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?

Culture

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.

Food

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.

Weather

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.

Culture

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.

Food

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.

Weather

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.

Language

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.

Culture

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.

Weather

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.

Transportation 

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.

OFW Guide to Living and Working in Hong Kong

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries may be the top destination for aspiring and returning OFWs, but Hong Kong comes close. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, Hong Kong is part of the “favorites” and preferred destination because of its proximity in the Philippines, with less than two-hour travel by plane. Aside from this, Hong Kong is one of the most dynamic cities in the world, with busy and colorful lifestyle.

In case you got a job in HK, here’s what you need to know to help you adjust to a new lifestyle:

General Facts

Hong Kong, despite its perceived independence, is a Special Administrative Region of China. Nonetheless, Hong Kong has its own flag, parliamentary system, legal system, and currency. Cantonese is their primary language, but many of its residents can also speak in Mandarin and English, so conversing with the locals won’t be much of a problem.

Culture and Etiquette 

Personal reputation is important, so make sure you present yourself well to anyone, regardless of who you are talking to. Dress appropriately, greet someone with a handshake or a bow, and always be respectful. If you can, learn few Cantonese phrases and start a conversation with a greeting in Cantonese.

Culture in Hong Kong is still deeply rooted to Eastern traditions despite modernization. They still believe in superstitions in case misfortune happens to them.

Hong Kong Identity Card 

This is a must. Individuals who are legally entitled to stay in Hong Kong for more than 180 days MUST apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card within 30 days from the time you arrived. This card must be carried at all times, especially when you’re going out. Take care of this card since this will be surrendered to the Immigration Department upon termination / expiration of your employment contract.

You can get a copy of the application form here. Present the application together with your passport and working visa when availing the Identity Card.

Weather 

Unlike the Philippines, Hong Kong has sub-tropical climate with spring, summer, winter, and autumn.

Spring is from March to May, with temperature ranging from 17 to 26 degrees Celsius. Summer is June to August, with temperature rising up to 31 degrees Celsius. Autumn is September to November, which is also the best season for many residents because of its cool weather and plenty of sunshine. Winter is December to February, with temperature possibly dropping to 10 degrees Celsius. There’s no need to buy thermals and big coats since it doesn’t snow in Hong Kong.

Religion 

Unlike Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Arab peninsula, Hong Kong practices religious freedom. There are various religious denominations that practice Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism among others.

Working Hours

If you plan to work in Hong Kong, then you need to be prepared for longer working hours.

Government office starts at 8:30 am and ends at 5:30 pm. Banking hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, but if you work in retail shops, you have to start at 9 am and work until 6:30 to 9 pm, depending on your location. Some offices also open on Saturdays for half-a-day. Nonetheless, it would be different if you work as a Household Service Worker, but you can get off days, usually every Sunday.

There is also a total of 17 public holidays, which all employers must adhere to, including employers of household workers.

Transportation 

Going from point A to B will not be difficult because of Hong Kong’s extensive public transport. MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is effective and cost-efficient public transport you can try, with trains running every few minutes. Buses, trams, and cabs are likewise available.

When commuting, make sure you buy an Octopus card since it can be used in all public transport system as well as in supermarkets, vending machines, and fast food chains.

Are you ready to start a new life in Hong Kong? Make sure you keep these tips in mind.

What You Need to Know about Living and Working in Saudi Arabia

There are many job opportunities overseas, but it seems like Saudi Arabia is still the top destination for aspiring and returning OFWs. It’s not surprising why. There are tons of job opportunities available in Saudi, coupled with good pay; thus making it a favorite.

In case you landed a job there or considering to go to this Arab country, here’s what you need to know about living and working in the biggest country in the Arab peninsula:

Culture

Islam, which is the religion in Saudi, governs the citizens’ way of life. In fact, their laws are based in Koran (Qur’an), which requires strict compliance. This is also the reason why Saudi Arabia, among other Arab countries, is the strictest and most conservative country in the peninsula. Since you are working there, you are required to follow their laws.

Since their way of life is based on Qur’an, establishments close for half an hour five times a day for their prayer time.

