Father and Child


I submit the article below to be published without conditions nor royalties. I am dedicating a photo entry that won 2nd place in the recent Singapore Sun Festival to the Filipinos afflicted by the typhoons. May they find strength in the fathers of families as they rebuild their lives.

Christopher J. Tuason

I am an OFW who recently won second prize in a national competition of Insight Guides Photography which is one major event in Singapore Sun Festival held annually. My entry was called Father and Child which is a picture of my friend when he was consulted by his daughter over a homework she had in school. This is the first competition I joined and beyond luck, is the family value that the love of a father matters.

As a person, this is one tiny accomplishment and is nothing compared to what others have achieved in life. However, I am proud that the photograph I have taken is an image of my race and my nation on what matters to us and what we, the Filipinos, value beyond materiality.

OFW-3

"Father and Child" Photography by: Christopher J. Tuason

As a foreign worker, I have witnessed over the news and television the horrors of nature over a week when storms Ondoy and Pepeng ravaged Manila and the northern provinces. I understand and empathize with my countrymen who are forced by circumstances to start from scratch and I have heard family men interviewed over TV who submit themselves to the sorrows of nature. Many of my countrymen have lost everything and a number have lost their dearly beloved ones. To the fathers of families, know that no storm can ever defeat your strength. In times like these, your loved ones turn to you for solace and security, so do not lose this opportunity of a lifetime to reveal the father deep in you.

I am proud to be a Filipino and I am proud to see Filipino fathers conquer the most testing times in their lives.

Godspeed.

Job Opening


typeKing Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology-KACST, an independent scientific organization, fully supported and funded by the government of Saudi Arabia  is urgently  in need of the following:

Male Secretaries/Administrative Assistant  

Qualifications:

 1) Male/Filipino with TRANSFERRABLE IQAMA  

2) Not more than 35 years old

3) Proficient in typing and good at spelling, punctuation, grammar, and oral communication

4) Good interpersonal skills and tactful in dealings with visitors

5) Good discretion and have organizational or management ability

6) Own initiative, and the ability to work independently

7) Well organize in filing and have experienced in effective filing systems

8) At least 5 Years experience as Secretary/Administrative Assistant

For immediate interview,  send your resume or curriculum vitae to  Mr. Manuel A. Amora (CAP), email address :  bongamora14@yahoo.com  .

The law and reality of your contract


The Contract

The Contract

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are in an unenviable situation. All of us have fixed term contracts which we sign before taking up an assignment in the kingdom. We just assume that once the contract is extended, we have another term of stay in the kingdom.

I have mentioned in the past the importance of going through your contract terms and conditions very carefully before signing it. What protects you once you land here is only the contract and nothing else. Note that all the important things which matter to the expatriate, your job title, family visa, end of service benefits, virtually all of your benefits and obligations of your sponsor, are all based on your contract.

My attention was drawn to an interesting article in today’s Arab News. This is a question by one of the readers to a lawyer about the status of his contract. The question relates to a “time bomb clause” in the contract by which the employer can terminate the contract at any point of time by giving a month’s notice despite a contract to the contrary. The reply given by the lawyer is 100% correct and I have no reason to dispute it, given that the learned lawyer is a well-respected one in his profession. What I would like to focus in today’s post is what is NOT mentioned in the reply.

For those of us expatriates who have continued to stay beyond the “initial” contract which was signed after entering the kingdom for the first time, you must be careful on what you sign while extending your contract. Clever employers use the word “extension of contract” rather than just “contract”. Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia must be aware of their rights and obligations while extending their contract with the above words. What this means in simple language is explained below.
 
Excerpt of the above entry  was taken from : ExpatGuru the author of the blog “Working in Saudi Arabia“.

FilCom in Eastern Region united for Ondoy typhoon victims


Press Release (7 October 2009)

Filipino Community and their Organizations in Saudi Eastern Region united for a common cause: Gathering relief goods, cash for typhoon victims

Different Filipino Organizations in Al Khobar, Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia, have gathered yesterday night at Al Andalus International School to assess how far they have gone since first meeting on September 28, 2009 as a response to the call made by Migrante-Middle East to initiate a donation drive for typhoon “Ondoy” victims.

“The outpouring of support from OFWs in all professions is overwhelming; every participating organization had brought their own share of donations, in cash and in kind –a manifestation that helping the victims of typhoon is every body’s business, and so we did,” said Gerry de Guzman, Migrante-Al Khobar Chapter Secretary-General.

Last night Filipino Community leaders’ meeting was facilitated by Labor Attache David Des Dicang.

Filcom Leaders in Eastern Region

Filcom Leaders in Eastern Region

Aside from Migrante-Al Khobar, the following organizations were also present:  Bulakenyo Community, Eastern Region OFW Congress, AFSCOM, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, Al-Andalos School (Teachers & Staff), the Filipino Pop (Filipino Pop Music Association) under Dr. Molina, Worley Parsons Co. Filipino Employees, Dammam Med. Tower, PAGASA Association, GUARDIANS Eastern Region Association, AAIS association, Dubaib & Sulaim Co. Filipino Employees, ABQIAQ community, JAL, SI Samahang Ilocano, PSME association, IECEP association, UFBF association, RASA association, Filipino Bowlers association, Ras Tanura Fil. Com. Association, ROFNA Bowling Association, ASOC association, RC Parishioners, Mrs. Mary Jane Tupaz, Dr. Ronaldo Molina, and the Social Development and Aid Organization (SDAO).

