Love makes many feats possible. This statement rings true for many Filipinos who have been working overseas to better provide for their loved ones this Valentine’s Day.
This February, WorldRemit shares stories of love – particularly about how two OFWs have made long-distance relationships work throughout the years and how remittances have acted as a currency of care.
“Today’s rising cost of living has only pushed more Filipinos to seek better opportunities abroad, resulting in more couples living apart,” said Earl Melivo, Interim APAC Managing Director of WorldRemit. “It is also worth noting that many couples are married with children and are finding ways to provide for their families. This makes being away for longer periods of time necessary yet even more difficult.”
A 2018 study showed how Filipino husbands were more likely to be separated from their wives, with 58% of OFW children having fathers who worked abroad. Jonathan, a father of three, has been a supervisor for an oil firm based in Brunei for 25 years. There, he initially lived and worked together with his children and his wife Bam, an optometrist. After 12 years, they returned to the Philippines, where his wife put up her own optical clinic.
Jonathan chose to stay behind to maintain their family income. Now, he only sees his family once a year, which he considers as the hardest part about his extended stay. “It’s difficult to cope with their present activities,” he said.
Another case is Manny, a management assistant who has worked in the Middle East for 32 years. “Being an absentee father to my three daughters makes me regret at times being away while they are growing up,” he also echoed.
However, as a result of their sacrifices, both fathers were able to achieve significant milestones for their families together with their wives. In the years they spent apart, Jonathan and Bam have been able to acquire a house and lot, a car, and another clinic for Bam’s practice. They are currently seeing all three of their children through college.
In the long run, both OFWs share the same goal of having all their children finish their education and putting up a business that can support them after retiring. For now, their main advice for other OFW couples is daily communication.
“ Constantly communicate, update the one who’s away with everything going on with the family, and always give each other assurance,” Jonathan said.
While Jonathan and Manny are now able to maximize video calls to stay connected with their families, Manny still looked back fondly at how he and his wife got by before the internet.
“Letters and voice tapes delivered through post were the only ways we could convey our affections. We would receive each other’s letters in about a week if we were lucky, or in two weeks at most. Telephone calls were an option, but were rare as they were quite expensive,” he said.
At present, Manny is thankful enough for the ease and convenience offered by technology. After all, online remittance services like WorldRemit are the reason he and his wife are able to work towards the future they’ve always dreamed of together.
“Despite challenges like difficult working conditions and homesickness, Filipinos are ultimately motivated by their love for their families. WorldRemit not only recognizes this love but empowers it, enabling reliable and real-time digital transfers which make OFWs feel like they’re right there,” Melivo said.
Read more inspiring stories from migrant workers around the world. Get to know them better through the WorldRemit community at https://www.worldremit.com/en/blog/community/ .