Pinoys abroad tapped to wake up sleepy town of Bohol

MARIBOJOC, Bohol–THE explorer Pigafetta would have chosen this town over Mactan had it already sported a Hollywood-like sign on its mountain ranges.

But had this town did, it may have attracted not only Pigafetta –desperate to escape after his and Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet was pummeled in the Battle of Mactan– but also other explorers who may know only Bohol because of its famed chocolate hills.

That is ultimately what this project hopes to accomplish, according to mayor Leoncio Evasco: to lure back its former residents, or at least their resources, from abroad.

MARIBOJOC’S HIDDEN TREASURE. This Is the Postan Mangrove Forest, located in the heart of the Abatan River (where a tourist can visit via a banca ride). But this forest bares century-old mangrove trees, 18 identified species of forest mangrove trees, and nipa forests. Postan is the cherished treasure of the Bohol town of Maribojoc, whose local officials plan to make this forest an eco-tourism destination for Maribojocanons abroad.OFW Journalism Consortium Photo Service

Evasco said he has secured commitment from the Maribojoc Association USA to construct a Maribojoc billboard —similar to what Hollywood in Los Angeles, USA, has— on the side of the mountain range that faces the Maribojoc Bay.

Evasco is the man behind such project that, he said, aims to raise tourism receipts and attract investors in his town, a five-minute ride northwest of Bohol’s capital city of Tagbilaran.

Evasco said he’s starting with Maribojocanons overseas as a target market.

“We want to raise awareness to the returning Maribojocanons about the town that they left, of what it has become today, and of the values and people that were lost here.”

Evasco spoke to the OFW Journalism Consortium last month to promote the project, which will be announced during the annual town fiesta on May 5.

The fiesta is the highlight of a town-wide reunion from April 10 to July 31 called Balik Maribojoc.

Considered as one major grandiose sight in the barangay of Punta Cruz in the municipality of Maribojoc, this structure with Baroque features once served as a lookout for incoming pirates for the townspeople. This tower is composed of ground and upper floors that offer a breathtaking view of the sea facing the provinces of Cebu, Siquijor and Mindanao.

Aside from announcing the construction of the Hollywood-like sign, the reunion aims to showcase some of Maribojoc’s tourist spots.

One of this is Punta Cruz, Bohol’s remaining watch tower, which deterred Spanish pirates during the 19th century.

Punta Cruz is also symbolic for overseas Filipinos and their families in Maribojoc since it is here where the germ for the town’s version of diaspora philanthropy was seeded.

Crossing

PUNTA Cruz is a historic site for the informal, town-wide group of families of overseas Filipinos who meet in this triangular, sturdy structure almost every month.

The last gathering in October of over-300 families affirmed Evasco’s belief in the possibility of tapping OFWs as source of social investment.

People just kept coming and the seats were not enough. Municipal government employee James Mabilin, then manning the entrance of the watch tower compound, couldn’t stop the influx.

The organizers said they expected representatives of only 200 migrant families.

Seafarers waiting for their next contract bankrolled lechon (roasted pig). College-schooled children of overseas Maribojocanons hosted parlor games around the grassy complex.

Amazed at the turnout, Evasco said he donated P5,000 for additional cash prizes for the parlor games.

“We never had this kind of a crowd, coming from OFWs [and their families] in our town,” Evasco said.

The parish of Maribojoc was founded in 1768, and construction of a church started 1798 and lasted 18 years. The church is located in Maribojoc town, 14 kilometers from the Tagbilaran. The place can be reached by bus of jeepney.

Still, those who joined the gathering represented only half of the total 742 overseas workers and emigrants from this town of 18,133 people.

The figure is based on Mabilin’s census of families with dependents and relatives abroad in Maribojoc’s 22 upland, lowland, and coastal villages.

While only half were represented in that gathering last year, it failed to dampen the spirit of Virginia Alindajao, 48, wife of an electrician in Saudi Arabia since 1993.

“I never realized that we OFWs and OFW families,” she said in Tagalog, “are just around waiting to get ourselves together.”

Alindajao is also one of the organizers of Punta Cruz Environmental Organization.

When the buzzword of forming an OFW group swept Maribojoc, she signed up.

Alindajao’s euphoria was shared by Laura Manuta, mayor Evasco’s sister and a former nurse in Germany and in Saudi Arabia.

Manuta is also a volunteer nurse for the Holy Cross Parish’s medical clinic since retiring in 1997.