The meeting was attended by more than 80 OFW leaders.

FILCom Leaders meeting In Eastern Region was facilitated by Labor Attache David Des Dicang

FILCom Leaders meeting In Eastern Region was facilitated by Labor Attache David Des Dicang

“The cash on hand collected by the council and Filipino Community leaders as at 6:00p.m. October 4, 2009 is 31,978 (Thirty One Thousand nine hundred seventy eight) Saudi Riyal, while there are already 57 boxes of goods at the warehouse of Al-Andalus International School as reported,” de Guzman added.

The Filipino Community leaders agreed to cut the donations drive until October 10, 2009; cash donations will be remitted in the afternoon of October 10 as well as the boxes of goods.

The Filipino Community leaders have agreed to send their donations to the Local Government Units (LGUs) through its local Social welfare and development offices.

“We have indentified the most affected areas as recipient of the donations we have gathered like Cainta, Antipolo, San Mateo in Rizal Province, Dinalupihan in Bataan, Marikina and Pasig in Manila,” said Rod “Choie” De Leon, Migrante-Al Khobar Chairperson.

De Leon said it was agreed by the Filipino Community coordinating council that in order to be transparent in the distribution of their donation the POLO-Eastern Region will officially endorse Migrante International to be witness and could monitor the actual distribution of goods to the intended beneficiaries in every recipient LGUs.

“We have also asked POLO-Eastern Region to communicate with the Bureau of Customs not to confiscate the boxes of relief goods once it reaches the Philippines so that its distribution by the recipient LGUs could take effect without delay,” De leon added.

Migrante-Al Khobar had also get the consensus of the Filipino Community leaders to conduct a symposium on Migrants Rights and Welfare, and Human Rights activity on December 2009, Blood Letting Program and Fun Run for a cause, right after the donations drive for typhoon victims.  – end –

Election 2010: Seek the Divine Guidance


Seek the Divine guidance

Philippine Election 2010 is fast approaching, a very crucial voting exercise indeed for the Filipino people to choose the new leaders in our homeland.

May 10, 2010 we will be called upon, troop down to the polling booth to elect the two highest position in our land, 12 Senators, members of   the House of Representatives and elective provincial, city and municipal officials and local officials. 

Divine Guidance

Divine Guidance

This comes a very important history of Philippine politics not only for the mature voters but to the youths who are now actively involved in the process.  The Filipino people are very tired of election maneuverings, cheating, vote buying, guns and gold. This will be a decision we are about to make and therefore we do not seek to do this in our own strength and wisdom, but instead submit ourselves to God and seek that HE will lead us to choose the right onewho will surely do the right thing for our country.Bong Amora

****

America’s virtual democracy

Most people have a relatively simple understanding of American democracy. Each person has a right called a “vote.” A person casts the vote for a candidate. The candidates who receive the most votes  Win and make laws. Candidates win by supporting popular policies. “Free” citizens thus govern themselves.

But contrary to conventional perception, American democracy is not an organic, grassroots phenomenon that mirrors society’s preferences. In reality, the will of the people is channeled by a predetermined matrix of thousands of election regulations and practices that most people accept as natural: the location of election-district boundaries, voter-registration deadlines, and the number of voting machines at a busy polling place. This structure of election rules, practices, and decisions filters out certain citizens from voting and organizes the electorate. There is no “right” to vote outside of the terms, conditions, hurdles, and boundaries set by the matrix.

Although most people are oblivious to the matrix, it has very real consequences. In our closely divided political environment, even an obscure election rule in a single state can determine who sits in the White House or which party controls Congress. Collectively, the various rules and practices result in a class of politicians that control various aspects of Americans’ lives, such as the number of students in a second-grade classroom in Detroit, the level of mercury in the air we breathe, and the matter of whether a student in the Army Reserve will sleep in his University of Iowa dormitory or in a barracks in Baghdad, Iraq. And because the United States is a military and financial superpower, the matrix affects not just Americans but also hundreds of millions of humans around the globe.

The book concludes by focusing on a few average Americans who—despite the demands of business and family—make time to work on democratic reforms in their community.

Americans are not inevitably destined to a fate in which a narrow class of political elites controls the matrix. Change is possible. This book is a road map for bringing the power of the vote back into our hands.  – Taken from: Stealing Democracy by: Spencer Overton

same entry posted at: http://www.ofw4Noy24president.wordpress.com

Open Letter re: Renewable Energy


An open reply letter to :  Madame Claire Lee (AVP for Operations – Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc.)

Dear Madame Claire Lee,

First and foremost allow me to thank you for visiting ofwempowerment blog – it is indeed an honor.

