MANILA – For many Filipinos and their families, the thought of receiving something “imported” often comes to mind when a relative goes overseas to work.
Burn Gutierrez, founder of OFW Usapang Piso and Angat Pilipinas Coalition, said the “pasalubong mentality” afflicts many OFWs.
“Hindi masama if you send money, if you send state-side products to your family, to your loved ones. This is good because you let them feel you love them despite the distance,” explained Guiterrez.
But he believes that before an OFW buys the things on the family’s wish-list, he or she must first ensure their future–financially.
“Mas importante na you prepare for the future of yourself, and your family. Yung pagpapadala naman can follow. Mag-ipon ka muna, magtabi ka for your emergency fund. After that, then that’s the time that you shower goodies for your family,” Guiterrez said.
Guiterrez was recently a guest on ANC’s On The Money and discussed the common mistakes of OFWs when it comes to money.
He noticed that an OFW tends to do a lot of spending–both for himself or herself and his or her family–to beat homesickness.
“Every payday, end of the month, punung-puno yung mga remittance centers ng mga boxes and all this. And then when we interview them, ‘Meron pa ba kayong natira sa sweldo niyo?’…actually utang pa nga daw,” he said.
Guiterrez is privy to the problems that most OFWs face as he himself is one.
“Since I am an OFW myself in Saudi Arabia, I’ve been seeing a lot of Filipinos going through a lot of financial difficulties in spite of having large salaries as compared to what they’re having back in the Philippines,” he said.
Many Filipino workers and their families still need to be taught financial literacy so they can plan ahead and save before their contracts expire.
He shared that they have been conducting seminars and coaching sessions on financial literacy in various countries, but more cooperation, both from the government and other sectors, are needed to really make an impact.
“So I think there has to be some push also from other segments of the society, especially from the government, lalo na yung mga embassies natin. It’s good that some embassies are supporting us already,” he said.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD
He, however, noted that even with financial literacy coaching, old habits die hard.
“May problema pa rin sa mind-set, sa culture na gusto kong kumita agad ng malaki, o pinoprotektahan ko, siguro yung ibang paniniwala nila na “I should protect what I earn so ilalagay ko sa alam ko lang at yung whatever I receive na information from others despite na alam ko na, in spite na alam natin na experts sila, ayaw nilang gawin because of fear na baka mawala ‘tong ano, yung kakaunti na kinikita nila,” he said.
He said that many Filipinos still lack a sense of stewardship.
“They did not realize that they are just stewards also. I think another thing that’s lacking among many Filipinos yung sense of stewardship na ‘what we’re earning, what we have, however small, however large it is, galing sa Panginoon yan.’ So you have to take care of it at gamitin mo responsibly para sa mahal mo sa buhay, for your future,” Guiterrez said.
In the end, Guiterrez believes that the family, too, plays a big part in saving for the future.
“I think kailangan ang OFW rin at ang pamilya back home should communicate constantly, at pagplanuhan nila. Di pwedeng OFW lang nag-iisip ng pag-iipon. The family, the spouses, the children, should also work and must be involved in planning their finances. Kaya it would be very effective kung nag-cocommunicate on this matter,” he said.