“Penge Pamasko” – How to Handle Relatives and Friends Who Ask for Christmas

After two or so years working overseas, you were finally allowed to go home, even just for the holidays. Are you excited?

Sure you do.

Apparently, going home could take a toll on your wallet. To begin with, people think of OFWs or balikbayans as “big time.” You’re earning in dollars and surely, you are earning more than what majority of your relatives earn even if combined. Because of this, it’s not surprising when people ask you for “pamasko.” Plus, it’s a cultural thing. It is common for Filipino families to share their blessings to everyone, including friends, relatives, and inaanaks.

Don’t worry. You can avoid this. In fact, you can still share your blessings without draining everything in your wallet – and leaving debt behind. Here’s how you can do it:

Tip No. 1: Be honest about your situation. 

Yes, you earn in dollars, but you are not a millionaire – yet. There are tons of expenses you need to pay like your monthly amortization for the house and car, your kids’ or siblings’ tuition fee, Emergency Fund, and the list goes on.

That being said, be honest about your situation. Even if you earn more than what you can earn here, working overseas is not easy. Most of the time, you have to juggle two or more jobs just to make ends meet. Lower their expectations about you and make sure they know how hard your life is back there.

Tip No. 2: Buy items in bulk. 

Let’s say you have extra cash to spare and you insist on giving something to people back home, even just small items. If you prefer that, then we suggest you buy items in bulk.

Duty free stores sell items like chocolates and other food items in big portions. You can also find novelty items like ref magnets or key chains in affordable prices – and you can even try to ask for a discount when you buy in bulk. Souvenir shops that sell items like shirts or caps are also a good place to buy because it gives your relatives and friends an idea about what it’s like in the country you are working. You can portions those goods and give those items away in case someone asks for pasalubong when you get back.

These items may be cheap, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Tip No. 3: It’s okay to say no. 

Sometimes, all it takes is this two-letter word: NO.

Surely, you want to share your blessings to other people. Still, are you willing to sacrifice your financial future just to please other people? Definitely not.

Don’t give in to all their demands just because you owe them utang na loob. Again, this is why it is important that you make them understand your situation and how hard it is to earn money. Be honest about how much you’re earning and the gazillion expenses you have to say.

Consequently, don’t make promises such as buying them gadgets or sending them money when you get back overseas just to appease them. It is not your obligation and responsibility to give. Worry about your family first.

Tip No. 4: Spend time with people who matter to you most. 

Christmas season is that time of the year where parties are everywhere. Sure, you missed your relatives and friends, but if they are those type who will jokingly force you to pay the bill since you’re earning in dollars, then it is best to stay away from them. It is best to spend time and make the most out of it with people who truly matter to you most – your family.

4 Things to Negotiate Before You Say Yes to a Job Overseas

Do you want to earn a bigger salary? If you answered yes, then surely, working overseas came across your mind. After all, you’ll be earning in dollars and be able to juggle more than one job for bigger savings. Plus, you get to “travel” and finally see places you only see on TV.

Apparently, it’s not easy. When you work overseas, you need to consider various factors and negotiate your one-way ticket overseas to your advantage without compromising that of your employer.

What are these things you need to negotiate first? Check this list:

1. Compensation

Admit it. The primary reason why you want to work overseas is because of the salary. In fact, you wouldn’t even bother going abroad if you could earn your desired amount in the Philippines.

Before you say “Yes,” ask about the compensation package – how much is your take-home pay, any deductions to your salary, and taxes, if any. This way, you can check whether or not working abroad is worth the sacrifice.

At this point, you need to make an estimate as to how much your expenses will be. Research as much as you can about your job site to help you prepare for the expenses and find out how much is left for savings and investment.

2. Work Contract

This is important. Your work contract is considered the Bible between you and your employer because it contains the most important information and clauses surrounding your employment. The Overseas Employment Contract will act as a guide pertaining to your employment.

Don’t hesitate to ask about the following:

  • Location or Job Site – Is it safe? What is the crime rate? Will you be assigned in places other than what was stated in your work contract?
  • Accommodation – Free living quarters versus finding a house on your own versus rented place paid by employer
  • Transportation – Will your employer provide free shuttle services to and from work or will you avail of the public transport?
  • Duration of the contract
  • Job description
  • Leave benefits – How many vacation leaves per year? Are you entitled to Sick and Emergency Leaves? Will your employer pay your ticket back home? How much can you encash for unused leave credits?
  • Insurance benefits – Will you be given adequate protection abroad such as life, health, travel, or accident insurance? If yes, who will pay for the insurance premium? Will the payment be via salary deduction?