Promoting renewable energy sources as well as related energy technologies are needed for sustainable development in any countries in the world. A project such as yours “Give a Light” (Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc.) is very commendable.

I can help you disseminate the information to fellow OFWs in KSA regarding “Give a Light” project in which the proceeds or the (to be) donated solar lanterns would eventually help our poor-grid communities especially in the rural remote areas of our country.

However, I am not actually involve of such undertaking, though, I hope I can share with you a little in order for you to advance conceptualizing the project at this initial stage.

Solar Powered Rural Electrification in Bangladesh

Solar Powered Rural Electrification in Bangladesh

I am currently working in King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST); in our country this Saudi Government institution is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).  In my 1 year and 6 months of  employment in this respected Saudi institution (my 3rd employer for 16 years as an OFW in KSA) assigned in the Directorate of International Cooperation, I was able to peek some important materials pertains to the development of renewable energies that the Kingdom is currently been developing. This oil rich country is working towards the greater and wider use of Solar Energy. And I think our country are also doing the same recognizing the solar energy and other environmentally sound energy systems and its technologies in the country’s national energy policies.  KSA and Philippines were among the countries participants in the World Solar Programme initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization –UNESCO).

Your project “Give a Light” will be a starting point for greater and wider projects that could help our country’s energy crisis. As we all knew that there are more than 500 million households in remote rural areas of the world  – do not have access in electricity. Renewable energy electrification can facilitate satisfying the basic needs of our poor countrymen especially those in rural areas (remote or sitios in our barangays); and of course it would create or stimulate revenue generating rural activities such as: tourism, handicrafts, improvement of agricultural production and many more.  I believe that if those areas in our country will be “Given a Light” , I am sure there will be no more “New People’s Army”, “Abbu Sayyaf” and other rebel group’s roaming around the far hills  in the beautiful mountains of our beloved country.

Solar Panel (solar and Wind Power in Philippines

Solar Panel (Solar and Wind Power in Philippines)

Regarding your inquiry, I read in an online news 2 or 3 months ago (I tried to look for it in the web but to no avail, I was not able to retrieve it again), it was reported, that recently an act governing Renewable Energy was signed into law. Some of the said law’s provisions will attract local and foreign entities to invest in the energy sector in our country because of incentives, like exemption from taxes in the importation of any related machineries and equipments; and exemption of other taxes such as; tax credits on purchasing local machineries and equipments and domestic services, as well as income tax holiday.

In this regards, I would highly recommend Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc., to visit our Department of Energy (DOE) to obtain a copy of the above mentioned law and it’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

My warmest regards to your colleagues and best wishes in your future endeavors.   

Respectfully,

Manuel A. Amora

*********

Sorry for putting the comment in this post. I don’t know how to contact you. This is a very interesting blog and would like to commend you for starting it.

I work for a renewable energy developer in the Philippines. We are conceptualizing a project, initially called “Give a Light” for Christmas wherein OFWs may be given a chance to purchase solar lanterns to be donated to poor and off-grid communities in the Philippines. These may also be purchased for disaster preparedness in unfortunate events such as Ondoy.

We are still exploring this project and would like to seek help from people with experience such as yourself. We would like to know if there are taxes or duties required for such an undertaking.

Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you.

Claire Lee
AVP for Operations
Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc.

The Ninth Ray of Philippine Flag and the Muslim Mindanao Issue


The Ninth Ray of Philippine Flag and the Muslim Mindanao Issue

By: Manuel “Bong” Amora

 The 9th Ray of Philippine Flag

I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to our Philippine legislators both the Senate and the Congress especially the bicameral conference committee who voted for the addition of a ninth ray to the sun in our Philippine Flag. The inclusion of the ninth ray represents Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.

Philippine Flag

Philippine Flag

The two houses of Philippine Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives approved some amendments to R.A. 8491, otherwise known as An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms, and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines. Ironing differences of both Senate Bill (SB) 3307 and House Bill (HB) 6424 led into the inclusion of the ninth ray to the sun in our Philippine flag.   

The author of Senate Bill (SB) 3307, Senator Richard Gordon, commended the approval of the measure saying that it would promote and enhance greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion. “We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step toward reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country.” He said.

Well, “better late than never” shall I say, the addition of the ninth ray should have been done a long time ago. In my previous entry titled “Pilipino Ako Saan man sa Mundo” (A glimpse of freedom), I said that “that true character, customs and traditions we have Filipinos, were originally acquired from the genuine blood of our ancestors who were already in our motherland prior to the Spanish era”. Muslims are the original inhabitants of Philippine islands before Christianity was introduced by Spaniards who ruled our country for three centuries. Though history tells us that WE, Filipinos later on accept the Spanish rule in our land, undeniably our brother Muslims were among those proven as the earlier inhabitants of the country.   

Though Filipino historians have presented different kinds of Philippine periodization wherein the Filipino is the focus, U.P. History Professor Dr. Ma. Luisa Camagay admitted that whatever things that they did should be considered as the turning points, not what the colonial experience has been”. 