  • Fajr, which is between dawn and sunrise
  • Dhuhr or noon
  • ‘Asr or mid-afternoon
  • Maghrib or sunset
  • ‘Isha or night

For women, dress code is strictly enforced, so make sure you are wearing “abaya” especially when going out. Pants are also a big no-no for them. Hair must be covered by a veil while the face must be covered by a burka. Men are not exempted from the dress code since wearing shorts is not allowed as well.

Public display of affection is also not allowed, even if you are with your spouse. Consequently, bring a copy of your marriage certificate in case you are working in Saudi Arabia with your spouse.

Iqama

This is also known as residence permit or work license. Iqama is an important document that OFWs and other expats working in Saudi must always have on hand, especially when going out. Iqama will be your main identity card, which is why you should have this wherever you go to avoid payment of penalty fee.

When you arrive in Saudi Arabia, you must surrender your passport to your sponsor, who will then present it to the Immigration authorities for the issuance of Iqama. Inform your sponsor immediately in case you lost your Iqama.

Weather

You may associate Saudi Arabia with desert; hence making the country extremely hot and wit little rainfall. Unfortunately, dress code is strictly imposed, especially for women, so you have no choice but to comply.

To cope with the weather, make sure you limit your time outside especially during mid-day, drink lots of fluids, wear clothes that will protect you from the heat, and shower at least two to three times a day.

Food 

Sorry to break it to you, but Qur’an strictly prohibits eating of pork and drinking alcoholic beverages. It is best to follow this, otherwise, penalty awaits you.

Still, don’t worry since you won’t be hungry. Saudi Arabian food includes meat, vegetables, wheat, rice, and spices. Chicken and lamb are also staples in the country. In case you still can’t adjust to their food, Saudi opened its doors to several food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King. Just make sure you have your iqama with you when going out and don’t forget to follow the dress code.

Returning Home 

If you are planning to return home, then here are three things you need to prepare:

  • Your Philippine passport (must still be valid for at least six months) or Travel Document in case you don’t have your passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Exit Visa from the Saudi Ministry of Interior, which will only be given upon issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor and all fees were paid.

Obtaining this will be easier if you have no criminal records.

We hope this helps!

4 Remittance Centers in the Philippines Where Your Family Can Encash Money

Remittance is everything, especially if you are working overseas. You need to be able to send money from abroad because your family depends on it.

Unfortunately, not all OFW families have bank accounts, which means they rely solely on remittance centers to get the money. Remittance centers are also the go-to guys because aside from getting money sent from abroad, these facilities offer other financial services like bills payment, pawning, quick cash loan, and foreign exchange with less hassle compared to what is required by big banks.

That being said, what are the best remittance centers in the country? Here’s what:

Western Union Overseas Money Transfer

Did you know that Western Union is one, if not the biggest remittance centers in the Philippines? Believe it or not, it has over 8,400 branches nationwide. That’s not all. Western Union, also the largest remittance service provider in the world, has 500,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries worldwide, thereby making remittance claims easier and convenient.

What makes Western Union a favorite is the Track a Transfer feature wherein you can check the status of remittance online. You can also send money to PayMaya mobile wallet and every remittance sent allows you to earn reward points, which you can use to score discounted fees on remittance rates.

  • Dometic Remittance Rate – P5 to P595
  • Overseas Remittance Rate – P500 to P1,100

Cebuana Lhuillier Pera Padala 

Another major remittance centers in the country is Cebuana Lhuillier, with 2,300 branches and more than 4,000 Pera Padala agents in the Philippines. Cebuana also has more than 80 international remittance partners, thereby making money transfer easy and convenient for you.

Cebuana sends money in real-time and allows you to earn points for every amount you sent. This can be exchanged for discounts on remittance rates, exclusive privileges, and special offers. More than that, you can make an appointment online before you visit any branch. This way, you skip long lines and filling out forms since that was done ahead of time.

  • Domestic Remittance Rate – P1 to P1,200
  • Overseas Remittance Rate – P500 to P1,200

Palawan Express Pera Padala 

Similar to the first two remittance centers, Palawan Express also has more than 2,000 branches and Pera Padala agents nationwide, with rate ranging between P2 and P345. It also has Loyalty Rewards Program, which gives you five percent discount and two percent reward points on every remittance fee. Rebate is also included in this program every time you claim money.

