3 Notorious Airport Modus that Every OFW Should Know


Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are considered the country's modern day heroes and rightly so, as they brave working abroad just to earn enough to support the family they’ve left behind in the Philippines.

Because of their efforts, they have become one of the biggest contributors to the Philippines’ economy. It’s no wonder, then, how the number of OFWs leaving to work abroad continues to grow.

You would think that, as modern day heroes, everyone in the country will do what they can to protect our OFWs. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people have been preying on them even as soon as they set foot in the airport on their way home.

Airport scams are popular these days, and a lot of them prey on unsuspecting OFWs, along with older passengers and tourists. To protect yourself from becoming the next airport scam victim, learn what these scams are about and what you need to do to avoid them.

NAIA Airport Police Scam

In July of this year, one brave OFW, Niel Caubal Laude, a rig electrician in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, exposed a modus operandi that he experienced himself at the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA 1).

According to his story, there is a syndicate group posing as airport police victimizing travelers who missed the airport shuttle bus from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.

This modus involves the group offering a free ride to the travelers going to Terminal 3. However, along the way, the shuttle will take an alternative route and will be stuck in traffic, which will cause the travelers to miss their flight.

The victims will then be offered an overnight stay in the ticketing office's supposed guest house and will be asked to purchase a plane ticket there—only to find out that they’ll be 100% overpriced.

To avoid being victimized by this scam, contact the aircraft hotline to inform them that you missed the shuttle and that you’ll be late for your flight, and will, thus, need to rebook it. Do not entertain any unusual individuals in the airport, and instead, immediately contact the official NAIA security personnel at +632 877-7888.

Tangay Bagahe

One of the most recent scams was reported by an OFW, named Elyn Casim, involving three airport checkers in NAIA, who were caught on CCTV to have stolen her luggage.

She claimed that she forgot the bag in the x-ray machine when she had to go inside the terminal for a while to ask something from the OWWA. The bag was already missing when she returned for it.

Casim's luggage was said to contain PHP50,000, along with jewelry and personal documents.

To avoid the same thing from happening to you, always be vigilant and make sure not to leave your luggage unattended.

Tanim Bala

This one is the most popular modus at the NAIA in recent weeks. The NBI has recently confirmed that there exists a syndicate group in the airport involved in planting bullets in traveler's bags with a plan to extort money from them.

There has been a growing number of victims already including an American pastor, a Japanese businessman, and even elderly domestic helpers. This scam has earned the ire of many all over the world, with netizens going online, and sharing their thoughts about it using the hashtags #TanimBala or #LaglagBala.

OFWs and other travelers are being advised to take extra care with their luggage because of this scam. When traveling, use a bag without pockets, preferably a plastic case with a secure padlock. Some also recommend wrapping your luggage tightly with plastic wrap.

If you are asked by an airport official to open your bag, be aware that you have the right to delay the immediate opening of your bag until the supervisor is present, and until you’re able to obtain the presence of your lawyer or a third party witness.

Don't forget to have the bag photographed in the x-ray machine as well.

As if being known as one of the world’s worst airports is not enough, the NAIA has once again given people the impression that it is not a safe place to be. However, being aware of what to look out for and how to act accordingly will help keep you safe.

OFWs Can Prepare Their Way Home as Cyberpreneurs

Overseas Filipino workers know that they can only stay in their current country of residence so long as their employment permits and contracts are valid. But extensions for these contracts may be set for a limited number of time.

Unless they have a backup plan, many end up back in the Philippines without a source of income. Those who have reintegrated home without problems know this recipe for success: careful planning, proper money management, and keen entrepreneurial skills.

Good thing is, OFWs can find helpful information in the newly launched book, Cyberpreneur Philippines: Online Business Start-up Guide.

As the book suggests, the best time to start an online business is now. Even while based abroad, OFWs can consider opportunities and launch an online business by just logging on to the Internet. No need to risk an entire life's savings in capital-intensive investments, such as food or transportation franchises.