In other words, your work contract contains essential provisions that ensure you are safe and well taken cared for while abroad. Read the fine print and don’t hesitate to ask questions and make clarifications. Once you and your employer signed the contract, it’s a done deal and you lose you right to negotiate.

You can learn more about Overseas Employment Contract by reading this post.

3. Work Permit / Visa

This is another essential requirement. When you work overseas, the recruitment agency must provide you with a work visa and NOT a tourist visa. If you were given a tourist visa, it means your stay in that particular country is not legitimate and there is a higher chance of getting deported, which you surely don’t want to happen.

Therefore, check whether or not you will be issued a work visa or permit. Employer usually handles this, especially when the country of destination requires specific permits, while there are others who will simply assist you.

Consequently, inquire about the validity and coverage of the work permit visa. Some countries are employer-specific, which means you need to get another work visa in case you will transfer to a new employer.

4. Legal Remedies

You heard about Filipino workers getting maltreated, abused, and worse, killed. There are also many instances where Filipinos are unpaid, underpaid, or not paid at all. In other words, it’s not an ideal world and if the odds are not in your favor, then you might seek legal remedies to assert your rights.

Learn about the legal remedies available to Filipino workers working abroad. You’ll never know what will happen, so it is best to be prepared.

6 Business Ideas for OFW Spouses for Extra Cash this Christmas

Holiday is just around the corner. Is your wallet ready?

Normally, you would depend on your spouse for money. While s/he would gladly send money for use, you have to remember all the hardships and sacrifices s/he has to go through just to ensure your family’s welfare and future. The least you can do is to not just save whatever you can but also help with the expenses.

In what way, you might ask.

The answer is simple: try putting up your own business. 

Don’t be scared. There are business ideas you can try with little capital required. The best part is you get to help your spouse pay for the expenses, especially during the Christmas season.

Here’s what you can do:

1) Bake Your Famous Cookies 

… or brownies, or cakes, or whatever works for you. Since it’s Christmas season, fruit cake, leche flan, and ube halaya are surefire hits as well. The point is baking could give you additional income during the Christmas since many people are willing to pay for convenience. Plus, baked goods are a hit during the holidays because everyone, regardless of the age bracket, will appreciate it.

If you perfected the recipe, then go ahead and sell it. Who doesn’t want a cookie from the cookie jar, right?

2) Party Trays at Their Service

If baking isn’t your forte, then that’s fine. You prefer to cook more and you can turn your kitchen skills into cash.

Offering packed lunches is one way to earn. Since it’s the season for parties, why not try party trays instead? Post your party tray services on your Facebook account and ask friends and family to help you advertise. If you get it right, this could turn into full-fledged business, which means additional capital for you.

3) Give the Gift of Scent

Who doesn’t want to smell good? Apparently, perfume, particularly those with popular names, can be expensive. Since your spouse is abroad, why not ask him to send perfumes over and you can sell it prices cheaper than malls?

If you want to keep it local, then there are perfume-making trainings you can attend to that will train you not just how to make perfume but also give you an idea regarding storage and costing.

If perfume is not your thing, then try soaps or dishwashing liquid. This could be a good income generator as well.

4) Gift Wrapping Services 

Do you enjoy wrapping presents and making something wonderful out of ordinary Christmas wrappers and ribbons? Now is the perfect time to showcase that talent.

Wrapping gifts take time, which explains why there are people who are willing to pay for it. If you are willing to take the burden off them, then offer gift wrapping services. Plus, don’t you think it’s fun to bring out your creative juices?

5) Try Your Hand on Recycled Packaging

Too much garbage is found everywhere. Do your share of saving Mother Earth by using used or recycled materials and turning it into an attractive packaging. Boxes or bottles are in demand this Christmas season, especially for people who are not into wrapping gifts (another reason why gift wrapping services are in during the holidays.).

Instead of the usual box or jars, decorate it and sprinkle your creative touch to make the packaging itself good enough to give and no gift wrapper required. Your friends could be your customers, but don’t be afraid to sell this to other people and online.