When sending money, your family back home can get a text notification, informing them that money is sent and ready for pickup. In case they received the money already, you will receive a text confirmation regarding this as well.

MoneyGram 

A direct competitor of Western Union, MoneyGram is the second biggest money transfer company in the world. It has approximately 350,000 locations in more than 200 countries.

Remittance rate is similar to Western Union, with the rate depending on the amount sent. Maximum transaction is USD 2,999 and you can check the status of the remittance online.

In case you’re wondering where your family can pick up the money, simply look for remittance centers that partnered with MoneyGram. This is most convenient since your family can immediately get the money within minutes from sending it. You can also transmit money through almost 7,000 ATMs nationwide using LBC card.

What makes you decide on the best remittance center? Consider these things: safety, reliability, convenience, and remittance rate. This will help you decide the best one for you.

Ideal Workshops Every OFW Must Attend

They say learning doesn’t stop in school. That’s true. The more knowledgeable you are, the better the opportunities will be. If you are an Overseas Filipino Worker, then you need to make sure that you get as much knowledge as you can to be ahead of the pack.

In that case, you need to consider enrolling in workshops for added knowledge. If you are in the process of looking for a job overseas, these workshops could make your resume look good because of the added learnings you had.

The question now is what type of workshops should you enroll to?

Career-Specific Workshops 

It’s not enough that you know how to make bread or operate a particular machine. Think of your skill as an art where it has to be honed, developed, and constantly improved on. If you have a specific skill, then look for trainings or seminars that will help you improve on it. TESDA regularly conducts trainings pertaining to various skills, so make sure to check it out as well.

Business Courses

If you are an existing business owner or a starting entrepreneur, then this type of workshop must be included in your list the next time you come home for a visit. This type of workshop is intended to help business owners succeed further in their chosen path.

Government agencies partner with one another to come up with trainings that assist business owners on how to boost sales profit using social media platforms, intensify presence in the digital market, improve inventory, and managing business difficulties among others. Private companies like Manila Workshops also organizes talks about “how to” Facebook Ads and applying SEO techniques to boost sales.

Added Income Workshops

Surprisingly, the money you earn in dollars is not enough to sustain your family’s everyday needs. If that happens, then you and your family need to start looking for additional income ideas to make ends meet.

The good news there are a lot of training centers that provide livelihood and training seminars for extra income. You or your spouse can learn about meat processing, baking and cake decorating, bread making, and noodle-making, especially if you like food.

If you’re not into food, there are seminars about soap or laundry detergent making for business, cologne making, basic tailoring and dressmaking, haircutting, and flower arrangement among many others. Explore your options because training centers have conduct various workshops every month.

Digital Literacy Trainings

Not everyone has access to computers or any other digital resources for added knowledge. When they finally experienced one, they don’t know what to do. Thankfully, OWWA, in partnership with Facebook, came up with digital literacy training to help departing OFWs. This will be a one-hour training integrated in the exit program of OFWs.

In this training, OFWs will be taught safety and security measures when using social media platforms like Facebook, which became a “lifeline” for many migrant workers. Spotting fake news, choosing who to accept as friends, and identifying scams will likewise be taught to protect departing workers.

Aside from this, you can find courses online about learning how to operate programs such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and the like.

Financial Literacy / Education 

This is a must. Only a small number of families have decent and sufficient savings. The reason for lack of savings and investment? Most people don’t know or don’t understand how these work.

Change that by enrolling in classes that teaches financial literacy. Keep yourself informed about various investment products and how these could help during the rainy days. Preparing for the future is a must – and getting into financial trainings will keep you armed.

Take note that workshops often come with a fee. While these trainings give you additional knowledge, only go for those that will help you further in your current track and save experimentation later.

What You Need to Know about Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995

In 1995, the Congress passed Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, which aims to protect and promote the welfare of migrant workers as well as their families. This includes instituting policies on deployment with other countries and fight against illegal recruitment among others.

15 years after, Congress amended the Migrant Workers Act, known as Republic Act No. 10022, to help adapt to changing times. It became a law on March 8, 2010.