Edited by PageJump co-founder and HayPinas.org's very own Ray Calbay, along with Marv de Leon and Paolo Lising, Cyberpreneur Philippines covers important topics on how to become an online entrepreneur. The contributors - among them are CEOs, top freelancers, and a few OFWs themselves - discuss cyber business planning, online branding and marketing, to competing in the global market.

In his foreword to the book, Senator Bam Aquino notes that "this book will help in the realization of our dream of spurring online-based start-ups, services, and other innovative and up-coming products in our country." Action plans, workbook exercises, and social media prompts also make the book more interactive.

International orders may be placed through Amazon.com, where it's also available as an e-book. It's sold in the Philippines through National Bookstore, PowerBooks, and Fully Booked. Readers are encouraged to log on to the book’s companion website (www.cyberpreneur.ph) for more content or discuss in social media using the #CyberpreneurPH hash tag.

5 Cliches to Bust as a Young Overseas Filipino Worker


OFW life, for many, is loaded with clich├ęs that we wish would happen to us in real life.

More often than not, waiting for these "moments" can become a trap that keeps you looking for drama rather than working towards your real goals. Well, here's a list of cringe-worthy scene stealers and why you need to bust it for the more important stuff.

Cliche #1: Maalaala Mo Kaya scene at the airport

Scene from the movie "Anak"
Yes, it’s the familiar piece of melodrama we've all seen in our favorite soap operas: the hero/heroine leaves for abroad and everyone readies to fill up their buckets of tears. If you’re lucky enough, you might even have a lover chase a bus, run past airport security just to yell out “STOP!!!”, as you hand in your plane ticket. (P.S. This scene from the movie Anak isn't the best example of that. We just think the kid did well in this scene! But you know what we mean.)

Bust it with: Save (some of) your tears. Communicate your plans, as well as fears, with your family before you leave.

Cliche #2 Big balik-bayan boxes

Scene from the movie "Anak"

Admit it, OFWs have one distinction when at any of the world's airports -- those hulking brown boxes. Yes, the balikbayan box always looks like it’s just about ready to explode and hit everyone on the face with pasalubong (namely an inexplicably large amount of canned spam).

Bust it with: Reduce the size of your balikbayan box to the items your family will need and enjoy.

Cliche #3 Rags to riches transformation

Ze great Amor Powers of Pangako Sa 'Yo

Oh, what a dream it would be to return to the Philippines as Amor Powers, the rags-to-riches protagonist of Pangako Sa 'Yo, or maybe virtually every character played by Dawn Zulueta (who seems to be stuck in that character profile...just a feeling).

Bust it with: As an OFW, don't expect a luxury car and a brand-new house and lot to come as fast as TV commercial breaks. Dream big, take calculated risks, but be realistic. For sure, drastic Cinderella transformations happen only in a teleserye montage because long work hours are probably too dull to feature in prime-time TV.

Cliche #4 Prince (or princess) charming

Scene from the movie "La Visa Loca"

Love knows no race. While this remains to be true, what is not cool is when others set stereotypes that the end goal of going abroad is just to marry a local. If someone asks “oh, are you living in this country because you want to marry Mr. Darcy?”, would it be absolutely defensive to answer “No, Mr. Darcy is awesome, but I got here because I kick-ass at my job” or "I'm here because I want to try things on my own. Without Mr. Darcy," or something?

Bust it with: Prince (or princess) could come whenever he wants, but I'M working hard to make my own dreams come true. Thank you very much. 

Cliche #5 Modern-day hero

Scene from PAL's commercial

This is what many people quite so liberally dub the OFWs. Modern day heroes. The Rizal s and Bonifacios of this age. It is a flattering title, and a generous one at that. 

 Bust it with: Don't give in to this, for crying out loud! Yes, OFWs sacrifice much, but what about those who choose to stay in our country to make an honest living? What about those who have to go against all plunderers in the Senate? Those who brave through the buwis-buhay daily commute in Manila? Don't they fight their battles to make both ends meet for their families as well? They’re all heroes too, at least in my book. 