She’s also president of the land-based OFW family circle group called the Maribojoc Land-based Migrant Workers and Beneficiaries Association.

On the other hand, the Maribojoc Seafarers and Beneficiaries Association has the town’s agricultural officer, seaman’s wife Eva Bolasco, as its head.

Stronghold

THE stronghold of Maribojoc’s OFW population, Mabilin told the OFW Journalism Consortium, is not the remittances plowing into the town, estimated to be between P52 to 84 million annually.

It is the OFW townmates’ alayon (bayanihan in Tagalog, or community spirit), Mabilin said.

Last December, the groups recommended foregoing a town-wide Christmas party to donate school supplies and slippers to children in the town’s poorest village of Candavid.

Filipino migration-and-development analysts have remarked the potential of luring the resources and bayanihan spirit of overseas Filipinos and their families right in the migrants’ rural hometowns.

Evasco and the OFW family circles that his office, the Municipal Manpower Development and Placement Office, facilitated to organize are seeking to make that spirit transform the town into an economic paradise.

Currently a fourth-class municipality whose income in 2008 was P61.358 million, this sleepy town lacked jobs, forcing some middle-class residents go to the provincial capital of Tagbilaran City, the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao (like Evasco himself) and Manila, and overseas.

Overseas Maribojocanons’ remittances that pass by the town’s only two pawnshops, as well as banks and money transfer outfits in Tagbilaran City (some 14 kilometers from Maribojoc), are the single biggest economic drivers of Maribojoc, says Evasco.

The lack of vibrant economic activities apart from retail trade, fishing, and farming made Maribojoc a fifth-class municipality previously.

“Nothing wrong if you go elsewhere,” two-year mayor Evasco recalled telling some Maribojocanons during casual conversations, “but come back home and bring with you the ideas and experience you learned elsewhere.”

Maybe after the Hollywood-like sign facing the sea, some would mimic Pigafetta’s journey but not accidentally landing in this town whose name was taken from a pine tree named “Malabojoc”.  

by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO ( OFW Journalism Consortium)

Nasipitnon in KSA celebrates Town Fiesta

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 24  September 2009 – Nasipitnon in KSA known as NKSAI or Nasipitnon KSA, International in Saudi Arabia celebrates its town fiesta  in honor of the town’s patron  St. Michael Archangel.  The towns’ fiesta falls on September 29.

Nasipitnon-KSA, International

Nasipitnon-KSA, International

The celebration coincides the organization General Membership meeting. The group agreed a number of projects intended for the schoolchildren (4 Elementary Schools) located in the remote areas of the towns barangays and a surprise donation for the towns new library, the Montinola Information Center. The said library was a pet project of the incumbent members of the Town Municipal Council under the leadership of  the Town Chief Executive, Mayor  Roy Doyon.

NKSAI Pres. Ric Casil (glasses) & Jun Exclamador

NKSAI Pres. Ric Casil & Jun Exclamador

Current NKSAI President Ric Casil in his Inspirational Talk  encouraged its members to continue their kindhearted support and cooperation whatever the group decides for the good of their constituents  and the town in general, especially to those identified areas that really needs a helping hand.

It was also agreed by the majority of its members that the mentioned projects will be realized within the first week of December as Christmas presents to the towns schoolchildren.  

Last year,  NKSAI donated (educational items) 2 sets of 21″ TVs and DVD players  to 2 Barangay Elementary Schools located in the remote areas of  the town. 

Parlor games, sing-a-long and pool swimming were among the several activities during the event.  Prizes courtesy of  Mrs. Ivy Casil, the behalf of the group President Ric Casil.  

(NKSAI Officers) Jhun Redoble & Manny Pasinio

(NKSAI Officers) Jhun Redoble & Manny Pasinio

The organization primary objectives are;  to foster mutual understanding and unity among its members (town mates); promote, preserve and contribute whatsoever the organization decide for the progress of their hometown Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte; stimulate their interest about Nasipit, its historical- cultural heritage; promote projects geared towards improving the quality of life of the towns poorest of the poor especially the school children and instill their children desirable Filipino values and Nasipitnon strong religious beliefs and traditions.

NKSAI memberships are  composed of Nasipitnon OFW’s in Central, Eastern and Western Regions in the Kingdom.