Acknowledging the courage, bravery, and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence are the main reasons of the “ray” inclusion and history can prove that Muslim Filipinos were among the populace who bravely resist Spanish colonization even at very early time of Spanish rule. 

The Moro

 Southeast Asia section, Metamorphosis at  http://rantburg.com/ says “Philippine history also acknowledged that long before the coming of the Spaniards, Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu were already known by their ethnic names like; Magindanaw, Maranao, Tausug, and more. Originally, the Spaniards were the ones called them “Moro or Moros”. After the Spanish rule, Philippines were under America for 50 years, and a quarter of a century of the Second Philippine Republic, they were Muslim Filipinos”.

The Filipino Muslim versus Americans

The Filipino Muslim versus Americans

To dig more, I found out that Moro leaders at that time asserted they (Muslims) were not Filipinos, warning that the cultural, social and religious chasm between them would spell a troubled union. The Muslim Filipino leaders did not ignore history and the warnings of their elders. While they deplored in the strongest terms – the plight of the Muslim, they had to play politics with the powers in Manila to stay in power”. 

And according to PBS ( http://www.pbs.org/ ) an online site that tackles worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs “The Moroland (Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan), also presently known as Southern Philippines, comprises the area of about 96,438 sq. km- about 33 percent of the total land territories of the Philippines. Currently, it contains 23 of the Philippines’ 73 provinces”. The land has been picturesquely described by Herman Hagedorn as “a vast green crab, in tropic waters, stretching out an irritated claw after a school of minnows skipping off in the direction of Borneo. The crab is Mindanao. The irritated claw is the Zamboanga Peninsula. The minnows are the islands of the Sulu Archipelago”.

The "Moro" today

The "Moro" today

By way of comparison, PBS added that “Moroland is larger in territory than either Portugal or Austria. The Muslim population of the Moroland outnumbers the populations of many independent countries such as Albania, Costa Rica and Libya. The Moros are the Islamized people and the native inhabitants of the Moroland who were once the majority inhabitants of the area. However, due to the consequence of the colonization of Mindanao, the status of the Moro as majority has diminished from majority to minority. The exact figure of the Moro population is difficult to determine because of conflicting information”.

The Moros’ are divided into thirteen ethnic linguistic groups such as Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Samal, Yakan, Sangil, Badjao, Kalibogan, Jama Mapun, Iranun, Palawanon, Kalagan, and Molbog. They are mainly found in Western and southern Mindanao Island, the Sulu Archipelago, and coastal areas of southern Palawan. But only five (Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan) of the twenty-two (now twenty- three) Mindanao provinces have a Muslim majority.

Imam Reza (A.S.) Network, a non-profit Internet-based group who present the ideals and sublime teachings of Islam (http://www.imamreza.net/eng/) believes that the “Moros were once considered to be the most developed communities in the entire Philippines Archipelago. They reached the level of a centrally organized life. They had their own form of government antedating several hundreds of years the creation of the Philippine Republic. These governments were the Sultanate of Sulu, which was founded approximately in 1450, and the Sultanate of Maguindanao and Buayan which were united by Sultan Kudarat into one Sultanate, Sultanate of Maguindanao in 1619”.

Muslim Mindanao Issues

Today, there are no Spaniards, no more Americans but the fight goes on, not from foreign aggressors but to the same blood that runs through our veins! Filipino versus Filipino (Filipino Muslims versus Filipino Christians).  Click here>>>>  to read “The Price  of Peace”  by: Ryan Rosauro).

Map Area of Muslim Mindanao

Map Area of Muslim Mindanao

At present Muslims are made up between 5 and 9 percent of the Filipino population, they are fighting  for more expansive rights and autonomy in the Mindanao.

Fr. Roberto C. Layson, a Parish Priest of Pikit, North Cotabato during the  Interreligious Dialogue Conference in Bali, Indonesia said “in Mindanao, when you ask a Muslim boy what he wants to become when he grows up, he tells you that he wants to become a rebel to fight the military. When you ask a Christian boy what he wants to become when he grows up, he tells you that he wants to become a soldier to fight the rebels”.

2010 Philippine election is fast approaching; Presidentiable aspirants should lay down their government platform for Mindanao. The lucky one (the winner) should prioritize Mindanao peace process and development programs; strengthen Mindanao policies and implement genuine reforms.

DFA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis who is the head of  the Government in Mindanao Peace Panel expect that the two sides should agree on two frameworks; one is on the general principles of the Mindanao Peace Agreement; and second, on the civilian protection agreement (in time of hostilities).

Flag of OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference)

Flag of OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference)

The talk was supported by other countries supporting peace process to achieve long term peace stability for the region in Mindanao more particularly the Muslim community. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a pan-Islamic bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy oil-exporting countries in the Middle East and Africa, has relayed to its central committee its willingness to join the international contact group (ICG) that will be composed of foreign organizations and international donors helping the Mindanao peace process.

