Why I love Nigeria despite what they say (Globalnation)

November 30, 2008

By Penelope Endozo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:59:00 10/07/2008

WHY DO SO MANY FILIPINOS CHOOSE TO work in another developing country like Nigeria where there is a Philippine government ban on all kinds of overseas Filipino workers?

The African continent holds too much baggage from its colonial past that Evangeline ‘Vangie’ Novio is willing to paint the real picture of this western African country to clear the doubts caused by reports that hound headlines in the Philippines. One of their consequences is a work ban on professionals that has put an unwarranted burden on other Filipino workers in Niger land.

Vangie, 55, is one of the pioneer overseas Filipino workers based in Abuja, the land-locked capital of Nigeria. She left the Philippines on Oct. 13, 1980 and has never looked back since. “But I go home every single holiday I have,” she says.

Her most recent homecoming was obliged by a request of her aging mother in San Jose, Mindoro Occidental. But before she went home to the Philippines, her employer was worried because of the travel ban. “Our head office personnel is concerned, they asked ‘Vangie, are you sure you can come back?’”

She knew she was taking a risk. But, “I want to see my mother.” Vangie said, noting that some of her colleagues would rather bring their relatives to ban-free countries like Thailand and Singapore just to spend time with them.

“Most of them can’t come home. They could only stay in Bangkok or Singapore and bring their parents there to meet them, which is a big burden for us,” she said in Filipino in an interview in Manila. “If we are called the modern heroes, then why are we being punished like this?”

Only Filipinos have a ban

Vangie says that among the countries that have multi-national workers in Nigeria, the Philippines is the only country that imposed a total working ban to the country, even if there is a roster of different multi-nationals in Abuja. “Why are we Filipinos the only ones that imposed the ban?”

She admits, however, that the Niger Delta has been occupied with kidnapping issues.

Niger Delta is the biggest oil supplier in Africa and the provider of about one-fifth of the US’s oil needs. Shell discovered it to be oil-rich in 1956, but the locals demanded equal shares from foreign oil companies through the armed Movement for Emancipation for Niger Delta (MEND) starting in early 2000.

Vangie is quick to add that the unrest is an isolated case in Port Harcourt, the southern former capital, near the delta. She cried foul as the ban was lifted for a week but re-imposed when another batch of seamen was kidnapped. She says land-based and sea-based workers have different needs. “They are not land-based, they’re transient [workers]. Why should the land-based workers suffer a ‘solution’ that was meant for sea-based workers?”

3 different jobs

For more than two decades, Vangie saw how Nigeria changed—and how this changed her life, too, as she changed jobs through the years. First she worked as a teacher in a State all-girls’ school, then an accountant for a Chinese-Canadian businessman, and now as a plant supervisor for a German logistics and construction company. “There are no domestic workers there. We are all professionals,” she says.

Vangie worked as an education officer for 10 years in the Bouchi State Secondary School for Girls. She’s proud to say that some of her students are now high-ranking officials in various offices. “I don’t remember them but they come to me and one of them said ‘But Madam, you were my teacher, I now work in the Senate.’”

Her experience as a teacher was far more enriching than what other countries could offer at the time.

Nigerians respect Filipinos, and that counts for any migrant worker she says. At one point where Filipinos in Nigeria were transferring to the US in the mid-’80s, Vangie decided to gauge an offer to teach there by observing her friend’s class in New York. When the teacher asked the student to stand up, the kindergarten student answered her back with a slur: “Get away from me, you colored woman.” That was enough for her to decline the offer.

She says that besides being hardworking and intelligent, Filipinos are sought for because “they are very ‘tolerant.’” When asked whether she had experienced any form of discrimination, Vangie says none. “In fact, people even curtsied to us.”

In 1992, Vangie worked as a principal accountant for a manufacturer of slippers even without having completed her commerce degree. “I lacked just one more year, but I opted to work at that time,” she says.

Vangie has always seized opportunities as they came. She was assigned to Lejos, Port Harcourt and Kano, one of the oldest cities in African civilization. This exposed her to the lifestyle she could enjoy only in Nigeria, her second home. In March 2001, she transferred to the German construction company as a secretary where she is now a plant supervisor.

Fulfilled dreams

Vangie, who is single, has helped her family the most. What she’s wanting in some ways, she tries to compensate with other means. She enjoys her freedom and fulfills her dreams, touring the world many times over. She has visited the world’s key cities – Rome, Paris, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Canada— frequently until she “lost interest.”

