Another Philippine Embassy Story

The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi is such a drama house.

To be fair, I acknowledge the hard working staff who go out of their way to provide excellent service to us. I understand it takes super powers to cater to the rising Filipino population in the UAE.

Yet, I cannot recall one time being there without feeling frustrated, disappointed or bad about myself or another person. A complicated process that requires me to come back (not just once but countless time), an unreasonable fee or an additional document (not advised earlier) – all these I can somehow endure. But a rude staff who pretends to be all-knowing, that’s another story.

Today, I cut work 2 hours early, took a taxi (paid over 140 AED back and forth) and went to our Embassy to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

When I got there, they refused to give me an OEC because my visa was under my husband’s sponsorship. I was told that technically, I am not an OFW because of my visa and for some reason, they made me feel bad about it.

Were they under the impression that I am a lazy wife living off my husband’s salary? They stressed that if something bad happens to me in this country, I get no help or benefits.

Oh please. I know people who are properly documented and have paid their dues for years, and in the end still do not get their benefits from the government.

I explained to them that they issued me an OEC for my trip home a year ago while I was under the same visa and there were no issues or questions raised at that time (see image above).

The lady in the counter then asked me to present my labor card. I told her I had no labor card. She smirked and in a not-so-nice tone told me that was impossible.

“Imposible!” she smugly said.

If this was a comic book, you would see gigantic puffs of hot air steaming out of my ears. Lady, just so you know, the flag-carrier of Abu Dhabi does not issue labor cards to their employees – that includes me and a thousand more.

Then she asked me to present my contract. I told her I did not carry my 10-paged contract with me because the last time I applied for an OEC, I was not asked to present it.

I told them they shouldn’t have given me an OEC the first time so I know my case and standing. This was so confusing because I have an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership certificate issued by the same embassy exactly a year ago.

Sadly, I have witnessed a lot of Filipinos being bullied like this. If they aren’t well-informed or if they do not know their rights, they have no choice but to walk away in defeat.

I refused to back down because I didn’t want all my preparations and efforts to go to waste. I took all the courage left in me and headed upstairs, hoping to talk to a higher authority to clarify my situation.

After waiting for so long, the assistant of our Labour Attache was kind enough to explain that it was better for me to pay the travel tax and terminal fee back home rather than showing my non-working visa in contrast with an Overseas Employment Certificate.

In my last trip home, I had an OEC with the same husband’s visa and I was able to exit the Philippines in a breeze – no questions from immigration. Why the inconsistency?

This is just one of the many cracks in our processes and systems.

It saddened me that I am not considered an OFW simply because my company allows employees to work under a spouse visa.

All my remittances that helped the economy of my country goes unrecognized. And if I die here, my body may not be transported back home just because of confusing legalities.

It is one of those days when I wish I wasn’t born in a country with government services that consistently crush the Filipino pride in me.

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22 thoughts on “Another Philippine Embassy Story

  1. Hello!
    I have also a husband visa, I’m pregnant and going to deliver next year April. i want to pay my Phil health in Philippine to use for my delivery but my friend told me I’m not OFW and the Phil Health will not accept my payment as an OFW and can’t avail the Phil Health to be use when I’m going to have my due date. Is that true? If its like that then i don’t know what to do now coz I’m paying my Phil Health for whole year when i had my company visa and my payment is updated and its just because I’m a husband visa now and want to use my Phil Health for next year now i can heard that I’m not OFW and cant avail the Phil Health? SEriously????

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  2. Im on husband’s visa at kababalik ko lang bakasyon last week. 2 consecutive years na akong umui ng walang OEC. I was asked to pay Php 1,650.00 travel tax at ang advise nila sakin next time kuha daw ako ng marriage certificate at OEC ng asawa ko pra kunti nalang ang bayaran ko.

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  3. Hi there,

    I don’t know where else to post this but I cam across this website and I am sure someone will pick this letter of complaint up.

    Let me start with I visited the POLO Dubai office few days back because I HAD to, I am going for vacation back to MY or must I say OUR own country (lat time I went back was years ago) and I have to admit my experience has been horrendous! To be honest, it’s one of the reasons that puts me off going back, it’s unbelievable – the effort for the sake of AED 10 for OEC and AED 92 for OWWA, for a piece of paper! like seriously? Tell me its it normal to get there at 6am and finish off at 3:30pm? Is it? ask yourselves that.

