The Minutes of the Meeting- OFW Forum

The Minutes of the Meeting – OFW Forum

The Event

The “OFW Forum” was held at New Islamic Center, 2nd industrial Area, Riyadh and started at exactly 9:00 AM. The forum presided by Manuel “Bong”  Amora of KAKAMPI-KSA, the organizer of the said event. The Forum was co-organized by Guardians  NewHope Brotherhood Int’l. Inc. (GNBII) in coordination with the New Islamic Center, 2nd Industrial Area, Riyadh. 

74 participants representing companies and factories around Industrial Areas of Riyadh attended the forum.

The meeting commenced with a Welcome address by the Presiding officer emphasizing how important the forum was.  He informed the attendees that the morning session will focused on the overview of the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions and the OFW Forum “Know your Rights and Obligations as OFW in the Kingdom, On-site Labor Education Program of the Philippine Embassy, POLO & OWWA will follow in the afternoon session.

The Participants

The Presiding officer pointed out that OFW rights should be protected whether the OFW is documented or undocumented and OFW grievances should be addressed by the concern Philippine government agencies that oversees the welfare of the OFWs in the Kingdom. He further elaborate that OFWs are the primary concern of the Philippine Mission in Saudi Arabia considering the fact that large numbers of Overseas Filipino Workers are employed in this oil rich region.  He also mentioned that diplomatic talks in these regards between our Philippine Labor Office and Saudi Labor Ministry were one of the many agendas in the past and still currently in progress. He added that it will lead into an understanding of possible well-implemented bilateral labor agreements in the future. Other areas of concerns such as alleged maltreatment and abuse of our Filipina domestic Helpers are issues that are being discussed between the two countries for a better RP-KSA relationship.

Further, he stress a point that Saudi authorities is asking the Filipino community to respect the laws, customs and traditions of the country and not to get involved in any criminal activities, like engage in dealing illicit trafficking of illegal drugs and alcoholic beverages. So with other related crimes that may result into harsh punishment even death.

Left to Right (POLO/OWWA) Welfare Officer Odin Abdula, (ANS)Vice Consul Atty. Roussel Reyes, Vice Consul Atty. Paulo Saret and Bong Amora

The Forum’s theme particularly the banner with two hands together pointing each other in same direction means “Equality” – Rights and Obligations” – “Employee, Employer relationship” where one hand, having given the privilege and the right to work in the Kingdom, also means an obligation to fulfill as expatriate worker and it is important to respect the country’s culture, customs and traditions and obey the Kingdom’s law in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia’.

On the other hand, the employer’s obligation to comply the country’s applicable labor laws and international labor conventions is a must – reasonable and within the scope of the contract “both hands have agreed.”

Culture, Customs and Traditions

 Bro. Rasheed Saleh, a Filipino muslim and administrative in-charge of the New Islamic Center during the briefing about the culture, customs and traditions of the Kingdom explained to the participants that Saudi Arabia is characterized profoundly on conservative Islamic culture. He further explained that same with any other nationalities, Saudi’s are friendly, proud of their family, kind and practice good family relationship.  Saudis are very hospitable and generous but private individuals.

Left to Right (POLO/OWWA) Asst. Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., Welfare Officer Odin Abdula, (ANS)Vice Consul Atty. Roussel Reyes, Vice COnsul Atty. Paulo Saret and Islamic Center Dawa'h Exec. Manager Shk. Marwan Al Hamd

HE  elaborate further that in islamic culture women must wear an abaya (long black robe) over their clothes and should cover their hair as well.  There are no public movie theatres,  segregation of opposite sex with no relation are highly important. For some OFWs depending on their lifestyle and interests in our country,  those side of Saudi  culture could be negative. Though on the positive side Bro. Saleh said  “one can live well in this country  and there is much to explore and discover about Saudi Arabia.”

