Pinay offers free rooms for jobless OFWs in Dubai



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Filipina who had gone through hard times and has become successful in Dubai has been paying it forward, offering three subdivided rooms free of rent to fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) rendered jobless by the pandemic.

 “I know how it feels to be ‘empty.’ Alam ko ang pakiramdam ng walang work, walang source of income at puro palabas ang pera,” said 36-year-old Michico Lopez Ramos, who arrived in Dubai some 15 years ago and had lived through at least three visit visas, which she had to continuously renew to be able to stay in the city while looking for work.  A visit visa has a duration of up to three months.

“‘Empty,’ as in ubos… yung tipong wala na ring mahingian ng tulong kagaya nila ngayon. Kasi lahat naman affected ng pandemic. Walang source of income yung iba kasi natanggal sa work, nagbawasan ng sweldo and what’s even worse is that continuous ang monthly bills,” Ramos, regional sales director for a marketing and media company, added.

She said rents are more burdensome, with partitioned rooms the size of a slot in a car parking lot going in the range of Dh1,000 to Dh1,200 (P13,300 to P16,000) a month.

“Mas mabigat ang rent kaya naisip ko na mag-offer ng free rent para makatulong. Para kahit papano ay mapagaan ang bayarin nila, maiwasan mag-isip, maging positive sa buhay at muling makabangon,” Ramos, who hails from Bulacan, said.

Ramos, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Far Eastern University (FEU), said she will let the occupants stay for free and start paying when they finally got a job. They will have to shoulder utilities and internet connection.

“Bibigyan ko sila ng time para makahanap ng work at pwede naman unti-unti ang bayad hanggang makaluwag sila,” said Ramos, who also holds an MBA in Project Management.

Ramos said she had been renting the three partitioned rooms in the past. “Matagal ko na syang pinapa-upahan. Naging way lang po sya para makatulong ako sa iba kahit sa maliit na bagay,” she said.

Ramos posted her announcement on a Facebook page called “Amicable Barter Community in Dubai,” a go-to platform for OFWs selling or bartering pre-loved and new items for goods and food.

“Return barter: Your beautiful SMILE only! To those who have lost their jobs and couldn’t pay for the rent, I have three partitions available. each can accommodate between two and three persons. Free stay. Just pay for the utilities and internet. You can move in right away! Keep fighting!” read her announcement, which was posted on Oct. 14 and immediately got almost 5,000 engagements.

Ramos also posted it on her FB account, which got over 60 shares.

Ramos said all three partitioned rooms, located in Al Rigga, Deira, Dubai, have been taken as of press time. “Naglilipat na sila. Yung iba, nakatira na,” she said.

Ramos said she plans to open more partitioned rooms in the near future. “Hoping po na ma-share ko din ang blessings ko sa iba. If maging ok lahat, yes po mag-oopen tayo para madami pang matulungan. Ipag-pray po natin yan,” she said.

Due to the high cost of rent, most OFWs, especially those who have just arrived in Dubai for the first time, usually take a bedspace, which costs up to Dh700 (P9,300), in shared quarters, or live in partitioned rooms.  —KBK, GMA News