[OPINION] I want to go home and work in my country. But how?

Popoy Los Baños
[OPINION] I want to go home and work in my country. But how?
I do not want to finally go home for good when I am near my retirement age or retired already. I want to pursue my PR career in the Philippines where I can still utilize my talents and give back to the community.

I have been living and working in the cosmopolitan global city of Dubai since 2001. For the past 7 years, I have been managing the corporate reputation of a major logistics service provider catering to the Oil Majors in the Middle East and Asia – and achieving my annual KPIs consistently.

We came to Dubai not out of economic necessity, but for a sense of adventure and to escape Manila’s traffic, flood, pollution, and crime. I left a very promising job as corporate affairs and communications manager of a big local pharmaceutical firm.

Today, it’s been more than a year that I have been searching for a major Filipino company or an MNC which could help reintegrate me back into Philippine society. And this is where I get frustrated as an overseas Filipino (OF).

I have received various responses from HR officers and executive search recruiters – from the standard courteous reply – “we have decided to pursue other candidates who are a closer fit to the current requirements of this position” – to quite painful ones. These include, “You were not selected to move forward for further interview as it is critical for the candidate to have deep roots in the country” and, “There had been plenty of reorganization in the last 18 years that you’ve been out and not quite sure where your experience will be appropriate.”

‘Minimum package’

The most disturbing reply I received was this: “We cannot afford the minimum package you are looking at.” 

The sad reality is that OFs – wherever they are based – are really stuck because there is indeed a huge disparity in income between working in the Philippines and abroad. It’s a pity, because some, or perhaps most, of those who are away from their families would really want to live and work in the homeland.

I am fortunate that I was able to afford the standard of living in Dubai with my wife and son from 2001 to 2016. After 2016, our son left to study in Montreal and later on shifted to another course in Manila. My wife and I go home at least twice a year. We both have a yearly free roundtrip air ticket, which is part of my benefits aside from free medical insurance.

Giving back

I do not want to finally go home for good when I am near my retirement age or retired already. I want to pursue my PR career in the Philippines where I can still fully utilize my God-given talents and, at the same time, give back to the community. 

I would like to be an influencer in shaping public opinion and making public policies that would enhance the standard of living of people and empower them.

To the company that would openly embrace me as a “balikbayan,” I will commit my loyalty. Aside from being seasoned in C-suite interactions as in-house PR and external counsel, my core strengths would be my wide connections in the Philippine media and the 3 branches of government despite being away for 18 years. 

You see, my peers and friends in the media are now key opinion leaders as anchors and editors. Some have become senior executives of news organizations. My batch mates from college, major in political science, are spread in various government entities and are part of decision-making circles.

I have been randomly reading articles and opinions on LinkedIn about the future of PR in the digital world. Coming from Gen X who graduated from college using the typewriter, I am slowly accepting this reality but still practicing the traditional ways of an effective PR: having good and lasting relations with journalists and opinion makers; engaging constantly with internal and external stakeholders; collaborating openly with government and civil society; and initiating programs that benefit local communities and the country at large, which are related to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I will not give up trying to search for that opportunity to achieve my heart’s desire to be able to live and work again in the Philippines. I will be there during the Eid Holidays from June 4 to 8. Just give me 15 minutes and I will pitch why I will be a great value to your organization’s journey toward business excellence and societal commitment.

Thank you in advance to those kind-hearted people who will pave the way for my eventual reintegration. I know there are many – and they read Rappler. – Rappler.com


The author has more than 20 years experience in external and internal communications, community and employee engagement, marketing communications, and special events. He lives in Dubai with his wife, Rachel Salinel, a freelance broadcast journalist. Their only child, 21-year old son Yuji, is in Manila taking up university studies. 

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