Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I spent my day reviewing an employment contract. The offer is generous enough that I can accept it right away, except for very few queries.

A few months ago, I wrote about being an expat.

Life of an expat (expatriate) is defined by contracts. Term of employment can be as short as three months or if you’re lucky enough, a year or two. It could only be me but being an expat is being in a temporary setting. You’ll be leaving the country as well as the friends or the loved ones you meet along the way sooner than you think. It’s a crazy set-up but I am already used to it for almost four years.

Contracts. Will I ever get tired of reading them? I must not. They play an important role in defining an employment. Every detail written on it should be studied carefully, and before signing them you have to raise concerns and doubts if you have one.

For almost two weeks now, I am unemployed. Am I tempted to apply locally? My family and friends repeatedly ask that question and I have been answering consistently, NO! Let me tell you why. I started working in 2000 as a Production Supervisor and as a Process (Design) Engineer in 2002. For comparison purposes, I’ll base everything from the latter.

  • Original Salary (2002) = 1.0
  • After 3 yrs (2005) = 2.0
  • 1st abroad = 11.8
  • 2nd abroad = 16.6
  • Latest offer = 21.3

If I choose to work in a local company, my annual salary can be achieved in one month’s time abroad. Some may raise the issue of loyalty to one’s country but come on, engineers are way underpaid in the Philippines. Perhaps, the roles of engineers are not yet fully realized by the government and even by the companies that need our skills and services.

It’s a disheartening fact but even licensed engineers are hired through agencies. Yes, agencies meant for local employment only. And by contract too. Tsk, tsk. Sometimes I wonder why other industries could give a higher salary even to undergraduates but some engineering firms (design and manufacturing) couldn’t pay us engineers decently. Present fact is that engineers are slowly leaving the Philippines.

Design companies abroad have high demand for engineers and local companies worry about the lack of experienced engineers in the country. But who’s to blame? Each engineer looks for a chance in his career advancement and at the same time to reasonably earn enough. I heard that one local engineering firm is willing to pay returning OFW’s in dollar rate just to work with them. It’s tempting but I guess it’s a bit too late now since most engineers are aware of the opportunities that await them on the other side of the world. And why only now? Of course, these companies are afraid that no client will ask for their services if manpower and technical knowledge are insufficient.

I know that there are difficulties in living abroad, the culture differences, discrimination, homesickness, being away with your family and the likes but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, these won’t be a problem. It is much better than working locally with a very slow career progression, blame it on internal politics or politics within the company, and with a salary lower than your tuition fee.

I hope in the years to come, the government can give more focus and importance for further development of the engineering profession in the country like what it is currently giving to other professions. Or am I just not aware to any of them? LOL!

And yes, I will still choose to work abroad as an OFW, for the time being unless a miracle happens.




  1. "...there are difficulties in living abroad, the culture differences, discrimination, homesickness, being away with your family and the likes but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, these won’t be a problem."

    Well it's about the same thing anyway if you stay here in Manila. You get a 2nd, 3rd... 7th job to compensate being underpaid in your 1st job. Hence you're away from your bedroom 25/7--and yeah, the risk of forgetting your own home phone # because of extreme lack of sleep. And do we also need to discuss the multi-subcultured Filipino's favorite idealism, 'hail the rich, damn the deviant'? ;>

    Lovely photos. :D

  2. @xio, you are right. instead of working in Manila, and being away with my family, i'll take the chance to work abroad instead. hehe

    thanks :-)

  3. True indeed that life abroad is somewhat scary but rather than staying in the PI and having a job that could not support the lifestyle I deserve not to mention putting up with all the crap of the government... makes me think that being an expat seems sweeter.

  4. @mymy, yes you are right. we as engineers deserve more than what we are presently receiving. mabuhay ang mga engineers! LOL!

  5. This is such a sad situation.

    And I have learnt on the Australian news tonight that older people are leaving Australia to live more cheaply elsewhere. Their pension cannot match the cost of living. Strangely, the Philippines is one place of choice as an alternative.

    These will be expats who can never afford to return.


  6. @Gemma, its sad to hear that situation also. oh well, i think thats life harsh realities...

    thanks for sharing too

  7. A terrible situation to be in. It IS a harsh world.
    I hope things improve.

  8. Totomai,

    I understand. That same reasons and more brought me where I am now. But I still hope one day to come home. I hope Gemma's comment about old people from other countries would choose the Philippines to become their retirement country ~ I could come home and serve them if they need a filipino nurse. It is wonderful to be in my homeland and paid like I am working abroad.

    We really just can't have everything.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

  9. @anthony, yes, but i still hope it will be changed soon

    @jeques, you loved your profession much right? glad to hear that you are willing to be of service in our country in the years to come. musta ka na diyan? :-)

  10. I'm sure the experience of living and working in different countries will enrich your life as much as your pocket.

  11. nasilip ko na ito the other day, hanggang silip silip lang ang kaya ko kaya hindi pa ako nakapag-comment ~~

    and we both know, we do agree in this kind of thoughts and feelings ~~

    and what wonder me, saan ba ang magandang offer na iyan abroad? kung japan iyan eh ~~ halika na dito

    kidding aside ~~ after having kids and living here in japan for almost half of my age, the thoughts of if i can reset my life like those games, and choosed to stay there in PI ~~ ano kaya ang kapalaran ko, i leaved all my dreams behind, when i choosed to live here in japan.

    God Bless 'mai ~~ may you found the next job just perfect enough, where you should be

    sometimes we thought of earning much better, but still our dreams are left there somewhere, is it now the time for you to find a job which you really want to do, irregardless of money matters? Though if you need more money so badly ~ then mahirap nga mag-decide

  12. @stan, you nailed it :-)

    @ate moe, thanks for the word of encouragement te. if ever i will go back to japan, you will one of the firsts to know. :-)

  13. Anong agency ba ang kinocontact mo at ambilis mo makanap ng work abroad? lol

    It's kind of weird though. Engineering is one of the harder courses in my university, and then hearing that it doesn't really pay off once you get out of college.

    Would you ever consider a job here in the Philippines that pays, say, ~75% of what you would earn overseas? Or is the lower pay really that much of a deal breaker?

  14. It is a matter of priorities and perception. After all it is our choice what we really want. Teachers are paid a pittance in India. However, I still prefer to work for the under priviledged in my own country.


  15. @alvin, lol, ako kinokantak nila hehe. naku, di kaya nila magbigay ng kahit 80% dito. laging rason nila dami naman diyan na walang work

    @guatami, i admire your dedication, yeah, but you said it depends on one perception and priorities.

  16. I wish you the best of luck with employment choices.

  17. @jadey, thanks. fingers-crossed :-)

  18. I think OFWs should look at the jobs they have abroad as an opportunity to save more money and then come back to the Philippines and have their own business or something to help their fellow Filipinos have jobs or help in creating more opportunities for the Filipinos.

  19. Wow, that photo..steamy and unique and a great share. As far as your's tough, only I do wish the best for you-

  20. Love the photo! And loved living in Japan (with the military) a long time ago and would love the chance to live abroad again. PI would be lovely.

  21. I am sorry to hear of your dilemma and I hope it works out well for you, whatever you choose. I also like your homage to Edward Weston; it suits the mood.

  22. Who makes the wheels turn...?


any thoughts to distill?

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