How overseas Filipinos keep themselves safe during the pandemic

Thousands of overseas workers have either lost or are at risk of losing their jobs as many businesses in the hospitality, services, and food industries are affected by social distancing and lockdowns–causing many to scale back, if not close down operations.

This means that for overseas Filipinos who still have jobs in their countries of work, staying healthy and COVID-19-free is crucial for their families’ survival and well-being. Not surprisingly, our OFs are very conscientious when it comes to guarding their health and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

Masked and covered

For OFs who are not working from home due to the nature of their work and industry, wearing masks or even gloves, and in some instances even face shields and goggles, in order to stay safe. It goes without saying that Filipino healthcare workers are using even greater protection with PPEs (personal protective equipment).

OFs working in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan say they had an easier time adjusting to wearing masks or gloves . This is because these countries already have a culture of wearing masks even when there’s no pandemic. It’s simply become second nature to citizens in these countries to wear masks as a way to protect themselves from respiratory illness.

On the other hand, Filipinos in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE states had to adjust to the new normal of wearing face masks since this practice is new to these territories.

Home quarantine and beyond

Some Filipino professionals overseas have the option to work from home and so apart from hygiene practices, they follow quarantine practices that limit the time they spend outdoors. These practices include:

1) Making transactions online. Whether for banking, shopping, or food deliveries, Filipino professionals overseas are shifting as many transactions as possible through the internet;

2) Minimizing travel. They go outdoors only for essential business that can’t be done online. Usually this is for buying essential supplies at the grocery or supermarket. OFs who share living quarters with others take turns going out to minimize everyone’s exposure;

3) Learning new skills. This is also protection against one effect of the pandemic: job insecurity. Overseas Filipinos, knowing how volatile work situations have become, are using online resources to learn new skills not just for self-improvement but for greater marketability.   This is prudent in case they later need to find another job, set up a small business, or go into consultancy.  

Mental health and resilience

Overseas Filipinos are experiencing anxiety, fear, or even depression during the pandemic. In order to cope, they turn to two things: prayer and social support from family and friends.  They report that they pray constantly for their continued good health as well as protection against COVID-19.  They also pray for their loved ones in the Philippines, so that they are also spared from infection. Prayer brings them relief.

Overseas Filipinos also report that nowadays, they get in touch with their families and loved ones as often as they can.  Thanks to the internet and video chat, their loneliness and fears are eased when they see their loved ones are all right, and are able to converse with them.  One overseas Filipino from Singapore also gave this additional tip: “Encourage those who feel hopeless. Remind each other that there’s God and He will deliver us from evil and sickness.”

BDO Remit is one with all overseas Filipinos in finding ways to make life easier during the pandemic. BDO Remit’s own frontliners in remittance offices in the Middle East, Canada, Hong Kong, and other countries work tirelessly to ensure that remittances get to families of OFs reliably and on time.  As this video shows, Filipinos can, and will always, find ways to overcome great distances to bring hope and joy to their loved ones.