According to Philippine Airlines (PAL), an Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW is defined as a person from the Philippines who is living and working in another country, usually on a temporary basis. This comprises land-based and sea-based/seafarers OFWs, as well as families traveling with at least one OFW. Meanwhile, non-OFWs refer to Overseas Filipinos returning to the Philippines, including non-OFW students, balikbayans, tourists, etc.
OFWs are considered modern-day heroes due to their significant contribution to keeping the Philippine economy afloat since 1980. The Philippines is one of the top five economies in the world receiving the highest remittances, wherein it places fourth after India, China, and Mexico, followed by Egypt. Remittance inflows have been on a rise over the years and can be a big benefit to an OFW’s investment on real estate properties, such as Bria Homes affordable house and lots and condominiums.
However, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the migration and return of OFWs have encountered growing setbacks and posed numerous challenges to employment, income, and remittance. In accordance with the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of OFWs in 2020 was an estimated 1.77 million, which was lower than the 2.18 million in 2019. In terms of remittance, the total was 134.77 billion pesos or about 86.91 thousand pesos per OFW, which was lower than the 210.40 or 106.62 thousand pesos per OFW in 2019.
Two years later, the Philippines’ economic recovery is forecast to grow faster than expected, as a result of the relaxation of COVID-19 mobility restrictions, the COVID-19 vaccination program expansion, and the reopening of face-to-face classes nationwide. A rebound in investment and household consumption can also be observed, amidst the rapid increase in inflation rates on basic commodity prices. As of February 15, 2022, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported a record-breaking $34 billion last year on OFW remittances, accounting for 8.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and supporting the recovery further.
Due to the pandemic, travel policies and other requirements may change frequently. For more information, you may visit the PAL’s article here. To OFWs returning to the Philippines in the next few months of the year, the following summarizes quarantine guidelines in 2022 and the first things to do when coming home as an OFW.
Effective February 2022, the color coding of countries of origin, categorized into red, green, and yellow, will no longer be applied. Following the resolution by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, the entry process and protocols will depend on your vaccination status, classified into two types of passengers:
- You are considered FULLY VACCINATED if it has been at least 14 days since you received your second shot of a two-dose vaccine or one shot of a one-dose vaccine. Your vaccination status should be verified independently by Philippine authorities upon arrival.
- NON-FULLY VACCINATED includes those who are completely unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. This also applies if your vaccination status cannot be independently validated or unverified by the authorities.
If you’re traveling with children who are below 12 years old and cannot be vaccinated, the protocols of the accompanying parent or guardian shall apply. As of December 2021, minors who are 3 years old and below with no symptoms are exempted from taking the RT-PCR test. On the other hand, if he/she has symptoms, the usual testing and quarantine protocols shall apply.
I. Fully Vaccinated
a. Present proof of full vaccination, either World Health Organization (WHO) international certificates of vaccination and prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, or a national state/digital certificate of the foreign government.
b. Present negative RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to departure or negative antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
c. No facility-based or hotel quarantine is required.
d. Self-monitor for symptoms until the 7th day from arrival.
II. Unvaccinated, Partially Vaccinated, Unverified
a. Present negative RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to departure or negative antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
b. Undergo facility-based or hotel quarantine until the release of the negative swab test results.
c. Take a swab test on the 5th day.
d. Self-monitor for symptoms until the 14th day from arrival.
e. Local government units (LGUs) and respective barangay health emergency response teams of their destination are tasked to monitor arriving passengers undergoing home quarantine.
First things to do when coming home as an OFW
You are highly encouraged to confirm the requirements with the offices of your place of origin and destination. Follow the updated guidelines, register in advance, and pre-book hotels to avoid inconvenience, and experience a faster process upon your arrival.
1. Listen to the briefing conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard.
2. Before you disembark from the aircraft, submit your health declaration form and undergo a temperature check conducted by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).
3. Follow instructions to lead you to the designated waiting areas, where you can fill out the required Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Project Care slip.
4. Clear with immigration and submit your arrival card.
5. All passengers must proceed to the OWWA desk for processing, including non-OFWs and foreigners. Present the One Health Pass (OHP) QR code and submit the Project Care slip.
6. Claim your baggage at the carousel. Go through the Customs Check to submit your signed Affidavit of Undertaking and accomplished Customs Form. Lastly, exit the terminal.
Take Note: For vaccinated passengers, you can arrange your own pickup, while unvaccinated passengers will be picked up by a shuttle/bus to transport them to the designated hotels for the 14-day quarantine. For concerns, OFWs may contact the following OWWA 24/7hotlines: Metro Manila: 1348, Regional: (02) 1348, International (+632)1348, and Tel No. 8891-7601 to 24.
At the Quarantine Hotel (if required)
Check-in at the hotel and wait for your RT-PCR test schedule. The scheduled test may be postponed the next day or at a later date due to any unforeseen circumstances, such as typhoons or a change in stricter community status, among others. Please be reminded that DAY 1 starts on the day you arrive in the Philippines. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., dry cough, loss of taste/smell, shortness of breath, etc.) before your scheduled test, kindly inform your hotel so that a medical or BOQ officer can check up on you immediately.
When you test positive, the BOQ will transfer you to a designated hospital for medical assistance. If you test negative, on the other hand, the result and quarantine certificate will be released within 24 hours from your swab schedule. You are allowed to check out only until the negative test result is released. Once cleared, contact your relatives to pick you up and bring you home. Complete the 14-day self-quarantine under the monitoring of your LGU.
Going Home and Investing in One
OFWs choose to sacrifice their career in the Philippines and work tirelessly out of the country to give their families a better life, even if it means being far from them. Their remittances give them the opportunity to raise the standard of living for themselves and their families. One of these is the financial capability of OFWs investing in their home of choice, which is what Bria Homes provides with a diverse portfolio of horizontal and vertical housing projects across the Philippines. They also allow other property investments that would help our hardworking kababayans a safe and stable source of income, if they decide to come home for good.
Written by Gianne D. Inumerable