Reyan Jose D. Acurantes, who has been working in the oil and gas industry in the United Arab Emirates for 15 years, is coming home this Christmas, amid loosened coronvirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions and an uncertain economy. 

“The crisis is still ongoing but silently,” he said of the pandemic. “I will just enjoy and think about it next year.”  

He is one of 1.83 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) making a living abroad to provide for their families in the Philippines. 

“Compared to 2019, airfare is now 20 to 30% higher,” he said. “The exchange rate has also risen to 15 to 16 dirhams from 13 dirhams … it greatly affects the spending habits of my family.” 

Total OFW remittances sent in 2021 reached P151.33 billion, higher than the P134.77 billion in 2020. 

“It doesn’t get better every year; it actually gets worse,” he said, talking about the lengthy separations that have marked his relationship with his two children. “You miss a lot of opportunities.” 

Interview by Patricia B. Mirasol. Editing by Earl R. Lagundino and Sam L. Marcelo.