By Jamie Marie Elona
In a bid to further empower overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a guidebook covering all aspects of an OFW life will be released soon.
Aside from conducting free legal seminars and consultations, Gulf Law’s Atty. Barney Almazar came up with the idea of creating the first and only guidebook dedicated to the Filipino community in the UAE to provide all the information every OFW needs to reach their dreams and make it big in the country being called as the desert of gold.
Almazar, a licensed UAE legal consultant and the director of the commercial department of Gulf Law in the Middle East, the UK and the Philippines, is the author of the guidebook “The Essential OFW Guide to UAE” that contains all information about being an OFW in the UAE – from pre-departure, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration requirements, settling in, laws, finance and investments, sponsoring a relative, up to planning for return to the Philippines.
He said it is also part of the financial literacy and legal aid support for the Filipino community in the UAE that he, and the Embassy, committed with the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), during the recently concluded 3rd Global Summit on Filipinos in the Diaspora at the Manila Hotel.
“Unlike OFW in other jurisdictions like Europe and United States, the Filipinos in the UAE cannot be permanent residents or citizens despite long years of stay in the country. Thus, it is very important for them to invest and prepare for their return to the Philippines,” he told Kabayan Weekly.
The publication of the book was formally introduced in the summit by Almazar together with Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Grace Princesa, who represented the Middle East in the conference.
Almazar said the guidebook’s contents were meticulously researched with practical approach in addressing the most common problems of OFWs across the emirates.
“It serves as a handy reference material aimed to address the five most common problems in the UAE or the 5-I’s,” said Almazar referring to indebtedness, intoxication, immorality, illegal recruitment and improper documents.
The guidebook is also a good avenue for businesses to reach the Filipino market and is highly supported by the Philippine Business Council in Abu Dhabi, he said.
Some of the practical step-by-step guide featured in the guidebook are Restructuring Loans, Requesting Central Bank Assistance, Dealing With Bank Collectors and Bounced Cheques, Getting Child Support, Resolving Employment Disputes, Investing Wisely, Setting Up Own Business, Formalities in Marrying a Foreigner, Defending a Police or Civil Case, Registering Marriage and Birth, Filing for Annulment or Divorce, Sponsoring Family Visa and Online Renewal of Passport.
He said they are planning to print 10,000 copies of the 150-page guidebook within this year.
“It will be distributed within the year, before the Ambassador leaves her post. Originally our plan is to print 500 copies as we have limited budget but we got support from groups and volunteers during the conference and they will help us lay-out, edit, print and distribute 10,000 free copies,” Almazar said.
Meanwhile, Princesa told Kabayan Weekly that the embassy is helping the Gulf Law in coming up with the contents of the guidebook.
“Iba-validate ko yung content [ng book] yung mga nagiging challenges ng mga OFs [overseas Filipinos]. . . Kumbaga nagtutulungan kami sa laman, sa technical information,” said Princesa.
She said the guidebook’s contents are based on real life experiences and based on issues that were handled by the Gulf Law, and its partner volunteer Filipino lawyers, in the seminars they conduct at the Consulate in Dubai and in the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Both Princesa and Almazar are hoping that Filipinos in the UAE will learn more from the guidebook.
“Basahin [ninyo] ng maayos. . . Isapuso at isabuhay ang mga leksyon at mga impormasyon na matututuhan dun [sa libro],” said Princesa. With reports from Kabayan Laliebeth P. Petancio