Moving overseas for a new job?

You need to prepare yourself for it. Buy Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos to learn how you can make the most of your overseas experience.

It’s Ramadan Sale! Should You Shop Or Not?


The Middle East is an adopted home to many OFW’s (overseas Filipino workers) where they also experience one of the holiest months in Islam. The month of Ramadan is also synonymous to the 3-day mall sales in the Philippines. Only that it’s 30 days/nights for most locals (and Pinoys as well) of splurging and spending extra on food, personal items, appliances, clothes, gadgets, etc. on huge discounts!

Even some remittance centers lower their fees and charges during this month. Awesome, isn’t it?

The only usual problem I observe is that many Filipinos would spend above their means during this season just because their colleagues are spending too. Or that because they are bored in their apartment during the night so they need to go out and window-shop around downtown. Just to kill homesickness and boredom.

Most often, this window-shopping would lead to pulling out of wallets and actual shopping of unnecessary things. Kahit isang supot lang.

They believe that it’s the time to buy the things that they want even if they have to use their credit cards or to borrow money from their apartment buddy or workmate.

Buying The Things You Need on Discount

There’s nothing wrong in shopping on great discounts. In fact, if you have extra cash or savings (not emergency fund) this is the great time to buy those things that you really need.

Perhaps this is the time for you to consider replacing your very old and worn out pair of shoes? Go ahead. Buy a new pair on discount. But make sure they are of great quality as well.

Or probably you’re just a few days away from your vacation to the Philippines, maybe you can score a couple of shirts and dress to surprise your kids and wife?

But always remember, do this only if you have extra cash from your “lifestyle” budget. If you or your family are currently paying off debts or supporting a family member in distress, maybe you can delay your spending itch a little bit more until all your obligations are done.

Saving more money is far more greater than buying things you don’t need even if they are sold at discount prices.

Reminder: Obey Local Traditions During Ramadan

I hope that our OFW’s will respect this rich and holy tradition of the countries where they are currently living and working by not eating or drinking in public. Couples should also refrain from displaying too much affection when outside.

In countries like Saudi Arabia, policies are very strict that violators who will be caught disrespecting Ramadan may be imprisoned or deported to their home countries. So be careful, fellow Filipinos.

Ramadan Kareem. Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim readers.

This post was first published in Burn's blog, Rock To Riches.

Join the OFW UsapangPiso group in Facebook to learn how to plan your finances the right way and how to grow your money in various financial instruments and investment vehicles such as stocks, mutual funds, UITF’s, bonds, money market, real estate, and others.

5 Things That May Surprise You From Working And Living Abroad


Just like falling in love, living abroad isn't as easy as it looks. Here are some of the many things that you need to prepare yourself for.

#1 How your paycheck shrinks with local rates

Your overseas salary sounds astronomically unreal after converting it to peso. You'll realize that it doesn't work that way. Soon, you'll find out that the cost of living abroad can easily drive your expenses up and your savings down, unless you be money smart.

#2 How much you've been pampered


You think life back home is complicated? Give that a second thought. Overseas, you can say goodbye to that tender loving care from your family. Making breakfast, doing your laundry, paying the bills...well, you need to do it all by yourself.

#3 How Philippine politics is too absurd

source: interaksyon.com
You already know how dysfunctional our government is before you left. POEA requirements, anyone? When you take yourself out of the fish bowl, it's a farce that's too painful to compare. You may even have a hard time explaining the dramedy to your coworkers and friends.

#4 How kickass you are

Overseas living is a very challenging test of character. If you push yourself to deal with changes responsibly, you'll be surprised at how much strength you have in you. Yes, you can give yourself a slow clap!

#5 How strong your desire is to come home

After a few months abroad, you'll miss a lot of things that are very Filipino. Food, local TV, your old tambayan, conversations with fellow Filipinos, and so much more.

