Benito Vacio

Back in the groove

How do Filipino teachers feel on returning home from teaching abroad?

Last month I shared with you my findings about the numerous reasons why many Filipino English teachers in Thailand started returning to their country, the Philippines. This time, let us see what our Filipino friends have to say after staying in Thailand for 5-10 years and for settling back in their motherland:

On returning home

"Returning home was a difficult decision to make. I had lived in Thailand for quite a time, gained a number of Thai friends and families, got used to eating Thai food, lived a pretty enjoyable life, did wonderful work in my school, and earned better than in my country, but I had to return home." - Katrina

Her thoughts and feelings are similar to someone's thoughts who will be joining the band of "home comers" next term.

"Must I go? Is there any way to stop me from going home? What if something better comes up, will it change my decision? I guess it's too late... Everything is set as planned. I can't turn back the hands of time. This is truly goodbye. I know I'll miss all my friends for several seasons but I will bring with me 10 years of beautiful memories to last ‘till my life is through" -  Lagon

"Practically speaking, going home was for the best. Because of my international exposure, it wasn't difficult for me to look for a job. Actually, my employer chose me over other applicants because of my working stint abroad. We really are in demand. In fact, a friend of mine was exempted from doing demonstration teaching when she applied because of her international experience. It is a plus factor indeed teaching in a foreign country when applying for work in the Philippines" - Kervin


"The adjustment I do now is getting used to handling voluminous paper work compared to that in Thailand where very little was done. Another thing to cope up with is lesson planning because in Thailand we had ready-made plans with worksheets and we had to execute them only. There is no problem adjusting to colleagues here because they are my own people with the same language, the same customs, and the same values." - Melba

"In my case, before going to Thailand, I filed my leave of absence but I was in constant communication with my supervisor. So, when my leave was about to lapse I decided to go back and I'm happy here now working with my own people, my former colleagues, and my former friends." - Madel

Resume Gap

"Well, there is no resume gap for me because my principal recognized my experiences abroad. Of course, except for non- education graduates (those who graduated four or five year courses in the Philippines) but due to their fluency in English and teaching experiences somewhere else, or had earned some units in education, they went to Thailand, applied, and were hired as English teachers in Thai schools. "

Employment Opportunities

"The owner of the school where I teach, happens to be the director/principal, had no hesitation in hiring me because of my teaching experience in Thailand. There are also English Language Centers, Korean Schools, and other language centers offering English enhancement courses for various clients in Metro Manila so a returning English teacher will never hunger for work.

You see, a former Thai English teacher or any teacher who comes from overseas, has an edge over others and the teacher has a lot of opportunities in our country. They are welcomed with open arms by school owners because of their exposure and their skills and abilities have already been tested abroad. So employers consider their experiences useful.

This particular teacher can be an asset to his/her school. Teachers who came as ""Balikbayan teachers" (returning teachers from abroad) based on qualifications, can become an English teacher, an English coordinator, or an English instructor in a college/university. Truly, a former Thai teacher has a lot to offer from what he/she got from Thai schools. -Edelyn

"In the Department of Education (public schools) as long as a teacher has Bachelor's Degree in Education (elementary or high school) has passed the Licensure for Teachers and willing to undergo probationary employment as a substitute, he/she can apply for a teaching position easily. The teacher can have a bigger chance if he/she gets high ranking in the district where he/she applies to. He/she can get a placement when permanent teachers take a leave or retire. He/she can be a substitute for the time being until he/ she can be made permanent because there is already an available slot. Another good thing too is that there is no more age limit for teacher applicants." -Mario

Friends and Family Concept

"Friends are friends. If the friendship is deep, the friendship can last a lifetime. But if it is shallow, this will die and distance will pave the way for them to forget each other. But with social media that are at our fingertips, parting away from friends is not a problem anymore. Even if we go back home, we can still keep in touch with our friends through facebook, twitter, line, instagram, SMS or email. In facebook, we can like, comment, share, or chat. Of course, our families rejoice because we are no longer away from them. We strengthen our bond as a family by going out together on weekends, fulfill our religious obligation on Sundays and visit our friends and relatives." - Mary Rose

Country Change

"In 10 years that I was away, a lot of changes had taken place. New business establishments had been established, more infrastructures had been built, more vehicles had crowded the streets, more people had flooded the pedestrians, more subdivisions had been opened, and more housing projects had been constructed. A lot of people had gone to church; a lot of students had enrolled in colleges or universities because their parents, siblings, uncles or aunts working abroad spent for their education. This is because we, Filipinos, have strong family ties and have valued education as an important tool in attaining a more productive and a more comfortable life. " - Melissa

Getting Back into the System

"Upon returning to the Department of Education for the item I left after I took my leave, I just continued my membership in Pag-ibig ( a must social fund that gives its members housing or salary loans to its members) and in the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) through my employer and the contributions are deducted from my monthly salary." - Diosa

"As a private school teacher, I just continued my Social Security System (SSS) and my employer did the task of remitting my monthly contributions as required by law. Of course, with my Phil Health (a medical care), I have to abide by the provisions of its policy when my dependents and I can enjoy our medical benefits. As for my unemployment allowance, I did not enjoy that. Although I paid the Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA) every time I got my Overseas Exit Clearance (OEC) every time I returned to Thailand for a vacation (now scrapped by our new president) I am not entitled to anything.