Nasipit is located at the Northwestern part of Agusan Del Norte. The town has the major seaport in the province, the Nasipit International Port or Port of Nasipit. It is 24 kilometers west of Butuan City and is 175 kilometers northeast of Cagayan de Oro City. ###

Nasipitnon-KSA, International elect new sets of Officers

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 4 October 2008 – NKSAI known as Nasipitnon-Ksa International, a hometown organization of OFWs based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia elect their new sets of Officers and Members of the Board for the Year 2008-2009.

NKSAI is chapter group of NASIPITNON INTERNATIONAL, a hometown organization with chapters worldwide.

Nasipitnon-KSA, International was formed Year of 2007 in Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and an accredited community partner of the Philippine Embassy.

Nasipitnon-KSA, International is a hometown association with the following objectives: To foster mutual understanding and unity among its members (town mates); promote, preserve and contribute whatsoever the organization decide for the progress of their hometown Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte; stimulate their interest about Nasipit, its historical- cultural heritage; promote projects geared towards improving the quality of life of the towns poorest of the poor especially the school children and instill their children desirable Filipino values and Nasipitnon strong religious beliefs and traditions; To encourage cooperation, establish camaraderie among Nasipitnon wherever they may be. To work with the Philippine government in Saudi Arabia or its attached agencies for the protection and welfare of Nasipitnon Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and their beneficiaries.

The group donated school supplies and educational needs to remote areas of their barangays and their future project is to acquire a land and finance a construction of a subdivision in an affordable price intended for its members located in the town itself.

The following are the 2008-2009 NKSAI Officers. 

President : Enrico “Cocoy” Casil

Vice President : Manuel Amora

Secretary : Teodolo “Jun” Exclamador

Treasurer : Jerry Dela Cruz

Auditor: Marive Maturan

PRO : Alejandro “Dong” Come

Sgt: At Arms : Marlon Danuco, Marlo Rante, Garry Butch Granada

Members of the Board:

Chairman : Enrico “Cocoy” Casil

Vice Chair : Manuel Amora

Members:

Teodolo “Jun” Exclamador, Jerry Dela Cruz, Marive Maturan, Alejandro “Dong” Come, Manny Pasinio, Jhun Redoble, Emma Malimit, Dante Jaramillo, Rodger Gultiano, Gerry Espinosa, Mafe Ester Guno, Nejean Daabay, Susan Ranario 

The election was successfully conducted last October 2, 2008 during the NKSAI Nasipit Fiesta Celebration at Dong Come Residence here in Riyadh, KSA. 

Former President and founder Manuel Amora in his opening remarks was thankful to the members for their untiring support in recognition to the success of NKSAI continued undertakings for their beloved hometown. 

Certificate of Membership signed by Nasipit Town Mayor Roy Doyon were distributed during the program proper. 

The group received a text message from the Mayor and a call was made to officially recognize the new set of NKSAI Officers for the Year 2008-2009.

Hon. Mayor Roy Doyon was very thankful to the group in their concern for the good of their town mates and continued support of his leadership. 

A WARM CONGRATULATIONS TO NKSAI OFFICERS AND MEMBERS!

OFW Families in local governance

Every visit in my province when I’m home, I noticed newly constructed big houses in the countryside like in barrios or barangay that caught my attention whenever I had the chance to traveled Cagayan and Butuan. My beloved hometown in particular, I haven’t seen such nice houses in those areas way back in my younger years.

In every inquiries I made, who are the owners of these big houses? Only one common reply I’ve heard, “owned by seaman” or “owned by an ofw” or an “overseas Filipino”.

Thinking aloud lately how important the Overseas Filipinos contribution in nation building more importantly in our local economy. It’s just a simple logic, when the beneficiary receive the remittances from an OFW/Overseas Filipino, they will buy their basic necessities in the area, the local businesses benefited from it, the local government revenue goes up from the taxes derived from those acquired items, materials or properties by the OF/OFWs.

But not all OFWs (sea or land based) are lucky, some goes home empty handed and no savings at all and therefore needs help from the community or local government that once her/his remittances shared an important part in uplifting its local economic condition.

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

How can our local government or WE be of help to our not so lucky OFW returnees dubbed by our Government “Bagong Bayani”? As what I’ve said our Government Reintegration Program for our returning OFWs is just a drop in a bucket. Only very few had succeeded, not to mention that there are still requirements needed in exchange to avail such livelihood program.

