The Philippines Embassy says it is becoming increasingly concerned by the number of overseas workers who have abandoned their families back home. The embassy has been notified by the wives of overseas Filipino workers who have stopped receiving financial support from their husbands in the UAE. The embassy is investigating 10 cases which have been reported this year.

Ambassador Amable Agiluz said the trend is mostly among the low income group who start new families in the UAE. "This is a matter of great concern for us," he said. "In the majority of cases, the overseas Filipino workers concerned stop sending financial support to their wives and children in the Philippines once they start a new family here.

"The case is registered with us after we receive a written complaint from the victims in the Philippines, but there are instances when the wives come all the way to the UAE to settle their problems."

He said overseas Filipino workers should realise that their main purpose of seeking employment away from their country is to provide better standards of living for their children before starting a new family.

"One of the main causes leading to the abandonment of families is the separation of young couples. In the Philippines we still believe in the concept of extended families so, when men go to work overseas, they are often tempted to get involved and do not hesitate to get themselves a new family.

"But in such cases it is the children from their wives in Philippines who get hurt most. "We try to settle the matter outside court as it is a very personal matter and we only act legally when the affected wives come to us with a court order from the Philippines for financial support from their husbands who have abandoned them.

"When the request comes to us in the form of a court order we take the matter up with the UAE Ministry of Interior which takes steps to cancel the passport of the husband working here."

Overseas Filipino workers who spoke to Gulf News cited the lack of emotional support as the major factor that prompts them to start new families in the UAE. Valeriano Santiago, 29, said he contemplated starting a new family in the UAE despite having a wife at home. "Honestly speaking, I used to get really lonely when I first arrived here. It used to be really killing for me when I used to see so many couples enjoying themselves.

"I miss my wife and kid and was really contemplating getting a new family, but after giving it sensible thought, I came out of it. The thing is I come from a broken family myself and I did not want my child to grow up in the same environment and feeling bitter. Secondly, I was assured that with the kind of salary I receive I would be able to sponsor my family.

"This trend is nothing new. It is part of our lifestyle back home. Legal separation or divorce is not an option for us. It is very difficult to achieve," he said. Another Filipino who is facing a separation case filed by his wife in the Philippines said, "Men, despite being married, carry out serious affairs with other women. So once outside the country, the idea of getting a new family can naturally take shape.

"I am facing separation from my wife for something that I did in Manila. This does not mean that I do not love my wife and children. I convinced my wife to come here and stay with me, but it did not work out as she did not expect to find a job suiting her qualifications. Once I get my divorce I will never marry again. I've had enough."

Omar Lomongo said, "It is not always a case of abandoned families. Wives panic when they do not hear from, or fail to receive financial support from, their husbands overseas. They automatically reach the conclusion that they have been abandoned.

"For instance, in my case I have not been in touch with my family for quite some time now. I do not send any financial support either. This is because I am facing problems of my own out here which they fail to understand. Whenever I hear their voice over the phone I get homesick. I will contact them once I clear my problems here."