She couldn’t hide her excitement as she described how her plane tickets piled an inch-thick. But the most memorable experience for her was when she first sent remittance money to her family back home. She knows that not all Filipinos share the same lucky streak. Others were laid off from companies; some had problems when they married Nigerian locals. To help, Vangie and a group of friends organized a Filipino-group called “Pusong Pinoy” in 2003. “Pusong Pinoy” members mostly organize bazaar sales, parties and even an International Women’s Fair whose proceeds go to the members in need.

“Just think about it, if we are not safe there, why do we have parties? We have parties almost every week there.”

Work with full dignity

Someone who has been there long enough to understand how this host country treats its migrant workers, Vangie knows that the Nigerian government and their employers are doing everything to protect the multi-national workers.

At present, she has her own furnished house in a subdivision called “life-camp” with other multi-national workers. She has her own car and driver and she gets to meet Filipinos over parties and Saturday Masses. She has a full life there that she knows she could not find elsewhere. “We want to invite President Macapagal-Arroyo so she could see how the Filipinos there are working with full dignity,” she says.

“Can the Philippines give us jobs here?”

The answer can very well answer another question she posed: “So, why do you need to ban?”

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http://globalnation.inquirer.net/features/features/view/20081007-165043/Why-I-love-Nigeria-despite-what-they-say


Kapit sa patalim ng immigration

November 27, 2008

At least, mayroong Nigeria OFW na sumulat patungkol sa Immigration natin.

====

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/135557/Kapit-sa-patalim-ng-immigration

Kapit sa patalim ng immigration

11/25/2008 | 03:41 PM

Maagang pagbati po ng Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon.

Suportahan ko lang po yung ibinahaging liham ni Charry ng Singapore. Tama ang sinabi niya na lagayan sa immigration para makabalik kami rito sa Nigeria ay 12,000.00 php. Kababalik ko lang ulit nitong October at anim na beses akong umuuwi sa loob ng isang taon kaya anim na beses din akong naglalagay sa immigration.

Malaki na po ang kinita nila sa akin at malaki rin naman ang naitulong nila sa akin. Kailangan naming patulan o kunsintihin ang immigration dahil kailangan kong bumalik sa trabaho para may ipangtustos sa pamilya ko.

Wala ng kinikita ang POEA dahil hindi na kami nagbabayad ng OEC at PHILHEALTH, sa madaling sabi immigration fee lang ang problema namin para makabalik dito sa Nigeria.

Sana mabigyan pansin naman ng ating gobyerno na alisin na ang ban to Nigeria para naman maging legal ang pagbalik namin dito.Hindi namin lubos maisip bakit kailangan i-total ban ang Nigeria gayung wala namang kaguluhan o giyera.

Oo nga’t may nakidnap dito noon na mga Pinoy, sila ay mga sea worker na nadedestino sa ibat- ibang bahagi ng mundo. Nagkataon lang na nabiktima sila na napakalayo naman sa pinagtatrabahuhan namin. At meron ding nakidnap na isang Pinoy na nakalaya rin naman agad at isang babae na nakidnap daw na hindi naman totoo.

Hindi naman siguro dapat pagbasehan yun para ideklara ng pamahaaan na gawing total ban ang pagpapadala ng mga manggagawang Pinoy sa Nigeria. – GMANews.TV

Salamat po GMA Kapuso,

Nigel


Lebanon ban lifted but not Nigeria??

November 25, 2008
Mga kababayang naija pinoys at pinays, isa na namang di maintindihang decision ng ating government officials.

Biruin nyo, Lebanon‘s “ILLEGALLY DEPLOYED OFWs” – meaning, undocumented workers- are allowed to come home without any fear of being banned from returning to their place of work.

abused domestic helpers protest

And yet, Ms. Manalili, just like her predecessors, have the gumption to say that the ban to Nigeria will remain because  the government still believe that the entire Nigeria is very risky. Manalili is saying security of workers is the major consideration of the government.

This is madness.

If security is a big issue, why can’t the philippine government impose a travel ban to the following places in the Philippines which Australia deems to be ‘dangerous’.
http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20081124-174051/Australia-updates-travel-advisory-vs-RP

We, the Filipinos in Nigeria, are very disappointed by Ms. Manalili’s parroting of the previous statement made by DOLE Sec. Roque and DFA/OUMWA Usec. Conejos.

We cannot believe that Ms. Manalili would just say that Nigeria is a risky country when she has not even a first-hand knowledge about the situation in Nigeria, nor has she made any effort to get feedback from filipino association in Nigeria.