What we need is a political mandate, OFW families should have a say in our local government structure or governance. We should be given a voice in determining the exact needs of our fellow OFWs and their families. There a lot of avenues we can contribute if we have the political mandate to get involve and have our views be heard for the purpose of crafting policies beneficial for our sector and social change in general.

It is about time, please join with us in our long quest for OFW/OF political empowerment.

****

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Davao Councilor Peter Lavina an OFW advocate for having been re-elected as Davao City Councilor along with newly elected Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and come backing councilors Tomas Monteverde III, Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz and Tessie Mata-Maranon, and first-termers Edgar Ibuyan, John Louie Bonguyan, Samuel Bangoy, Karlo Bello and Rachel Zozobrado.

Councilor Peter Lavina in his privilege speech during the farewell session at the City Council on the rising value of the Peso which hurts Davao’s export sector, tourism and OFW families, he said “The government has embarked on a relief plan for the exports industry with an initial $1 Million Dollar hedge fund by the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. I asked, what about the lowly OFW families?”

Daghang Salamat! Konsehal sa walang sawang suporta sa aming hanay. Mabuhay Ka!

BSP pushes sale of $1-B bonds to OFWs

BSP pushes sale of $1-B bonds to OFWs

Move can shift focus from spending to investing

THE BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas has urged the national government to offer this year as much as $1 billion in retail treasury bonds (RTBs) to overseas Filipino workers and their beneficiaries.

body_tpl_02In a report to Malacanang on initiatives to improve the environment for offshore workers, the BSP said it had taken steps together with the Department of Finance and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) “to finalize the proposed issuance of RTBs for OFWs.”

“This is aimed at encouraging them and their beneficiaries to channel their remittances to investment instruments,” the BSP reported.

The proposed issuance, targeted within the year but not necessarily in one single sale, aims to divert more OFW inflows for economic development while giving OFW households lucrative investment outlets.

“These savings and investments will help prepare OFWs for future reintegration into the Philippine economy and help provide additional funding for government requirements, including for infrastructure development,” the report said.

The offering size proposed by the BSP was based on the assumption that OFWs could set aside about 10 percent of their earnings for investments.

The issuance of RTBs also helps the BSP’s monetary policy as a way of siphoning off strong inflows from OFWs.

“For their part, commercial banks have offered OFWs specialized investment products and services related to insurance, pension and real estate,” the BSP said. “Direct payment schemes of banks are also available for the added convenience of the OFWs’ beneficiaries.”

In line with its major advocacy programs, the BSP is conducting financial literacy campaigns (FLCs) for OFWs and their beneficiaries together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“The FLCs emphasize the importance of saving and inform the participants of alternative opportunities for their remittances such as placements in financial instruments and investments in business ventures,” the BSP reported.

Based on a survey of four rural banks and one cooperative bank in the three regions where the BSP conducted FLCs, microfinance loans attributed to OFWs have risen in their areas, particularly in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.

Microfinance is the provision of small, unsecured loans to the poor to help them start their own businesses.

OFW remittances coursed through the banking system surged to $11.4 billion in the first 11 months of 2006 from $6.1 billion in 2000. These remittances boosted the supply of foreign exchange, helping stabilize the exchange rate and provided valuable support to economic growth, particularly through strong personal consumption expenditures.

Transnational Philanthropy 2

wowowee

wowowee

Watching Philippine game shows on TV is one of the alternative means of easing homesickness away from home. Being an OFW, I am hypocrite if I will not say that I am a fan of  “Wowowee” game show aired at night in KSA hosted by Willie Revillame.  I watched the show not exactly for the game, but for Willie’s corny jokes that made me smile. No offend to Willie, he is a good funny host not to mention that “Wowowee” in general helps many of our poor constituents dreaming of an instant hope.  

What actually fascinates me is the presence of TFC subscribers and foreigners everyday who contributed much for the success of the widely watch noontime TV game show at home.  And I considered that the game show is use as an instrument of God’s kindness to those really in needs. Many will disagree with me; however, if the game of chance is truly meant for the poor then it is God’s given grace.  

UFWCD Global Officers at Manila Pen

UFWCD Global Officers at Manila Pen

Indeed, God touches the heart of every TFC subscribers to share a little of their blessing to others. One time I saw a group of Filams named Filipino American Movement for Empowerment (FILAMME) shared a monetary contribution for one of Willie’s project intended for the poor people in the provinces. Others give instant cash in dollars to contestants whom they feel worthy to receive such monetary help.

