

These are another pasalubong staples, which you can buy less in airports. Still, don’t go overboard. The Philippine Customs sets a limit as to how many you can buy and bring back home like maximum of two cigarette reams or up to two bottles of alcoholic beverage that is not more than one liter each. Take note of this to avoid penalty.

More importantly, make a list of the things you will buy and set a budget. The airport may be a haven for cheaper goods but if you buy too much, then you might end up going home with almost nothing in your pocket – and you’re not even in the Philippines yet.

Perks of Being an OFW that Every OFW Should Know

Overseas Filipino Workers are regarded as bagong bayani – and there are various reasons why. For starters, the amount of remittances sent to the Philippines increases the dollar reserves, thereby helping the economy. OFWs also gives their families a chance to improve lives.

This is why it is not surprising why OFWs are given several opportunities and special treatment because the government recognizes the hard work and sacrifices you have to go through in order to provide a better life and future for your family.

This leads you to the next point: what are the perks of being an OFW? 

Exemption on Fees

It’s all because of the Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC. Being an OFW, specifically a legitimate one, means you will be exempted from various fees like airport terminal fee, travel tax, and documentary stamp tax.

In case you already paid for the airport terminal fee when you bought tickets online, you can ask for a refund upon departure at the airport terminal.

Tax-Free Shopping at Duty Free

If you want to do some additional shopping before heading home, then Duty Free Philippines can be your partner. You can enjoy tax-free shopping within 15 days from the time you arrived so you can give pasalubong to your family, relatives, and friends.

Just a gentle reminder: take it easy on your spending and don’t feel obligated to give everyone something.

READ: What to Buy in the Airport

Housing Loan from SSS or PAG-IBIG

Are you thinking of buying a house or giving your existing home a much-needed renovation? SSS or PAG-IBIG can help you on this since they offer housing facilities at lower rates compared to banks and other lending institutions.

SSS offers Direct Housing Facility Loan for OFWs where you can loan for as much as P2 million and payable up to 15 years maximum. On the other hand, PAG-IBIG also offers a housing loan facility for OFWs where you can borrow as much as P6 million.

Take note that you need to be a member of any of these government agencies and meet the required contributions to be able to avail of these housing benefits.

Check the previous posts to learn more about SSS Housing Loan and PAG-IBIG Housing Loan for OFWs.

Free Language Courses at TESDA

Yes, you read that right. TESDA Language Skills Institute offers free language training for Spanish, English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic to help Filipinos become more equipped in terms of language. This will come in handy when you are headed to any of the countries that speak any of these languages as well as an advantage on your part as OFW.

If you plan to enroll, then make sure you register early because slots are limited. Nonetheless, OFWs are given priority, but it’s best to reserve your slot early. You can check TESDA website for further details about this program.

OWWA Benefits 

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration or OWWA is the agency that protects and promotes the welfare of OFWs and their dependents. In line with this, several benefits are being offered by the agency such as onsite assistance, livelihood trainings, education assistance for dependents, counseling, and legal assistance among others.

You can check these posts for a detailed list of services and benefits offered by OWWA.

Now that you know your benefits as OFW, make sure to take advantage of these. This is the government’s way of giving back to bagong bayani like you.

6 Factors to Consider when Applying for a Job Overseas

Looking for a job overseas is not easy. Everyday, you hear horror stories about Filipinos being offloaded due to illegal or incomplete travel documents, people scammed by “recruitment agencies” that just extorted money, or domestic workers abused in their host country. Still, you want to seek greener pastures to be able to provide more and a better life for your family.

So you decided to attend job fairs and pass your resume to various recruitment agencies, hoping to land a job abroad. Before you say yes to one, we listed several things you should consider when you apply for a job overseas:

Destination Country

Where do you plan to work? Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar may be the top destination but Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore are not left behind. There are also a lot of job opportunities in America, Africa, Europe, and Australia, which you can consider as well.