Alcoholic beverages are illegal throughout the country. The penalty for importing alcohol into the country  is severe and can involve detention and/or public flogging. Drug related cases are among those with heavier penalties. Immorality is a serious offense.

Islam is Saudi Arabia’s only religion,  the monotheistic religious system of Muslims founded in Arabia in the 7th century and based on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as laid down in the Quran.

Bro. Rasheed Saleh also includes in his briefing the general information of the Kingdom, such as land area, the Hijri calendar, the Arabic language, its national day, education, major cities and other significant  information of the country.

Islam the way of life  

Mohammad Jamal Norvila, a Filipino Muslim from Davao and a teacher of  Islamic faith  in the Muslim Filipino Community in Riyadh explained to attendees that the Islamic Center is not only for Filipino Muslims and other Muslim nationalities, it is also for Christians.

He started by saying that the word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to the will of God”. Word is from the same root as the Arabic word “salam”, which means “peace”. As such, the religion of Islam teaches that to achieve real peace of mind and surety of heart, must submit with God and live according to His Divinely revealed Law.

The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, whatever their race, nationality or ethnic background. As a Muslim entails willful submission to God and live according to His message. Some people mistake believe that Islam is a religion only for Arabs, but nothing can be further from the truth. It is also interesting to note that actuality, over 80% of all Muslims are not Arabs.

He explained more that Islam is a religion without any mythology. The  teachings are simple and clear. It is free from superstitions and irrational beliefs. The oneness of God, the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH), and the concept of life after death is the main articles of its faith. They are based on reason and sound logic. All the teachings of Islam flow from those basic beliefs and are simple and straightforward. No hierarchy of priests, no complicated rites or rituals.

He ended his briefings by saying that “each person can approach the Quran directly and translate it into practice. Islam awakens in man the faculty of reason and exhorts him to use his mind. It enjoins him to see things in the light of truth. The Quran advises him to seek knowledge and the call of God to expand his consciousness. Islam is the way of life.”

Afternoon Session


In the afternoon session at 2:00 PM, the Presiding Officer introduced to the “OFW Forum” attendees, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office/Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO/OWWA) officials and Philippine Embassy Officials from Assistance to National Section (ANS).

Philippine Overseas Labor Office/OWWA

1)      Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr. ( Asst. Labor Attache)

Born in Davao City, Graduated Salutatorian at Calinan National High School, Calinan, Davao City. He went to Manila and took his college education at the Philippine College of Criminology. There he obtained his degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminology in 1987. He passed the first licensure examination for criminologist in 1988.

Left to Right (POLO/OWWA) Asst. Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., Welfare Officer Odin Abdulah, (ANS)Vice Consul Atty. Roussel Reyes, Vice COnsul Atty. Paulo Saret and Bong Amora

In 1991, he pursued Legal Education at the Manila Law College and graduated Cum Laude in 1996 and passed the Bar examination in 1997. He joined the Government service in March 1998 as Legal Officer of the OWWA. Thereafter, he handled various positions as: Chief of the Workers Assistance Division; Chief of the Legal Department; Chief of the 24/7 Operation Center and he was the Special Assistant for Labor Matters of the Secretary of Labor and Employment.

Atty. Chavez is also a part time Professor of Law at the Pamantasan ng Pasay, College of Law for over 10 years teaching Commercial and Labor Law subjects. Married to Gwendolyn S. Gutierrez and they are blessed with 3 children.

2)      Mr. Odin T. Abdula ( Welfare Officer/POLO/OWWA)

( Information about Welof Odin T. Abdula will posted later)

Philippine Embassy (Assistance to National Section- ANS)

1)      Vice Consul Atty. Roussel Reyes 

Vice Consul Roussel Reyes was born on 5 September 1976 in San Juan, Metro Manila. He graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1998. He obtained his Bachelor of  Laws degree from the same institution in 2002 and passed the Bar examinations of 2003.

He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2004 as Foreign Service Officer, Class IV, after passing the Foreign Service Officer Examinations of 2003.

