THE Filipino Migrant Workers’ Day celebration last Saturday in Bacolod City was marked with solidarity messages from various stakeholders, signifying their commitment to protect the rights of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), this country's greatest asset and contribution to the world.
Spearheaded by the Federation of Overseas Filipino Workers (FOWFs) in Negros Occidental, the event was attended by nearly 2,000 members from Sagay City, Talisay City, and Bacolod City, and some representatives from Iloilo.
Families of OFWs were treated to a fun-filled program which included various sing and dance contests. But the event mainly focused on celebrating the accomplishments of our Filipino migrants, particularly in increasing the amount of remittances that play a pivotal role in building the national economy.
Unknown to many, Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, apart from establishing the government’s responsibility to protect migrant workers and promote their welfare as well as their families’, includes a provision for the celebration of the Filipino Migrant Workers’ Day.
Then President Fidel Ramos issued an executive order declaring June 7 of every year as the date for the celebration. The Migrant Workers’ Day is also known as Araw ng Pasasalamat (Day of Thanksgiving), according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
With the bulk of earnings of our modern day heroes devoted to send their children to college, it is expected to end the cycle of poverty among families in the Philippines. In a national situation report presented, a big chunk or more than 50 percent of our migrants’ monthly earnings are allotted to school needs and college funds.
Education, indeed, is a great motivator for Filipino mothers and fathers to trade Christmases, New Years and other significant events in order to reach their goals with long-term results.
On the other hand, year after year, Filipino migrants have become younger. With a generation of young professionals and fresh graduates taking the risk of stepping outside the country to work, we can see a more stable economy that is directly influenced by global Pinoys in the future.
Moreover, apart from short-term contracts that last for three years or less, OFWs apply for Permanent Residency Status in countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Securing this status, to them, is directly securing a more comprehensive health care, retirement and educational programs as provided by these migrant-friendly countries.
Another highlight of the event was the strong message of Vice President Jejomar Binay Sr., read by Senator Nancy Binay. The Vice President has been at the forefront in helping OFWs in conflict with law abroad. Binay expressed his plans of creating local OFW offices to address concerns regarding the programs of POEA, DOLE and other foreign requirements.
In an intimate dinner meeting with OFW barangay heads and leaders, the senator took time to hear their plights and sentiments. FOFW-Negros president Salvacion Barrios expressed her high hopes for the Binays to immediately act upon concerns on scholarships for OFW children, strengthened health support and responsive foreign aids.
Together with Binay was Mayor Andrew Montelibano of Murcia, who works hand in hand with the FOFWs as an honorary member. In his message, he pointed out the conditions of overseas Filipino workers that need more attention in terms of policy making.