The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the most number of OFWs. For many years, and before the Saudization, it is second to the United States in employing overseas Filipino workers. They must have like us.


Have you ever wondered what your Saudi co-workers think and say about you?


I decided to ask them. This is not so much to hear them flatter me. I have to tell them right away that I have two questions:


What do you like most of about your Filipino co-workers?


What is it that you don’t like about them?


They might have their opinions about us, only that no one asked them about it. They used to think only about it, until I ask the question and pick into their minds. The good thing is no one has refused to answer nor did anyone snicker or cringe at the boldness of the question. They didn’t even ask why I am asking the question. They gamely gave their answers, the others even asking if they could go as disgusting as they could be. Hmmm.


We, ourselves have our own opinions about them. We are sometimes guilty of speaking about them in our language and giving them coded names or their position or job title in the Tagalog equivalent. (HR = Tanggapan ng tao, President = Pangulo). There are even those who use Filipino celebrities’ names (Kim-Maja-Gerald, for officemates involved in a love triangle) or tagalog adjectives, the most popular are tangkad (for someone tall), puti (for someone fair skinned), pogi (for someone handsome or someone who THINKS they are handsome) etc. These are done by OFWs not for the sake of making fun of our colleagues who could not understand us, but at time it is necessary to vent out our frustrations and who better to understand us than our fellow OFW?


It was nice enough that they agree to answer my question. So I will not be writing their names although I have quoted what they said.


Here are their answers to the question:


What do you like most of about your Filipino co-workers?


Filipinos are hard-working. They hardly complain. They just do their work. They know their roles. They know why they are here. They took their job by heart. You can see how the nurses care for their patients, regardless of their ethnicity and race.


They learn the job easily. We seldom meet one that does not meet our expectation. More often than not, they exceed our expectations.


They are professionals. They know their job. They are accurate. They do not just say things without basis. If you probe into their answers, they could easily provide basis for their answers.


They are organized at work. Because they are organized, they work fast.


They are time-conscious. Policies about tardiness do not bother them. With or without time sheets, bundy clocks, or finger scans, they come on time. They leave on time. They seldom absent themselves from work.


They are diligent workers. Once you give them the task, they will do it, whether or not you follow it up.


Some of them are really passionate at what they do and it shows in their outputs.


They are helpful. They do not hesitate to help if they know they can.


They get along well with their co-workers. They are cooperative and friendly. They have no issues working with other people, locals or expats like them.


They are happy people. They smile a lot. Even when faced with adversity, they could still manage to smile.


They are loyal. Many of them have become friends with the locals.


Most of them are polite. They respect their co-workers.




What is it that you don’t like about them?


These are their answers:


I wish they are also Muslims like us. (This answer was said complete with heart-wrenching gesture). I was dumbfounded by this remark. In the same breadth, I learned that there was also an issue in the use of toilet among Muslims and non-Muslim males that I didn’t want to elaborate here but was an eye-opener for me.


There are just too many Filipino gays. (The Saudi admitted having a bad experience with a Filipino gay).


There is nothing in particular that I do not like about Filipinos. If there is one I do not like it is subjective, not because he is Filipino.


They are sensitive. They take reprimands seriously. They sulk. Some could even be very defensive when criticized, constructively or otherwise.


Some Filipinos can really be tough. They could be impatient and rude for what could be stupid questions for them.


They talk a lot. What happens with one becomes immediately known to his/her circle of friends.


Some of them can really be moody.


You be the judge at what they say about us. I am aware we have more. They might have just held their tongue for my own benefit. Put your reactions in the comments.


The world-class worker


We are hired for our hard skills or the specific knowledge and abilities required for a particular job. But our soft skills or our ability to successfully interact with others are equally important to our success as OFWs. The people skills that we possess as globe-trotting workers are valuable to our employers. The answers to the first questions showcase why aside from our knowledge and abilities, our attitudes and character are also world-class.


The answers to the second questions are some of our areas for improvement. Some circumstances, such as religion, toilet practices and sexual orientation, may make a predominantly Muslim and conservative countries frown upon our behavior and practices. We can tone them down in respect to them. But some of our negative traits that may affect our chance for leadership position, promotion, job security, or even outdo the good traits we possess; we either leave them in our country or improve on them.


Now that we have a fair idea on how they see us, let us not take their opinions of us against them. If there are rooms for improvement, let us work on that but not to the extent that we change ourselves to please them. Rule of thumb: let us not exhibit off-putting behaviors as OFWs that would generalize all Filipinos.

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