Grace Relucio Princesa is the Philippine ambassador to the UAE. She speaks about a typical day dealing with paperwork and labour issues, as well as an embassy initiative to promote financial literacy.
I always try to wake up early. I am a very positive person because I have found the purpose of my life … I am taking a Master of Arts in migration studies. Overseas migration and remittance is 10 per cent of our GDP, but there is a social cost, especially with feminine migration: families and children are left behind. Before people think of leaving they should realise what could happen, like families being broken. But there is a cultural migration. People think paradise is outside.
I usually get to the embassy about 9am, but sometimes I might go to Dubai. I look at the papers that come in, official documents from the capital Manila. People come in to see me for lots of things: consular issues, passports, visas and assistance to nationals. Labour issues connected to those who are distressed, the ladies who run away, are a challenge for the origin and the destination countries. We try to come up with a win-win approach. But it's only a small part of the overall good relationship we have with the UAE.
I do the Japanese water treatment, which is water first and then one to two hours later fruits. Lunch is fish and vegetables.
I start working again. Papers keep coming in for me to sign and I also give out memos and make phone calls. Being an ambassador is like running a small corporation, but it's fun.
It's a luxury if I stay in the office all day. I usually have to go out. I went to Ruwais recently to meet with the Filipino community. We are also doing [an initiative] which teaches trainers financial literacy in order to maximise [Filipino migrants'] earnings which helps their families back home. I also visit the jails regularly and find out why people are there … immorality cases, credit card and bank loans. There are 600,000 Filipinos in the UAE - only 1 to 5 per cent are distressed, so it's not a lot. But it takes 95 per cent of our time and resources. My aim is to focus on financial literacy so there are no disasters.
I leave the embassy.
In the evening it doesn't stop. I have receptions, which are also work. It's 24/7. My weekends are full of Filipino functions. If there isn't anything on I try to relax. I write in my diary, listen to music, watch a movie or talk to my kids. I'm a mother of five and a grandmother of one.
I read. I love to read; it's relaxing.
I go to sleep.
* Gillian Duncan