You might be wondering how this law affects you. The answer is A LOT. Below are the key points you need to know to ensure that your rights as a migrant worker is protected.

Definition of Overseas Filipino Worker

According to the law, OFW or migrant worker is a person to be engaged, is engaged, or has been engaged in an activity for a consideration in a place where s/he is not a citizen. This also includes individuals who are on board a vessel navigating in foreign seas other than a government ship used for military or non-commercial purposes or an installation located on high seas or offshore.

Deployment of Migrant Workers

Filipino migrant workers will only be deployed in countries where their rights are protected. Said countries must have existing labor and social laws that includes protection of rights of migrant workers, signatory to or ratifier of declarations or conventions that protects rights of workers, and has a concluded bilateral agreement with the Philippine government.

Consequently, countries that accept migrant workers must take positive and concrete measures to ensure that the rights of the workers are protected. At the same time, these countries must be compliant with international rules and standards on migrant workers. Otherwise, a No Permit for Deployment will be issued by POEA, after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Illegal Recruitment

This is defined as any act of canvassing, contracting, enlisting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers for employment overseas, regardless if it’s for profit or not by an agency that is not registered and authorized by the Labor Department. Promises, referrals, and advertisements of employment abroad are also considered as acts of illegal recruitment.

READ: What You Need to Know about Illegal Recruitment

Consequently, the law defined the term illegal recruitment by syndicate, which means illegal recruitment was carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring and confederating with one another to commit illegal acts.

Illegal recruitment activities include but not limited to:

  • Charging an amount that is higher than the amount indicated in the schedule of allowable fees.
  • Publishing false information or notice related to recruitment or employment.
  • Recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public health or morality.
  • Withholding or denying travel documents from applicant workers before departure due to monetary or financial considerations.
  • Allowing non-Filipino citizen to manage or head a licensed recruitment / manning agency.
  • Failure to submit pertinent recruitment information to the Department of Labor and Employment such as job vacancies, status of employment of deployed workers, departure, and separation from jobs among others.
  • Imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement to applicant workers to avail of a loan ONLY on specified entities or persons.
  • Imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement to applicant workers to undergo medical or health examination on specific and designated medical clinics. This also includes attending trainings on designated training centers.

Take note that victims of illegal recruitment will be provided with free legal assistance.

National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers

Also known as NRCO, this center was created by DOLE for returning OFWs to help in the reintegration process, serve as a promotion house for local employment, and help in tapping and developing skills for national development. The center will be open 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays.

Below are some of NRCO’s specific mandates:

  • Develop and support programs for livelihood, savings, investment, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.
  • Coordinate with appropriate stakeholders and institutions for promotion and development of OFWs.
  • Come up with a computer-based information system on returning OFWs, which will also be accessible to recruitment agencies and employers.
  • Develop and implement programs that will help promote the welfare of returning Filipino migrant workers.
  • Conduct research for policy recommendation and program development.

Compulsory Insurance Coverage for Agency-Hired Workers

According to the amended law, ALL agency-hired workers will be covered by a compulsory insurance coverage policy and secured at no cost to the worker. It is effective for the entire duration of the worker’s employment contract and cover:

  • Accidental death with at least USD 15,000 survivor’s benefit payable to the migrant worker’s beneficiary. The insurance provider shall likewise arrange and pay for the return of the worker’s remains.
  • Permanent total disablement with at least USD 7,500 disability benefit payable to the migrant worker.
  • Repatriation cost when the employment was terminated without just or valid cause, including transport of personal belongings.
  • Subsistence allowance benefit of at least USD 100 per month for a maximum of six months if migrant worker is involved in a case or is in litigation.
  • Money claims arising from employer’s liability.

Aside from monetary benefits, migrant worker is entitled to compassionate visit by one family member in case s/he is confined in the hospital. Medical evacuation and repatriation must also be afforded to the migrant worker when necessary.

The recruitment agency can freely choose an insurance provider PROVIDED that it is duly registered with the Insurance Commission and is operational for at least P500 million. The recruitment agency must provide an authenticated copy of the insurance policy after procurement since such policy is needed to help secure the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

Claims must be paid by the insurance company without any contest and as soon as substantiated proof was presented.

Know your rights.