In pursuing to become an official expat is a personal choice of mine and a complete risk. I never thought fate would play with me in a most tremendous way.
Few weeks ago, I was so ready to board in a 7am plane flight schedule to India via Malaysia. Days before that, I secured my employment visa thinking that was the only thing I need to have to get back. Securing the visa already cost my original flight to be moved the following week as I fail to have it on the second business day since the process.
Still, it was released within BLS’s 3-4 days process.
After a few days, I dedicated myself into buying pasalubong. At the dawn of January 19, I became sleepless mainly because of the exhaustion out of packing and purchasing pasalubongs. Yep, I literally had lechon, dried fish, Filipino groceries along with my personal things and baby clothes with me. I never mind as I just “thought” to take a sleep and rest while aboard in plane.
That remained, however, to be just like that- a thought!
Upon arrival, the security guard told us about something I never had knowledge about when he knew I had my employment visa with me. That’s it, he was talking about the OEC or Overseas Employment Certificate. Clearly, I was so clueless I dismissed his idea and proceed on checking queue.
While on queue, I could see auntie and her grandson waiting for me until I checked-in my luggages. That’s where my nightmare started.
The staff of the Malaysian Airlines asked my passport and I “proudly” presented to her my employment visa- explaining I just came back to have it done as according to my agent and me employee, Indian government’s rule stated that one should be back on the country of origin.
To my surprise, she called her supervisor.
The supervisor now took her place. He told me I should have secured my OEC before the flight schedule as it is “primarily” required from all expats. Again, I rebutted telling me that EV was the only thing required from me by my employer and that no one (agency / employer) never told me anything about it before. But he resisted I wouldn’t have my luggages checked in because I would still get in trouble with the immigration should he let me in.
To my desperation, I instinctively messaged my sister and by then, my mind was all clouded by confusions.
How could I be so dumb and clueless?
How could they afford to send me back to my homeland without knowing Philippines’ expats regulations?
How could our own government be the first to put us into these countless hassles and inconveniences when they proudly referred us expats as “Modern-day Heroes”? Big BULLSH*T!
Never contented about the supervisor’s explanation, we went on the POEA booth located at the waiting area. Still it didn’t help as I was not yet registered as an official expat. He referred me to POEA and made comments about few requirements I need to fulfill- including medical certificate and other clearances. My hope was back when he told us that it would only take three days to get the OEC.
Despite all the assurances, I just knew at that time that flying back was impossible. My sister urged me and I had my way back to the supervisor. Speechless, he referred me to the immigration officers. Of all their lectures about security and blah blah, one thing instilled on my mind.
“I never wanted to give you a lesson, but since you were already there, you should have worked your way and get your visa without going back to Phillipines”, she said. I told her I wasn’t allowed to work with my tourist visa, quietly unaware of what she’s supposed to mean. I insisted I will have my visa once I get back but they backed me down. Defenseless, I decided I would work on it instead of fighting knowing I never stood a chance to win.
So here’s the naive one, willing to obey all the regulations she never thought would be so “hellish”, practically inconvenient and incompetent.
Going back, I took a short nap before going to POEA. Thank goodness, I had the best social support with me, cheering me from the airport and constantly available to reach.
I was so optimistic by then when another expat aficionado told me about how it goes. Hell, it was really hell. Not only did the staff missed my concern about missing my flight for the second time (Oh God, failed at customer service already) and wanted to have it done the soonest possible, all they do was to give me all those “effin” requirements that’s not even irrelevant. Painstakingly hassle was all I could say. What’s worst, you can’t do two things at the same time. I can’t have my PDOS (Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar) while waiting for that verified and authenticated contract or atleast the clearance because it’s required for PDOS as well.
I went outside the building with all those tears flowing and aimlessly walking down the footbridge. It dawned on me on that day that I just didn’t missed my rescheduled flight, but also the possibility of being not able to get back at the time when my sister would deliver her baby. It all happened and I didn’t care as much regardless if I had to cry near the escalator inside the nearest mall.
I urged myself, of course, with the words from my guardian. I went outside and that’s when I knew there was a chapel under the famous EDSA Shrine. I took my way and cried the hardest upon finding a seat.
After some kind of relief, I ended my day without defeat by fulfilling my medical clearance. Securing a medical clearance should be done on an accredited POEA and DOH medical institutions.
When I reached home, I reread the lists of requirements.
The way it should be has to have your employment contract verified by the POLO (Phillipine Overseas Labor Office) and authenticated by the Philippine Embassy. This will then be presented to the POEA staffs so that they can proceed for DOLE Clearance. The clearance is at most two weeks to process so it is highly suggested you can have PDOS for the meantime. You can also check for your names at POEA website.
Using the verified and authenticated contract at hand, you will be endorsed to OWWA for Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar which normally takes about two hours from 9-11 am, Mondays through Thursdays. Some workers though, are required for TESDA depending on your nature of job.
After getting cleared, you will now have to submit your medical clearance, PDOS certificate, the original contract in red ribbon to POEA together with an insurance payment (around Php 3000) and OEC fee for around Php 6000. Alas, your OEC is coming your way.
It was indeed a long journey and I’m halfway through it. I instantly became the agent’s pain as I constantly sent him my request, almost every single day and burst out of anger whenever the documents were not delivered on the promised date.
As much as I let my self be consumed with my anxiousness, I spent most of the days getting to know the people where I stayed in a deeper level. I’m thankful for their hospitality, care and thoughtfulness. I wouldn’t deny there were sleepless nights, however, I’m trying the hardest to get over it because I know, my angels are waiting for me and a whole lot of determination is all packed up to get it through – all for the goals.
For someone out there, this is the reality of an expat. I hope this article will turn out to be true. Make everything as convenient and as competent possible for those so called “Modern-day Heroes”.