The Struggle is Real:  Living and Working Abroad

This blog has been on hiatus for the last 4 years so pardon me if my first two entries after that long break are both about me. The first one being my bucket list, my apologies if that bored you to death but I’m pretty sure this next entry will be a total snooze fest that you might stop reading after the first sentence. But for those of you who will cut me some slack and will continue reading, thank you!

It was 2007 that I left the Philippines right after I finished college, thus the title of this blog.  After almost 8 years, albeit still young at heart, I can no longer call myself a “young OFW.”  Living abroad, as all OFWs ought to know by now was not an easy task.  Why?  First the adjustment, wherever you get to live in you have to adjust yourself and conform to another country’s norms, cultures, traditions, and laws.  Second, language barrier, if you are living in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and other English-speaking countries, it was never an issue.  But try to imagine living in China or in my case Macau, it definitely was and is a challenge.  Back in 2007 most of Chinese didn’t have the basic grasp of the English language, wherever you go you communicated using sign language, which could be sometimes funny but can be frustrating most of the times.  With the advent of smartphones, communications gradually improved, thanks to google translate.  As time goes by you get to adapt and learn their language progressively.  Third, but definitely not the last is homesickness, but let me not go further on that as it deserves its own entry.

Living abroad is one thing, working abroad is another thing.  I came to Macau in 2007 as a tourist, same with many Filipinos who were looking for jobs here.  I had 50 days to find a job and I was one of the lucky few people who was accepted for a job right away.  For those who were unlucky, after 30 or 40 days of waiting for a call and not getting one, not to mention the scarcity of their resources (money, energy and hope), that sure had dampened their spirits.

Then I got to start on my job in one of the biggest hotels here in Macau, a job far from what I studied back in college, my experience, my dream and definitely out of my comfort zone.  I knew back then that I cannot complain, it was all a part of working abroad, you don’t always get what you want.  Working in front of the house of a hotel, chances are 80% of the guests are Chinese and only a fraction of those speaks English.  Promotion at work is a rarity among Filipinos not because of competency (Filipinos are known to be most hard-working, reliable and competent workers abroad, ask any employers and you’ll surely get the same answer) but because of the locals.  The Locals are being prioritized in Macau which is a good thing for them but a challenge for us.

Every year or every two years depending on the company, everyone is dreading for the working permit renewal.  Back in 2008 in the midst of recession many Filipinos had lost their jobs, bringing with them their hopes and dreams of a better life.  Those who were lucky to be retained got themselves ready for there was no guarantee that they weren’t the next one to be laid off.  Even now, we are still consumed with the fact that this might be our last year or the following year so as much as possible we tried to save money and some think about other job alternatives or extra income that when the time comes that Macau doesn’t need us anymore we know we will be okay.

With all the hardships and struggle each and every one of us are facing, at the end of the day when we see our families’ smile and living a better life, we know that all sacrifices and loneliness are all worth it.

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  1. Anonymous

    Hi, Sir! 🙂

    I stumbled upon your blog while job searching. You’re a great writer. Thanks for sharing your craft and I hope to see you when I get to work in Macau.

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