My pre-departure experience before I came to Thailand was an unpleasant one and difficult to swallow. However, I learned a valuable lesson: persistence. I believe ambition is not enough. I need action on how to follow my dreams – to achieve my dreams. Needless to say, I attempted to apply overseas a couple of years before I worked in Thailand.
The year was 2004. I was so excited. My three friends and I attended an orientation in Binondo, Manila for a promised job offer in Hong Kong Disneyland. After all, I will be receiving HKD5,000 which is more than Php30,000. It was quite enticing.
We were looking forward to it and was expected to work as a crew in a restaurant. However, we found out later there was no job offer. We failed to verify from the very beginning of the application process.
I felt my dreams and hope were gone
I still remember how the illegal recruiter came with persuasive words that were so sweet to our ears. The recruitment agency was not licensed and the people we were dealing with were not authorized by the POEA.
In other words, they were not legally allowed to conduct business transactions with applicants. Unfortunately, we already gave Php50,000 placement fee, the initial down payment. People who are looking for overseas job opportunities should be careful because they are a vulnerable target of many illegal schemes and scams. I must say any applicant needs to be wise in dealing with unscrupulous individuals and they should be aware of the warning signals of a job scam.
My colleagues and I were all frustrated. I felt my dreams and hope were gone. I don’t know how I would approach my elder brother who had financed my application. There were times I felt depressed and didn’t want to go back to the province thinking that I will be subject to gossip by neighbors.
It was a painful experience yet it taught me a valuable lesson on how to be more careful before you give your money. Financial education is the best way to address how to deal with the reality of scams and beat people in their own game of lying to others.
What happened next
My friends and I decided to explore possible solutions in order to recover our money. So, we went to Manila City Hall to file a complaint against the agency. Some people told us to file a separate case at the Quezon City Hall but my friends thought it was enough as the incident happened in Manila and not in Quezon City.
We also went to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA), and other government agencies to report what happened. We were hoping they would help us. Sometimes, I skipped some meals because of our constant travels. Despite our efforts and continuous follow-up, nothing happened. I realized how connection is important.
I guessed the bureaucracy or the system in our government has yet to be improved. I felt an overwhelming hopelessness and thought God was far away that time. Later on, I realized I can take one of two possible pathways in front of me.
Maintain a positive spirit
One was to remain bitter and let my experience haunt me for the rest of my life. The other option was to write and remember valuable lessons from that school of experience and then to move on. I decided to choose the latter.
In the midst of hardships, I didn’t know that God had a tremendous plan for my life. A few months later, I went back to missionary work where I met my future wife. I must say I was richly blessed that I met her.
Indeed, she is the best thing that ever happened to me before I became an OFW and until today. Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”
God has a wonderful plan for your life
Now I know why God delayed my plan to work overseas. He prepared a wonderful woman to be my future partner in life.
What happened to the agency? A friend of mine told me the agency ceased their operation. In the meantime, I had forgotten about working abroad but had not given up my dreams.
If you had been victimized by an illegal recruiter or being taken advantaged by people around you, do not let the current situation ruin your hopes and dreams. Take it as a challenge to move forward so you can help your loved ones once you’re financially stable.
A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney for his lack of ideas. Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and did not read until age seven. Beethoven was told at an early age that he had no talent for music. What if these people did not follow their dreams?
In many faces of adversity, resilience is a magic trait that keeps you going and approach failures positively. If you are an OFW and facing financial difficulties, don’t lose hope. Why should you follow your dreams or aspirations? Because God has a wonderful plan for your life as long as you keep trusting Him.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4, NIV.
Note: To read interesting and uplifting stories, visit the author’s blog at richlyblessedtoday.com.
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