Believe us when we say that this desire can grow and fire up at some point in your overseas journey. It's a good thing. Just be sure that you are prepared for it when you've decided to come home.

Moving overseas for a new job?

You need to prepare yourself for it. Buy Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos to learn how you can make the most of your overseas experience.

Long-Distance Rearing: On Raising Your Child From Abroad


One of the most heartbreaking parts of being an OFW is living months or even years away from your loved ones back in the Philippines. The distance can be especially difficult for OFW parents, whose absence makes it harder for them to give their young children the care and attention they need.

Issues could easily arise from this. Some experts agree that OFWs' kids are prone to emotional problems, insecurities and drug dependence. Even though studies suggest a higher percentage of OFWs' children being academic achievers when compared to non-OFWs' kids, I couldn't personally see this as good. Speaking for myself (I was a consistent top 1 student), I did it to get my parents' attention. I just wanted to be acknowledged.

My father's absence made me accustomed to not having him around. I even grew uncomfortable when he's home. It was a sad state of mind. I and most of my friends who had parents working abroad actually believed that our parents only cared about money and never really about us. For a child, having a father to teach you to ride your first bike is more important than actually being an owner of one. Having a mom to talk to about your first crush makes the experience a bit more special. All the toys, chocolates and new clothes couldn't make up for the emptiness we felt inside.

You must remember that simply buying your family's happiness with food, shelter, and expensive gifts is not enough. Some of the most common issues of OFW kids - such as teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, and bullying - can be avoided. The key is to keep an active presence in your child's life to help avoid these despite your job.

Here are four other ways how you can support your children aside from just sending back money:

Always keep in touch

Regular communication is crucial for OFW parents, even if they can only spare a few minutes at a time via cell phone or Skype. If you've ever watched the movie Anak, then you would know how emotionally damaging it can be for a parent to get cut off from their children and vice versa.

No matter what's going on in your busy line of work, you must always maintain an open line of communication to your family. Your son or daughter needs you, even when seem to be very young. Believe me attention was very valuable to us. I and my best friend agree that growing up, a call to congratulate us for our academic achievement is actually more exciting than the awarding ceremonies.

Look for a steady prepaid plan or Internet connection, and set aside some time during the week to call home. If possible, check in every day or every other day. It's a good thing that it's now easier more than ever to get connected with family half a world away, thanks to the Internet and mobile devices. Apps like Viber and Skype are easy to use and don't require fees outside your Internet plan.

Don't just stop at basic conversations like “How are things?” and “I miss you” – make an effort to stay involved in your child's life by asking questions like what subjects they're having trouble with at school or where they went with their barkada over the summer. Don't let distance get in the way of bonding with your child.

Pay attention to your child's emotional needs

One good reason to maintain regular contact with your children is to minimize the psychological issues that frequently affect the families of OFWs. Some children suffer from Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) when one or both of their parents leave the country. Other children become materialistic or dependent on illegal drugs due to lack of parental guidance.

Troubled children, however, may also show distress in less obvious ways. Many become insecure in their personal identities, which could lead to them falling in with a bad crowd or becoming victims of bullying. Others choose to fake happiness and hide their bad feelings instead. This could develop into clinical depression, suicidal tendencies, or other serious psychological disorders.

You can do your part as a parent by being more sensitive to your child's emotional state. Even if they appear perfectly fine on the outside, don't hesitate to show your concern and ask if there's anything troubling them. Do your best to reach out and be there for them without being judgmental.

Be a Parent

Of course you're already their parents. What I mean is be in-charge of raising your child. You may assign a guardian, whom commonly is their grandparents, but be the one to make strictly parental decisions. Talk to the guardians and tell them to help you maintain the parent role. It is very easy, especially for grandparents, to become mother or father figures to their grandchildren. There is nothing bad about this, but they should always remember that you are the one most responsible for raising your kid.