Wherever you decide to go, make sure you consider the following:

  • Climate
  • Culture and traditions, including their way of life
  • Religion and its tolerance for Catholicism
  • Diplomatic and trade relations with the world, including the Philippines
  • Existing political structure
  • Safety and security of the country
  • Existing immigration, labor, and justice laws


Aside from the country itself, you need to know who your potential employer is. Legitimate recruitment agencies will inform you about this, so make sure to ask about it. Don’t hesitate to ask about the agency’s previous transactions with the same employer because it will give you an idea on whether this employer is good or not.

Aside from this, ask about:

  • Accreditation or recognition from POEA or derogatory records, if any
  • The industry where the employer belongs to, including the products or services offered
  • Multinational or national company?
  • Prevailing work ethic, management style, and corporate culture

Nonetheless, these factors will be clearer to you during the job interview process.

The Job Itself

You need to know and understand the job you are applying for. Ask about the job description and responsibilities to make sure that you are fit for the job. Clarify any additional technical skills so you can prepare for the job and enroll in training or classes related to the job to be able to deliver the output required of you.

Employment Terms

This is important. The Philippine government gives utmost priority to the safety and security of Filipinos working overseas (take the case of Kuwait). This is why the government only allows Filipinos to work in countries with existing labor laws that meet similar standards with Philippine labor laws.

Clarify about:

  • Monthly salary and other wage and non-wage benefits
  • Medical and/or dental benefits
  • Vacation and sick leave credits
  • Standard working hours and days of work
  • Provision for overtime
  • Housing accommodation
  • Travel benefits going to and from the workplace
  • Other monetary and non-monetary benefits


This is something you will be more familiar with during the interview process, but it won’t hurt if you ask about it early on. Ask where you will be assigned, the location of the workplace, and its accessibility and proximity to other facilities like hospital, shopping areas, and tourist spots. More importantly, clarify the safety and security issues inside the workplace.

At this point, don’t hesitate to ask if you will be given a place to stay. This way, you can canvass and look for a place near the workplace that is within your budget.

Filipino Community

Wherever you go, you will always find a Filipino who will give you a warm smile and hello. Whether they are 10 or 100, the presence of Filipinos in your preferred destination country not only assures you of a helping hand but also gives you a piece of home. This is why this is something you should consider because in times of need, the Filipino community will be someone you can rely on.

5 Tips for OFWs to Avoid Being Offloaded

Did you know that approximately 40 Filipinos are being offloaded (or prevented from leaving the country) at the airport according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI)?

Don’t take this lightly because BI officials take their job seriously in ensuring that no Filipino will become victim of drug or human trafficking among others. The Philippine government noted that passengers bound to Dubai (because of the large Filipino community), Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore use these areas as an opportunity to leave the country and work even without necessary documents. Unfortunately for those who were offloaded. this could be a traumatic experience.

The good news is you can avoid this. Below are tips that will help you get through Immigration and ensure smooth departure:

Tip No. 1: Check and prepare your requirements. 

This is the first thing you need to do before you leave. Immigration officers (IO) are wary of Filipinos who use tourist visa and eventually get a job in a different country without proper documents. That is why you need to ensure that you have all the necessary travel documents that will prevent you from being offloaded.

These documents include:

  • Philippine passport with at least six months validity at the time of departure
  • Airline ticket
  • POEA-approved or certified overseas employment contract
  • Overseas Employment Certificate issued by the POEA
  • Valid working visa
  • Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Certificate

These documents will not only reduce the chances of being offloaded but also proves that you are a documented Overseas Filipino Worker and you went through the correct and legal process.

Tip No. 2: Familiarize yourself about the job and your employer. 

It’s not enough that you prepared essential documents mentioned above. If you want to make the Immigration Officer believe that a job is waiting for you outside the Philippines, then you need to know what kind of job it is and to whom.

Therefore, know your overseas employment details such as name of employer, location of the job site, and your job description among others. Explain to the IO that you will return to the Philippines once your contract ends.

Tip No. 3: Honesty is still – and will always be – the best policy. 