UFWCD and good donations to typhoon victims in Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos

UFWCD donated goods to typhoon victims in Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos

Sharing God’s blessings to others whatever small things it maybe is a fulfillment; and heavens rewards is happiness and contentment in life. Like my previous entry Transnational Philanthropy, there are many OFWs, Filipino Migrant Workers, individuals or groups around the globe who give back something to their place of origin or lend a hand to our less fortunate kababayans.

Last year’s typhoon that shattered many barangays in Albay left many homeless; and our displaced kababayans has found a new kindhearted friends from the ranks of the Overseas Filipino Community. The group “United Filipinos Worldwide for Community Development” formerly known as “Filipinos Worldwide for Better Philippines” whose members are Migrant Filipinos/OFWs coming from South Korea, Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the globe and at home, personally visited Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos and handed out goods and other items for our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the said areas.

UFWCD handed over cash donations to the Sisters and Administrators of the Tala Leprosarium in Cavite

UFWCD handed over cash donations for our less fortunate brothers and sisters at Tala Leprosarium in Cavite

Prior to their visit to Albay, the group which is now in the process of incorporating their existence with SEC as a non-profit organization, handed over cash donations to the Sisters and Administrators of the Tala Leprosarium in Cavite.    

More power! To the Global Officers and members of “UNITED FILIPINOS WORLDWIDE for COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT” and to all Overseas Filipinos.  -BongA

To quote “The essence of giving would not sound as important unless you believed in something more important than us“.

Transnational Philanthropy

The number one trait a pure Filipino have is hospitality. Hospitality in a sense that there is KINDNESS in every heart of a Filipino.  

Many Overseas Filipino Migrants and OFWs give something back to the place where they were first molded as a responsible human being.  Some of them shared their blessings in their place of origin.  Filipino groups or individuals overseas are actively involved in humanitarian causes or development projects in their hometown.

According to expert that studied the effect of Filipino migration says that this kind of humanitarian gesture is called Transnational Philanthropy or Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy.  

Transnational Philanthropy operationally define as the process in which migrants or immigrants abroad, in forging and sustaining their social relations with their origin societies, allocate a certain portion of their remittances to fund development projects.- The Dynamics of Transnational Philanthropy by Jeremaiah Opiniano.

Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos corroborated above that says “The giving or donation of funds, equipment, skills and technology, through various means and channels, by Filipino groups or individuals overseas to humanitarian causes or development projects in the Philippines has evolved into the all-encompassing term now known as Diaspora Philanthropy”.

Anda, Bohol

Anda, Bohol

Speaking of Philanthropy, AndaBohol.Org Scholarship Program initiated by group of Andahanons in Bohol who already migrated to other countries side by side with OFWs in that area build a community that would help sustain the needs of their less fortunate constituents in going to school for their better future.

Another town in Northern Mindanao, Migrant Filipinos of Nasipit Agusan Del Norte through their web site http://nasipit.atspace.org/  also shared the part of their  blessings  back home, especially in the barrios.

Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte

Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte

“Adopt a Schoool Kid Program”, was initiated by Nasipitnons residing in United States.  The concept of the program is to provide the school kids in the remote Barangays  especially the less fortunate and deserving kids with their school supplies and needs. A gesture that help motivates kids to attend school and obtain a good education and better prepare them to be a good citizen in our society.

Linking to the place where we once belong using the resources and power of information technology is a praiseworthy move of those kind hearted people. Even in the absence of physical aspects and without faces, the heart of a kind person truly speaks and Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy will continue to live on.

Special Thanks to all Andahanons around the globe and the energetic members of the AndaBohol.Org Scholarship Program Adhoc  Committee on ScholarshipRio Makinano, Leo Makinano Lumacang, Kim Lim-Adams and Margie Amora Mills.

 Also, Special Thanks to all Overseas Nasipitnon and to those especially behind the scene;   Minda B. Rosales, Belen Lindo Ablis and Alex Eroy. 

LGU Bonds

Among the alternatives: Local Government Unit (LGU) bonds

LGU-Development Bank

LGU-Development Bank

Local government unit (LGU) bonds are a young creation, says vice president Antonio “Johnny” Villanueva of Preferred Ventures, Corp. since the first LGU bond issued was in 1999. But these have been a way for the country’s towns, cities and provinces to raise funds for needed infrastructure and income-generating projects.

