Governor Challenges Migrants

Governor Challenges Migrants: “Peso for Peso” to Develop Province

(Press Release) November 12, 2007, Utrecht, The Netherlands – In sharp contrast to the intense politically-charged environment in the Philippines, overseas Filipinos were pleasantly surprised by Governor Oscar Moreno’s dynamic response to a call for action for matching funds in Misamis Oriental’s development projects spearheaded by local and overseas Filipino organizational partners.

Anak Mindanao Party List Representative Cong. Mujib Hataman, Alex Bello & Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno

Anak Mindanao Party List Representative Cong. Mujib Hataman, Alex Bello & Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno

During his keynote speech at the Diaspora Convergence Conference in Amsterdam on November 2, 2007, Governor Moreno emphasized that migrants could do better by pushing the right buttons and partnering with government and local social cause-oriented, volunteer-based organizations (a.k.a. civil society). He also promised to champion development partnerships with overseas Filipino groups among his fellow governors, especially those in Northern Mindanao.

A series of events organized by diverse groups, leading to the Global Forum in Migration and Development in 2008, are expected to revive the activism and engagement that Overseas Filipino organizations displayed during the 2001-2002 campaigns for the OAV (overseas absentee vote) and dual citizenship. The conference also symbolized the coming together of Overseas Filipino leaders from three global regions – Middle East & Asia, Europe, and North America – with an agreement to support each others’ development programs and projects. The conference also recognized the changing cultural landscape in Europe, such as the need to address the second generation’s problems, gender issues, and the development of emerging community leaders. The need to dialogue with faith-based organizations and to engage them in common development efforts was also scheduled on the agenda.

The diaspora convergence conference was immediately followed by Filipinas Magazine-s Lorna Lardizabal Dietz’s book launching of Filomenita “NitNit” Mongaya-Hoegsholm’s anthology entitled “In De Olde Worlde: Views of Filipino Migrants in Europe.” Certificates of Appreciation were also given to outstanding Euro-Filipinos in The Netherlands: three Ph.D. graduates for their ground-breaking research – Dr. Rommel Bacabac, Dr. Jonathan Palero, and Dr. Arni Sicam; Sheryl Lyn Paderes-Baas, Miss Nederland 2006, for her humanitarian projects; Flora Abangan-Schuyt, for engaging in a socially-responsible business; Ricky Tuazon, for promoting Filipino dance and performance arts; Irma Galias, for promoting Filipino music and songs; and Ms. Leila Rispens-Noel, for promoting the role of the diaspora in development work.


The momentum of the migrant conference, fueled by the participants’ enthusiasm, continued with post-conference activities such as networking and planning sessions. Governor Moreno, who met with Mindanao constituents, was joined by the Caucus to brainstorm on setting up a European-based development fund that could enable small business enterprises to thrive in the rural areas.

Philippine Congressman Mujiv Hataman, of AMIN or Anak Mindanao, joined the discussions and committed to explore the possibilities of mobilizing countryside development funds of his fellow representatives in Congress for the diaspora conference’s initiatives.

Governor Moreno, during a pre-departure conversation at Schiphol Airport, was asked his opinion about his Netherlands visit. He flashed that enigmatic Moreno smile and replied, “Others may have all the publicity and propaganda, but your conference convinced me that there is much that migrants like you could do. I hope other groups could do the same.”


OFW Empowerment Consultative Meeting & Workshop

To all Filipino Community Group/Leaders & Heads of Companies, Hospitals, Clinics, Factories, Establishments and Other Institutions of Overseas Filipino Workers, you are cordially invited to


The OFW Empowerment Riyadh Region

General Consultative Meeting & Workshop


At the Philippine Embassy, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 16 Nov. – 14 Dec. 2007, Fridays, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm


Part I:


Overview & Pre Workshop Activities

16 Nov. 2007, Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


a.) Registration of Leaders & Heads – 9:00 a.m.


Community Groups and Institutions may send one, two or three OFW representatives, one for each Sector (optional), see below: 


Economic Sector:


–  Bank employees

–  Businessmen

–  Company heads

–  Cooperatives

–  Multi-level groups

–  Entrepreneurs


Social Sector


–  Sports groups

–  Cultural groups

–  Health Services groups

–  Hospital/Clinic heads

–  Education/Schools heads

–  Entertainment groups

–  Welfare groups


Other Sectors


–  Government employees

–  Sectoral Representatives

–  Advocacy groups

–  Movements

–  Individuals


Lunch & Workshop Fee :


–  SR 15.00 per head per day

–  Lunch and Coffee  : SR 10.00

–  Embassy Maintenance : SR  5.00


b) Program Proper : 10:00 a.m.


c) The Road to OFW Empowerment         

d) Open Forum                                         

e) Lunch Break    : 12:30 p.m.

f) Pre-Workshop Activities  


g) Group Pictorials

h) Adjournment    : 3:00 p.m.        


