As the world continues to transform, the concept of traditional fatherhood has taken on a more diverse meaning. While men have become more involved in their families, many still make up a significant portion of migrant workers globally. With approximately 100 million fathers working abroad and away from their loved ones each year, it’s clear that OFW dads are fulfilling evolving roles while providing unwavering support.
According to Earl Melivo, Head of Asia Pacific at WorldRemit, fathers play an essential role in supporting their families. “Mothers and other women in the family are breaking away from traditional gender roles, which has changed how households manage their finances and divide domestic responsibilities. However, we must recognize the crucial role fathers play in providing for their families, and with almost 100 million men working overseas each year, this is more important than ever,” he emphasized.
The role of fathers has evolved to include more involvement in taking care of their children and managing the household. However, for fathers working overseas, it can be difficult to adapt to these changing expectations due to the physical distance between them and their families. For instance, Jose, an OFW father who has been based in Dubai for over two decades, recently shared his struggles about missing out on significant milestones in his children’s lives. He mentions how crucial it is for fathers to be present during such critical events, like birthdays and first days of school, and how he regrets not being more present in his children’s lives.
Another OFW father, Renato, started his career as an assistant project engineer in the 90s after completing college. After a few years of working in Manila, he was promoted and then decided to take on a job abroad. With the growing demand for skilled migrant labor in various sectors across high-income countries, OFWs now have the opportunity to earn higher salaries and provide better for their families. Additionally, they can fill gaps in foreign workforces, raise the bar for OFWs worldwide, and significantly advance their careers.
Jose’s career progression from an entry-level mechanic to chief mechanic brought him success but not without sacrifices. He had to deal with severe separation anxiety since he knew he would be far away from his family for a long time. Renato, on the other hand, found ways to keep in touch with his family despite the lack of technology. They exchanged letters with photos and recorded voice messages on cassette tapes. As the internet became more common, Renato would visit an internet café wherever he was and video call his family.
Both fathers were motivated by their desire to ensure their children received a good education. “I found motivation in my children’s behavior towards their studies. Today, because of my sacrifices and hard work, they have good jobs and are supporting their families,” said Jose. Despite his absence, Renato aimed to parent his children the best way he could while away. “Don’t just focus on money. Proper communication and guidance must be valued too. Leave them with your words of wisdom and teach them good manners,” he advised.
Over the years, fathers have played an ever-changing role in the family dynamic. The traditional view of the father as the sole breadwinner has evolved to include a more hands-on approach to parenting and household responsibilities. Men are now more involved in taking care of their children and homes than ever before, breaking down gender stereotypes and taking on a more active role in raising their families.
However, for fathers who work as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), fulfilling these roles can be even more challenging due to their physical separation from their loved ones. Being away from their families for extended periods can be emotionally taxing, but OFW dads continue to provide unwavering support through their sacrifices and hard work.
Despite being thousands of miles away, OFW dads go above and beyond to make sure their families are taken care of. They work long hours in foreign lands to provide financial stability, while also making the effort to stay connected with their families through regular phone calls and video chats. They may miss important milestones and events, but they never lose sight of their responsibilities as loving fathers.