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The parent-child relationship of an OFW

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As early as the 1900’s , agricultural Filipino workers were recruited to Hawaii to fill temporary labour needs in the agricultural sector, which are now known as , OFW’s. When the Martial Law was formalized, President Marcos created three government agencies to attend to the needs of what were then called Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs).

(1) The National Seamen Board (NSB) – tasked to “develop and maintain a comprehensive program for Filipino seamen employed overseas”

(2) The Overseas Employment Development Board (OEDB) – mandated to “promote the overseas employment of Filipino workers through a comprehensive market and development program,” and

(3) The Bureau of Employment Services (BES) – responsible for the regulation of “private sector participation in the recruitment of (local and overseas) workers.”

In 1978, Marcos issued Presidential Decree 1412 to “strengthen the network of public employment offices and rationalize the participation of the private sector in the recruitment and placement of workers, locally and overseas.”

Four years later, he merged the three government agencies into what is now the POEA. On Labour Day in 1982, Marcos also issued Executive Order No. 797 that created the Welfare Fund for Overseas Workers to provide insurance coverage, legal and placement assistance, and remittance services, among others.

After Marcos was ousted during the 1986 People Power revolution, President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 126 renaming the Welfare Fund into the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“The term OFW was adopted after the enactment of RA 8042, also known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. Following this, the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Overseas Workers adopted the term Overseas or Migrant Filipino workers,” according to DOLE.

The POEA said the Philippine government “frowns upon the tendency to regard OFWs as commodities, which results to undocumented workers going abroad at a great peril to themselves, in terms of human trafficking, maltreatment, and abuse.”

As of 2010, over 10 million Filipinos were residing abroad, based on the stock estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. The number includes the 1.65 million OFWS registered with the POEA. – YA, GMA News


This part of the study presents the review of related studies on the parent-child relationship of an OFW family, that assume to have an influence and impact on the child’s totality and well-being.


The parent-child relationship stability is usually affected due to the lack of communication and physical attention to each other. The cause of broken family usually starts when one of the family members leaves too long and ends up cutting out communication or is no longer consistent with communicating with his/her family. Marriages are affected as well due to the distance of one spouse from his/her partner and this usually leads to separation (annulment).


1. Broken family is highly prevalent in the Philippines, usually starting with spouse separation. 2. Philippines have the highest rate of Overseas Contract Workers, and also have a high rate of divorcee/annulment.


This study intends to discover and find out more about the experiences of OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers’ adolescent children and what are the perceived effects of having OFW parents as adolescents, how do they characterize their relationship with their parents, and how do they cope with the situation of not having a physically present parent. This study may give findings on what truly affects and result of a family with a one or two members working abroad. It can also explain why families break or separate (maybe the lack of proper foundation; spiritually) and how prevalent it is in the Philippines.


The study was done within the premises of San Jose City and its residences. Four families in which two families are already residing permanently while the other two as boarding students or is living with his/her relatives for the meantime. We have done this in their respective homes in order to make the participants (children) feel comfortable and at the same time not convenient the families who agreed to participate. We have not used disguises or anyway to manipulate any of the families, we have made it clear to them that these interviews will be used for school purposes. With integrity and honesty we proceeded with the necessary findings.


This study involved randomly selected participant that agreed on our interview appointments. This involved four children who is currently in first grade to fifth grade (different set up) and one college student in the university setting who has both parents that works abroad for not less than twelve years. For the data gathering proper, the researchers identified individuals who msay qualify as participants, and requested for their permission to participate in the study. Each participant have clearly stated their willingness to participate in the study, this was also done for the focus group discussion and the participants were also informed about it being documented. Thematic analysis was used to make significant deductions from the qualitative data that has been transcribed.

In thematic analysis, a concept is chosen for examination. In this case, the concepts that have been chosen are the experiences, the effects of a parent-child relationship of the OFWs. Its analysis then requires identifying and naming themes according to the responses of the participants. At the end of every interview the researcher that has been assigned to take down notes, summarized what went through and asked the participant/s if they agreed on the data that has been collected. If not, they were given the right to raise their points and correct the researcher. This specific part of the interview was done to fulfil the requirement, reliability and validity Check, and was not biased in choosing the participant for this research. Research Design

This whole research was based on the qualitative method through series of interviews.


Upon gathering the qualitative data we recorded each interview while another of our member took down notes, in case the record wasn’t clear enough or was corrupted.


1. Acquired permission to the parents/guardians and participants if they are willing to be interviewed.

2. Did an ocular of their homes and other members of the family.

3. Proceeded with the interview, with three to four researchers together with their sound recorders and notes for documentations.

4. Referred at the state library, psychology library and consulted with the professor for further requirements and clarifications.

5. Edited the research paper carefully and data accuracy.


The results of the qualitative interviews were presented individually as the data has been analysed based on the objectives of the study. The data were thematically analysed.