One time I called up the OWWA office for curiosity. "Will I be entitled to some benefits because I am unemployed from Thailand?" I asked. The receiving person on the phone said that there was none. "What about the contributions we made as a member?" I further asked. She said those were spent to finance overseas workers who were shipped back home because of war or calamities. She said that was the only help they could give. She advised me to undergo a livelihood training offered by them so that I could start my life anew." - Tess

Emotional Baggage

One teacher who had fallen in love with Thailand and returned to his country has this to say:

"Many months had passed but my heart was still in deep sorrow; bleeding, crying, and grieving so; for I couldn't see my friends for decades or two. I'd been engulfed by sadness and I couldn't function well. The past days, thoughts of regret filled my subconscious mind and my entirety. I thought the only way to set me free was to forget my friends."

"Missing them all was like losing my phone, my contacts and all...took time to normalize my phone habits, but with the Lord's grace, somehow, I was able to get by. Yes, I was down for a time but my friends' memories lifted up my spirit... and when the extreme grief was gone I enkindled the intimacy we shared in my thoughts. This sufficed anyway."

"In my strong attachment to them I had become irrational. I tried to savor the sweet memories I had with my valued friends in Thailand. Although it was hard to endure the pains of parting, I had to do it if it's the only way to let go..."

I hope to see my friends again in the future and when the time comes, I shall sing to them a deeper song. Farewell my friends in "The Land of Smiles". I am positive our paths will cross one day for the world is small."



The observation of Mark is what I can call partially true about Filipino teachers teaching English abroad. Of course, the lack of better opportunities in the Philippines forced them to seek greener pastures but once they got teaching posts abroad, Filipino teachers did try to work hard compared to some, not all, white ESL teachers. I used to train preschool teachers in Shanghai and Beijing. These preschool teachers were Filipinos, white people from Ukraine, Russia, South Africa and Sweden. The owners preferred to hire Filipinos although they knew that it was better for the school's marketability to hire white ESL teachers because of the parents' preferences for blonde hair and blue eyes. I understood why the owners preferred Filipino teachers. They said, and I tend to agree with them, that the Filipino ESL teachers were more hardworking, less whiny, less demanding and stayed longer. So, even though, Filipinos and white teachers might have had the same motive to earn more money, it was observed by the employers that the Filipinos performed better despite not having the native accent of English speakers. I speak English with a neutral accent and am a qualified teacher with a master's degree in English; hence, my position as a trainer. Of course, it was not nice to make someone feel guilty for slacking off or for being white since teachers just needed to do their work and mind their business and let the supervisors take care of the slackers. On a side note, I had a whiny aging Englishman who migrated to South Africa but he was responsible in making his own visual aids as required and executing my lesson plans. He was also serious about his work and not a slacker. Yes, I was the one making the lesson plans for my teachers that won't happen in the Philippines which I told him to show him that teaching in China was a lot easier than teaching in the Philippines as noted by one teacher above who now has to write lesson plans and do a lot of unnecessary paperwork. I wish the Philippines would follow this style of less paperwork I experienced abroad to unburden the teachers here.

By Judith, Metro Manila (15th January 2017)

I agree with Mark.. however... I don't think this is unique to any one nationality.. I think simply it IS how most (not all, but in my opinion, most) foreign teachers look at, assess and make decisions about their teaching positions in Thailand.

This does not (to me, at least) mean or imply that there is NO weight given to the job, students or other parties, but simply that the decision is very much driven by 'self-serving' factors first -- quite understandable IMHO -- and that other factors are given secondary/lower considerations.

By Michael, Bangkok (9th October 2016)

OK, this is NOT a criticism - just an observation...

The article is long and contains many anecdotes...

From all the people questioned about their motives for staying in Thailand or going back to the Philippines, not ONE SINGLE person has mentioned teaching! Not one person expressed a desire to stay and teach because they enjoyed it or found any value in their lives through their work. Nobody expressed any commitment to their students, schools or their employers.

EVERY SINGLE anecdote I read was a self-serving desire to make their lives better in a practical way.

Now - like I said - this is NOT a criticism, but here's the thing:

This disinterested approach to their professional lives in Thailand goes against the facade of endless commitment, supposed talent, dedication and conviction that I have been presented with Filipinos that I have met in person.

In fact - in the past, I have been made to feel guilty about being the lazy white man and not caring enough about my work by Filipinos teachers. My whiteness has even been used as ammunition against me when Filipino employees engage with Thai teachers and administrators.

So it's refreshing to have it revealed that, in the end, these people are just like us after all!

By Mark Newman, Thailand (6th October 2016)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

NES Kindergarten and Primary English Teachers

฿60,000+ / month


Secondary Chemistry / Science & Chinese Teachers

฿60,000+ / month


Qualified, NES Kindergarten and Primary Teachers

฿90,000+ / month


NES English, Science & Math Teachers

฿42,300+ / month


Full-time Native English Teacher

฿45,000+ / month


Teaching Positions at International School

฿100,000+ / month


Featured Teachers

  • Pascal

    Swiss, 43 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Meralyn

    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Nadeem

    Indian, 29 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Ruth

    Filipino, 29 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Lusa

    Zambian, 29 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Ayii

    Sudanese, 32 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot

Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!

The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.

The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.