Telling lies can be poisonous. If you want to get through Immigration, then just be honest and avoid making stories because it could get back to you. Answer what is being asked and provide as much details as you can about your job abroad, which brings you back to Tip No. 2. When the IO notices consistency in your answers, then you have a higher chance of getting through Immigration because you are telling the truth.

While some people are so good at lying and could get away with it, it is best to stick to the truth and be honest when questioned by the IO.

Tip No. 4: Dress appropriately. 

You said you’re heading to a Middle East country? Then make sure you dress the part. Countries in the Arab peninsula, particularly Saudi Arabia can be very conservative. Therefore, make sure you wear decent, appropriate clothes that will make you look more respectful.

Tip No. 5: Stay calm. 

Fidgeting, sweating profusely, stuttering, or looking confused – these are some of the signs that Immigration Officers consider that something is off. If you continue to act that way, then there is a higher probability that you will be offloaded.

Relax. Stay calm. IO are just people like you. They are meant to intimidate, but don’t let them get in your head. The calmer you are, the faster it will be for you to get pass Immigration.

In case the first IO refused to let you enter, leave the lane calmly and try a different counter for another screening. The Immigration Officer may not be in a joyful mood at that time, which could be the reason why s/he refused to let you pass.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Qatar

According to the 2015 data released by the Philippines Statistics Authority or PSA, Qatar is the fourth biggest destination of OFWs in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait.

Consequently, as of January 2017, Qatar-based journalist Priya DSouza reported that there are 260,000 Filipinos living and working in Qatar, thereby making the Filipino community the fourth biggest group of foreign workers living in the country.

You might ask why. It turns out that there is a higher demand for Filipino workers in construction in preparation for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is also among the top destinations for household service workers and healthcare professionals. Teachers are also in demand, thanks to the Qatari government’s expansion plans and high demand for schools and teaching professionals.

Given these facts, what can you expect from Qatar?


Qatar is a Muslim country, which means its main religion is Islam. Qu’ran dictates and influences the country’s way of life, which also reflects in their laws.

Although Qatar is in the middle of conservative Saudi Arabia and liberal United Arab Emirates, the country’s new Constitution allows religious freedom, which explains why you can see a Catholic Church, especially in Doha. Nonetheless, there are restrictions imposed for those who are non-Muslims.

Alcohol is also not freely available, although there are areas that do sell such as QDC. Restaurants and members-only clubs allow drinking as long as they have license. If you plan to drink in your place of accommodation, then you can freely do so.

Dressing inappropriately, which includes showing skin, is a big no-no, so make sure you dress similarly like the locals before going out. Wearing abaya is not mandatory, but make sure you cover shoulders, cleavage, midriff, and knees.

Living with the opposite sex is also not allowed UNLESS you two are married.

Kafala System under Qatar Labor Law

Similar to Kuwait, Qatar also follows the Kafala system wherein a foreign workers may only work in the country through a sponsor. A foreign worker may also not leave the country or transfer employers without approval from the sponsored employer. This system is the reason why many household service workers are prone to abuse.


Despite the presence of foreign workers, you won’t see restaurants and food halls offering pork in their menu. You can buy pork and eat it in your place. Still, you will find lots of seafood, either boiled or grilled, sold in the market. When it comes to meat products, you will mostly find lamb in the menu.

Don’t worry because there are Filipino restaurants in Qatar, so you’ll always have a taste of home while you’re working there.


Similar to other countries in the Arab Peninsula, the weather in Qatar is extreme. During summer (May to September), temperature could rise up to 53 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, the weather during winter, which is from November to May, could fall as low as five degrees Celsius.

Rainfall is scarce and flooding is not an issue.

Cost of Living

Don’t be too excited on your salary. Despite earning in dollars, the cost of living in Qatar is high. Most goods sold are imported, which means expensive, and you will find shopping malls that sell everything you need in one place. If you’re not too careful in handling your money, you might end up spending your entire monthly salary.

Check the latest job openings in Qatar and see if there is a position you can apply in. Give it a try and who knows, your future starts here. If you got lucky, you can rise in ranks and be able to bring your family there.