For reservations, send email to Francis Oca



By Doods A. Amora, PEE

THE MORNING AFTER (Friday, Oct 26, 2007)

A clear beautiful Friday morning finally came and we were all ready for the day. We were joined by Noralyn, a Filipina from Manila who was once a TV commercial model and Sharmaine, a beauty from Sri Lanka. Like my daughter Kitty, Noralyn and Sharmaine are now functioning as Cabin Crew of Qatar Airways.

Kitty then announced that she would be treating us to a surprise respite in a cool breezy place called Genting Highlands.

“Highlands…? You mean, bukid, bundok?” I asked because opposite to my intentions, my own map was to go direct to the Petronas Towers and conquer her. But this time it’s not for me to complain. Kitty was the ‘secretary-general’ pre-arranging our itinerary and the ‘finance officer’ paying for the bills in this trip. Besides, the trip package & tickets had already been purchased the day ahead. 

We were seven then, so we needed two teksi’s to bring us to the Central Station.

We hurried as we needed to catch the 9:30 morning bus to the highlands; otherwise, the trip would be ruined. But a second taxi was difficult to find in such peak traffic hours in a financial district, so the four of us, puro bagong salta, went ahead.

The taxi driver, sensing that we were first-timer tourists and knowing that there’s a bus to catch, pulled out his bag of tricks. Acting as a tourist guide, he gave details on what we saw along the way, what the landmarks are all about and the important edifices & personalities in Malaysia.

We realized he did not flag down the meter and when prompted, he said, “Walang problema”, nag Tagalog, pa! When we reached the Central Station, he concluded for RM20 (a favorite figure among taxi drivers in KL). A brief debate ensued but we gave in, anyway. It was not good for our health and the bus on schedule was already beckoning us. The bus, this time was more important than the taxi driver.

Charge to experience… this will never happen again, we promised. Later, we were advised that before taking a free-lance taxi, it should be made clear whether flag-down or un-metered. Para bagang sa Manila, e, “contrata”?

Read more.. click CESEEPS

Discovering Kuala Lumpur (Part 2)


By Doods A. Amora, PEE


In my previous experiences, the scariest moments in foreign travels were the taxi episodes. Maybe because I had lots of these encounters before. But alas, most of these sour experiences happened nowhere else in the world – ironically, in our own City of Manila.

I recalled that in Germany, taxis were giving out ‘quittung’ (official receipt), and the drivers were wonderfully honest & helpful to foreigners. In Singapore, taxi service may be paid for by credit cards. And in those places, I felt safe & secured, and more importantly, the feeling of nobody is fooling who.

In Manila, especially if you emerge from an international flight, then you are pretty sure to be in a frustrating outbreak of your trip.

Pilipino nangloloko sa kapwa Pilipino sa lugar mismo ng mga Pilipino.

The Kuala Lumpur Experience: At KLIA’s ‘Meeting Point’, we were now set to exit the terminal. At this point in time, we must face my fears once again.

The Teksi (Taxi)… What would it be like in Kuala Lumpur?

In her anticipative research, my wife Mimi learned from a travel forum in the web that the antics of taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur are similar to Manila taxicabs. Usual tricks like no meter flag downs thereafter demanding RM 20 (PhP 240) for a usual RM 6 (PhP 72) within short city transports. Yes, I would agree to that because we experienced it ourselves in our subsequent days.

But somehow in KLIA (and in other major stations & government establishments in Kuala Lumpur), we discovered we don’t have to worry. The airport for instance has taxi booths where one can buy tickets for a specific destination. The taxi counter determines the type of taxi for the service according to the distance, the number of passengers and volume of baggage. By the way, baggage loads are being paid for, which to me, is fair enough.

As far as I knew, there were three types of taxis to choose from, the ‘budget taxi’, the ‘premier limousine service’ and the ‘free-lancer’ taxis. One has to avoid the free-lancers because they are reminiscent of the Manila taxis.

By the way, there is a high-speed train plying KLIA to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station (KLSS) route in 28 minutes non-stop costing RM 35 per head. It would be a good choice if one doesn’t have lots of baggage and in a hurry.

