To Those Who Discriminates Their Own: New and Experienced Overseas Filipino Workers


noun – /dɪˌskrɪmɪˈneɪʃn/

  • [uncountable] the practice of treating somebody or a particular group in a society less fairly than others

Recently, my posts are mostly focused on my New Zealand experience. I’ve been working as an RN since late last year, and I think I’m really glad to be part of a great team in a trauma healthcare setting. Yes, there are few racial discrimination events but that’s just due to Coronavirus, minimal bullying (inevitable) and less drama.

Furthermore, I live in a city where most of the residents are students with different nationalities because of Otago Polytechnic. So, in Dunedin, you will not just find students with different ethnicity but colleagues too, which of course, will make you feel welcomed and excited.

But of course, there will be a few that are not so thrilled to meet you.

You will encounter people who will make you feel discriminated because you’re a newcomer judging from your accent and how you speak. But then again, we also need to understand that this does not apply to all. 

Someone told me a story about a fellow Filipino RN she worked with. My friend was a new RN and she’s has been staying in NZ for less than a month now. She got assigned to a unit where two nurses will look after 12 patients. So initially, she got excited since she will be working with a fellow Filipino senior RN, but after hearing how she spoke and how she’s not even noticing her existence made her feel uneasy. She felt awkward and got annoyed because she was not talking to her casually. But after checking on all the patients and chatting with some of the doctors, she started talking to my friend asking her how’s she doing and all.

It was a short talk, but the senior RN made sure that they will not have any problems with their patients and guided her since she was a new RN. She doesn’t speak Tagalog while at work but chatted using our native language outside work with her friends which I think, was very professional. She has been working in NZ for a long time and she didn’t do anything harmful, it was my friend’s choice to be intimidated and misread the situation which she felt bad after.

So, after hearing my friend’s story, I began to ponder on the discrimination of Filipino towards another fellow. How common is it? I asked some of my friends who’s been staying overseas,

“Do you agree or disagree that some OFW discriminate newcomers?”

And here are some of the interesting answers, some of them have been working overseas for a long time. I’ve put their length of stay and the country.

(8 months) Christchurch, New Zealand – Disagree. “Of all the people, veteran OFWs should understand the situation of the newcomers because they were once new as well. Discrimination, in any context, in my opinion, is immoral. One must welcome everything with an open mind and judge based on relevant experience and evidence. Also, empathy.”

(8 months) Thames, New Zealand – Agree. “Thing is, if they had a bad experience when they started, there’s a chance that they will treat them like how they were treated or they can make the decision to become a better person and do the opposite which is being good with newcomers. I cannot generalize every OFW of being like that but I am aware that there are people like them in this society. So, I guess it would be unfair to label them as a whole and generalise everyone.”

(1 year) Dublin, Ireland – Agree“Nangyayari yan. Kung paano sa pinas ganun din sa abroad. Feeling nila naka angat angat na sila sa buhay. Madaming ganyang pinoy dito. nakakatawa lang minsan.” (Yes, it does happen. Same with some Filipinos in PH, they feel like they’re better and has more than others. There are a lot of Filipinos like that in here, which I find quite funny at times.)

(1 year 5 months) Qatar, Middle East – Agree. “Kasi gusto nilang parating na superior sila ng mga bago.” (Because they want to show new OFWs their superiority)

(2 years) Auckland, New Zealand – Partly agree. “Based on my experience lang to ah. Depende na lang yan sa tao if magpapa-discriminate sya. So kung mahina loob mo wag ka mangibang bansa. Pero madaming OFW ang insecure tapos they spread rumours about you.” (It depends if you let them discriminate you, if you have a faint-hearted then you can’t work overseas. There are a lot of insecure OFW and spread rumours about you.)