Never argue about parenting decisions in front of the kids, as this will never turn out fine. Whatever disagreements you have with the guardian, talk about it in private. This will help you prevent antagonizing yourself in front of them. If a guardian is spoiling your kid and you disagree, letting your kids hear the argument will somehow compel them to favor the more lenient parent figure.

Of course, we always go back to communication being the most important part. Explain every decision to your child. Every yes and every no should have their corresponding explanations and clear conditions.

Be honest with your child

While they are well-meaning in their intentions, far too many OFWs compensate for their absence by either showering their children with gifts or sugarcoating their reality. Without proper communication, these tactics make it even easier for children to feel detached from both their parents and the harsher truths of life.

As the saying goes: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Why not try using your current situation as an opportunity to show your child important life lessons? You must always let your child know how much you love them, while also teaching them the importance of being practical and taking responsibility.

If you're struggling with what to say to your child, think back on your own experiences. No OFW wants to be separated from their families, yet many still end-up where they are due to circumstances beyond their control. Your child must understand both of these truths as they grow up.

Be more financially responsible

Both OFWs and their beneficiaries back home should be informed in money-saving to keep their sacrifice from going to waste. Even if you earn a huge paycheck, all of your hard work could be for nothing if you fail to set aside just a small fraction of it for the future. What's the use of spoiling your child with an expensive iPhone today if you can't send them to college tomorrow?

Clueless on how to be more financially literate? Start by setting specific goals or money targets. Aim to save enough money to come home for good, pay off all your debts, buy a new house, start a business, or fund your child's college tuition. Once you have a goal in mind, build your entire budget around meeting that goal.

You can open a separate bank account devoted entirely to savings, which you do not take money from no matter what. Once your paycheck arrives, make it a habit to immediately set aside a fraction for your savings before sending the remainder back home for your family's expenses.

Other financial strategies you can try include building a separate emergency fund – and we mean real emergencies, like natural disasters or hospital bills – and learning more about investment instruments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Extend what money-saving lessons you've picked up to your children by encouraging them to be more responsible with their allowance.

While physical distance may prevent you from fulfilling many of your duties as a parent, you can still be there for your child by keeping their positive growth and happiness in mind. It's important they understand that the sacrifices you make are for them. Express your love openly while still guiding them down the right path whenever you can. By showing your child how important they are to you in different ways, you can lessen the heartache that comes with working away from home.

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7 Things To Gain From OFW Life Other Than Money


To bring home money -- that's the most revered role of OFWs for their families and the country. Money for survival. Money for sustenance. Money for progress.

That's why, when OFWs go abroad, they devote their energy to only one goal: Earn money. But, be honest, we know how tiring it can be if we just work for money.

To avoid missing out on something so valuable like your time and youth while you're working abroad, here are some things we suggest that you get out of OFW living:

#1 An Open Mind

Abroad, you are the outsider. There will be a lot of things you'll never appreciate or understand if you are close-minded and intolerant of diversity.

#2 Courage

Living abroad takes you out of your comfort zones. You will need to face the battles on your own. Game face on!

#3 Discipline

Living on your own means you have to depend on yourself. Whether it's handling your expenses, controlling your emotions, or waking yourself up in the morning to go to work, discipline is key to make your goals a reality.

#4 Appreciation

Once you've been detached from the people in your life, well, that's when you realize their worth. Don't stop at that, though. Try your best to reconnect with them.

#5 Drive

Overseas living shouldn't stop you from dreaming and achieving. Be hungry for knowledge, new skills, and great ideas to take home.

#6 Maturity

Your tears from homesickness, culture shock, and adjustment can make you stronger -- if you choose to move forward.

#7 Deeper understanding of the world

Overseas life can bring you an essential lesson that, despite the obvious differences, you're more of the same with others as well.

Like any other challenge in life, OFW life should grow you to become better.

Moving overseas for a new job?

You need to prepare yourself for it. Buy Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos to learn how you can make the most of your overseas experience.