Resume Writing: A Guide for OFWs – and Make Yours Stand Out

OFW Guide You’re walking in Manila, knocking from agency to agency, and submitting your resume. At one point, at least one agency will give you a call and hopefully give you a chance to work overseas, which leads us back to the purpose of this post: your resume. 

Resume is defined as a document that contains one’s educational background, skills, and work experience among others. Although it does not cover the entirety of a person, one’s resume gives companies and headhunters an idea about the person and whether or not s/he is qualified for a job. If the agency sees that you are not fit for the job, then you won’t get a call for an interview.

What does this mean for someone like you who wants to work overseas? You need to make your resume stand out – and here’s how you can do it:

1. Stick to a simple format. 

Apparently, colors and putting emphasis on certain aspects in your resume won’t work. Agencies receive hundreds of applications everyday and they are under pressure to review each and every resume sent to make sure that they shortlist the right guys for the job.

Keep your resume format simple and easy to read. Stick to basic fonts like Arial or Times New Roman and font size should be 11 or 12. Use the same font and size all throughout the resume as well. If you need to emphasize on something, use the Bold function.

2. Your resume must be tailored according to the job you are applying for. 

This is applicable IF you already have a specific job in mind. In that case, make sure you include work experience, trainings, and certifications or licenses related to the job’s needs. Anything not related to it must be removed. This will make it easier for the agency representative to sort those who are fit for the job based on previous experiences from not.

3. Enumerate skills and relevant experiences in bullets. 

You would be tempted to explain your previous jobs, but believe it or not, save that for interview. What you can do is to enumerate skills, certifications, and relevant work experience – and make sure it is in BULLET form. This will make it easier for the agency to gather what they need to know about you and differentiate you from the rest.

Also, keep it short and maximum of two lines only.

4. Use relevant keywords in your resume. 

Many agencies are going online, often asking applicants to submit resumes through their online database instead of you going directly to their office. This will make it easier for them to sift through voluminous applications with the help of program or app.

Therefore, use the right keywords. Make sure you include in your resume the job position they are looking for. If you have a previous experience from the country destination, then include that as well.

5. Choose your references wisely. 

Your obvious choice for references would be your closest friends. After all, you want to ensure that someone will say good things about you to get the job and your closest friends could do that. Unfortunately, this won’t help once the agency ask about how you are at work.

In that case, go for previous employer or colleague who saw how you perform at work. This way, they can give unbiased feedback to your future employer.

6. Do not lie and do not exaggerate. 

Admit it. You’re tempted to put things that you never experienced just to make your resume look good. Apparently, lying is a big no-no and employers can easily find out once they started with the interview.

What should you do then? Honesty is still the best policy so make sure you are honest in your resume. Only list what you actually experienced and achieve. Keep it real and never exaggerate.

7. Keep it short. 

For emphasis, recruitment agencies receive hundreds of applications / resumes daily. If they see a resume that looks like you’re submitting your thesis, then they won’t even bother read it.

Keep it short. If you can, condense your resume to a maximum of two pages. Don’t attach certifications or license obtained, diploma, transcript of records, and the awards you received from your previous employer. Enumerate them in bullet form and show proof when you’re called for an interview.

Don’t be afraid when writing your resume. Remember these three things: simple, short, and real. Good luck!

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Kuwait

Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a temporary ban of deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait due to inhumane working conditions. This ban was the Philippine government’s response after the discovery of the dead body of Filipina worker, Joanna Demafelis inside the freezer. Since then, Kuwait and Philippines had a diplomatic row that even prompted the Kuwaiti government to expel Philippine Ambassador Pedro Villa.

Thankfully and after negotiations of human working conditions for Filipino workers, all is well between Philippines and Kuwait, with the ban being lifted sometime in May of this year.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Kuwait was put in a bad light. A survey showed that Kuwait is at the bottom of the best countries for foreign workers because the country prioritizes its own citizens. Also, Kuwaiti government has been imposing restrictions and making things difficult for expats, including getting a driver’s license or mandatory medical testing, which are not implemented on its own citizens.