LGU bonds are interest-bearing instruments that LGUs issue to finance their operating or capital cost of a special project. Ordinary people and financial institutions such as banks can invest their money on an LGU’s revenue-generating project of the LGU, which issues the bond. The LGU, explains Villanueva, in turn promises to pay the investor a specified amount of interest (usually semi-annually) and return your money (the “principal”) on a specified maturity date (such as seven years). These same LGUs have identified various priority projects that also generate needed local government income.

These include: mass housing, public markets, bus, jeepney or ferry terminals, commercial complexes, refrigeration and cold storage facilities, mass transport system, slaughterhouses, air/sea ports, eco-tourism projects, industrial estates, reclamation areas, waste disposal system, and a potable water system. LGU bonds have financed projects such as the Daraga Public Market (Daraga, Albay), the Masbate Fish Complex (Masbate province), and the Boracay Ferry Port Terminal (Boracay Island, Aklan).

There are several layers of guarantees for LGU bonds. Primarily, these are revenue-generating projects that are self-liquidating, and are subject to feasibility studies, aside from a ratings system on the financial capability of LGUs. The Local Government Unit Guarantee Corporation (LGUGC), a private guarantee institution providing credit enhancement to LGU debts, provides another layer of guarantee (LGUGC is owned by the Bankers Association of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the multilateral Asian Development Bank). When all these fail, the internal revenue allotments (IRAs) of LGUs stand as guarantees to ensure that investors will be paid.

Overseas Filipinos can be investors of these bonds as part of the secondary market, Villanueva said. He also

Economic Resource Center for Overseas FIlipinos

Economic Resource Center for Overseas FIlipinos

encouraged hometown associations of these Filipino migrants to invest in these bonds, and even determine the income-generating project that their hometown back home must embark on through their investment. These investors from abroad do not only earn from the interest, but their investment into these bonds is an opportunity for these migrants to be vigilant watchdogs of their hometown government’s performance.

Antonio Villanueva does financial advisory services to local government units through Preferred Ventures, Corp. (formed and owned by renowned investment banker Sixto Roxas).

Taken from: Overseas Filipinos and Hometown Development, (ERCOF) by: A. Ranque

AKO Muna Party List (Personal Glimpse)

Personal Glimpse

OFW – THE BEST POLITICAL ELECTORATE

2007 Election

The recent statement issued by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that the proposed NOEL (No Election) in 2007 should be scrapped and amendments to the Constitution is not the answer to the political uncertainties in our country, is indeed a clear manifestation that the Catholic Church and the Filipino people are not yet ready for a Charter Change. It means that there will be 2007 Election.

Electoral Fraud

Electoral Fraud

However, the controversies of electoral fraud is somewhat discourages us to participate in the forth coming electoral process and to set right this kind of attitude, first and foremost the current electoral system should be transformed into a credible institution that can foster voter participation. Electoral reform should be introduced; cleaning up the mess of those involved in electoral maneuverings or even overhaul the entire Commission on Election and designate new personalities that could probably win back the trust of the Filipino people to our country’s electoral processes. Only then that we could perhaps gain back the momentum of hope in exercising our right of suffrage as the fundamental nature of a truly democratic nation.

OFW Vote

Cleansing Vote

Cleansing Vote

Many friends asked me why I am so involved with the OAV, my answer is very simple, “I want to exercise my basic right as a responsible Filipino by casting my vote”.

Why OFW Vote? Overseas Filipino Workers community will be most likely the best political electorate, we are outside the Philippine soil, no politicians can court us or buy us out, we know in silence what is really happening in our country. We have the money, our remittances can be used as a tool to influence our families and relatives back home in choosing the best public servant that could properly lead our country to progress. Absentee voters can be a political muscle someday that could probably put back the shattered pieces of Philippine politics, “a cleansing vote” shall we say. All of these can only be achieved with our participation. That is why I am an ardent supporter of the OAV and I am urging OFW’s to register and be an absentee voter.

This is a big challenge to all of us, the OAV is already in place, it only needs our intense participation, and we should show to the world wherever we are that we are Filipinos.

OFW Representation

OFW Representation

OFW Representation

OFW remittances (Year 2005, USD 10.85 B) helps a lot in rescuing and uplifting economic condition in our country and this contribution could not be discredited vis a vis as to our role in nation building. Migrant Workers is perhaps the biggest sector of Philippine Society and yet we do not have proper representation in government policy-making bodies that oversees OFW issues and concerns, more particularly in the Lower House of Congress.

