OFW: The Drama inside the Remittance Center

In Celebration of the Philippine Independence Day

By: Noriel E. Banes, TUFHRP Officer

Photo Credit: Melissa Luz T. Lopez

The OFW titos and titas remember the story of Josie and Carla played by Vilma Santos and 
Claudine Barretto respectively in the movie Anak, or the famous confrontation line “Sana 
maisip mo rin kung ilang pagkain ang tiniis kong hindi kainin para lang makapagpadala ako ng malaking pera rito.”

The life we have as an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) is indeed comparable to movies and primetime shows or teleseye we watch on television. It is a series of struggles episode after episode. It is full of emotions and very relatable. Unlike the evening and nightly soap drama, our life’s story is neither a hearsay nor fictitious. It happens not in front of a rolling camera but in front of a teller while waiting in line at the remittance centers. I happen to overhear our kababayans’ sentiments and below are the top dramatic lines thrown by OFWs:

1.   “Kakapadala ko pa lang, magpapadala na naman!”

The most usual gripe of OFWs who cannot help but share how it feels to send money within a short span of time to their loved ones who thought money abroad does not run out but flows like water. Are they even aware that most OFWs get their salary only once a month?

2.   “Kailangan ko magpadala kasi nasa ospital ang anak /asawa/ pinsan/ pamangkin / tiyahin,Tiyohin, etc. ko!”

If we are to picture out our life as an OFW, we may clearly see the tree that is so rich of branches and twigs, with hundreds of tangled roots. Same goes with how we support our big family. We do not even think of ignoring our family members who are sick and in need of our support, especially if it is financial. OFWs are the unsung heroes indeed! I believe that it is time for us to invest in health insurance as we wouldn’t know what might happen in the future and health insurance is also comes in handy in time of emergency. 

3.   “Ang gastos talaga ng anak ko sa allowance kaya padala na naman!”

Oh, we can’t get away with this kind of drama especially if you are a mother or a sibling who supports your brothers or sisters in sending them to school. This jives with the fact that OFWs are being a responsible provider. We kiss the pain, we stretch our patience, and we carry the burden of it all for the sake of our family member’s future. We give our all and I am sure some of us give everything up to the single cent for the sake of our loved ones. How do we minimize it? I don’t really know. Perhaps we will have an open communication with our family back home, letting them know how our life goes here abroad. Nonetheless, we can keep having this kind of struggle.

4.   “Papadala ako dahil bibili daw si bunso ng laptop kasi kailangan daw sa school.”

For whatever it costs, we give what we want them to have, or we give what we never had. True enough, we have this kind of culture that we give our sons and daughters the things we didn’t have because we know how it feels. If these things we are providing would make them great, why not? After all, we are here to earn and provide a good future for our family. However, we don’t give what is enough, we give more than enough even if it means a sacrifice on our part.

5.   “Magbabayad na naman ng tuition ang panganay ko.”

For us Filipinos, education is important and the idea has been in our system since the time of our ancestors. That is why most of us are here abroad to fulfill the promise of a good life after college. Whining over it is inevitable though we don’t mean anything bad while sending our hard-earned money to pay for the tuition fees of our son or daughter, brother or sister, nephew or niece, and sometimes everyone. There is no greater happiness than to see the people you love to walk up the stage receiving their diploma. As Dr. Jose P. Rizal once said, “My countrymen, I have given proofs that I am the most anxious for liberties for our country and I am still desirous of them. But I place as a prior condition the education of the people, that by means of instruction and industry our country may have an individuality of its own and make itself worthy of these liberties.” Go for the future!

6.   “Naputulan daw sila sa bahay ng kuryente e, kaya papadala na naman ako.”

Our family’s needs come first. This is an OFW’s mindset when he comes to work abroad. In fact, it may be his motto even before leaving the Philippines. For an OFW, providing for a family’s need is a big role much more to provide for his loved one’s convenience and comfort. It is every OFW’s happiness to provide for his family – a trait that is uniquely and proudly Filipino. 

It may sound funny, but in most cases, the teller in remittance centers may already know the amount we are about to send, its purpose, and the story behind sending those hard-earned dirhams. Even funnier, no matter how much we complain about sending money, we still end up filling out remittance forms and send a message “Nak, napadala ko na, kunin mo na lang”. We sacrifice being with them because, for us, real happiness is being able to provide for their needs. Seeing them getting what they also wanted draws a smile on our faces. We are happy with the thought that they are living a more convenient life, and getting a brighter future. 

Yes, we look at happiness from different angles. We see happiness even in sacrifice to be with our loved ones if that means providing for them. It is a role played only by martyr protagonists in most soap dramas. Perhaps this is the reason we love dramas – we can relate to them. We remember each line and the more sentimental the lines are, the more they become viral. After all, it is our story, it is our drama inside the remittance centers.