Prior to his current foreign assignment, he was a Principal Assistant in the Office of Legal Affairs of the Department from April 2005 to August of the same year. He was subsequently designated as an Acting Division Director in the office from August 2005 to October 2006. His  first foreign assignment was  in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as Third Secretary and Vice Consul  in October of 2006.

He is married to Mary Michelle C. Reyes and has two daughters.

2)      Vice Consul Atty. Paulo V. Saret

Vice Consul Saret hails from Libon, Albay in the Bicol Region. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree in 1991 from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1998, he graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Laws from San Beda College in Manila. He hurdles the Bar Examinations on the same year and for the next seven years, he was a corporate lawyer for the Government owned Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation or PDIC.

While at PDIC, he took and passed the Foreign Service Officer’s Examinations in 2005 and joined the Department of Foreign Affairs the following year. At DFA head office, Vice Consul Saret served as Special Assitant to Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr.


Questions, Inquiries and Complains during the OPEN FORUM:

1)      4 na taon na ako di pa binibigyan ng bakasyon. Makukuha ko pa kaya ang pamasahe ko noong finish contract ko?

2)      Wala akong day off, kahit biyernes merong trabaho, walang tamang oras ang trabaho.

3)      SR 5,000 na babayaran ng gastos pag punta ko dito.

4)      Ayon po sa mga sabi sabi ay kailangan daw bayaran kami kahit na wala kaming trabaho o hindi naka duty. Maari po bang makuha yong aming sahod o ibibigay po ba yun ng aming komapnya dahil dalawang buwan napo kaming walang trabaho. Maari din po bang pauwiin na lang kami kung wala naming maibigay na trabaho?

5)      In process of releasing magkano ba talaga ang dapat bayaran sa first release? Sa kin po kasi 14,000 SR ang hinihingi katumbas ng 900 SR na sahod ko plus kinaltasan pa ako ng 50 SR monthly sa iqama ko. Bukod pa dun 12 hrs. na trabaho at walang overtime na bayad na ibinibigay sa amin.

6)      Ang Iqama ko 2 years na hindi binigay ng amo ko. Saan poba ako puwedeng mag reklamo? Hindi ako makapag renew ng passport.

7)      Sir,  ang working hours namin ay 12 hrs na kahit prayer time ay nagtatrabaho kami. Ang overtime pay po namin ay di ibinibigay. Ano po ang laban namin? May karapatan po ba kaming magreklamo sa employer?

OFW in Distress with Erick Jocson of Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan, (local chapter of Migrante in Riyadh) and Ka Mario Ben

8)      4 months napo akong walang work, wala man lang sila binibigay na allowance kung di po ako mabibigyan ng bagong work maari po bang pauwiin nalang ako? O kaya bigyan ng release?

9)      Ano po ang nararapat namin gawin kasi po matagal na po kaming stop work. Walang trabaho, makauwi po ba kami kahit hindi natapos ang contract namin at bayaran kami ng company namin?

10)   Kailan po ako mabigyan ng trabaho, 2 buwan na po akong stop work gawa ng na terminate po ako sa aming company? Kung hindi ako mabigyan, pwede ba ako makauwi ng Pilipinas?

11)   Hanngang kalian po ba ako mabigyan ng trabaho ng company  SEDER Services, dahil 2 months na po ako no job? May dapat ho pa akong matanngap na allowance mula sa kompanya? Kahit food allowance lang po dahil wala na po akong pambili ng pagkain? Pati po padala sa pamilya wala narin po.

12)   Anu ang dapat kung gawin kung amo ko ay di kami pina pasuweldo sa tamang buwan o petsa? Maghintay lang ba?

13)   Anu ang gagawin ko pag tapos na ang kontrata ko pero ayaw pa akong pauwiin pero gusto ko ng makauwi agad?