According to the conducted research, we have proven that not all OFW families are torn apart due to their distance. This presents the results of the in-depth interviews conducted individually. We have observed that majority of the participants response to our questions were without hesitation and/or emotional distrain. We have witnessed that each child was properly oriented by their parents in the situation of having to work abroad, which avoided emotional failings. This children; in such a young age, was already able to build themselves in the faith and hope in God for their parents/family’s well-being. Right now we can say that they do not feel unwanted, less important or even taken for granted by their parents, as most children usually feel.

One of our participant; an eight year old boy quoted saying, “Yes, I know my Dad is working for us, to pay our school and house, we know that when he is able to save enough, he will come back.” True enough their parents’ hard work and sacrifices will soon pay off. More than their children’s need for a better education, which is the main reason for migration, parents should also be made aware of the greater need to address the emotional needs of their children. Regular communication is the key and various institutions such as the government, schools, and social groups have roles to play in addressing key issues affecting the welfare of OFW children. PARTICIPANT

(we have used alias to protect their identity)
We have five participants/interviewees that helped us conduct this research. Our participants’ ages ranges from 7-10 years old and are currently studying in a Christian based missionary school in San Jose City and a 19 year old currently enrolled in Central Luzon State University as third year college student.

Below is a list of the participants that requested to use an alias for the sake of their privacy and also by the requests of their parents/guardians.
10 yrs old
8 yrs old
9 yrs old
Blue Buster
7 yrs old
19 yrs old

Specs and Racer
They are the children of Mr. & Mrs. Collado, residence of Caloocan, San Jose City since birth. We will hide their name in the use of Skype (Mister) Mayor (Missis) in order to protect each participant in any form of violation.

Skype and Mayor met through an arrangement of marriage in their church and with both a willing heart they took each other as a covenant partner. A few years later they conceived a daughter and two years after a son. When Hot Wheels turned 4 years of age, he was diagnosed with a low red blood cell, which caused him great allergy when soya, beans and bitter gourd are eaten. With this situation his food must be carefully selected, his medications and supplements must be on time, which needed financial support. In the same year Skype decided to work in Dubai. As he left early in the morning, Racer was asleep and wasn’t able to say a proper good bye, this was the first time he left. With a sad heart, Skype pursued his goal to provide a better future for his family. Mayor was left all on her own to raise the children without her husband being with her, physically, but they both strive to raise them in the however they can.

Specs, “Yes, I get to miss my dad. And whenever I do, I get his favourite pillow and blanket and use it at night. And during weekdays we sometimes get to hear him at work, he’d turn on the Skype even if his at work. This make us somehow feel like we’re close to him. And every weekend we really get to see him and talk to him about almost anything, like school and about mom.”

Racer, “I’m okay, I don’t really miss my dad, I’m glad his working there and also someday I will work there too. Many people say we look alike, so I guess I’ll also be like him.” Then when we asked him again if he misses his dad, his facial reaction changed; serious and sincere. “I miss him very much, especially our plays (‘harutan at sabunutan’),, but im also glad his there, because when his here I always loose in our game. But I believe than God is with him and will not forsake him.”

As we observed them while answering and talking about their dad, we have seen that there is great pain from missing their dad but the hope is greater, a hope that one day their dad will come home and never leave again. They have also mentioned that in the way of having honours in school, it’ll make their dad proud of them, for him to know that his sacrifices and hard work isn’t going to waste.

Bumblebee a nine year old and only child of Mrs. Vergara, has accepted the fate of an OFW child. When he was five years old his mother left him to his grandma in Guimba, Nueva Ecija to work in Illinois, USA as a care giver. Bumblebee has never met his real father, while interviewing him we have realized that this young boy has very little knowledge about his life. So we asked permission to talk to his guardian for the story, she has mentioned that the reason why we shouldn’t ask the both about his father is that the mother have not yet told him the whole truth. We wouldn’t want to be the cause of the boy’s pain and confusion, so we decided to let him say what he knew about his life.

With a poker face, Bumblebee answered our earlier questions, “No, I have a daddy in the America, his name is M____ (NICK), and my mother got married to him already on 2012, and mommy said I will see him soon.” And after talking to him we asked his guardian who was this (NICK) and she said he was an American who got married to his mother last 2012 but soon to be divorced because of an unfortunate event. What Bumblebee doesn’t really know is that his father is a Filipino and Nick is an American and there is no way he could be his biological father. To control the situation we just let him speak his mind.

“My mom said when I turn 13 or 14 years old, I will go to the States and finally live with my dad and mom, but for now I like it here better than the States. Actually, I do not want to go to the States because I have to get injected. It’s okay that my mom is working abroad, because she is the one who is giving money to my lolo and lola and also for our house in Guimba. I do miss her but it’s okay because she always calls me through the phone she bought me.”