The OIC was founded in 1969 and based in Saudi Arabia’s port-city of Jeddah, represents fifty-seven predominantly Muslim countries and is the largest intergovernmental organization outside the United Nations system. The Philippine, Moro Islamic Liberation Front is an OIC Member under Observer status since 1977.

The setting up of the ICG was stipulated in a joint statement signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by government chief negotiator Usec Rafael Seguis and MILF counterpart, Muhaquer Iqbal, putting the peace talks back on track.

Fr. Roberto Layson said “I believe that we can only have peace in the world when there is peace among religions. But we can only have peace among religions where there is authentic dialogue among peoples. And there can only be authentic dialogue among peoples when there is respect for one another”.  – END

sources:  Global Nation Inquirer :  Congress panel OKs 9th ray in RP flag ; Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Mindanao Amidst Uncertainties, by Fr. Roberto C. Layson, OMI  International Contact Group (ICG) ; Taped Interview  of  U.P. Prof.  Maria Luisa T. Camagay 

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. ###

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View


The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View
by ILDEFONSO F. BAGASAO

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

AMONG my peers, there seems to be a common observation in the reporting of any kind of news that media generally shows bias for sensational stories that whet the reading public’s appetite for such accounts but which incidentally also sells newspapers, broadsheets and tabloids.
News reportage on Filipino migrants is no exception.

Stories about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming home in coffins, jumping out of the windows, committing suicides, of rape, torture, and other forms of maltreatment in foreign shores, continue to dominate our daily newspapers. One has to find balance and variety in reporting of this or any kind of news.

For one like myself engaged in advocacy for migrant empowerment, I continue to wonder; given that we have an estimated 10 million of our fellow citizens working and making a living overseas, there must be and, indeed, there should be success stories and other development-oriented diaspora activities initiated by migrants all over the world that mirror their sacrifices and continued love for their origin countries.

However, if one has not scoured papers, studies and reports, or participate in conferences of development, international and multilateral agencies, academic and research institutions, which monitor, support, assist or enhance these activities, the public remains unaware of the important contributions to the economic, cultural and human capital made by migrants to their countries of origin, and the enormous challenges that had to be surmounted by people who once upon a time made a momentous decision to migrate.

Which brings me to the work of the OFW Journalism Consortium, a small band of journalists who in the last few years since their formal organization, chose to focus on development-oriented migration journalism, bringing to the public stories, reports, and even person-to-person accounts, that may well have escaped our notice.

I am quite sure the OFWJC’s brand of journalism has enhanced the public’s level of awareness on core issues, concerns and challenges of Philippine migration, diaspora activities that highlight the overseas Filipinos’ love for their native land and, at the same time, has pointed out to policymakers where reforms should be directed.

As a migrant advocate since 1999 to the present, I know of no other media group, here or elsewhere, that is engaged in this type of journalistic work regarding migrants.

Their reports have often been quoted or cited not only in academic papers but even by local and foreign newspapers. Perhaps, these are indications their decision a few years ago to focus on migrant issues was a wise one.

Well, they don’t sell newspapers –they only write and report these stories.

If that is not commitment, I don’t know what is. end

Editor’s note: The author is president of the nonprofit Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (Ercof), and plays the bass guitar and keyboards.

The Statesman and the Right One


When the good Senator Mar Roxas back out of his bid to contest the highest position in the land and instead gave way to Sen. Noynoy Aquino – was really an act of a true statesman.

The Statesman and the Right One

The Statesman and the Right One

There are two important factor why a politician can be called a statesman; one is a politician who accomplished excellent and untarnished track record in his political career and the other; is a politician who execute all his political plans for the good of the people into a credible action.

Charles A. Beard, writing in the American Mercury, noted: “The statesman is one who divines the long future, foresees the place of his class and nation in it, labors intelligently to prepare his countrymen for their fate, combines courage with discretion, takes risks, exercises caution when it is necessary, and goes off the stage with a reasonable degree of respectability.”  Sen. Mar Roxas announcement backing out his bid in the Presidential race is undeniably an act of accomplishment as a true politician and a statesman rolled into one.    

On the other hand,  Sen. Noynoy Aquino who pledged to continue “Ninoy and Cory’s fight is the only right person that can unite the opposition and probably the best man to lead the nation.

With the slogan “Gawin ang Tama” (To Do What is Right), Noynoy will be the next highest official in the land.

Unlike other Presidentiables (minus Sen. Mar Roxas), Senator   Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, an economics graduate of the Ateneo University is a full-time legislator. A third termer representative of the 2nd District of his home province, Tarlac prior becomes a Senator.  As a member of the House, he was one of the congressmen who voted for the passing of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act (RA 9189), known as the “Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.”

In his last term in the House of Representatives, he filed a total of 14 measures, one of which was a resolution creating an oversight committee to study how government agencies use intelligence funds.