    To add to the embarrassment, they let you fall in line like a refugee camp would, though thanks for the information and effort but we are not a noon time show. We are all ADULTS, we understand what falling and being in line means. That’s the sad thing about Filipinos, we love to be LOUD, like a Marketplace. I have been observing the whole 9 hours of waiting I had to do there and I thought to myself, is this the Philippine consulate of Dubai? Is this really the image we want to portray to foreigners? to our country back home? this type of image?

    During the announcement, they gentleman who works at the consulate even mentioned that they are under staff and we all need to adjust to them and their efficiency of work, fine, we get that BUT then that is not our problem. The consulate should SOLVE IT, under staff = hire more people to help us ALL. The people at the consulate to reduce their burden of serving 400 people a day and for us OFWs to get in and out of the consulate happy and actually get back to our day jobs! You do realise that w e have day jobs and to spend a whole day for this is just unbelievable. Mind you, whole day off our annual leave.

    Clearly there is something wrong with the operations team or management, and it should be looked into. Obviously, there are many exchange centers that take payments for certain government entities like this (i.e PAG-IBIG). Why not do the same with this? Though, I agree it wont be easy ans it will take time (as always) but sort out what we currently have now. The system of how to get things efficiently done. 20 people per batch are being served and it needs an hour to do so. When it was my turn, I noticed because there were 1 counter for each entity, no wonder. Also, we are still relaying on paperwork, lots of it (it does not help the environment by the way), all manual – c’mon we can do better than that. Those forms, inform people that they are available online to save time. There are many ways of tweaking the system especially in Dubai where we are exposed to high-tech systems, etc.

    Another point, we clearly appreciate the help you bestow upon our “kabayans” that you house at the consulate and I am sure they can help with ushering the day-to-day activities within the office. But please do so give them proper training – not shouting. We are all foreigners here no one is above anyone. I must say we were treated like kindergarten and it’s humiliating.

    Many Filipinos are aware of the current situation but a typical Filipino – very timid wont say anything merely to CORRECT what is WRONG, surely we can if it’s for the better. Someone has to act on it and someone probably like me should say something because the other Filipinos who has to go to this process wont say a thing!

    Few months back I was very impressed of the passport system and I spoke highly of it, how easy it was and convenient even collecting it, people were oozing with smiles and personality in that division but this recent experience made me speechless and for what I had observed (9 hours waiting). Ask yourself, would you stand there from 6am – 3pm if it was you?? Normally, it would take a maximum 3 hour event with any consulate.

    We are the only country who does this to our own countrymen.

    Please sort this out! We can do better! Abu Dhabi system seems to be working very well and Dubai should do too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, I am one with you in all your sentiments and I know there are a lot of us here feeling the same way. The sad thing is, no matter how much we try to voice out our opinions, there is not much it can do 😦

      The root of the problem is still the government not recognizing the growing population of OFWs in the Middle East and of course as you said, proper training and perspectives for the embassy staff.

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  4. “Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), an exit-certificate mandatory for Filipinos travelling home”..

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I may have misunderstood the above statement.

    OEC is NEVER mandatory for pinoys travelling home. It is a certificate that proves you’re an OFW and therefore exempts you to pay travel tax and waives the airport terminal fee when you travel back to your work countries from the Philippines.
    You can always go back and get your OEC from POEA branches. Problem is not all cities and provinces in ‘pinas have POEA office. Instead most of our kabayans who cant have access to POEA, including me, endure a harrowing experience to dropby our beloved PH embassy just for a piece of paper..

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  5. Hi,

    Im also under husband’s visa and presently i don’t work. I will be going to Pinas for a vacation. I’m just wondering do i still need to get OEC and OWWA?

    Please let me know.

    Thank you.

    Maria

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    1. Hi Maria,

      No. the embassy only gives OEC and OWWA to Filipinos with employment visas. You won’t have any problem back home because you’re sponsored by your husband. You just have to pay all the taxes 🙂

      Happy trip!

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