Blue Buster is a seven year old boy who has a younger sister that both their parents work in Korea. His Dad was a former driver in the Sudan Embassy and now working in a factory and his mother working for the First Counsellor of the embassy. He and his sister were born in Korea and came back here in the Philippines two years ago. At first it was very challenging for them to have been separated for the first time from their parents. They were intrusted under the care of their pastor’s wife and was taken cared by their cousin. Blue Buster was a cute interviewee; he seemed shy but relaxed and answered as if he was in a television interview. He didn’t hesitant to answer the question; do you miss your dad and mom? “Yes I do.” A very smart and intelligent boy, he showed us his trophies and awards after studying for only two years here in San Jose, He also mentioned that his dad was here to have gotten the awards with him on stage.

“Yes, my daddy and mommy were very happy with me when I received one of the highest awards of the year, and my daddy bought me an iPad in return of my hard work.” We listened to him with so much enthusiasm, he was clearly happy about the interview. He also mentioned that he and his younger sister would sometimes fight over the iPad his dad gave him, but even if they do, he’d still want to have another baby sister because of how cute his sister is. “I like it in my school, I have many friends. But I like it more in Korea because it snows there, but I like the food here much better. My dream is to be a business man in Korea to work as hard as my daddy”

A nineteen year old third-year college student in CLSU taking up BS in Development Communication, with both parents as an OFW in Korea with her two brothers also staying with them, she is but on her own. Her dad works as a driver in the embassy of Sudan while her mother works as a DH for a British Diplomat for almost twelve years. We have given her some questions and as we were observing her, she was simply answering these questions without any form of emotional reaction. “No, it’s not hard being away from them, it’s just a matter of getting used to it (sanayan lang). I have seen other families that are in the same situation with mine, and I can say I’m lucky, because I get to see them once a year (‘swerte ako dahil nakikita ko sila kahit papano’).”

(We have just written down the question, and she somewhat answered according to the specific questions. This was documented through notes. Verbatim)

Interviewer vs Participant

1. What do you do to avoid missing your family?
“Be in your present state”

2. Have you ever thought about following them to Korea?
“No, because I go there every summer vacation.”

3. How’s your relationship with your younger siblings?
“Normal relationship with my two brothers, but they do not like me to watch over them or even discipline them. But I miss them too.”

4. Do you have any regrets, anger, or even slight hurt to them? “No, I do not have any anger, because I always think that I’m lucky compared to the other people in my situation.”

5. Why were you left here, why not study there?
“Because when we checked the tuition fee there it is very expensive comparing here in my own country, they found that out when I was just in third year
high school, so they decided to let me study here.”

6. How often do you visit your family, and when?
“Annually, every summer vacation.”

7. What do you do as a family when you visit them?
“We usually go out, go to the Islands and other places,”

8. Where do you usually spend your Christmas and New Years?
“Here at the Philippines, but once I was able to spend it in Korea with my whole family.” 9. If there is a simple message for your parents, what would it be? “I love them, and I know that God has a plan for them to come home and never to leave again, but not yet, the right time will come.”


Key to happiness of OFW children

What is the key to an OFW children’s happiness? It all boils down to the foundation of their spiritual life. Not only will they have better understanding of their situation and gain the maturity to empathize with their parent but they will also be able to remain strong no matter what challenges their family will face. As we would like to quote in the scripture verse of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way they should go, for when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

A. That upon which anything is founded; that on which anything stands, and by which it is supported; the lowest and supporting layer of a superstructure; groundwork; basis; B. The basis or groundwork of anything:

the moral foundation of both society and religion

C. The natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests.

D. The lowest division of a building, wall, or the like, usually of masonry and partly or wholly below the surface of the ground.

E. The act of founding, setting up, establishing, etc.:

Based on the findings, the following conclusions are drawn that: 1. Not all OFW families separate, so long as the foundation of the home principles such as faith to God, moral well-being, contentment and gratefulness is properly founded in every single family member.

2. Children of migrant workers have better living conditions than their counterparts from non-OFW families.

3. They experience more monetary benefits in terms of food, clothing, education, and savings.

4. OFW children put more premium on time and attention given to them by their parents

5. Every child, regardless of their age already has the understanding of the sacrifices their parents are giving.

6. That a good environment also contributes to the child’s well-being such as, school, neighbourhood, and friends.


Reynaldo C. Lugtu Jr. teaches strategy, management and marketing courses in the MBA Program of De La Salle University, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. http://rlugtu.blogspot.com.

(Psychological Terms)
Reference Section, Psychology Book, University Library, Central Luzon State University, Munoz, Nueva Ecija

(OFW/ Martial Law) GMA-News


(Foundation) Dictionary. com
(Proverbs 22:6) Bible GATEWAY

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