Born on February 8, 1960, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco-Aquino III, popularly known as Noynoy, is the third of the five children (Maria Elena, Aurora Corazon, Benigno III, Victoria Elisa and Kris) and only son of  former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Simeon Aquino, Jr. and former Philippine President Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino. ### BongA

OFW groups in Saudi in a last minute appeal to COMELEC: Extend OAV registration period


Senate Bicam Consultation, March 15, 2002 Philippine Embassy, Riyadh

Senate Bicam Consultation, March 15, 2002 Philippine Embassy, Riyadh

Riyadh, August 26, 2009 –  OFW groups in  Saudi Arabia, appeal to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to consider extending the Overseas absentee voting registration until 31 December 2009 to give OFWs ample time to register and vote in the 2010 elections. 

A separate statement coming from Migrante-Middle East an alliance of OFW organizations in Middle East and OFW Congress, an advocacy group composed of Filipino community organizations in Riyadh. The OAV registration would be ending on the 31st August 2009 set by  COMELEC.

As the duration of registration has been shortened from originally 1 year to 7 months by virtue of COMELEC en banc resolution, we appeal to our COMELEC Commissioners to reconsider the original duration of 1 year so that our fellow OFWs could register themselves and vote come 2010 elections,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

FilCom Leaders in Riyadh & members of the Senate Bicameral Consultation Committe delegations

FilCom Leaders in Riyadh & Phil. Senate Bicameral Consultation Committe delegations

On the other hand OFW Congress-Riyadh appeals COMELEC to extend the registration period untill 31 of December this year to give way to those OFWs who now realize that 2010 election is very crucial for the nation’s democratic processes. “We noticed that our youths are now actively involved in the process, especially first timer voters as we can see in TV news, how much more the OFWs who harldy fought for the passage of the OAV law?” said Alex Veloso Bello, President of OFW Congress through a telephone conversation from Dubai.

Alex Veloso Bello is presently in UAE attending the repatriation of  the remains of his elder sister OFW Arlyn Veloso Bello who died due to stroke last Monday, August 24, 2009. The member organizations of OFW Congress-Riyadh extends their deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of OFW Arlyn Veloso Bello, a driving instructress of Al Shola Driving School and an OFW for  21 years.

Bicam Delegations during Filcom Leaders Consultation Meeting

Bicam Delegations during Filcom Leaders Consultation Meeting

Monterona said on 2006 OAV registration, the COMELEC gave OFWs a 13-month registration duration; One of the factors why OAV registrants reached to almost 150,000 that year,”

Mathematically speaking, with a shorter period of registration (only 7 months), it would be hard for the COMELEC and OAV Secretariat to attain a considerable number of registrants such is its 1-M target, given all other factors present delaying the registration,” Monterona opined.

Based on the data released by the OAV Secretariat last August 13, 2009 there are only 10,718 OAV registrants in Saudi Arabia. There are more than a million OFWs and their dependents in Saudi Arabia.

We are hoping that with the granting of the OAV extension until 31 December 2009, we could gather all in all 300,000 OAV registrants benchmarking the OAV registrants last 2003 registration or even higher,” Monterona added. Monterona said Migrante chapters in the Middle East vow to continue encouraging fellow OFWs in the region to exercise their right to vote initiating various form of activities and information dissemination drive about the on-going OAV registration.

Last year, rumors spread around the worlwide OFW community that there are sectors in the Philippine Congress planning to scrap R.A. 9189 known as Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, if the turn out of votes of absentee voting be less than 1 million in 2010 election. The said plan was strongly opposed by Filipino Community leaders around the three regions of the Kingdom.

We have days left and we hereby appeal to our fellow community organizations in the Kingdom and around the world to please exert more efforts to bring their members to their respective Embassies and consulates to register Bello added. 

If our appeal will be given due course, the extension will give more ample time to OFWs in the Kingdom to register considering the Holy month of Ramadan and the coming Eid Holidays” Bello ended.    

The two groups appeal to COMELEC Commissioners particularly COMELEC Chairman Melo to reconsider extending the OAV registration until 31 December 2009.

Exercise your right to vote, your vote will make a difference and effect the change we want,” Monterona ended. ### BongA

related post : OAV The Fight must Continue 

Timely Assistance from PhilEmb led to the released of OFWs jailed for “illegal mixed Gatherings”


Timely Assistance from PhilEmb led to the released of OFWs jailed for “illegal mixed Gatherings”  

Riyadh,  24 August 2009 — Overseas Filipino Workers belong to  filipino community organization, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) who were apprehended by Saudi authorities for illegal “mixed gathering” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has been released.

In an email received from John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator,  that the “prostitution” case  supposed to be filed by the Saudi police to 18 KGS members and run away distress OFWs arrested when the Saudi cultural police raided the KGS safe house last August 14 during the group’s welfare case assistance meeting, has not been filed and is now dropped by the Saudi police. 

Monterona said, the information was relayed by Eric Jocson, Chairperson of KGS,   the local chapter of Migrante in Riyadh”.  Eric Jocson  were among of those arrested during the raid but was later released through the help of his employer.   

The dropping of the case has also been confirmed  by Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, saying that their case officers were able to convince the Police that there is no “prostitution” as those apprehended are members of legitimate OFW organization providing assistance to distress and run away OFWs.