6) Sweet Ham will Always be a Hit 

Let’s say you love to cook but you find preparing party trays tedious. That’s fine. You might want to get your hands into making sweet ham, which is another favorite during the holiday season.

Sweet ham may have a standard taste, so what will set your product apart from the rest is the sauce for the ham. Check out ham sauce recipes online and make adjustments to it or make one from scratch. The best part about this is that little capital is required.

The bottom line is be creative and think of ways on how to earn extra while helping your spouse. Don’t count money yet because the goal is to help augment expenses during the holiday season. Once everything is settled, who knows, you could turn this into a business.

Are you ready to earn extra this Christmas?

Prepare for Medical Emergency with the Help of These Tips

You’ll hear this countless times but it’s true – you will never know what the future brings. This is why it is important to prepare for it because you’ll never know if someone in the family, including you, will get sick.

We know how challenging it is for you to save. Despite working overseas and earning more (and in dollars too), you barely have anything left in case emergency strikes. In fact, one of the most common concerns we read is lack of funds (and whether or not OWWA could offer monetary help) in case someone in the family had a medical emergency.

Why seek for help when you can do something about it beforehand, right? Here are several ways you can do to help you prepare for medical emergency:

1. Build an Emergency Fund

We always stress the importance of having an Emergency Fund. From the name itself, you know that this fund can be used in case of emergency, which could happen anytime. Ideally, an Emergency Fund must be at least three months worth of your monthly salary or higher.

To build this fund, make sure to set aside a portion of your savings every month. Start small and eventually increase your contribution. It would also work if you automate your savings to ensure that money, no matter how small the amount is, will be deposited.

In case you have loose change, place it inside the piggy bank intended for Emergency Fund. Money is still money.

2. Get a Life Insurance 

The truth is your Emergency Fund can be easily wiped out in case of a medical emergency. This is why before you leave the country, make sure to get a life insurance first. This could serve as you buffer or a safety net in case something happens to you or any member of your family.

Insurance companies offer specific policies for OFWs, thereby offering better or more benefits compared to the typical policies. For instance, AXA Philippines has Health Exentials.

Tip: Go for VUL insurance policy. Aside from the insurance aspect, you get to earn money because a portion of this is invested.

3. Consider a Prepaid Health Card

Health insurance can be expensive, especially if you want to extend the coverage to every member of the family. If you want a more affordable alternative, then consider prepaid health card.

Prepaid health cards could range from P500 to P20,000, which varies per insurance company. This amount could be helpful during trips to the emergency room, accidents, sudden hospitalization, or even preventive care. The best part is you can buy and register online, so make sure you get one for your family before you leave.

4. Update Your Philhealth Membership

This is a must. In case of medical emergency, Philhealth could be helpful in lending a hand to cover for your hospital fees. Before you enjoy the benefits, you need to make sure that your status has changed to OFW and that your contributions are updated.

What makes Philhealth special as well is that you can nominate dependents who could receive the same benefits like you do as well as a separate Philhealth coverage of up to 45 days every year.

Nonetheless, benefits are limited to:

  • Legal spouse who is not a Philhealth member
  • Legitimate and illegitimate children who are below 21 years old and are currently unmarried and unemployed
  • Foster child
  • Children above 21 years old but with congenital disability
  • Parents with permanent disability
  • Parents above 60 years of age and are not members of Philhealth.

Don’t forget to update your Member Records by filling out the Member Registration Form and submit it together with proof of relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc) to the nearest Philhealth office. This way, your family members will enjoy the same benefit even if you are miles away.

You also have the option to pay your contributions in full for one year (or more, depending on you). This way, you won’t forget whether or not you already paid your contributions.

4 Ways to Give Love to Your Family this Christmas Even from Afar

Two more months and it’s already Christmas? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, then don’t worry. You still have time.

Christmas is the time when many OFWs head back home to be with their loved ones even for a few days. Unfortunately, not all are allowed to go home. In case you are one of them, don’t worry. You can still show your love to your family even if you are miles away.

Here’s how you can do it:

Send gifts back home. 

This is the most obvious way to show that you care for your family back home. Sending gifts make your family feel that you think of them and care about their happiness. Giving gifts must be carefully thought out to make sure that not only it will fit every member’s personality and interests but also they will appreciate what you gave and treasure it. This will add more value to the material thing.

