Saturday, November 3, 2007

NOTE on Big-Spending OFWS

Guess what? I am back in my beloved paper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as a contributing writer. Although I'm in business now and had recently resigned as an investigative reporter, I have accepted the invitation of my friend Gerry Lirio to write for the Global Pinoy section of the Inquirer.
I have accepted the offer because I love writing and there is no pressure in this job -- I can write whenever I want and whatever I want to write. And like my businesses, the materials I write is developmental stuff and not the destructive type of writing I have gone fed up with. In this section you will read about positive news, accomplishments, commentaries or advises on how OFWs should lead their lives and spend their hard earned resources.
And so I am sharing to you my first feature that appeared in PDI recently. I hope my advice would be of help to all of you with friends or relatives who are OFWs. Feel free to share this feature with your friends because it also shows satti's humble beginnings ...

How my wife saved her earnings from Kuwait
By Armand NocumINQUIRER.netLast updated 03:41pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007
“LET’S KEEP THIS FAMILY together even if we have to sell taho.” This was the pledge my wife Ann Sahi-Nocum and I made when we decided that she would quit working as a nurse at the Al-Jahra Hospital in Kuwait in 1997.
That was the time our eldest child Arriza was growing up with my brother’s family in Zamboanga City and becoming more isolated from us day by day, having grown attached to her adopted family.
Born in Kuwait, Arriza was just two months old when Ann brought her to the family of my brother Joey and his wife Edel.We found the arrangement convenient because it allowed Ann to work for five years abroad.
And what a five-year ordeal it was! We were a family living in three corners of the globe — I in Manila, Ann in Kuwait and Arizza in Zamboanga City. To say they were pain-filled years for us is an understatement.
But was it all worth it?
Because we opted to live a frugal life, we earned the notoriety of being the “stingiest” in a clan with lots of spendthrift OFWs.
Saving up was not easy when most of your relatives expected you to give money on every occasion and every imaginable emergency situation.
While others gave out gold necklaces, watches, shoes and hundreds of dollars, we gave cheap perfume, chocolates and a few peso bills.
While other OFW families lived in rented condos and apartments, I stayed in a rat-infested rented room originally built as a dirty kitchen. While other OFWs were buying cars, I was reporting for work in my beat-up 175 cc DT Yamaha motorcycle.
It was a joke in the family that in her five years abroad, Ann only bought me a watch, a ring, a necklace, perfumes and three music compact discs. One couldn’t point then to any electronic appliance in the house brought home from Kuwait.
Fortunately, those days of sacrifices paid off. Ann has invested and prospered in the used-car business, with outlets in Zamboanga City, Quezon City and Edsa near Robinsons Galleria.
We now give our relatives gainful employment in the Satti Grill House food outlet we opened in SM-Fairview Food Court not long ago. And we are set to employ more with the opening of another Satti outlet on MH Del Pilar, Manila next month.
One-day millionaires
I still feel a twinge of pain whenever I read about surveys showing that many OFWs spend their money on frivolous things and continue to live like one-day millionaires.
It’s ironic that the OFW heroes who prop up the Philippine economy do not experience true and lasting economic uplift in their lives.
OFWs should be reminded that the more they engage in wanton spending, the longer they’re keeping themselves trapped in their overseas jobs.
What use is their money if, by the time they retire from their work abroad, they’re too old and debilitated to enjoy life? If they discover upon their return that their children had grown up and were living their own lives, virtual strangers to them? This was Ann’s and my biggest fear.
I have friends who return home with a jaw-dropping array of stereos, pianos, cameras and other gadgets, but after about three months, they start selling them, having run out of money. I have another friend, a teacher, who made it a habit to buy those gadgets at half the price. So guess who’s the wise one, the local teacher or OFW?
In my book, the worse crime we Filipinos inflict on our OFW relatives is turning them into milking cows. I have noted with amusement how many family members—including the extended ones—tend to become afflicted with some sickness after a relative lands a job abroad.
It seems salary grade abroad is inversely proportional to the health index of the family members they leave far behind. Feigned sickness, it seems, is a very effective way of making an OFW fork out money. That is depressing.
Say no to solicitations
OFWs and their families should learn to say no to unnecessary solicitations. If not, they should at least be careful in screening out requests for financial help to see whether they’re real, legitimate or a sham.
They’re not helping their relatives any if by being abroad, they have turned them to hopeless sloth living on their generosity.
In our case, we really tried to explain to our relatives that they have to cut us some slack as we start life anew, promising that when we do succeed with our plans, we would give them bigger and more meaningful help.
Again, we are the few lucky ones. There are many OFWs out there who return home broke, mangled, raped or in body bags. Those who survive serious ordeals return to poverty and find their families fallen apart or have forgotten them.
Apart from saving up, they should also work hard at making good investments in land or businesses to hasten and cushion their return. On Ann’s part, she had seen so many friends retire from work with lots of money; only to return abroad a year or two later because they ran out of money or their business investments had gone wrong.
Until now, when Ann looks at Arizza all grown up, she can’t help but wonder why a mother like her left Arizza to relatives at the tender age of two months. Those exciting baby years when she first smiled, uttered her first word and started taking her first baby steps are gone forever. We were not there to witness those baby milestones – and that’s that.
But all the pains of her OFW years only embolden us to do better in our businesses so that neither of us will have to go abroad for work again.
So, for OFWs still living the vida galante, it’s time to say the party’s over, and for serious savings to begin now.
Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
In case your curious, the picture above was taken at the Woodland Resort in Zamboanga City east Coast.

No comments:

Post a Comment