Nonetheless, in case you are planning to work in Kuwait, here are some of the things you need to know and remember:

Kuwait, in General 

Kuwait is a monarchy and ruled by Amir or Emir from the Al-Sabah family, which also has the power to enact laws aside from the parliament. The country has one of the richest oil fields around the world and has the fifth largest oil reserves aside from Saudi Arabia. Despite its land size, Kuwait is also one of the richest countries in the world per capita

Domestic work is among the most in-demand jobs in Kuwait because of the citizens’ capacity to pay for household help. Aside from household workers, nurses, caregivers, IT specialists, engineers, and construction workers are likewise in demand because of the construction of $94-billion City of Silk.


Islam is the main religion in Kuwait and the teachings in Koran dictates their way of life. This means alcoholic beverages, pornography, public display of affection, and eating pork are illegal. Living someone that is not your spouse is also considered an illegal act, which could lead to payment of penalty and/or imprisonment, depending on the act violated.

The good thing about living in Kuwait is that they are accepting of other religious denominations, including Catholic.

When it comes to clothing, Kuwait is not as strict and conservative as Saudi Arabia. Women can freely wear what they want, although it is still advisable to wear an abaya and other garments that will cover the body. Showing skin is not tolerated. Men prefer wearing dish dasha, an ankle-length clothing, but Western-style clothes are also acceptable.


Spices play a big role in Kuwaiti food. One of its traditional cuisines is called machboos, which is blend between Persian and South Asia cuisine with lots of spices, chicken or fish, and topped over rice. Seafood is also a part of Kuwaiti diet, so don’t worry about going hungry. There are also tons of groceries that carry international foods and brands at affordable prices.


Kuwait is surrounded by desert, so weather can be extremely hot, which can go up to 50 degrees Celsius during summer. Rainfall isn’t common as well. Still, don’t forget to pack warm clothes because temperature could drop to zero during winter.

Kafeel System

There is a reason why Kuwait is the least favorable destination among expats. The implementation of Kafeel or sponsorship system makes it unsafe for household service to work. In fact, the system keeps domestic workers at the mercy of their employers, from keeping their passports, to unfair working conditions, to prevention of transfer of employers.

There have been talks of ending Kafeel, but it will take some time before domestic workers benefit from this. Per new law, skilled workers will be covered first.

Accommodation and Transportation

Most employers provide free accommodation to foreign workers. In case you don’t have one, you can share a room, which could cost you 30 to 50 Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) every month.

Transportation is affordable as well, in case your employer did not provide transport services. If they do, make sure you ride on time because shuttles follow a strict schedule.

Your income in Kuwait is tax-free, which means you could earn more. Make sure to use your hard-earned money wisely.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Singapore

Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are and still the top destinations for OFWs. If you prefer somewhere closer to the Philippines with few similarities in culture, then Singapore can be your next destination.

Singapore is a haven for healthcare professionals, teachers, IT specialists, and household service workers among others. This explains why many Filipinos flock this country, which is less than four hours away by plane.

In case you found a job in Singapore and got accepted or you prefer Singapore among other OFW destination countries, this post is for you. Here’s what you need to know about living and working in Singapore:

Singapore, in General

Singapore was originally called “Singapura” (which also means “Lion City” in Sanskrit) when a prince from Palembang saw a creature in the island and thought it was a lion. It is also one of the only three surviving states in the world. The two others are Vatican and Monaco.

Singapore is also one of the smallest countries in the world.


The national language of Singapore is Malay. On the other hand, English, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil are also widely spoken.

You might be surprised with Singaporean’s English since they have their own version, also known as Singlish. This language originated from the British English and incorporated or borrowed words from other languages such as Chinese, Indian, and Malay.

Rules to Follow

There is a reason why Singapore is one of the top destinations around the world. It is clean and generally crime-free, thereby making it a favorite. Nonetheless, it all boils down to the rules and strict penalties imposed, thereby earning the name”Fine City,” which every Filipino must pay attention to.