Still, don’t shower them with too much material things, especially if it means you have to spend every centavo in your salary and savings account. Set a budget and pay in cash.

Do things together as a family. 

Video call is invented for a reason. Take advantage of that by using this tool to bond with your family especially come Christmas time. Opt for a video call and do things together as if you are home. You can watch a movie as a family (make sure you watch the same show or movie), put up Christmas decorations in the house (both in the Philippines and your place overseas), or cook Noche Buena virtually together. Even if you are afar, doing things together will make you feel closer to home and will surely make your presence felt.

Remember this: the most expensive thing you can give to someone is the gift of time. Give it to your family because time spent can never be taken back. Use it wisely.

Write handwritten letters. 

Technology does make communication easier. Instead of buying a prepaid card for overseas call, all you need is a decent Internet connection and you can call your family anytime of the day without spending too much.

Still, this doesn’t mean there is no more room for writing letters. In fact, another way of showing your love this Christmas is by writing them a personal letter. Use it as an opportunity to tell them how much you love and care for them, especially when you can’t say it out loud during your phone and video calls.

The best part is your family gets to keep the letter/s after all these years. This is something they could easily go back to when they misses you.

Keep communication lines open. 

This is important. Being apart doesn’t mean you should not be updated with what is happening to your family. Listen to how their day went and share them about your day and experiences as well.

Take lots of photos, especially if you plan to visit tourist spots during off days, and send the photos to them. Don’t forget to write a note saying that you love to bring them there someday. At the same time, ask for their photos. You care about your family and this includes knowing the things happening to them.

Nothing and no one can ever replace your presence especially this Christmas. It could be disheartening and depressing since this is the season where you should be with your family, if not for the circumstances. Even if you are miles away, this doesn’t mean your presence should not be felt. Remember these tips to make them feel your love this Christmas.

OFW ID: What is it anyway?

Did you know that there are more than 10 million Filipinos working overseas? These are the documented ones and surely, there are tons of others out there who are undocumented.

READ: Dangers of Being an Undocumented OFW

What’s your proof that you are a documented Overseas Filipino Worker? OEC is one, which means you went through the legitimate process. Apart from OEC, it turns out that you will be given an OFW ID of iDOLE ID.

What is an OFW ID? 

The OFW ID is part of the unified ID system for OFWs that will eventually replace the (outdated) OEC system. It aims to lessen the burden among OFWs through the unified ID system and at the same time, streamlines the process every OFW have to go through just to be able to work overseas.

Benefits of OFW ID includes:

  • The unified ID system lessens paperworks, which means documentary process will be easier and more convenient not just for the worker but also for the appropriate government agencies.
  • Online access to concerned agencies such as OWWA, POEA, DFA, and the Bureau of Immigration among others. Once you created an account though the iDOLE system, all of the data collected about you from various agencies will be consolidated into a single system, specifically iDOLE OFW Identification Card system, for easier access.
  • Easier processing and payment of mandatory contributions such as SSS, PAG-IBIG, and Philhealth.
  • The OFW ID replaces the Overseas Employment Certificate, thereby reducing additional paperwork (and wasted time) before you leave abroad.. Similar to OEC, the ID will exempt you from travel tax and airport terminal fee.

There are two ways to apply for iDOLE ID – online and offline application.

How to Apply for OFW ID offline:

1. Prepare the following documents:

  • Two valid IDs, preferably issued by the government
  • Overseas employment certificate
  • If applying overseas, bring your passport

2. Visit any DOLE office, either main branch or regional office, and submit the documents. If applying overseas, you can apply in the POEA office in the country where you are located.

3. The officer-in-charge will verify your status through the POEA listing. Once verified, an ID will be issued and wait for your turn to be called.

How to Apply for OFW ID online:

Keep in mind that before you apply for OFW ID online, you still need to acquire your OEC first. Once you secured an OEC, you can now apply for OFW ID online by following these steps:

1. Visit the iDOLE website and click Create an Account. 

2. On the dropdown box, choose Valid OEC Number. If you are unsure of your OEC number, you can get a copy through the Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System.

3. Fill out the appropriate details such as name, birthdate, email address, mobile number, and password. Then, click Register OFW Account. 