In other words, her pronouncement with regards to Nigeria ban is based on ‘blessed ignorance’ of what is the present situation in Nigeria. Knee-jerk decision making. That is their habit. Bad news for bad news, i think Middle east is consistently DEADLY to hapless HSWs.  So why is the government not putting a ban on their deployment?

We wonder who are the people behind the lobby to have the Lebanon ban lifted. We would like to hire them
as Nigeria lobbyist also.

The risk in Lebanon is not only rooted on occassional war, but more on the Arab culture. How many Sri Lankans, Filipinos and Bangladeshis die in the hands of their Arab employers every year??

EVERY YEAR !

And yet Ms Manalili, like her bosses at DOLE and DFA, continue to insist that Nigeria is as dangerous as Somalia. Some people are not reading their news.

Ms. Manalili, we Filipinos in Nigeria, invite you to visit us here in West Africa. Maybe when you meet with us in Lagos, you will have a better understanding of why we Naija Pinoys make a lot of noise and effort to have this ban lifted. And then maybe you can give a correct report to your superiors that the ban is no longer necessary.

We hope you will have a merry christmas. Dahil kami sa Nigeria, nangigil sa galit at naiiyak sa lungkot sa pahirap na dinaranas namin dahil sa ban na to.

================
LOCAL NEWS: POEA says OFWs in Lebanon can spend Christmas in RP
By Mayen Jaymalin Updated November 24, 2008 03:47 PM
Filipino domestic helpers employed in Lebanon can now look forward to spending a Christmas at home.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili said the government would be allowing illegally deployed Filipino workers to return home for the holidays.
“The POEA  will soon be coming out with a resolution that will allow our workers in Lebanon to spend Christmas here without fear of getting banned from returning to their jobs,” Manalili said in an interview.
Manalili noted that they have been getting numerous requests from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Lebanon, most of whom were deployed illegally, that they be allowed to spend the Christmas season in the Philippines.
“We are granting their request, but we must stress that only those who will come home for the holidays will be allowed to return to their jobs in Lebanon,” Manalili said.
“The possibility of allowing new hires in Lebanon is still under study, we still have to validate the job orders,” Manalili explained.
The government is also unlikely to lift the ban in Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan, saying security of workers is the major consideration of the government.
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=418256

RP will not lift ban on workers in Iraq

November 20, 2008

iraq_rel_2004We in Nigeria are seriously following this story. It is good that the Iraqi government is the one requesting the Philippine government to consider lifting of travel and work ban. Truly, how many countries declared a travel and work ban to Iraq?

Not even the US, which has the highest casualty in Iraq, declared ban on Iraq. They issue travel advisories.

Maybe the Philippine government has the best ‘risk-assessment’ team in the world, beating the likes of US and UK, so much so that only RP declares Nigeria a very high-risk country, on the same level as Iraq.

If the Philippine government blinked for awhile about the idea of lifting the travel and work ban to Iraq, we wonder what would it take for them to remove the same ban to Nigeria…

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata..

===============

11/15/2008 | 02:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has no immediate plan to lift a ban on its citizens working in Iraq, the labor secretary said Saturday after a plea from an Iraqi diplomat for more foreign laborers to help with the war-torn country’s reconstruction.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said there would be no deployment of Filipino workers pending an assessment of the security situation in Iraq.

Iraqi officials asked the Philippines to lift the ban several weeks ago because of an expected construction boom, Roque said.

“I told them, ‘Wait a minute. We have to see if you can guarantee the security of our workers, before we consider allowing our workers to work in Iraq,'” he said in a radio broadcast.

The Philippines’ economy is largely dependent on its overseas workers. Some 8.7 million of the Philippines’ 90 million people work abroad and last year they sent home $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Iraq’s charge d’affaires Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh said Friday that the Middle Eastern country needs construction and oil workers, engineers, nurses, teachers and technicians.

The Philippines banned its citizens from working in Iraq in July 2004 after insurgents abducted and threatened to behead Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. He was released after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Roque said about 10,000 Filipinos work in two U.S. military camps without permission from the Philippine government. Al-Hakimh said the number of Filipino workers has risen to 15,000 despite the ban. – AP

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/133761/RP-will-not-lift-ban-on-workers-in-Iraq

==

‘Iraq ban an issue of security, not job demand’
KIMBERLY JANE T. TAN, GMANews.TV
11/15/2008 | 01:39 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Following Iraq’s declaration that the war-torn country is currently in need of millions of foreign workers, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque on Saturday said that the issue at hand is about security, not the lack of job opportunities.

Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh, Iraqi’s charge d’affaires on Friday said Iraq needs about 10 million foreign workers for the reconstruction of his country and urged the Philippines to lift a ban that prevents Filipino laborers from going there.

In an interview on Vice President Noli de Castro’s radio program on Saturday, Roque noted that while the Philippines needs plenty of job opportunities for its workers, it should not be at the expense of safety and security.

“’Yung paglilift ng ban ay subject for security assessment ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (The lifting of the ban is subject for security assessment by the DFA),” Roque said.

He said that the decision depended very much on DFA’a assessment, which is supposed to be released in December.

“Kung sa tingin nila ay wala nang peligro sa ating mga kababayan ay tsaka lang tayo maglilift ng deployment ban d’yan sa Iraq (If they think that the impending danger for our people is gone, that’s the only time when we will lift the deployment ban on Iraq),” Roque said.

“’Yung welfare at security ng mga kababayan natin ang importante above all (The welfare and security of our people is the most important above all),” he said.

He said that they talked with Iraqi officials during the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Manila last month.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili has also expressed apprehension, saying that when they met with the Iraqi representatives and talked about the current situation in the oil-rich state, the reply was not encouraging.

“I asked them, ‘Can we guarantee the safety of the workers there?’” Manalili recalled telling the Iraqi delegate. “When they said ‘Not everywhere in Iraq,’ then the ban stayed.”

Roque apparently had asked them the same question, saying that in the end, the Philippine government would still be the one to bear the consequences of lifting the ban.

“’Yung mga kompanya naman kapag may nangyari, bumubitiw agad sila (Those companies, when something happens, they immediately bail out),” he said.
Roque also said that the actions of United States President-elect Barack Obama should be considered. The top White House official had promised to pull out the American troops from Iraq within 16 months after taking his seat.

“’Yan ang malaking factor diyan, kung ano ang kanyang magiging polisiya niya tungkol sa Iraq (That’s a big factor, whatever his policies are going to be regarding Iraq),” he said.

Moreover, Roque said that DOLE is well aware that there are still many undocumented Filipino workers in Iraq.

He said that there are currently 10,000 Filipino workers working in Iraq unregistered.

“Wala nang legal (Filipino workers) ‘dun, lahat ‘yun ay matatawag nating unregistered (There are no more legal Filipino workers there, you can call all of them unregistered),” he said.

He also said they have alerted Kuwait and Saudi Arabia since they are the most likely areas by which undocumented workers might pass through in order to reach Iraq. Some of them have also entered the country via neighboring countries Jordan and Syria with coalition forces or US companies.

The Philippines has officially banned its citizens from working in Iraq since July 2004 after insurgents abducted Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz was threatened with beheading but his captors released him after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Some 8.7 million Filipinos out of the country’s 90 million people work overseas. Last year Filipinos working abroad sent home a total of $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. – GMANews.TV

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/133744/Iraq-ban-an-issue-of-security-not-job-demand


PBSN Chair Engr Esper Derpo among 2008 Banaag Awardee

November 7, 2008

PBSN Chair Esper Derpo

There is a saying that goes, “The best man for the job is a woman.”

We are pleased to inform all kababayans that our Barangay Chairperson, Engr (Mrs) Esper Derpo has been chosen by the Presidential Commission on Filipinos Overseas as one of the recipients of the Banaag Award for the Year 2008 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas.

The Banaag Award is given to Filipinos and foreign individuals or associations for advancing the cause of Filipino communities overseas or for supporting specific sectors or communities in the Philippines.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will personally hand-out the awards in a special ceremony tentatively set on 09 December 2008 at the Malacanang Palace.

Barangay Chair Ate Esper is now on her 4th consecutive year of leading the Philippine Community in Lagos, Nigeria.

Throughout her leadership, Chairman Esper (as she is fondly called here) has rallied the Filipinos in Lagos (living, vacationing, or just passing by Lagos to come together and build a strong community in Nigeria. Todate, PBSN Filipino community is one of those only vibrant and cohesive community of expatriates in Nigeria.

Chairman Esper has ushered a new type of Filipino community, a more close-knit and more active community. The PBSN clubhouse is the meeting place of Naija Pinoys every Sunday, and the place to-be every first sunday of the month for the Family Day gatherings. The ‘Family Day’ was a brainchild of Chairman Esper to strengthen the ties, not only among Filipinos, but also to other nationalities as well.

The PBSN, in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy, was founded in 1973 to formalize an already existing organization of Filipinos residing in Nigeria. Its foundations lay on the ideals of uniting Filipinos all over the country in the spirit of nationalism and friendship, while fulfilling a social responsibility to the host nation, Nigeria.