Some of the acts that are not allowed include:

  • Smoking
  • Throwing or leaving trash
  • Public vandalism, which also includes possible arrest
  • Looking suspicious in the metro ($500 fine)
  • Same sex relationship, which also comes with imprisonment
  • Cuddling in public

The bottom line is follow the rules. Otherwise, be ready to pay fines or worse, be imprisoned, which you surely don’t want to happen.


It turns out that Singaporeans are among the least emotional people in the world. They can be very straightforward and are willing to sacrifice harmony in the workplace for the sake of results.

If there is something you would love about Singapore, it’s their Great Singaporean Sale or GSS. Tourists from around the world frequent SG from end of May to July to enjoy discounted deals. Don’t get too excited because your budget still needs to come into play.

Also, Singapore is a multi-cultural country with several nationalities residing in there. This is why they are more accepting of foreigns and even recognizing holidays like Vesak Day in May and Deepavali every November.

Singaporeans also observe proper etiquette, so make sure you follow as well. Although you won’t be imprisoned, make sure you stay on the right side of the escalator, let alighting passengers in train go out first before boarding, and give up your seat to the elders. More importantly, never be late. The concept of Filipino time is a big no-no for Singaporeans.

Filipino Community

Homesickness is one of the issues many OFWs face. The good news is Singapore has a strong Filipino community, with more than 150,000 Filipinos working in the same country with you. You will be surprised to see churches that hold regular masses in Filipino as well as support groups that help Filipinos, including new ones cope with their new lifestyle.

Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road is a place where you can find a lot of Filipinos. This is a good place to start in case you don’t know anyone yet. You’ll find tons of Filipino products there as well.


Did you know that the weather in Singapore is hotter than in the Philippines? There is also no distinction between rainy and dry season because rain showers are frequent. Even if it is sunny outside, always bring an umbrella and jacket with you because you’ll never know if it rains by the time you go home.


Singaporeans love to walk, but public transport will always be there to the rescue. There are buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT trains) to bring you from point A to point B, but if you feel like spending, cabs are readily available.

Are you excited to start your life in this country?

OFW Guide to Living and Working in United Arab Emirates

Aside from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates or UAE is also another top destination of OFWs not just in the Arab peninsula but also in general. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA, United Arab Emirates is the second top destination for OFWs next to Saudi Arabia – and it’s not surprising why.

Compared to Saudi Arabia and its strict rules, UAE is a little more Westernized, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. You will be surprised to see that it is easier to adapt to their culture and the country is more willing to embrace foreign workers.

If you plan to work in UAE, then read up because here are some things you should know:

1. United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven autonomous Emirates, which are Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ra’s al-Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwwain. Majority of the population living in UAE are expats or foreign workers, thereby making locals a minority in their own country.

2. The official language in UAE is Arabic, but many people know how to speak in English because of the presence of many foreign workers. This will make it easier for you to converse, especially with the locals. Other languages include Urdu and Hindu.

3. Weather in UAE is one of the biggest adjustments you will make because of its sub-tropical and arid climate. During summer, which is April to September, temperature could go from 50 degrees Celsius during the day and -15 degrees Celsius at night. Sandstorms are also common in this country.

4. A previous trip to Israel will prevent you from entering UAE, even if you have a valid employment contract.

5. You can’t just buy alcohol when you feel the need to unwind. A permit must first be secured before you will be permitted to buy alcohol from registered vendors.

6. Don’t surrender your passport to anyone, including your employer. UAE laws do not authorize such act, so say no when you are asked to surrender your passport.

7. One of the biggest benefits enjoyed by foreign workers is the tax-free benefit. Utilities are also cheaper compared to other countries because of government subsidy. Still, don’t get too excited on shopping. Luxury goods and international brand names are expensive, so think twice before you buy.

8. Get used to dealing with different nationalities (200 nationalities, to be exact) in your workplace, including 30,000 Americans. UAE is a haven for many expats, so be prepared to see differences in cultures and ways of life. Eventually, you’ll get used to it. It would also help if you will join the Filipino community or attend group gatherings to allow you to socialize with other people and make you forget about homesickness even for a few hours.