14)   Sa sahod po namin, nagkaltas sila ng basta basta na walang pang  pay slip at kada sahod po namin wala silang maibigay na pay slip.

15)   Mayroon po bang 3 years contract?

16)   Kung puwede po bang umuwi kahit di tapos ang kontrata? O magbakaasyon? Dahil 3 years po ang contract ko.

17)   Ano po ang possible namin gawin, dahil isang buwan na kami hindi binigyan ng trabaho. Dapat po bang bigyan kami ng food allowance kahit wala kaming trabaho? Makatarungan po ba ang ginagawa sa amin? Gusto na po namin magkaroon ng trabaho at kung di kami mabigyan ng trabaho puwede ba kami makauwi? Kahit di pa tapos ang kontrata?

18)   Sabin g Gulf Horizon agency, pagdating naming sa Saudi ibigay ang allowance na SR 200 tapos Sr 100 lang ang ibinigay. Tapos pag sahod namin sobra ang kaltas, wala kami payslip. Hindi kami inaasikaso ng SEDER company pag may probelam kami sa kompanya na pinapasokan namin, kasi subcontractor  lamang kami.

19)   Sub contractor  ang aming kompanya sa MAWARID Company, naterminate ako dahil sa pagsusugal sa loob ng kwarto namin.  Ibinalik nila ako sa company ko na SEDER. Hnaggang ngayon 2 months na ako na walang work. Dapat po ba na bayaran nila ang pananantili ko dito na walang trabaho or pauwiin na lang nila ako.

20)   Ako po ay isang electrician sa TETRATECH Establishment dito sa Riyadh. Ang kontrata kop o ay SR 1,800 + 200. Ngunit pagdating kop o ditto Sr 1,000 + 200 lang po ang pinasahod sa akin. August 25, 2009 po ako dumating dito sa Saudi Arabia.

21)   Talaga po bang di pinapasahod ang First Timer sa loob ng 3 buwan?  

22)   Ano po ang karapatan namin dahil ng umalis po kami ng Pilipinas iba ang kontrata na pinapapirmahan sa min sa kompanya na pinagdalhan sa amin dito sa Riyadh, na parang  ipinasa akami sa ibang kompanya?

23)   Sa POEA, Sr 1,800 ang pinirmahan namin. SR 1,600 lang ang binigay sa amin dito. Ang trabaho naming fabricator welder. Delay pa ang sahod naming hanggang ngayon po, dalawang buwan na mahigit.

24) Paano po kami makakatulong sa mga takas nating mga Filipina Domestic Helpers o kahit hindi mga FDH? Sa mga lalaki po na mga taks, saan po kami makipag ugnayan para mabigyan sila ng pansamantalang tirahan? Ang bahay Kalinga po ba ay para sa lahat ng mga takas?

To be continued:

Salient Features of the Saudi Labor Law


OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law

OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law
By: Wizbone

19 January, 2010, RIYADH: Alarmed by many complaints on site from Filipino expatriate workers in the Kingdom, a Filipino community organization formed in 2002 in the Industrial Area of Riyadh are conducting a series of forum dubbed as “Know your Rights and Obligations as an OFW in the Kingdom”.

OFW Forum will be held this coming Friday, 22 of January 2010 in the New Islamic Center Auditorium, 2nd Industrial Area, Riyadh at 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) decides to re-convene the group task in educating fellow Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the Kingdom on their rights and obligation as a visitor worker in this oil rich region.

Despite of work related complaints heard from OFWs, Saudi Arabia remained the favorite destination of OFWs comprising 19.8 percent of the total deployed Filipino contract workers around the globe.

Two hands pointing each other's direction is means Equality - “Rights and Obligations” (The Employer-Employee Relationship)

Bong Amora founder of KAKAMPI-KSA said “many of the newly deployed OFWs in Saudi Arabia are in culture shock more specifically on aspects where the host country’s culture, customs and traditions not congruent to the Philippine psyche.”

