"There is no place like home," goes the adage. Apparently, this does not seem to be quite true for some Filipino overseas workers in the UAE. There are more than 150,000 Filipinos residing in the UAE and the population is increasing every year with very few intending to go back home.
Those Filipinos (pic courtesy: http://www.ofwzone.com)who came in the 70s have established businesses, some brought in their families and relatives while some have children who studied and set up family here. Some even have three generations here.
In spite of the non-assurance of permanent stay in the UAE, Filipinos still flock to the country to earn good income and consider the country as an ideal place to raise their family -- a concept that is inevitable considering the economic and political problems besetting the Philippines. Are these Filipinos slowly losing their sense of patriotism? Aren't they contemplating going back to their motherland?
Most of them say they are staying here for the time being. So how come quite a number of them are still here for more than 10 years? Isn't it quite a long time to be away from a place one calls home?
A chat with some Filipinos
Vic Tajanlangit and his wife have been in Dubai for 15 years and have their three-generation family settled in this country. Known in the Philippines as the "role model" family for promoting music as a tool in family unity, the Tajanlangits prefer to stay in the UAE "for as long as it takes."
According to Vic, "I want to go back to the Philippines when I am assured that it is a very safe place to live. The crime rate in the Philippines is quite alarming to the extent that I do not feel safe in my own country. One day my grandson will be kidnapped or a stray bullet will kill a member of my family. Properties are not as valuable as life so I am not contemplating going back yet. In the UAE, my family and I feel safe. I believe there is no country in the world as peaceful as the UAE. There is no manmade problems like political turmoil or natural disasters like typhoon and earthquake here. We are indeed blessed to have the opportunity to live here and have complete peace of mind which cannot be bought by any amount of money. So even if I have considerable money in the Philippines, I do not regret leaving it behind."
'UAE is my home'
Loretta Tubungan of Sharjah has been in the UAE for 20 years and has no plans of going back to the Philippines in the near future. In fact, she opened a beauty saloon last year. Her only daughter got married and has raised her children here. She said, "The UAE has been my home for several years and it is very difficult for me to readjust in the Philippines again. My family members are in the Western countries. So there is really no reason for me to go back."
Ricardo Ayuyao works as a finance manager and has been in Abu Dhabi for 17 years. For him, the Philippines is still the most beautiful country to settle down but the country's volatile economy has forced him to continue working overseas. He said: "I still love my country but due to financial obligations, I am unable to go back for good. However, if ever I go back home, I am planning to put up a small business. For the moment, everything is running smoothly and I still see myself working here for several years."
'I won't get this salary in Philippines'
Nazario Biado Jr. works as a certified public accountant in Ras Al Khaimah and has been in the country for 11 years. He said, "If ever I leave here, I prefer to explore the Western countries where my retirement is more secured. I have 16 years' experience in the banking industry and I doubt I can find an employer in the Philippines who can match my salary here. Considering my age, I think I can no longer obtain a good edge in terms of employment."
Red tape is rampant back home
Hermie Cuenco has been in the Middle East for 23 years, 11 years in Abu Dhabi as engineer. "I like to stay here because it is peaceful and you have the chance to enjoy the fruit of your labour. In the Philippines, I feel frustrated every time I go home. I invested my savings in a mango plantation and it always went down the drain. Besides, relatives are around to fleece you because they think you have too much money. You can't rely on the government where red tape is very rampant. How would I settle there when I know that it will give me only headache? In fact, I have the feeling that my wife and I will stay here for as a long as we can. My wife is a dentist and she is doing well."
Calm Law and Order Situation
George de Leon who hails from Baguio is a senior accountant and has been in Dubai for 12 years. He said, "Apart from the calm law and order situation here, one thing that attracts me to stay further in the UAE is the financial rewards. As a government employee, I have ample benefits that makes my family financially secured. I doubt I will get the same benefits in the Philippines."
Quality of Education
Ronnie Bonifacio worked as an agricultural supervisor in Fujairah for 21 years. He said, "I am not particular about where to settle down but my wife is very particular on the quality of education that my kids should receive. Since I have school-going children, she prefers that either they study here or go to Europe. For this reason, we are focusing ourselves in settling elsewhere other than in the Philippines."
My second home
Emmanuelle Mascarina is one of the dynamic community leaders in Ras Al Khaimah and was a recipient of the "Filipino Achiever's Award." He has been in the UAE for 15 years. "I like to stay here more. Even if I am away from home, I feel that this is my second home. There is freedom. Even if we Filipinos go to a Catholic church or attend social parties, no one bothers us. On the other hand, the labour laws here have given enough protection to the workers, which make it a very attractive place for Filipinos. We are happy so we stay longer. There may be an exodus of Filipinos leaving the Philippines, but I believe, in their hearts, they still love the country. Filipinos never forget the saying "babalik ka rin (You will still come back)."
Article Courtesy: Gulf Today