We chose the budget taxi for RM 67, that’s roughly PhP 804. Quite a lot of money, I thought. A quick mental calculation later relieved me. In Mactan Cebu Airport for instance, a trip home to Mandaue City of only 6 kilometers distance costs us PhP 300 and that is PhP 50 per kilometer. The heart of Kuala Lumpur, this time our destination, is 70 kilometers away and that would be PhP 11.48 per kilometer only. Quite cheap, hu…? By the way, the payment is done at the taxi counter (not to the driver) and a receipt is issued. Then there’s a specific taxi exit door leading to a corridor where an attendant is waiting who will in turn give the taxi that you need as indicated in the receipt. Our taxi turned out to be a Malaysian Proton version of a semi-SUV.

KLIA is situated in Sepang area in the Malaysian State of Selangor, a 70 kilometer stretch to the heart of Kuala Lumpur. At an average of 70 kph, travel time was one hour. Traversing through 8-lane super highway (4 lanes in each direction, sometimes 5 lanes in interchanges), the ride was a real joy to remember.

The highway ride was flawless & bumpless in a high quality concrete road overlaid by asphalt – “it’s like the Expressway in the USA”, as described by my son Boboy, who is still fresh from a US trip. The gorgeous ‘highway interchanges’ along the way were by themselves scenes to behold – very similar to the Auto-Bahn I experienced in Germany. For the entire stretch of the highway, there were underground storm drainage systems intended to arrest rain waters from the road itself as there were also open drainage systems that catch the sliding waters from the side hills. These explain why the roads are still in excellent condition since 1993.

Unlike in the Philippines, all the highway side lights we passed through were working, and all the traffic lights were operative. Except for the 132 kV, 275 kV and 500 kV high & extra-high voltage grid towers on the hilltops, I didn’t see any medium voltage overhead electric distribution lines – all must have been underground in that entire seventy kilometer span.

Amidst my admiration I thought why our country can’t build faultless superhighways like what I saw in Kuala Lumpur…

By then I recalled the late Max Soliven, former publisher of the Philippine Star in one of his columns many years back, when he praised the Malaysian highway to the superlative degree but not short in saying that the road networks in Malaysia were constructed by Filipino expats and engineers.


There you are my friends; it is not that we don’t have the capability – because for every great infrastructure or edifice anywhere else in the planet, there must be Filipinos out there behind the scene. But why can’t we do it in our country? Is it because of too much politics? What kind of politics? Patronage Politics, Partisan Politics? Or Politics of Greed? Whatever it it is….

Read more click CESEEPS

dine with old close friends

A long time family friend invited us yesterday in their “family get together” and his grandson birthday at Blue Water Beach, Maribago, Lapu Lapu City. Though at first we felt uncomfortable because I, my wife and my daughter are just an outsider on the said occasion, but were very happy knowing that our old friend never changed since I’ve known them for many years now. They’re still very accommodating despite of their status in life in the political arena particularly here in Cebu.

with Alang-Alang Councilman Marianito "Aning" Soon

with Alangalang Councilman Marianito “Aning” Soon

Actually we communicate each other even I’m busy doing a living away from home, I always texted them when there is special occasion such as Christmas, Fiestas, Birthday’s and even when someone from their family passed away. Whenever I arrived from KSA, I always visit them as a sign of respect to the renowned and beloved personalities in Mandaue City and Lapu Lapu City respectively.

I am talking about the Soon-Ruiz family of Mandaue City, Cebu. Their elder sister Congresswoman Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, “Inday Nerry” to her constituents is currently the Cebu’s 6th District representative in Congress. Actually, my close friends in their family is the former City Councilor of Mandaue City, Mr. Noel “Kiwi” Soon and the just concluded barangay election 3rd termer Barangay Councilor of Alang Alang Mr. Marianito “Aning” Soon. (The three  “Soon” I mentioned are siblings of the late Dr. Toto Soon).

Me (wearing CMA Center for Migrant Advocacy Tshirt) and former Mandaue City Councilman and Vice Mayor Noel "Kiwi" Soon

Me (wearing CMA Center for Migrant Advocacy Tshirt) and now my Kumpare former Mandaue City Councilman Noel “Kiwi” Soon (wearing white t-shirt)

We arrived in the beach and we were able to shake hands with the honorable Congresswoman “Inday Nerry”. Unfortunately she was busy in her lunch at that time, the reason I was not able to chat with her until she leaves bringing her mother home, the behalf of the late Dr. Restituto “Mano Toto” Soon known as “Mandaue’s Gentle Physician“, the once very popular personality in Mandaue and former acting Mandaue City Mayor after Martial Law.