“The objective of this forum is to impart to OFWs, the Kingdom’s – Islamic Way of Life”. Amora added.

OFW Forum is a joint effort of KAKAMPI-KSA, the New Islamic Center, 2nd Industrial Area under the Directorship of Shk. Mohammad Bin Hamza Al Kurdi and the GUARDIANS NewHope Brotherhood International, Inc. (GNBII).

GNBII Riyadh Chapter  Founder  Luis Cabandez emphasized that “the general goal of the forum is to spread the word as we don’t want more Filipinos to experience what many of us went through in the country whose rules and regulations, policies and labor laws are very different from ours.” “The ultimate purpose of this forum is to guide our kababayans in the right direction as visitors and a foreign worker in the Kingdom.” Cabandez explained. GNBII-Riyadh is a chapter group of GNBII mother organization based in Jeddah.

OFW Forum will illustrate the proper remedial and concrete steps to consider in resolving work related problem on site as well as to avoid systemic constraints and risk of a labor dispute may bring to an OFW.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will educate OFWs about the Kingdom’s Saudi Labor Law. This is in line with POLO/OWWA “On-site Labor Education Program (OLEP)” not only in Riyadh but to other areas in Central and Eastern Region of the Kingdom especially to those places where there are large numbers of OFWs employed.

POLO/OWWA Riyadh is currently headed by Officer in-Charge, Assistant Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr.

A new Labor Attache will be posted soon in Riyadh to replace out-going Labor Attache Resty Dela Fuente.

The Assistance to National Section (ANS) of the Philippine Embassy to be led by Vice Consul Roussel Reyes will also guide the participants regarding the proper procedure or action an OFWs can do to assist fellow OFW in distress, more importantly the run-away.

KAKAMPI-KSA in a statement said “We will also tackle the importance of interpreting the Saudi Labor Law, more particularly to its provisions where rights of OFWs are violated. The Forum also needs to identify recruitment crocodile agencies in the Philippines that only look into their own pocket and not the welfare of the OFWs they deployed.”

Some of the OFWs complain of contract substitution, delayed payment of salaries, poor living conditions, extension of work even after expiration of contract, non-payment of end of service benefits among others.

OFW Forum, “Know your rights and obligations as OFW’s in the Kingdom” is under the auspices of Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. ***


New Islamic Center (2nd Industrial Area-Riyadh)

PAL returns to Saudi March 28


 16 January 2010

MANILA – Philippine Airlines resumes a long-awaited service to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 28, 2010, heeding the clamor of the large Filipino community in the Middle East and marking a return to the region after an absence of four years.

The non-stop service will operate four times weekly, with flight PR 658 departing Manila every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:20 p.m. It arrives in the Saudi capital at 11:00 p.m. (Riyadh time)

The return service, PR 659, departs Riyadh at 12:30 a.m. every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, and arrives back in Manila at 3:00 p.m. (Manila time)

Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which seat 50 passengers in Mabuhay Class (business) and 383 in Fiesta Class (economy), will be deployed on the service.

PAL last served Riyadh, its final destination in the Middle East, on March 2, 2006.  The service was suspended for commercial reasons.

The flag carrier’s return to the region has been welcomed by Filipino expatriates, who number about 2 million – one of the largest foreign communities working there.

PAL has been traditionally favored by Filipinos in the Middle East because its direct service to Manila means that they get home faster compared to other carriers, whose flights can involve up to two stops in intermediate cities before proceeding to Manila.

PAL first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987 and over the decades the Saudi capital became one of its most important points. 

From March 28, with the addition of Riyadh, the PAL network will count 25 international destinations as well as 29 points in the Philippines.

For booking requirements, passengers are advised to visit or call (02) 855-8888.

related post :  

Come Back to Saudi Arabia, Filipinos Ask Philippine Airlines 

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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.


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.


