FOR our current issue, we noted some relevant guidelines useful to migration experiences, particularly for Filipinos interested in migrating to the USA or Canada.

With these notable cases, we highlighted the varied relationships in migration experiences among Filipinos applying for entry to the USA or Canada or to other locations such as Europe and the Middle East. These relationships are based on common or similar backgrounds of countries with shared socio-economic, historic, cultural, political and other aspects unique to different nations.

In particular, we pointed out in our earlier column the notable effects of the United States colonial administration of the Philippines from 1899 to 1946. On the part of Canada which interestingly is the next neighbor of the US in North America its relatively close relationship with the Philippines dating only to the 1950s until the present has similar aspects with that of the USA. It is notable that for both the USA and Canada, the number of Filipino immigrants has been continually increasing and this seems to indicate that for most Filipinos planning to migrate, these two countries are the most preferred destinations today.

While many Filipinos have also migrated to the United Kingdom or other European countries, the number is still relatively small and for these nations as well as the Middle East, the large number of Filipinos in these areas are not classified as permanent resident migrants but are in fact mostly overseas Filipinos workers or OFWs who are in these countries only on contract or temporary bases.

Nevertheless, it is significant to highlight that the substantial dollar remittances annually sent by OFWs from the Middle East, Europe and several other places contribute a major part of the total remittances from Filipinos abroad regardless of whether they are permanent residents or migrants or temporary contractual workers.

Given these circumstances, we start today to focus on a number of specific issues or challenges for Filipino migrants or OFWs in various countries of the world. We have pointed out earlier that various estimates indicate as much as about 10 million Filipinos are abroad as OFWs or permanent resident migrants. This large number is a historic fact for a country like the Philippines.

A first major issue on this matter is the reality that with these many Filipinos abroad, there are understandably various issues or problems regarding their families who are left behind in the Philippines. It is notable in fact that the Philippine government has instituted several agencies and programs to provide various forms of assistance both to the OFWs, migrants and their families in the country.

This column suggests that with the many observations of problems or difficulties for these many Filipinos abroad, more efforts should be exerted for all government agencies concerned as well as private sector groups to cooperate or work together in these programs which can alleviate the difficulties involved. More particularly, apart from government offices concerned, private sector institutions or non-government organizations should be encouraged to join hands to conduct various studies or monitoring activities with similar government or private agencies in the countries abroad in order to identify various ways and means to ease the problems of OFWs or migrants in different countries abroad.

At the same time, similar coordinated efforts should also be planned and implemented to help ease the difficulties of concerned families in the Philippines considering not only the big number of Filipinos abroad but also the nearly 20 billion dollars estimated remittances from these Filipinos abroad, also available assistance should be facilitated on this historic matter to address the issues or challenges of these Filipinos who have in general earned the distinction of being so called "modern day heroes." We will discuss more specific issues on these topic in our coming columns.