Basketball Referees Take Time Out to Help Distressed OFWsArab News

RIYADH, 19 August 2007 — Basketball referees are not lovable on the hard court, but in Riyadh a group of Filipino referees have shown that they actually have hearts of gold.

Last weekend, the Siglakas Group of Referees (SGR) demonstrated this last Friday by bringing grocery items to the Bahay Kalinga, a shelter for distressed Filipino women maintained by the Philippine Embassy.

Gerry Espinosa, the group’s president, said that this was their way of sharing what little they were earning during their free time. SGR’s members are hired for a fee per basketball game and the group, which was organized only last year, set aside 10 percent of their earnings for charitable purposes.

“Lending a hand to those in need is a fulfillment. The feeling is very different,” Espinosa said as his group turned over their donation to Welfare Officer Abdulghani “Jimmy” Umag, the shelter’s administrator, together with Labor Attaché Resty Dela Fuente and POLO/OWWA administrative officer Mimah Mangotara.

“The fees for our services is another form of blessing from God, and we thought we should share the same to others in need. We hope to continue this charity work for as long as there are basketball activities within the Filipino community,” said Ricky Arellano, an officer of the group.

SGR’s members are the most sought-after professional basketball referees by Filipino basketball leagues in Riyadh, said Bong Amora of the Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Mangagawang Pilipino sa Ibayong Dagat (Kakampi-KSA), who along with Reynaldo Ruiz coordinated the charity act. Kakampi-KSA is based in Riyadh’s 3rd Industrial Area.

SGR leaders said the wards of Bahay Kalinga were easily identified as beneficiaries of the group’s first donation since they are undoubtedly in need of help.

Officially known as the Filipino Workers Resource Center or FWRC, the shelter houses tens of mostly household service workers who have escaped from their employers either because of maltreatment, sexual abuse or non-payment of wages. As of Friday, the shelter had 106 wards and some of them would soon be repatriated to the Philippines once their plane tickets come, said Dela Fuente.

“We are not soliciting any form of donations from the Filipino Community but if the good deed was given wholeheartedly from any Filipino groups, they are most welcome and we are very grateful for that,” he said.

Dela Fuente heads the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, which runs Bahay Kalinga.


3 thoughts on “

  1. Hi sir, I’m doing a thesis on the experiences of OFWs in Saudi during the 70s and 80s as well as the establishment of the first few Filipino communities/orgs in the country. Browsing through your blog, I thought you might be helpful in providing information or resource persons for my research. You may email me at for further questions and clarifications. Your assistance in this endeavor shall be greatly appreciated.=) – CJ

  2. Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it’s been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

  3. I know this to be out of place. Please bear with me. I just want to create awareness by choosing the busy forum or the latest.
    Do consider Dr. Martin Bautista for the next elections obviously (a senatorial candidate of ‘Ang Kapatiran’ together with Adrian Sison and Zosimo Paredes). He’s a 44-year-old gastroenterologist in the US who came home after 17 years. You can see from his background that he truly means service. For those who find him to be a hypocrite for working abroad, do understand he’s a family man who needs to sustain his family, that he will be able to keep his independence by not relying on public funds to support his family. He helps his countrymen in his capacity but it’s just not enough for there are millions of Filipinos. It’s a good start in Philippine Politics to have him and his party around.
    I urge you to forward/text/inform all your contacts about them. I believe they only lack exposure that’s why I’m doing this. But I can’t do it alone so I’m appealing to everyone’s help. If all will inform their contacts about them and urge them as well to forward, we might hit a million.
    We cannot afford to be indifferent now if we want meaningful change. Otherwise we only have ourselves to blame. BUT TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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