A TOTAL of 44 teachers who used to work abroad expressed their gratitude to the government’s OFW reintegration program, which they said gave them a second chance to pursue their careers in the academe.
The teachers were among those who took part in the “Sa ‘Pinas, Ikaw ang Ma’am at Sir” (SPIMS) a special program of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) which aims to help returning overseas Filipino workers who used to work as school teachers get back to the classrooms.
The regional office of the DMW enlisted them to the program, in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).
DMW also distributed teaching kits worth P20,000 to the 44 beneficiaries of the SPIMS program.
Dondee Palmero, who worked as a teacher in Jakarta, Indonesia before she was forced to return home due to the Covid-19pandemic, was thankful of the DMW’s efforts.
“We are very thankful for this program. We, as former OFWs, are really delighted, and we are really privileged also dahil may programa ang gobyerno para tulungan kami [because the government has a program to help us] to reintegrate,” Palmero said.
Palmero emphasized how the program gave him the opportunity to share the experiences and learnings he had gained while working abroad with his learners, co-teachers, and the community.
“It was also a good thing that I can impart the learning I gained. We are acclimated to the different culture, we become more complete teachers dahil naibabahagi namin ang mga karanasan namin [because we can share our experiences] culturally to our clients as well as the learners,” he shared.
When asked about his plans to work again abroad, he stated, “Maybe it’s a sign from God that I have to stay here… This opportunity gave me the privilege to be with my family, so I’d rather stay here and continue working to serve the Filipino people like our learners.”
With the assistance received, he said that he would use it to buy some teaching materials and equipment that he could use in his teaching and share with his co-teachers.
Palmero is a full-time teacher at Mulig Elementary School in Toril, Davao City.
Similarly, Janice Luvinia Baluyo, a single parent with three children, is thankful for the SPIMS program of DMW, saying that she would not enjoy what she has achieved now if not for the program.
Baluyo recalled how hard it was to secure a teaching position in a public school in her locality. She shared that she attempted to apply twice; however, all had little chance of getting hired and securing a permanent teaching position.
With responsibilities on her shoulders as a single parent, she decided to work abroad. She worked in Kuwait as an in-house tutor for 15 months.
However, months later, she did not expect to be given a teaching position from her last application at a public school in her locality. Being employed in Kuwait, she had no choice but to reject the offer.
Baluyo recalled how her life turned upside down when she got ill while working in Kuwait. With no one to ask for help, she bravely reached out to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait, which led to her repatriation to her hometown in Davao City.
She said that her return to Davao with no work opportunities was her lowest point, until her friend, who is a teacher in Thailand, told her about the DMW’s SPIMS program.
She said the program’s quick response to her needs put her at ease. The program paved the way for her to get a permanent teaching position in her locality.
“Pag-abot na ko diri gipapili dayon ko’g school (When I got back here, I was asked to choose a school. Thanks God, because of the program, wala kaayo ko naglisod magpa rank (It was not so difficult for me to be ranked,” she added.
Baluyo said she considered herself “blessed” because of SPIMS.
At present, Baluyo teaches at Doña Asuncion Hizon Elementary School in Barangay Pampanga, Davao City.
For Rens Origenes, a teacher in Thailand for seven years, SPIMS is a blessing to all OFW teachers who have returned home and want to serve their communities permanently.
Like Baluyo, Origenes tried several times to apply for a teaching position at a public school in his locality, but all yielded little to no chance of getting hired due to the small number of teaching positions with several applicants.
However, when he returned home during the pandemic and with the help of SPIMS, his application for a teaching position at a public school in his locality was easy and quick.
“I was immediately given an item after the school selection process,” he shared in the vernacular, adding that their salaries and benefits were processed quickly too.
Presently, Origenes is teaching at Ula National High School in Tugbok District.
DMW-XI Regional Director lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad said the program is one way for the government to express gratitude and delight to the returning OFW teachers for their resilience in carrying out their duties overseas and for returning to their communities to serve.
“It’s our way of telling you that we want to take care of you because we want you to take part in caring for everybody in our community,” Librado-Trinidad told the teachers, as she acknowledged their sacrifices in returning home to serve their communities.
“There are comforts and perks when you were outside, but for you to decide to come home because you know that you can do better in your communities, you can better the communities in the Philippines… So we value you in that respect, and we value you when you were former OFWs who decided to come home to serve your respective communities,” she said.
Librado-Trinidad believed that returning teachers have so much to offer to their learners and communities.
"When you came back from your respective posts, you brought with you the experience that no one can ever have, and that experience that you can share with your students," she said.
Although returning abroad to work again is the choice of every OFW teacher, Librado-Trinidad said that the government will respect that right and continue its obligation to protect them while working overseas.
She said that the teaching kit given under the SPIMS program is to address their teaching needs and to enhance their teaching capabilities.
The program has already served numerous returnee OFW teachers since its implementation.
As part of the national reintegration programs, DMW ensures the successful reintegration of the returnee OFW teachers while being efficient and effective in their duties as teachers in their respective communities.
The SPIMS program is still open for OFW teachers who have returned to the country and those who wish to return to the country and decide to work here permanently. PIA DAVAO