(2 years) Thames, New Zealand – Agree. Madaming Pinoy na ganyann. Minsan mas maganda pa makipagkaibigan sa kiwi. Minsan nafefeel ko the way they talk, or sa mga gatherings ng Pinoy, they will talk about someone pero negative ung pag uusapan bout certain person. Then sa mga pinoy groups in Facebook. Tignan mo pano sila mag-usap dun. Like “wag naman kayo mag ganyan, nakakahiya etc etc” “pilipino tayo dapat hindi tayo ganyan.” (A lot of Filipinos are like that, it’s better to be friends with Kiwi sometimes. I can feel the bias with how they talk or whenever there are gatherings, they talk s*** behind people’s back. If you check Facebook PH groups, and how they chat and comment on posts feeling ashamed like, “we should not be like that, we should adapt etc,” “we are Filipinos we should not be like that etc.”)

(5 years) Italy, Europe – Agree. “Ganyan na ganyan sila dito, instead na i-lift up ka nila, encourage ka nila, wala sila pa magdodown sayo lalo na pag newcomer ka.” (They’ll pull you down instead of encouraging you especially if you’re a newcomer)

(4 years) Tokyo, Japan – Agree. “Agree kasi syempre feeling nung luma mas madami silang alam kesa dun sa bago. So dinidismiss nila lahat ng sabihin ng bago. Tapos syempre medyo idealistic ung bago vs ung luma, so syempre naiirita ung luma na grounded na into reality.” (They veteran OFW thinks they’re much clever than the new ones so they dismiss everything the novices says. Thus newer ones are more idealistic which irritates the veteran OFW who’s grounded into the reality)

(5 years) Abu Dhabi, UAE – Agree and Disagree. “Madami naman mabait, pero may iba di ka papansinin kasi bago ka. My iba pagtatawanan ka pag nagkakamali ka instead na tulungan ka.” (There are lot of nice OFWs, but there are those who will not talk to you since you’re new and laugh with some of your mistakes rather than helping you)

(13 years) Dunedin, New Zealand – Disagree. “Kasi majority naman eh they will welcome ung mga bagong ofw. And try to make them feel as welcome as possible.” (The majority will welcome new OFW and will do their best to make them feel welcome.)

(13 years) Winnipeg, Canada – Agree. Yes, they do. Mas mataas tingin ng iba sa sarili nila porket matagal na sila sa ibang bansa. Agree ako na may mga ofw na ganun paguugali dahil yun yung way nila para maiparamdam sa sarili nila at maipagyabang sa iba narating nila instead na tumulong sa kapwa tinatapakan at niyayabangan nila.” (Some think they are better than others since they’ve been living overseas for a long time, they boast about their achievements and look down on newcomers instead of helping them.)

There’s a lot more, but if I write them all down, no one will read this anymore. So, I just took the good ones.

When I was reading their answers, I began to understand that the experience differs according to where they are, and that the word “discrimination” seems vague to some that they explained it in different ways. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been working as an OFW, still, all the conversation I had with these people ended with, “being looked down depends with you if you will allow them.”

(7 months) Dunedin, New Zealand – Agree and Disagree. 

Disagree. There may be random moments that you will feel that another OFW doesn’t like you but that does not mean they don’t, it’s just that they don’t know you at all. Not because you are being discriminated but because they are also human beings, trained by their parents not to talk to strangers even if they have your favourite candies and chocolates, they need personal space too. Give them time, just like how you give yourself some time to know everybody. Where I am right now, most of my fellow OFWs are sincerely thoughtful and kind.

People who feel that they are being prejudiced against ’cause they’re new, are the racial stereotypes who are inherently being racist. People got so familiar with being treated unfairly that they think Filipinos who’s been overseas for so long are not capable of showing empathy and compassion to those who need it.

Agree. Some treat newcomers unfairly and laugh at their mistakes instead of helping them out, yeah, it might seem like a joke to some but, to the person who’s making the error, it’s not. The fear of doing something you’re not sure feels scary and uncomfortable.

Crab mentality is one of the most recognizable traits of a Filipino, and opportunists will always be around so you have to be careful. Not everyone you meet is a sheep, some are sheep in wolves clothing.

We Filipinos, are natural-born competitive individuals, we want to be on top of the class, we want to be the first one to deliver new ideas and be better than others and these thoughts cause us to dwell on our selfish thoughts and negative mindset.


To those who can read this, please help new migrants, you were once in their place. It’s hard to be far away from home. And to the newcomers, not everyone you meet will treat you unfairly, learn to trust, believe and be careful at the same time.





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