4. Check your email and click the confirmation link to be able to log-in to your iDOLE account.

5. Once you logged in, on the “iDOLE One Stop Shop,” choose OFW ID Card. 

6. Choose the delivery type of your ID. You can pick it up at your Philpost branch or site. Click Submit. 

7. A window will pop saying “Your OFW ID has been generated successfully.” Take note of the OFW ID number and confirmation details. It is also best to print the details since you will need to present the printout when claiming your OFW ID.

Take note that getting an OFW ID is FREE of charge. Take advantage of this to be able to enjoy the benefits. Plus, the ID will be a permanent document that legitimizes the status of a Filipino worker, so it is best to get one.

Have you tried getting an OFW ID? If yes, we would love to read your thoughts and stories about how you acquired it (as well as any delays) on the comments section.

Dangers of Being an Undocumented OFW

Let’s face it: following the guidelines set forth by POEA before you can work overseas takes time – or months. Don’t even get started with direct hire workers because that is a different (and more complicated) ballgame.

Even if you submitted all the documents, there is no guarantee that you will get your Overseas Employment Certificate immediately so you can leave the country legally. This explains why many Filipinos opt to go “back door” so they could leave the country immediately, start working, and send dollars back home.

Unfortunately, there is a danger (or dangers) to that. Being an undocumented Overseas Filipino Worker means:

You will not be entitled to OFW benefits.

Tax-free shopping at Duty Free, exemption on travel tax and airport terminal fee, housing loan benefits, and benefits from OWWA. These are just some of the many things you can enjoy if you are a documented OFW, which you could take advantage from.

READ: Perks of Being an OFW 

You may be exposed to harsh working conditions. 

Being a documented worker means you have an existing employment contract that is in accordance to the labor laws between the two governments. If you are among those Filipinos who are TNT or tago ng tago, your protection when it comes working conditions is limited.

For instance, you might be asked to work longer hours or render service seven days a week. Your employer could be paying you less than what you agreed. Benefits like leave or medical assistance might not be given to you as well. Worse, you can’t complain because there is no contract that will serve as a guide for your employment.

You will have a hard time looking for a job. 

It’s not just about harsh working conditions. Sometimes, you will have a hard time looking for a decent job because most employers will require you to present a valid working visa. Even if you found a job, you will still go back to possible harsh working conditions.

You only have limited channels to seek help with. 

Being an undocumented worker in the country means you are not a law-abiding citizen. This also means you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits that could be experienced by workers who went through legitimate channels. This could put you in danger.

What does this mean? In case you were subjected to abuse or your employer is not complying with the employment terms set forth in the contract, there are few people who could help you. You can’t go to the police because you don’t have the required permit or visa to work in that country. The Philippine Embassy will help you, but they can only extend limited help because you are not covered by OWWA.

You are at a higher risk of being punished. 

Foreign countries are very welcoming of Filipino workers because of skill, talent, and passion among others. Nonetheless, they prefer that you go there legally instead of opting for the back door.

If your status is compromised, there is a tendency of deportation, detention, or even being blacklisted in that country. You’re lucky if you were asked to go home immediately because some countries impose harsher punishments, which you don’t want to go through.

Worse, you put the Philippines in a bad light, which is something Filipinos don’t want because those who go overseas legally could be affected when there is this kind of impression.

You will “burden” the government. 

Whatever you status is, you are still a Filipino citizen and the government will still take care of you. This means if you are asked by the host country to go home, the government will shoulder your repatriation costs including setting aside budget for food and rental spaces instead of assisting those who are truly distressed.

The bottom line is this: go legal. We know how hassle it would be for you because of the documents you need to submit and the time you have to wait before you can leave the country. What money cannot compensate for is the peace of mind that being a legal, documented worker will give you.

Avoid Foreclosure of Your Home with these Tips

Finally, after 10 years working overseas, you now have a house you can call your own. Since you cannot pay for the entire amount in full (and don’t feel bad about it), you decided to sought help from a bank and applied for a Housing Loan payable in 15 years.

Unfortunately, things got bad in the country where you are working and you are one of the many workers sent home. Worry and fear started to sink in, including the fear of losing the house you called your home. Surely, you don’t want the bank to get the property you invested in.

What can you do to avoid foreclosure?

