Bringing OFWs to the Philippines
Have you ever wondered how it feels to be alone in a foreign country, away from everything that’s dear and familiar? This is what businesswoman-turned-TV host Cristina Decena wants to show in her travel documentary show “Business Flight” with co-host beauty queen Venus Raj. The show currently airs every Saturday at 11:30 am on GMA News TV (Channel 11).
As of 2015, the number of Filipinos leaving for work abroad is more than 6,000 a day. Most people think that OFWs make tons of money, which would compensate for their being uprooted from all they know. This isn’t always true, as Ms. Decena discovered when she interviewed a man working as a guest relations officer in a Bangkok hotel. The man was earning 9,000 Baht, a month, roughly equivalent to 12,000 pesos, which isn’t even minimum wage here in the Philippines. When asked why he would do that, the man replied, “dadating (naman daw) ang time na aangat siya.”
This dogged persistence is a signature trait of many Filipinos.
Despite being well educated as teachers or engineers, they stick it out as domestic workers in Hong Kong or construction workers in Qatar in the hopes that they will earn enough to give their families back home a good life.
However, it isn’t all about blood and tears. Ms. Decena recounted an encounter with a domestic worker in the service of the British royal family. “Sa London nainterbyu namin ‘yung taong nagsisilbi kay Queen Elizabeth. Pinagsilbihan din niya si Princess Diana.” While there was no mention of the compensation, sometimes money is not always the issue. The woman seemed quite happy to have been of service to the late Lady Di who was, “talagang approachable, maganda ang PR sa tao.” Success is relative, after all.
Filipinos are well known for being optimistic and upbeat in the face of adversity, something that Ms. Decena had no problem understanding. She, too, came from a hard life, and through sheer grit and determination attained entrepreneurial success as CEO of the CBC Group of Companies. She says she chose Venus Raj as her co-host because she saw in the young beauty the same brand of strength of mind that drove her.
“Parehong inspirational ‘yung buhay namin. Ngayon mag-iinterbyu kami ng taong merong inspiring stories din so makaka-relate kami at saka may pinanggalingan.”
It is undeniable that being a second-class citizen is a fact for all OFWs, no matter how much their employers value them as workers. “Makipagsapalaran,” or the ability to adapt to any given situation, is an attitude that many Filipinos share, and it has stood them in good stead when working in foreign countries. Business Flight seeks to validate these unsung heroes for all to see.