9. Pay attention to the news and what’s going on  in your society, Unlike the Philippines, UAE legislators pass laws quickly, which you need to be aware of because you are living in a different country. Plus, you don’t want to violate laws, do you?

10. Do not apply for loans or credit card just to “shop.” One of the reasons why foreign workers were in prison in UAE is because of their inability to pay their debt. If you can’t pay it in cash, then don’t buy at all. Or better yet, live within your means and remind yourself why you are working overseas in the first place.

11. Unlike Saudi Arabia, women have a place in the society. Women go to school, trained by the government to become Sunni Muslim scholars, and fill a good number of jobs in the government, so you don’t have to worry about being discriminated on gender.

12. UAE is a Muslim country with Islam as its religion. Nonetheless, they are open and accepting to other faith denominations, with more than 40 churches or temples to house various religions.

Before you head to UAE, make sure to read up and learn as much as you can about this country. This way, it will make it easier for you to adjust because you have an idea on what to expect.

Find Out Where Your Family Can Get the Best Dollar to Peso Exchange Rate

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as of July 9, 2018, the US Dollar to Philippine Peso exchange rate is at P53.41. Unfortunately, the weakening peso doesn’t look well for the economy, which is currently at its weakest in 12 years.

For OFW families like yours, now is the best time to send money and have it exchanged because your family will get more than usual. Weaker peso means higher value of money, which also means more spending power for your loved ones back home (as long as money is used for needs and necessities).

The question now is this: where can you get your dollars exchanged?

Here are your options:

Money Changer

Not many people are believers of money changers. Surprisingly enough, these entities offer higher, if not the best exchange rates compared to banks in order to attract customers.

If you want your family to make the most out of your remittances, then they might want to take that trip in Mabini Street in Ermita, Manila. The place is lined up with tons of money changers, whose rates are up to 20 percent higher than what is offered by banks.

Some of the best money changers you can find in this area are:

  • Czarina Foreign Exchange, which does not charge commission and accepts all major currencies aside from US dollar.
  • Tivoli Money Changer, also known for its better and competitive rates.
  • Edzen Money Changer, which is also known to have the highest exchange rate in Mabini area.

The downside of going to money changers is that you have to bring with you the cash already before you can employ their services. Otherwise, they won’t transact with you without any assurance that you are already in possession of the money that needs to be exchanged. If you want a one-stop shop, then the next options would be ideal for you.

Remittance Centers 

This is another favorite among OFW families. Remittance centers are ideal because they can get their money and have it exchanged in peso. Many remittance centers also offer other services like bills payment, which means your family can already pay utility expenses without going elsewhere.

Still, don’t expect high exchange rates compared to what money changers can offer. Remittance centers are also limited to US dollar and British pound among others, with some branch carrying US dollar only. Nonetheless, if your family wants convenience, then remittance centers like Cebuana Lhuillier, Palawan Pawnshop, and Western Union will do. Getting money is easy as well because all they need to do is to present ID to validate the identity of the recipient.

Foreign Exchange Counters in Malls

Speaking of convenience, malls also have foreign exchange counters, usually near the supermarket or department store where your family can exchange the money you sent. Rates are competitive and reasonable as well, although again, don’t expect the kind of rate money changers can give you.

Nonetheless, doing forex transactions in the mall is also convenient because you can do other things after exchanging money. Keep in mind that forex counters in malls like SM and Robinson’s only accept dollar (or other currency, depending on the location) to peso exchange and not the other way around.


Banks are the safest facilities where you can send money and your family can get and exchange it. On the other hand, banks need to abide by certain rules, which means they are strict when it comes to foreign currency exchange transactions.

Banks like BDO, BPI, and Metrobank will allow forex transactions IF you will transact with the branch where you opened your account. They will also require presentation of certain documents like government-issued ID before the transaction pushes through. Don’t even get started with the long line your family has to endure just to get the money you sent.

Among these facilities, which do you think is the ideal and most convenient for you?