Keep in mind that foreclosure is not automatic. Lenders follow a procedure to ensure that homeowners will be given a chance to keep their property while being able to pay for the financial obligation.

Here are several ways you can do:

1. Contact your lender immediately. 

Believe it or not, lenders would want to avoid foreclosure as much as you do. It can be a gruesome process, which explains why there is a dedicated department who can process foreclosure because they don’t want to be burden by it.

In case you are having financial difficulties, make sure you inform your lender immediately. Don’t make matters worse. The earlier you can talk to them, the earlier you can figure out ways on how you will be able to avoid foreclosure and keep everyone happy. Lenders are willing to reconsider terms in your mortgage such as partial payments, lower interest, or longer term.

Still, keep in mind that you will only have better negotiating power if you are in good relationship with your lender. Be nice and maintain an account with them.

2. Sell your house for a profit. 

Yes, that is your dream home, but when there is danger of losing it, sometimes, you have to let go.

Take pictures of your home and post an ad online (make sure it is public too!). Ask friends and relatives to share your ad so many people can see it and increase the possibility of sale. Once sold, use the proceeds of the sale to pay off your loan.

What if you don’t want to sell your home? That’s fine. There are other ways you can do to salvage it, which will be discussed further below.

3. Refinance or restructure your loan. 

Perhaps the interest rate is killing you, which is why you are unable to commit with the monthly amortization. Then you found out that another bank is offering a housing loan with lower interest rates.

You can try refinancing to avoid foreclosure. This means another lender will assume your loan for more flexible payment terms and lower interest rate so you can better manage monthly amortization. The proceeds of your refinancing loan will be used to “pay off” your loan with another bank.

Take note that this option is only applicable IF you haven’t defaulted yet. Otherwise, the next option would be more feasible.

4. Declare bankruptcy. 

This may sound embarrassing but believe it or not, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when you declare bankruptcy.

Generally, lenders will make necessary demands before foreclosure is filed. Once the foreclosure proceeding is in play, the lender will go after your property to satisfy the obligation. Declaring bankruptcy will stop that from happening. In fact, lenders can only go after your home once they receive permission from the court to do something about your property. This will give you ample time to organize your finances and hopefully, you can use this time to pay off your financial obligation.

5. Earn additional income. 

Extra income means better ability to make payments. Ask the Filipino community in the country where you’re in for any job opportunities that they can refer you. Encourage your spouse to earn additional income as well since this could help in paying off your housing loan.

Still, prevention is still better than cure. You can avoid this scenario by adjusting your lifestyle. getting rid of unnecessary habits, avoiding sending balikbayan boxes every month, and encouraging your family back home to contribute to saving and living a simple lifestyle. These little steps could go a long way to avoid your home from being foreclosed.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Jordan

According to the Philippine Embassy located in Amman, Jordan, there are at least 26,000 FIlipinos living and working in Jordan – and these numbers reflect the documented ones. There are still Filipinos who were unable to register with the embassy, which means the numbers could go higher.

If you are an unregistered Filipino worker in Jordan, you can register here.

What does this mean? There are a lot of job opportunities available in Jordan. Housekeeping and household service workers are in demand, but you can also work in the service industry and as a healthcare professionals. In case Jordan is interesting for you, here’s what you need to know about living and working in this proud country:

General Facts 

Officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this country has Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Palestine surrounding it. This land-locked country is considered an “oasis of stability” despite being in the Middle East region and very welcoming of refugees, especially from Syria and Palestine.

Although one of the smallest economy in the region, Jordan is attractive to foreign investors and a major tourist destination, specifically medical tourism due to its well-developed health sector.

Religion 

95 percent of the country’s population are Muslims, with Sunni Islam as the dominant religion. The rest are Shiites, Ahmadi Muslims, and a small number of Catholics. Interestingly, some of the oldest Catholic communities are found in Jordan, so you might be surprised to see few churches here and there.

Weather

Summer season is from May to September wherein it is hot and dry. Between July and August, temperature could go hotter and go up as high as 40 degrees Celsius. Winter is from November to March and scattered rain showers and snowfall occur during this season.

Language 

Arabic is the official language spoken in Jordan. Nonetheless, don’t worry that much since English is widely spoken as well, especially in education, commerce, and banking sector. Nonetheless, it won’t hurt to learn few Arabic words and phrases. TESDA offers free language courses and priority is given to OFWs, so make sure you take advantage of this benefit.