We know in reality that the issues related to sad stories of our Filipina Domestic Helpers, Contract Substitution, Illegal Recruiters, Proper Legal Assistance and many more were not given proper attention from our government.

In perspective, all of these problems are because the OFW sector is in need of a political mandate and we have to admit that we lack the virtue of patriotism among our ranks. We continue to advocate changes but we ourselves are fragmented on issues and trends that concern OFW’s in general. Following this cynical political judgment, OFW groups are scattered around the globe, how could we ever unite to pursue a common grounds in our fight for OFW recognition and Empowerment even for the fact that there is already a chance for us to put up a national leadership through the existing OAV law?

Do we need physically together to attain this vision? The answer is NO; all we need is attachments even in the absence of physical aspect. We only need to register as an absentee voter and through a unified collective effort we can build the foundation for the creation of an OFW National Leadership. This can only be achieved if others will give way to a so-called unification process. Then all of the above mentioned problems would be addressed accordingly.

OFW Party List

Do we need a solid OFW Party List group to address these problems in a political point of view? In my opinion the answer is Yes! But the problem continues, in the previous elections many OFW groups vying for a seat in Congress, but nobody knows they even exist. First, the lack of awareness campaign of what party list is all about. Second, we don’t know the names of OFW groups wanting to send their members to Congress. That’s the reason most of us usually skip the space in our ballot for the party list representative because we don’t know who they are.

AKO MUNA Party List

AKO MUNA Party List

One of the OFW Party List Group that didn’t make it in Congress was GABAY formed in Saudi Arabia. Even the Migrante Sectoral Party whose membership scattered in other countries didn’t make it too. For our reference the following were OFW groups vying for a seat in Congress in the previous election:

1.Ang Lakas ng Overseas Contract Workers (ANG LAKAS OCW)
 2.Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party (OFW)
 3.Pinoy OCWs and Seafarers Solidarity Party (Pinoy Overseas Party-KAIBIGAN-UFS Coalition)
 4.Visayan Association of the Philippines (BISA)
 5.Bagong Bayani Party
6.Party for Overseas Workers’ Empowerment and Reintegration (POWER)
7.Migrante Sectoral Party
8.Bagong Bayani Organization (Bagong Bayani)
 9.Union of the Filipino Overseas Workers (Unifil), Inc. (OCW-UNIFIL)
 10. Gabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino Party (Gabay OFW Party)
11. Maritime Party
12. GLobal Filipinos

Correct me if I’m wrong but so far in my knowledge these are the only list of the OFW Groups I’ve known. What more to the ordinary absentee voters who are not concern of what is Party List group is.

As of this writing I’ve heard that new OFW groups is going to emerge in Al Khobar and Riyadh adding more lists to the long rolls of OFW party list seeking political mandate for OFW Sector. This could undeniably polarized one common vote for our sector.

OFW Coalition

There must be a coalition or forged alliance between OFW party list groups/OFW organizations and form at least one solid party to be elected in Congress or else we will faced the same embarrassing result and be constantly unrecognized. One solid vote for one particular party can achieve a needed percentage votes in a seat to Congress that will represent us in crafting laws advancing OFW special interests.

OFW Coalition

OFW Coalition

This suggested coalition composed of OFW groups worldwide and local NGO’s or OFW Advocates at home must formed a council within its leadership and create a committees such as: welfare and protection, reintegration, legal assistance and a screening committee that will serve as a panel in the selection of a qualified representative to any governing boards that oversees OFW concerns and among others related to OFW issues.

We should be aware that if we have a seat in Congress, our representative are considered elected Members of the House and as such, entitled to the same deliberative rights, salaries, and emoluments as the regular Members of the House of representatives. They shall serve for a term of three (3) years with a maximum of three (3) consecutive terms. Armed with legislative powers we can acquire funds through legislation that can be used as financial support to our OFW in distress worldwide. We can even have a national headquarters and welfare assistance facilities to our returning OFW in distress.

All of these depend on our OFW leaders to embrace the so-called coalition and set aside personal interest and look deeply for the good and welfare of the OFW Sector.

I still believed the possibility that OFW vote can make a significant difference in the coming election, only if our heart dictates the importance of our constitutional right then we should register and be an Absentee Voter.

Whether we like it or not, WE are part of Philippine Politics.

Just a Personal Glimpse.

By: Bong Amora

Posted at my home blog 1/30/06