Maybe in some other time I would discuss with her the plight of our OFWs; Inday Neri was the former Committee OFW Affairs Vice Chair in the last 13th Congress.

I wonder to myself if the family members in the circle especially the youths and the little ones playing around the beach would follow the footsteps of their grandlolo and Inday Nerry. Knowing that my friend Kiwi quits politics and Aning told me that he will stay in barangay where he can concentrate his time to serve the people in his turf.

Me ( in Soon-Ruiz cap) and my wife Minda "Vilma" Amora

Me ( in Soon-Ruiz cap) and my wife Minda “Vilma” Amora

My thoughts ended up answered because a new breed of the “Soon’s” is now ready to embark the political scene the family has been into. A very young but I considered “malayo pa ang mararating” the newly elected Sanguniang Kabataan in his area SK Chairman Gian Soon Gobalani (now Mandaue SK CHAIRMAN).

The untarnished record of the “Soon-Ruiz” in the political field really admires me and they are my model politicians for all these years.

my wife and daughter Angel

my wife and daughter Angel

Try to ask an ordinary employee, tricycle drivers, fish vendors, parents and even businessmen in Mandaue City and Lapu Lapu City, “Inday Nerry” Soon Ruiz is always the name for Congress representing District 6 of Cebu.

Last night I texted my friend Kiwi and Aning to say many thanks for the warm welcome they provided to us with a quote that follows: “IT IS NOT WHAT ONE SAYS; BUT RATHER WHAT ONE DOES THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD“.

Thanks again my friends.

Discovering Kuala Lumpur

Entry below taken from my elder brother latest entry in his blog CESEEPS; I asked permission first to post this entry here in my blog. In my surprise, he told me that part of this article is for the OFWs.



(October 25 – 28, 2007)

By Doods A. Amora, PEE

Traveling to other lands has always been fascinatingly educational. As other countries differ from our very own Philippines in terms of language, history, culture, tradition, architecture, infrastructures and ways of doing things, the opportunities given me while in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Northern China, Southern China and Jakarta in mid 1990’s had addressed the learnings & experiences of these mixed diversities I’ve treasured over the years.


Probably due to inertia at rest brought by the eight-year hiatus from these travels somehow made me lethargic to take a trip outside the country once more. But this time, an occasion to discover Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Qatar Airways through its partner airline, Malaysia Airlines, the zeal to trek in places where I’d not been to, came to my senses itching once again.

What would I see then? What would I learn this time?

Hence, on a sunny Thursday afternoon, we flew from Mactan to Kuala Lumpur via Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu together with my wife Mimi, my son Boboy and a family friend. We were to join my daughter Kitty, a cabin crew of Qatar Airways, in time of her three days lay-over at the posh Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel located in the heart of the financial district of Kuala Lumpur. Similar to Manila-Davao flight, it was one hour & thirty minutes plane ride to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, a state of Malaysia.


Flying over Sabah to me was wonderful – its blue-green forests showcased the richness of the centuries-old flora & fauna of a land that was once claimed by our country as ours. In a nostalgic flash, it reminded me of the bald(ed) woodlands of our country that were once known as the vaunted source of best timbers of the planet. It further prompted me to muse over the sad plight of a once mighty wood-based industry sprawled in my hometown of Nasipit that had now been leveled, and then later vanished seemingly without a trace.


Yes, to my friends who knew my roots, I meant our cherished Nasipit Lumber Company (NALCO), which once upon a time employed more than 3,000 people (including me) and fed some 15,000 mouths. Reflecting on recent history, NALCO like most of the lumber companies in the country had to fade away as there are no more jungles to log over. No more lauan, apitong, magkono, tugas, tuog, yakal, etc. Gone were the smells of the ‘trosos’ and the shrieking sounds of band mills & moulding machines. In retrospect, I felt sad thinking of the demise of such a beautiful industry I had been a part of. What were left are memories… and like NALCO itself, its memories will soon die away, sooner or later…

My soliloquy was disrupted when we touched down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) at 5:30 in the afternoon. Our brief sojourn at KKIA nursed us with the first Malaysian phrase we learned – “Selamat Datang”, apparently same as Indonesia’s “Welcome”. Being a smoker myself, the next words that caught my wits were “Dilarang Merokok”, meaning “No Smoking”. To my subliminal relief, I found the next words I should grasp, “Bilir Merokok”, meaning “Smoking Room”. And there it was my friends, together with my unacquainted cohorts, we found ourselves silently savoring the aroma of the white whiffs within the four corners of the so-called (in my own lingo)Oxygen Room” sometimes referred to as “Lung Center” by others. Then, there was the “Tandas” or Toilet. Similar to other travelers, one’s system must always be leaking and thus one must know where the Tandases are.



