SINGAPORE – Long Distance Relationship or LDR is a challenge to all OFWs. Before smart phones, Skype, and other advanced communication tools, for many young OFWs, it is unimaginable how the older generation of OFWs keep in touch with their families and loved ones back home.

Call cards and letters

In the 80s and 90s call cards were used to call overseas. Starting from 30 minutes to one hour, an OFW could hear his/her loved ones voice from the other side of the world. Call cards were not reliable because of intermittent signals, although it’s a brief conversation but meaningful. Three beeps would mean that the call time is about to end.To compensate the limitation from phone calls, OFWs sent letters with enclosed photos. It was very intimate because there are no “shares, likes” and emoticons unlike sharing on Facebook. Aside from letters and occasional phone calls, OFWs and their families were also voice recording their messages through a cassette player. For some who can afford to buy a video camera, they record family activities like reunions, birthdays and even funerals. And before these letters, voice and video tapes reach the recipients, it would take a minimum of one month or two of waiting.

Technology eases OFWs’ homesickness

Technology bridges generation gap. Lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother) eagerly learn new technology to ensure that they have easy access to their loved ones abroad. In 2003, technology became affordable. Laptops and desktops became a necessity to OFWs and their families. Skype was launched in the same year. It helped and continue helping to narrow down the distance. The birth of iOS and Android mobile applications, such as Viber, Facebook messenger and an improved version of Skype, made people to get connected easily. Gone are the days of limited calls and the long wait for letters and tapes. You just have to pick up your phone to send messages, do voice calls and video calls.

Presence is still important

While advanced technology is helping people get connected, physical presence is important to maintain and grow relationships.

We know stories of OFWs about the struggles with their families or with their partners on Long Distance (Romantic) Relationship. There are stories about OFWs who have extramarital affairs and even forming new families abroad. We also hear sad stories about ‘attached’ individuals (with girlfriend or boyfriend) finding new love interests in their new circles of work or maybe within the Filipino group where they became a part of. There are also stories of breakups of partners before one’s departure abroad. This is due to uncertainties of having a long distance relationship.

In the end, it all depends on each person to continue LDR. Commitment, fidelity, and trust are all they need until such time that they can be together again.

Today, there are around 10 million OFWs around the world. Imagine how many of them are into LDR and currently struggling to keep their relationship to work. Some of them are lucky to have support groups and friends who are guiding and giving them advice. But what about those who do not have supports; those who are coming home alone and no one to talk to?

With this issue and a lot more experiences in the diaspora, The Filipino Group (TFG) is coming up with series of issues confronting the lives of the OFWs.

We do not promise to give you perfect advice but we will do our best to gain useful and practical insights from our research and collection of opinions from OFWs themselves. In the coming articles, we will deep dive into different aspects of LDR. Please stay tuned!

As TFG is for OFWs by OFWs, we would like to invite our readers and followers to contribute by writing articles or by sharing opinions about LDR or any topics that we will discuss in the coming days.

Please click here to start.

Photo Credit: Mohd Faiez