THOUSANDS of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have either lost or are at risk of losing their jobs as many businesses in the hospitality, services and food industries are affected by social distancing and lockdowns—causing many to scale back, if not close down operations.
This means that for OFWs who still have jobs in their countries of work, staying healthy and Covid-19-free is crucial for their families’ survival and well-being. Not surprisingly, our OFWs are very conscientious when it comes to guarding their health and following Covid-19 safety protocols.
Masked and covered
OFWs working in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan say they had an easier time adjusting to wearing masks or gloves. This is because these countries already have a culture of wearing masks even when there’s no pandemic. It’s simply become second nature to citizens in these countries to wear masks as a way to protect themselves from respiratory illness. On the other hand, Filipinos in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE states had to adjust to the new normal of wearing face masks since this practice is new to these territories.
Some Filipino professionals overseas follow quarantine practices that limit the time they spend outdoors. These practices include: 1) Making transactions online. Whether for banking, shopping, or food deliveries, Filipino professionals overseas are shifting as many transactions as possible through the internet; 2) Minimizing travel. They go outdoors only for essential business that can’t be done online. 3) Learning new skills. This is also protection against one effect of the pandemic: Job insecurity. OFWs are using online resources to learn new skills not just for self-improvement but for greater marketability.
Mental health and resilience
OFWs are experiencing anxiety, fear, or even depression during the pandemic. In order to cope, they turn to two things: Prayer and social support from family and friends. They report that they pray constantly for their continued good health as well as protection against Covid-19. They also pray for their loved ones in the Philippines, so that they are also spared from infection.
BDO Remit is one with all overseas Filipinos in finding ways to make life easier during the pandemic. BDO Remit’s own frontliners in remittance offices in the Middle East, Canada, Hong Kong, and other countries work tirelessly to ensure that remittances get to families of OFWs reliably and on time. (PR)