Working in Jordan 

Filipinos are the third highest number of foreign workers next to Egyptians and Sri Lankans. Most Filipinos working in Jordan belong in the fields of medicine, engineering, and service sector. Similar to other countries, Jordan requires a valid entry visa (always keep a photocopy with you at all times!) and passport with at least six months validity. To apply for Jordanian working permit, you must also submit completed application form and two passport photos.

Employment contract is valid for one year and will be subject to review thereafter.

Transportation 

You have to prepare your wallet on this one because the preferred mode of transportation is by cab, either those private yellow taxi or the country’s unique service taxi. Buses are available, but with fewer seats. If you want to go to your destination, then riding a cab is the best way to go, unless the place you’re heading to is just walking distance.

Safety

Demonstrations are common, especially if you will be assigned to work in Amman. Make sure to watch out for the schedule of demonstrations that will be carried out, which usually takes place on Fridays. Strict punishment is imposed on law violators, which explains why crimes like murder are unheard of. Nonetheless, there are still instances of pickpocketing, so make sure you take care of your belongings.

Food

Don’t be surprised if you’ll see lots of food being cooked in olive oil. Jordan is among the largest producers of olives in the world, thereby making it a staple in most households. Drinking coffee and tea are also part of their daily life.

The bottom line is there are many job opportunities available in Jordan. Go ahead and give it a try. Your future might be here.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Bahrain

Fact: Filipinos can work anywhere in the problem. Apparently, if you go to the usual country destinations like Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and UAE, then you might find yourself fighting for a spot to seek greener pastures. Competition is high because these usual spots are the most common countries aspiring OFWs will apply to. If you want to boost your chances of working overseas, then you should consider going to the “less popular” ones.

In that case, say hello to Bahrain.

There are many job opportunities available for Filipinos. You can find jobs in the medical and health industry (nurse, caregivers), construction, and even in corporate world (administrative jobs, sales and marketing). More importantly, Bahrain is an open economy and foreign workers get to enjoy lower taxes. This could be the reason why you will find 60,000 Filipinos and seldom hear news about OFWs being maltreated.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know about Bahrain first before you apply:

General Facts

The Kingdom of Bahrain, which name means “two seas,” is one of the six nations that constitute the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is ruled by a Sunni king, whose family holds various positions in the government and military. It is also considered as constitutional monarchy with elected legislative assembly.

Bahrain is among the first countries to discover oil and build a refinery in the peninsula. Unfortunately, the country was not able to enjoy the levels of production enjoyed by Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

Manama is Bahrain’s capital, its major language is Arabic (although some know and understand English), and their currency is Bahraini Dinar (1 BHD = 143.34 PHP).

Work Permit 

This is important. Even if your employer already arranged your work permit, you still need to complete this step.

As soon as you land in the Bahrain International Airport, make sure you head straight to the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), an e-Government portal that issues your ID and residence permit. These documents are needed to ensure that you work in Bahrain legally.

To get your permit, make sure you submit documents like passport, visa, health exam results (this includes getting AIDS/HIV testing, ID photo, fingerprints, and signature.

Daily Living

Bahrain is majority Islam country, although they tolerate the practice of other religions. Still, there are certain prohibitions you need to follow. This includes:

  • No smoking and drinking of alcohol in public places
  • Dress appropriately, especially for the ladies.
  • Public display of affection is a big no-no.
  • Accept all refreshments, otherwise you are deemed rude.
  • For the ladies, never ever shake hands with men, even if you are being introduced.

Despite the rules, there’s so much to see and do in Bahrain. Theme parks, cinemas, museums, pubs, and historical sites that you can visit during your off days.

Cost of Living 

You will get paid with a good amount but the standard of living in Bahrain is high. Some companies offer free accommodation but in case yours did not, consider sharing with fellow foreign workers to reduce rental expense.

It is also recommended to ride public transport (by that, we mean bus) since it is more affordable.

The good news is you don’t get to pay taxes, including personal income, value-added tax, and withholding tax. Nonetheless, be ready to shell out one percent of your income for social security or 10 percent municipal tax for the monthly rent. Other than that, you can get bigger income every month.

Are you willing to give Bahrain a try?