H.E. Ambassador Antonio Villamor in one of the Filipino Community events in the Industrial Area

H.E. Ambassador Antonio Villamor with the management of Obeikan Investment Group of Companies during FilCom events in the 2nd Industrial Area of Riyadh, KSA

The Filipino community in Riyadh commended the immediate intervention of the Philippine Embassy  and to Ambassador Antonio Villamor who directed Assistance to National Section (ANS) headed by Vice Consul Reyes to act on the case immediately.  The timely assistance of  the Philippine Embassy lead to the dropping of the case.

The Migrante Middle East through Monterona commended Embassy’s case officers,  Attache’s  Frias, Akraman and Harris under the direct guidance of Vice Consul Reyes. We will not hesitate to laud the good job done by embassy’s case officers and officials for that matter so long as they will provide same assistance to all distress and run away OFWs not only to KGS and Migrante members,” Monterona added.

The email also mentioned that there is no case filed yet against the KGS members and they are hoping; that KGS Secretary-General Mike Garlan and member Rustico Marcos will be released any time from today who are still  in jail for 11 days now.  

The Embassy informed the group that those with Iqama (working permit) will be released immediately,  those who have expired Iqama or run away will be deported.

2 of the 5 detained OFW women namely Sarah Gumansing and Elvira De Guzman have already been released in the custody of their respective employers; while run away OFWs Clemia Corpuz, Rosa Salazar, Amauri Meriz together with Reynaldo Balagtas who filed a labor case against his employer will be deported.

The Philippine Embassy through diplomatic means convinced the Saudi police that nothing illegal happened in the said gatherings  or there is no commission of “prostitution” as alleged by the apprehending cultural police, locally called Muttawa.

While acknowledging the efforts undertaken by Assistance to Nationals Section (ANS) of  Philippine Embassy,  Monterona  reiterated that the next most important task the RP Embassies in the Middle East should be doing is to find proactive solutions that will lead in  the legalization of all undocumented and run away OFWs mostly victims of abuses and maltreatment.”

To our conservative estimate there are about nearly 26,000 undocumented and run away OFWs in the Middle East mostly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon,” Monterona ended. # # # – BongA

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board


OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

Saturday, 22 August 2009,  Riyadh –  An online Petition is now gaining momentum demanding the recall of  President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s  new appointee to OWWA Board of Trustees.

OWWA BOT

OWWA BOT

Just recently, PGMA  appointed  Mr. Joselito “Jojo” Sapio  as  new member of OWWA Board of Trustees and according to the Petition,  the new appointee was  GMA’s  election Campaign Manager in Hongkong and the founder of “GMA Pa rin Movement.”

The said online Petition demanded that the  conduct of selecting land-based OFW representation in the Board should be more impartial, transparent and independent.

The Petition demands includes:

Increase the number of OFW representatives to the OWWA Board and reduce those from the  government.

Make the OWWA work concretely for the welfare needs of OFWs and their families by scrapping the OWWA Omnibus Policies and promulgating a pro-OFW Charter.

The OWWA Fund should never be used for the personal and political agenda of a few.

For the past years, OWWA has consistently been questioned with regard to the management and allocation of its funds. One of the most controversial issues involved the transfer of the OWWA Medicare Fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in 2004. This was made after Health Sec. Francisco Duque (then head of PhilHealth) wrote to PGMA endorsing the transfer, saying such would have a “significant impact” on the impending election at that time.”  the Petition said.

A year ago PGMA rejected  an online petition asking PGMA to  appoint Dr. Carlito L. Astillero a  Saudi-based Cebuano pathologist as chief of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) vacated by the then OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque who is now the current DOLE  Chief.  

The current OWWA Board of Trustees are:

Hon. Marianito D. Roque – Secretary of Labor and Employment and Chairman

Hon. Carmelita S. Dimzon –  OWWA Administrator and Vice-Chairman

Members:

Hon. Luzviminda G. Padilla – Undersecretary, DOLE
Hon. Esteban B. Conejos – Undersecretary, DFA
Hon. Jennifer J. Manalili – Administrator, POEA
Hon. Arturo C. Bumatay – Director IV, DBM
Hon. Gil S. Beltran – Undersecretary, DOF
Hon. Victorino F. Balais – Representative, Labor Sector
Hon. Rene Y. Soriano – Representative, Management Sector
Hon. Gregorio S. Oca – Representative, Sea-Based Sector
Hon. Corazon P. Carsola – Representative, Land-Based Sector
Hon. Bai Omera H. Dianalan-Lucman – Representative, Women’s Sector

The said Petition strongly  opposed  the arbitrary and biased selection of the land-based OFW representative to the Board of Trustees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

You may access to the Petition by clicking the link below :

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/owwa4ofw/  ( “No to GMA ‘yes-man’ in OWWA Board of Trustees”.)BongA

related post:  Migrant Workers Day Nothing to Celebrate Amend R.A. 8042

The same People…


Migrante at DFA

Migrante at DFA

When Filipinos heard or watched about Migrante’s activities in Philippines and other countries kadalasan mag comment kaagad yan “Leftist naman ang mga iyan”. Pag sinabing “Leftist”, usually you are referring to those who oppose on how the administration governs the country and its people.  So if you’re opposing or contradicting a certain policies of the Government then those Congressmen and Senators who opposed the administration of GMA is Leftist!  According to them “NO” – sila daw ay mga leaders belong to the “Opposition”. Huh! Sige na nga.

