So, you want to work abroad?

(It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Andy McKee. Scouring for his mp3s on my office laptop, I was able to find “For My Father” which I felt to be one of his greatest work. It’s been playing over and over (and over) out of my earphones for the last hour or so. The song has somehow encouraged me to access this blog and thought of writing creatively again after blogging mostly of videos I’ve found in YouTube. So here it goes….)

Earlier I got an email from AC, a college batchmate:

I would like to get your honest opinion....please don't sugarcoat your answers. Tell the hard facts. What made you decide in the first place to leave your own country? What are the pros and cons (apart from the already obvious), tradeoffs etc.? Would you recommend it to anybody who is thinking of trying it out....and what are the things that should be considered by a first timer? On what grounds would you not recommend it to someone.

This was not the first time that I’ve received such an email. AF, another college batchmate, wrote almost the same thing to our yahoogroup since he was in a dilemma of whether taking the risk of migrating his family to New Zealand or staying here in Manila. I was able to meet him in one of my Subway-sandwich lunches before he sent out his mail so he knew very well my responses. There was no need for me to reply since I knew that he knew what I had to say. I’m glad to tell you that AF has migrated and has been living with his family in New Zealand ever since.

So AC, here is my take on the subject….

Ever since I started working, it has never occurred to me to work abroad. I’m a person who’s easily contented. I never pursued (almost everyone’s?) dream leaving the Philippines and work overseas since I found my life here in Manila to be…well…complete. My family, the missus (then my gf), and my friends are all here. “So why should I leave?” I thought.

Then in July 2000, I decided to leave the company that I was working for back then. Finding myself without a job that I can take here in Manila, I thought about it deeply and, with a deep sigh, applied abroad: Singapore specifically. After Singapore I then worked for a few years in Malaysia. After that, I was able to find a job in Manila and I’ve been here since then.


Yup the pay was damn good. The salary that you will earn abroad will speed up your goal of accumulating your life savings. The financial part of working abroad is the greatest benefit ---except of course, if you’re a spendthrift for you will lose it all. Furthermore, the fact that your based abroad gives you a different high coz you don’t get to experience the troublesome commute, crimes, politics, showbiz gossip, etc. that Manila has. When you’re living abroad, everything seems to be safe and comfortable especially in Singapore. Working with different cultures is a great plus as well. It changes your mindset. That is, there are more important things happening in this world compared to politics and showbiz in the Philippines.


Living away from your family, friends, and loved one is a real pain if you’re abroad, especially when crisis occurs. Even when there’s the internet and budget-IDD calls, it’s no match to a handshake, a hug, or a kiss. Working with other cultures also has some disadvantages. Sometimes they’d prefer conversing in their own language so if you don’t pick up the language quickly, you might be at the losing end in meeting updates, etc. Another possible problem is the retirement part. Where do you plan to retire after your work? Note that countries like Singapore do not have welfare.

Who should I recommend it to (or not)?

I recommend working abroad to single people, those without children, to those who seek independence, to those that want to see how they will perform in a totally different setting. It is a chance for you to explore new cultures and meet different people. I don’t recommend it to people who’ll be separated from their wives or children, i.e. those that easily get homesick.

So AC, I hope this helps you make that big important decision. All the best!

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