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)

ABB-SA Employees donates P121,612 for flood Ondoy victims in Philippines

ABB-SA Employees donates  P121,612 for flood Ondoy victims in Philippines

By Bong Amora

RIYADH, 5 January 2010 – ABB (ASEA Brown Boveri) Electrical Industries Co. Ltd., Saudi Arabia employees has proven once again that colors, cultures, beliefs, languages and nations are not hindrance in time of unity and communal effort  helping those in needs.  ABB or ASEA Brown Boveri is  the leading power and automation group in the world.

ABB-SA employees announced  yesterday through Mr. Roland Suarez, ABB-SA QA Administrator who is currently in Manila that it has donated P121,612.00 to the victims of typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines.

ABB Employees at Sagip Kapamilya

Philippines was struck by a historic typhoon  in September of last year putting over 26 provinces under a state of calamity. Some 80% of Manila was submerged, displacing 450,000 people. More than 120,000  are now still in makeshift shelters.  The historic 85 kph typhoon “Ondoy” surpassed the highest 24-hour rainfall in June 1967 in Metro Manila.

The  cash donation  contributed by ABB-SA employees  initiated by Filipino employees  led by Mr. Alex Veloso Bello of ABB-SA Purchasing Department  was handed  to SAGIP Kapamilya of ABS-CBN Foundation last December 22, 2009.

Bello in his thank you email message to ABB-SA employees particularly to fellow Filipinos said “Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng probably one of the worst natural calamities to hit our country, ruined a lot of things but not the Filipino spirit.”   Bello is also the President of Overseas Filipino Workers Congress-Riyadh.

“Once again, we would like to thanks our ABB pinoys and to our non-Filipino colleagues/ boss/ friends, we thank you Sirs for giving Filipinos space in your heart. “ Bello added.

ABB-SA  and its hundreds of employees mostly professional Filipino electrical engineers are always  committed helping the country in time of calamities. ABB-SA employees were one of the biggest donors during the 2006 Philippine Landslide that hit  Guinsaugon, Leyte where  only 139 bodies have been retrieved and 973 remained missing and believed buried up to now beneath tons of mud.  ABB-SA alone collected almost P 100,000.00  for the victims of one of the nation’s worst disaster ever experienced. The Filipino community around Riyadh collected a total of P 204,740 intended for the survivors and families of the victims. (click Philippine Landslide Survivors Get Donation From Riyadh Community)

Like so many Filipino migrants forced abroad, away from loved ones  and sending remittances to keep Philippine economy afloat,  the spirit of oneness (bayanihan)  remains in Filipinos heart forever in times of needs.

The ABB-SA employees hope that their donations contribute in a small way to a happier New Year 2010.

To our friends and co-employees in different nationalities and cultures in the Kingdom, the more partnership, cooperation and solidarity, the further we are to a new world where there is an equality, peace, unity and justice. – Bong A.

(P)arty for (P)ersonal (P)olitical ambition

Political Tidbits

(Re-published) A friend and an active Filipino community leader in the Kingdom (name withheld) called me last night and reminded me of the consequences that I might be getting into in the world of  Philippine politics. He is referring to our e-group named Partido Pangdaigdigang Pilipino, PPP for short. He added that like any other e-group some individuals might be using it in their personal political interest (PPP- Party for Personal Political ambition).

He maybe be right or wrong, everyone has the right of opinion. But from the start it never occurred to me that PPP will be utilized in one way or the other for political interest of  few aspiring politicians. 

Being one of the prime mover in the creation of this e-group, it was formed primarily as a forum or a venue to interact other Filipino communities worldwide whose objective is to discuss and possibly unite Global Filipinos for political empowerment.

PPP is not yet a political party of Overseas Filipinos, it was created as the starting point or  the first step towards OFW political empowerment.  As what I’ve said never regret joining this group. 

However, PPP is aiming that it will be a political party in the  future for overseas Filipinos represented by various Filipino groups  worldwide.

Note:  Published: 1/17/07