My Pre-vacation Preparation and Thoughts

After leaving the Philippines last March of 2015 and found myself in UAE with a career, I finally got a chance to come back home for a month long vacation.

As part of the workforce as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), I have to prepare myself for the flights, "pasalubong", and the soon to be removed Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

UAE and Work Benefits

In the UAE, there is a regulation on labour with regards to annual leaves. Yearly ticket fares are more of a company's benefits rather than a stipulation in the labour law. But, in practice or mostly, I believe the employer is responsible for repatriation and airfare after completing a contract term.

Hunting A Budget Plane Ride

Since it's my first time, I had to seek suggestions and download Skyscanner to check value airfares. Then turn to my friends who already had experiences.

Skyscanner is a very helpful website and mobile app that consolidates all known flights and gives you a sorting of the cheapest, more value, and a lot of airline options.

One thing I find as a disadvantage on this app is that they forward you to travel websites too and some websites has little to no feedback, specially the ones with cjheapest price.

There are two major Airlines in United Arab Emirates -- Etihad Airlines and Emirates. Etihad is the national carrier of the UAE, while Emirates is a Dubai based airlines, both of which earned a respectable amount of awards and standards.

Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Cagayan de Oro through Philippines Airlines in Manila. But this route didn't appeal to me, because I think my baggage will be charged extra once I ride the domestic MNL-CDO. I've never been to Manila and I'm still anxious on the "Laglag Bala" modus. Anyhow, I found a return economy flight of Dhs1800.

Emirates in Dubai seems to be the most convenient airline for my case even if it will land in Cebu and not as far as CDO. The flight is almost non-stop from Dxb, a stop-over only in Clark on the same plane. Early booking and cleverly selected dates gets you for as low as Dhs2070 economy saver return flight.

I also have considered Cathay Pacific for a Dubai-Cebu flight, which has a stop-over in Hongkong. Seems valuable at Dhs1800 return at the time of checking but the stop-over in Hongkong was a second-thought factor. Seriously, I would enjoy 12-hour lay-over with a city tour, but my friend said an immediate gate change can cause a little panic.

Therefore, and why not, Fly Emirates?

The Emirates App is so easy to use for booking and tracking your upcoming trips. I commend them for that. Actually, they are the World's Best Airline for a reason.

At Dhs2070, got an economy saver return trip, a 40-kg baggage allowance, a 7kg hand carry, and a very excited face.

How Much Wad You Should Bring

The cultural implication that as a Filipino, we must bring tons of money for our family friends and relatives, to pay the debt, bring them to a happy place, spend a million on beer and bar, shop from mall to mall. God, stop.

Who wouldn't want to, but are you capable to do so?

I've read in a blog somewhere and just to make it short, dont be a "One Day Millionaire". It's a cliche, but what you have is a hard-earned money, so save it as much as you can.

Chocolates and More Chocolates

My father may not be able to enjoy chocolates, but my relatives and friends will. So I bought a lot in Baqeer in Karama, Dubai.

I also plan to buy some gift sets of perfume from Day-to-day and some bundles of soap. Yes, typical pasalubong.

I have bought some special items for my brothers and sister too.

My Budget and Expenses (Estimate)

Airfare- Dhs2070

Pasalubong - Dhs1500

OWWA/OEC - Dhs200

This is not accurate as I have other payments to make such as advance payment for the house (UAE). I have bought other things in the past that will fill my baggage too.


I may not have shared it here, but I came to UAE as a tourist thus I was holding a tourist visa. When I was hired for a job, (like everyone will have) I was provided with a residence visa and national ID.

I called The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi to check my requirements since OFWs talk a lot about OEC.

As a tourist visa previously OR a filipino hired in UAE, FIRST we need to be registered as a member of the OWWA, then OEC will follow. But since there is a new IDOLE system, I have yet to wait for an update.



1.Original Passport with Residence Visa Stamp. VERY IMPORTANT
2. Passport copy with visa page (2 copies).
3. Contract copy (2 copies).
4. (Optional) If with Dubai visa and working in Abu Dhabi, you need to bring certification from employer or letter of designation.

These documents must be prepared regardless if OWWA membership / OEC* procurement is to be done in the Philippines. My friends brought these when they've went for vacation in the Philippines from a tourist visa to employment visa.

Recommended (from tourist Visa): Go to OWWA/Ph Embassy for verification of documents before flight.

Prepare an amount of Dhs200.

UAE Labour contracts can be requested from your HR officers or from Tasheel with your passport number.

OEC* will be collected upon leaving Philippines. If you are on a short trip to Philippines, OEC* can be acquired in Airports but necessary documents are needed.

When you leave, don't forget your ticket, wallet, Passport, and your Senses.

What to Expect

Think of less expenses and more on spending time with family. If applicable, write down an itinerary so you can spend your time well with the people you most dearly.



  1. You're giving so much thoughts into it. I would just be like "yeah let's go". I am so bad to preparing and planning. Reading your post made me realize I should actually do some planning! xx corinne

  2. your post is good guidance for others. have a great vacation back home. and yes there is never a need to be a one day millionaire. we should all understand that.

  3. I'm sure there are lots of Filipinos who are searching for job opportunities in UAE. Is the tourist visa good for 30 days or longer?

    1. You can apply for a 90-day tourist Visa if you feel you need it.

  4. Hmm, Emirates is a pretty good airlines. One thing about websites like sky scanners is that they don't always show you the best options. You might be better off browsing and searching on your own.

  5. This is important information about the choice of flights, about Etihad vs. Emirates. I have not tried either airline yet. Hope to be able to visit Dubai with my family one day.

  6. With this plan of yours, are you now ready to go home here in our place? I do appreciate what you are doing. I admire that kind of mentality, that is, to be financially mature and has the knowledge on how to spend wisely. Good luck and may you travel home safely.

  7. Both flights are expensive! Gosh! No budget at all. It must have felt good to be at home!

  8. I've taken both Etihad and Emirates and loved the services of both. Yeah, both are on a higher side, but Emirates is still costlier than Etihad.

  9. U.A.E. is one of the places I`m thinking of going for work since my family lives there. Thank you for the breakdown of some of your expenses. May I clarify that you first went as a tourist, then when you got accepted for a job, you received a resident visa? Is that correct?

    I hope to hear from you. Thank you.

    ❀ Grace ❀

    1. Yes Grace, went in as a tourist (with tourist visa). When I was offered a job, they processed me a working visa/resident visa

  10. This is smart guidance for travelers who are not yet familiar with that places. Upon reading this, i just realized that the family ties and bonding are a lot more important than the expenses. As long as you enjoyed the days you spent together with your family, expenses will just be expenses, and family will find real happiness.


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