At the outset, airports always fascinate me. An international airport is said to be the window of the soul of a country or region it represents. As a reflection of what the country is all about, international airports are in fact, national prides, some describe them as national monuments. Airports somehow articulate in one way or another of the discipline of the people and the state of opulence & economic well being of a nation.

As the forty minute stop-over at Kota Kinabalu tendered me of some insights, I found myself drifted to comparing Kota Kinabalu International Airport to our own Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), both second only to the main hubs of Kuala Lumpur and Manila respectively.

Kota Kinabalu Airport at present is rated at 5.0 million passengers per year same as Mactan Cebu International Airport but with a runway stretching 3,780 meters (480 meters longer than MCIA). It has two terminal buildings compared to MCIA’s only one. But the airport itself is bustling of massive construction going on today in a project to accommodate Airbus 380 aircrafts and an ambitious 12 million annual passenger capacity by 2010.

Terminal 1 is the main terminal of KKIA. At present its technical facilities include 12 gates, 5 air-bridges, and 4 baggage claim belts. It has the capacity of handling 2.5 million passengers annually. Today, the terminal building is currently undergoing vast renovation and expansion – a beehive snapshot of activities that can not escape the eyes. Noteworthy, Kota Kinabalu is in the thick of constructing more than twice as large as the present airport.


Read more, please click  CESEEPS

Overseas Absentee Voting Turnout in the Middle East
OAV Turnout Doubles in Riyadh, Alkhobar
Dinan Arana & Rachel Salinel, Arab News

ALKHOBAR/DUBAI, 1 May 2007 – Voter turnout both in Alkhobar and Riyadh dramatically doubled on Friday night compared to the previous week, the Philippine Embassy reported.

Philippine Ambassador Antonio Villamor said that the total turnout now has reached 2,965 voters in Riyadh, thanks to the 630 voters who showed up last Friday at the embassy. This is more than a one hundred percent increase in the turnout of 1,403 voters on the first week.

In Alkhobar, the total turnout last week was 941, more than double than on first week figure of 652. The running total at the end of Friday in Alkhobar was at 1,593 voters.

The embassy also started on its get out and vote campaign with the launching of a campaign poster which asks, “Bumoto ka na ba?” (Have you voted?)

Despite the increased turnout, it is very low number considering the total number of registrants. The result in Alkhobar is only 5 percent of the 29,113 total registrants. The result in Riyadh is also 5 percent from its total registrants of 58,243.

Filipino community leaders in Riyadh are trying to help the embassy woo registered OFWs to vote early and avoid the rush during the last two weeks.

Led by Bong Amora, Francis Oca, and Alex Bello, the group distributed leaflets and posters to OFWs in Batha to promote the “Go Out and Vote” campaign.

They were surprised to hear that some OFWs had not even learned that the OAV had already started last April 14.

“We ask our fellow concerned OFWs who believe that the spirit of democracy is measured through the electoral process, to please help us in our campaign and encourage our kababayans to vote,” said Amora.

In Dubai, the controversial whistle-blower Sandra Cam was also distributing leaflets to Filipinos to vote.

Cam told Arab News she will be guarding both the consulate in Dubai and the embassy in Abu Dhabi to protect the votes for Sen. Panfilo Lacson and ensure that cheating does not occur.

Last Friday, only 2 percent or 424 turned out to vote out of the 18,648 registered voters in Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, so far only 3 percent or 530 voters showed up out of the 16,532 registered voters.

Majah Moralde, the Dubai-based reporter of Balitang Middle East (BME), said that Filipinos are still in a wait-and-see mode on what’s going on in Philippine politics.

Almost 5 percent already out to vote at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait upto last Friday.

Maxxy Santiago, also a BME reporter based in Kuwait, said that 837 voters only showed up, out of the 19,003 who came out to register.

Rowen Soldevilla, BME reporter in Oman, said that only 197 OFWs cast their votes so far. This is almost 6 percent of the total 3,380 registered voters.

Delfin Montenegro, the BME reporter in Qatar, said that there is also a meager 3 percent turnout, or 321 voters out of 11,493 registrants.

In Bahrain, Titus Filio said only 120 voters turned up in the first two weeks, out of a total of 5,100 registrants, or 2 percent.