“IT IS time that we make our OFWs feel the essence of brotherhood that every Filipino here should make manifest. The term modern-day heroes will only hold genuine meaning if we eliminate all notions that OFWs are not part of mainstream national policies. They never were because we all know that by their act of supreme sacrifice, helping their family grow is helping the nation progress.”
“This Christmas, this month when OFWs are honored for their trials and tribulations, let’s welcome them for what they are in our hearts: a returning balikbayan so dearly loved and missed the whole year-round. Like the rest of us, a loving Filipino like no other.”
This was how OFWs were described by retired Philippine National Police Director Benjamin Magalong described our overseas Filipino workers and their plight during the OFW Global Leaders Convention held at the Venus Parkview Hotel last Friday.
He said that he has observed that the information that government has on our OFWs would seem to be inadequate in our desire to address their welfare and condition of work. In times of distress, as more often they take place, government should be able to come to them and be in the frontline of support to get them out of harm’s way.
Clearly, Magalong said, we should be able to harness and include in our computer banks enough data that will update the whereabouts and circumstances affecting our OFWs. He explained that upgrading our information sources will be a great step in fortifying strategic efforts that will promote OFW welfare wherever they may be.
“In behalf of our people in the city of Baguio, and as a private citizen, I take pride in being with you on this solidarity night which is taking place under the auspices of the OFW advocacy and reform movement.”
“Tonight, there is significance in remembering hard work and sacrifices of our OFWs. A heart-touching narrative reminds us that in these economically troubling times, we take comfort in the thought that countless families all over the country have an OFW in them that works endlessly to make them cope up in trying days.”
“Yes, he or she is the OFW who has gratefully maintained close linkage with his or her family back home. Yes, he or she is the OFW who never forgets, because of constant reminders, to send regular remittances of hard-earned dollars each back-breaking hour of their sweat-filled day. And yes, he or she is the OFW who ignored the heart-wrenching pain of being away from family, who set aside the pain, loneliness, and burden of a long-distance relationship in order to keep that family financially able to live life with even as little comfort as possible,” he pointed out.
Today, our OFWs have numbered in the millions, about five million of them just a decade ago, now hovering to about 15 million as of now. Their dollar remittances that are annually estimated to be about US$25 billion have helped much in growing the national economy, strengthening our dollar reserves, and enabling the country to march forward into economic progress.
Nowhere is this more demonstrably seen than in the communities where our OFW’s come from. Children are schooling up, struggling to ascend the educational ladder. There is food on the table, clothes on the back, and a respectable roof over shelter.
There is no doubt that a level of comfort has caught up in once poor villages, each household now proudly having the modern amenities of life — state-of-the art television sets, refrigerators, cooking implements, and other symbolic items of dreamt about comfortable living.
“Ito po and nagawa ng ating mga OFW sa ating mga kumonidad, sa ating mga kanayunan, na hindi nakikita sa pagsaliksik ng ambag na kanilang dinadala sa pilipinas, habang patuloy nilang nilalabanan ang iba’t ibang panganib na dulot ng pagkawala sa kanilang bayan. Ito po ang ating mga OFW, na tunay na makabagong bayani sa makabagong panahon ng ating pagiging bansa. Sa pagkakataong ito, ano naman po ang ating magagawa bilang tagapagmasid ng lipunan upang sa tamang paraan ay ating mapabuti ang aba at hirap na kalagayan ng ating mga bayani? From where I am, I can think of no further support than what the government can spare. While they are working hard and honest to make life of families back home a bit less harsh, government should launch social initiatives to ease their pain and suffering, and be a pro-active force in times of need. Ang nangyari sa Kuwait na nagdulot ng pangamba sa ating mga OFW doon ay tuluyan na sanang magbigay ng ginhawa sa kundisyon ng pag-tratrabaho doon. Gobyerno ang inaasahan sa ganoong mga pagkakataon, at gobyerno din ang dapat na magpamalas pa ng ibayong ayuda sa ating mga OFW, saan mang lugar sa mundo sila ay nagpapakasakit,” Magalong added.
Banner Photo: Retired Philippine National Police Director Benjamin Magalong fits a pair of eyeglasses on Lola Prisca, a senior citizen who availed of the free services offered during a medical, dental and optical, minor surgery outreach mission he spearheaded in one of Baguio’s barangays.