An OFW Must Learn and Invest to Achieve Financial Independence

When a fellow investment advocate urged me to start an online movement to teach overseas Filipino workers on investing, entrepreneurship, and personal finance, I began to realize that this must be the reason why this time around God wanted me back here in Saudi Arabia.

Let me go back in time.

At the age of 23, I was already working in Saudi Arabia. It was a short-lived stint as I didn’t last for more than two years of being away from my own brand of freedom. I believed that my mission ground back then was the Philippines. Or so I thought. I was not equipped with knowledge and motivation to start life anew after being an OFW. All the money that I saved from working abroad were gone in just a matter of few months.

I organized (and produced) a couple of benefit music events that never profited. I thought it was that simple to organize an event and make money out of it to give to the intended beneficiaries. If I knew it was that complicated, I could have just given my personal money that I used to produce those events directly to the poor. Wala pang pagod. (No efforts needed).

But my deep passion for music was what drove me nuts to believe that I can still fix this. By music. A career out of it. Without discerning if a music career was really meant for me. My passion was and is still there, but now i believe it’s not just the best of my core gifts.

What happened next was my most horrible, penniless years that continued on until before I got married in 2007. I told myself I have to move up in the corporate ladder so I did my best in the workplace. I delivered results after failing a lot of times. Thanks to my friend and mentor Cecile back then for encouraging me and believing in what I can do. She eventually became our wedding “Ninang” (Godmother) when I got married with my lovely wife Monic. My friend Ana was always and has always been there for me. And most of all, my bestfriend and loving wife Monic was always with me all along and never left me despite all the bad things that were coming into our life.

That was when I also got to taste my first promotion in the corporate world. My finances improved a bit, and the bad spending habits lingered. It was also during this time that I finally realized that I need to start investing right away as time is running fast. I slowly got into mutual fund investing. But I must admit that being married is one of my greatest motivations to learn how to save and invest little by little from what I earn.

Aside from occasional overseas job offers, I was also able to receive another local job offer through a connection, one of my former clients who’s in the executive search/headhunting business. No, they did not cut my head off, fortunately. :-) I was offered to establish and lead a jewelry and watch retailing Company’s internal audit department. I served the Company for about a year.

A couple of months later, our first very beautiful baby girl came. And three weeks from the day our baby Ruru was born, Ondoy came. Devastating the houses, lives, and dreams of many Filipinos. Most especially those living in our beloved Marikina and Antipolo cities. Us included. This prompted me to finally accept this one overseas job offer in 2010. Back in Saudi Arabia. (Back to the future?)

And so here I am and so thankful to God that I am back in the land of sheiks, oil, and sand. Here is where I found more time to reflect and think about the future. The future of our baby and our retirement years. I also decided to get serious in stock market, UITF, bonds, and mutual fund investing. I allocate at least 25% to 30% of my income for savings and investment in those instruments. It was difficult during the first months since I didn’t get to bring my wife and child with me right away until about four months later. I got whopping credit card bills and loans to cover. And I still send money for my mom back in the Philippines.

But things started to get smooth as months went by. We do our best to limit our expenses to just 70% of what i earn. More than that would be considered a financial suicide. No luxury items. No high-end gadgets. No fancy restaurants for now. No unnecessary travels. No impulsive shopping. I could buy an iPhone or an iPad or a Galaxy if I wanted to. But I wouldn’t. I’d rather give that portion of money to the poor and to the community that nourishes my family’s spiritual life.

It’s not that we’re depriving ourselves with little pleasures. But looking back to what happened to me 12 years ago is not something that I would like to happen again to my wife and child. Ever.

These days, it dawned upon me that I should share the lessons that I learned from these experiences and from being an OFW again today.

I will do my best to improve my financial life, free from debt and showered with abundance. And while doing this, I will share with fellow OFWs the knowledge that I continue to gather and learn from my mentors and self-studying in all possible means.

Every OFW must learn and start to invest either in the stock market or in various funds available in the Philippines. If you are an ex-OFW, or a current one, be part of my advocacy.

My Advocacy for OFWs

A group of friends and I have been so busy the past few weeks organizing an ambitious international financial literacy drive for overseas-based Filipinos. It’s part of an advocacy of helping OFWs and their dependents become educated in matters of investment, entrepreneurship, and personal finance called OFW UsapangPiso. A forum website has been created as the main venue for free online learning. Visit and join the site here:

You can also join our Facebook group, which is actually the extension of the forum website:

We also have a Facebook page and a Twitter account that you can follow

Let us make the Philippines richer by making ourselves productive, financially-literate, and entrepreneurial.

Happy learning and investing, Kabayan!

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