Filipinos like me don’t realize how much Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has done to the thousands of Filipinos seeking greener pasture in this oil rich region. Many are lucky, some were unlucky. Successful OFW returnees were able to buy properties, build house, own businesses, become investors, provide good education for the children and others. All of these we called “Katas ng Saudi”.
But yes! It is true that some of us are not doing well working in Saudi Arabia, like all the other nationalities does in every other country. Broken families after long separation, workers rights were violated, some went home abused, maltreated and worst arrived home in a box. Other says the main concern of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia is the cultural and religious differences. However, we can’t argue that we don’t have any other choice but to keep coming back in this desert land rather than building lives at home in poverty.
Nevertheless, this country gives hope to thousands of Filipinos dreaming for a good and better future at home. Though, there are reports of abuses, maltreatment and contract violations in this country, majority of Filipinos are satisfied of their job, salaries, benefits and emotionally focused on their lives. And mostly those Filipinos working in the Kingdom for a long time found out that most of our perceptions about the Islamic world have another side of the story. It is just like saying “the mistake of one could not be a mistake of ten”.
On the other hand, the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very proud hosting Filipinos in their country. I remember an article in Arab News and Okaz, (English and Arabic) popular newspapers in the country cited that Filipinos are “highly skilled, hardworking and get along well with people” a contrast actually with other nationalities, who do not possess the same qualities we have Filipinos. This is simply the reason why Saudi companies like to employ Filipinos because we are known for our eagerness to do a certain job and we are honest dealing with clients and most of all – we respect time to deliver a job.
The present administration should make a concrete move to establish comprehensive bilateral labor agreements with the host country that will clearly focus on the protection of OFWs, the issue of contract substitution and Filipina Household Workers on the issue of maltreatment and abuse.
We can’t just deny that majority of OFWs loved this country and consider it as second home. You have to be here and learn these things yourself. In my 16 years as an OFW I realized that Saudi Arabia is a unique country with many facets that most of us do not understand. It is an opaque culture, conservative in nature, fiercely proud and protective of its culture and religion.
To my fellow OFWs in KSA, maybe life will not turn out to be as what we planned. I know some of you are worried about the outcome of your plans and your life while working in the Kingdom. Learn to live with disappointment, but remember that disappointment does not have to endure. Keeps on praying and never stop praying as well as never give up, because in every road – it offers a way to opportunity.
To my host country, WE are your visitors, WE are your humble workers, WE are your servant, Your wish is our command BUT our emotions alert us when natural human need is not being met, so please give us and treat us what we deserve.
On behalf of the Overseas Filipino Workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; WE are so thankful to Allah for having blessed us working in this country; to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, the Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, His Royal Highness Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier, and the people of Saudi Arabia, thank you for giving us (OFWs) the opportunity to be of service to the Kingdom and WE wish you a “Happy Celebration” on the occasion of the Kingdom’s “NATIONAL DAY” (September 23).