In Web definition, the word Leftist particularly in politics means “left-wing, political left, leftist and the Left are terms applied to positions that focus on changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege”. 

Egalitarianism on the other hand is defined either as a “political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights, or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people”. 

In the Overseas Filipino Community  here in Saudi Arabia, Migrante is “an alliance of various OFW groups committed to protecting and upholding the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and their families in the home front” (source http://migrante-ksa.blogspot.com/).  

Kung wala sila walang maingay, walang kakalampag sa mga kinauukulan upang mabigyan ng kasagutan ang mga hinaing ng ating mga kapwa OFWs“.

For me, I don’t consider Migrante a leftist group; I consider them an organization committed to help others in needs especially to those whose rights have been violated.  

Sen. Mar ROxas with MIGRANTE

Sen. Mar Roxas w/ Migrante (Click photo & read Sen. Mar Roxas "Stronger Protection for OFWs Urged)

Those fellow OFWs arrested by Saudi authorities were there in a right place and the right time. The meeting perhaps was called to update the status of their cases being handled or monitored  by kind individuals belong to the group Kapatiran ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS).

I knew some of them; they are the same OFWs who help us in the implementation of Philippine Embassy on-site mobile overseas absentee voting registration.  They are the same ordinary OFWs who donate goods and food at Bahay Kalinga intended for our runaway maids.  They are the same people I mingled inside the Philippine Embassy during Filcom events. They are the same people who help us for the orderly conduct of Absentee Voting in Philippine Embassy.

Now, they are the same group of OFWs that needs help from our Philippine Embassy/POLO/OWWA.

18 Migrante members arrested in Riyadh


18 Migrante members arrested in Riyadh


By Dindo Amparo, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau Chief | 08/16/2009 10:11 AM

RIYADH – Eighteen members of Migrante International, an alliance of migrant organizations, were arrested by Saudi Police for holding an illegal “mixed gathering” in an apartment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Migrante in KSA

Migrante in KSA

Migrante International is an alliance of migrant organizations.

Sources said 10 men and eight women were arrested, including Eric Jocson, chairperson of the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) in Riyadh.

The group was reportedly holding a meeting in the apartment in Badea district when police conducted the raid.

Saudi Arabia forbids the gathering of men and women in private and public places except for married couples and their families.

The arrested Migrante members are facing immorality charges, while the Filipino who rents the apartment unit where the raid took place is likely to be charged with harboring “runaways” or workers with absconding cases.

Meantime, five of those arrested were found without an “iqama” which is an official identity card for the Saudi residence permit.

related post: Immorality a Serious Offense ; Pasaway ; CP’s on PDOS ; Philippine Embassy cautions OFW’s 26 Filipinos arrested for possessing fake papers (marriage, iqamas) in Dammam ; Massive Fingerprinting Begins ;

DARNAAA!!! Kumakatok lang Po! Distress Call


A friend of mine called me a few minutes ago asking for my help. His friend, a Filipina Household Service Worker (PGMA’s Super Maids) called him narrating her ordeal in the hands of her Egyptian employer (bakit kaya Egyptian, siguro naloko naman to ng recruiter). She was “kono” maltreated and abused”. At sabi pa sa kanya na pag wala daw tumulong sa kanyang tumakas “tatalon daw siya sa ika-apat na palapag ng building na kanyang tinitirahan.  Tanong ko sa kaibigan ko “Bai basin imo na UYAB, pagkatapos ma rescue kunin mo sa Bahay Kalinga at ibahay habang buhay” sabi niya “he he, ikaw talaga bai, hindi oy”! para bang nahihiya, he he. 

FHSW "Darna in Real Life"

FHSW “Darna in Real Life”

Well, well, well,  im not new in this kind of distress call, some of them true and some of them not, “bakit pa kasi nauso ang cellphone may text mate tuloy”. 

Pero wala akong magagawa kundi tutulong sa ating mga kawawang “PGMA’s Super Maids” in Filipino dialect “DARNA“.   

Sabi ko sa kaibigan ko “Bai, gawin ko ang aking makakaya na makaabot sa mga kaibigan “kono” natin  sa Embassy at POLO/OWWA, pero huwag kang umasa dahil yong problema sa Makkah/Jeddah na nakakarating na sa pinaka matayog na opisyal ng Konsulada natin doon, sa awa ng Diyos wala pa akong natatanggap na balita”.  Dagdag ko “pag nagka ganon, bai! hindi malayo mag ALA DARNA yan” huwag naman sana. &*#@ Kumakatok lang po!. Sensya na.