Charity Projects

In 2005, the Filipino communities in Ikeja, Victoria Island/Ikoyi, and Apapa hosted three separate fund-raising evebts for the Dept of Labor and Employment (DOLE)/Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA)’s project: “Classroom Galing sa Mamayang Pilipino sa Abroad (CGMA). Its proceeds helped put up more classrooms in remote areas of the Philippines.

PBSN also donated the proceeds of its 2006 Independence Day celebration to mudslide survivors in  Leyte.

To acknowledge the graciousness of the host country, PBSN has organized as its pet charity project the KiriKiri Initiative. It adopted a primary school in KiriKiri, Apap, Lagos area and provided financial and educational support to the pupils. The PBSN is represented by Mrs Veronica Bernas-Snoxell on this project.

Philippine Representative

2008 Small World Event, Lagos, Nigeria

2008 Small World Event, Lagos, Nigeria

For three consecutive years since 2006, the PBSN has been warmly welcomed in the Small World Event, the biggest fund-raising event in Lagos organized by an international community of Lagos Joint Women’s Groups. Philippines/PBSN is among the 27 countries featured in this annual event.

The PBSN also serves as an envoy of the Filipino community of Nigeria to visiting Philippine officials. It has received Esteban Conejos, Under-Secretaryfor Migrant Workers Affairs in his 2007 visit. Recently, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and his team, who were invited by the Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) for the Lagos Economic Summit, were also received by PBSN officers and members.

Last 2007, the Philippine Embassy through HE Ambassador Masaranga Umpa awarded the organization for its cause-oriented projects and active role in the betterment of Filipino communities in Nigeria.  It has, likewise, recognized the remarkable leadership that PBSN Chairperson Esperanza Derpo has exhibited in the organization’s various endeavours.

Welfare to Members/Kababayans

PBSN Clubhouse at Caverton Helicopter compound

PBSN Clubhouse at Caverton Helicopter compound

Coordination with the Philippine Embassy for consular matters or for assistance to some distressed OFWs, is a service the organization offers, not only to its members, but to all OFWs who sought its aid. Throughout the years, the members are rendered aid for the death of an immediate family member. At times of financial need, a ‘soft loan’ may also be acquired by a registered member.


It is under Ate Esper’s leadership that the Filipino community in Lagos acquired it’s permanent clubhouse, hosted at Caverton Helicopter Staff House in Ikeja, Lagos. Gracious OFWs donated billiard tables, dart boards and sing-along equipment.

Mabuhay ang mga Naija Pinoys.

More than 20 years have passed, the PBSN has grown in numbers, and evolved in a hybrid of Nigerized Pinoys.  Each year, it meets a widening scope of social responsibility unfazed.  Despite the changing of the times, it has upheld the ideals it has been founded on.

text taken from 2007 Independence Day souvenir magazine. Thanks to Maricar Derpo

Kami ang mga Naija (Nigeria) Pinoys (Filipinos).

The Philippine Barangay Society in Nigeria (PBSN), serving Nigeria OFWs since 1970’s.

2007-2008 PBSN Officers.

2007-2008 PBSN Officers. From left-to-right: Ka Ely Liceralde (seated), Engr. Tito Villaruel, Mr. Pros Naoe, Dr. Myrna Obiakor, Engr Jun Manalo, Engr Esper Derpo, Ms Mae Abcede. Not in photo: Mrs. Veronica Snoxell, Ms Rose Urgel.

——————–

FINAL LIST OF AWARDEES PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR FILIPINO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS OVERSEAS
—————————-

Linkapil Awardees                                              Endorsing Post

Association of Philippine Physicians of America                   PCG New York
Enverga, Tobias Jr.                                                             PCG Toronto
Filipino Women’s Association United Kingdom                   PE London
Stichting Kapatiran                                                             PE The Hague

Kaanib ng Bayan Awardees

Catholic Medical Mission Board                                           PCG New York
Children’s Chance CT                                                          PCG New York
Heetens Helpgood Center Philippines                                   PE The Hague
Ligier, Laurence                                                                   PE Paris

Banaag Awardees

Asuncion, Alexander                                                            PE Riyadh
Berberabe, Patricia                                                              PCG New York
Carandang, Angeles                                                             PCG Chicago
Casambre, Sr. Mary Aida                                                    PCG Hongkong
Derpo, Esperanza                                                PE Abuja
Filipino Korean Spouses Association                                    PE Seoul
Garcia, Lamberto                                                                 PCG New York
Ho, Eleanor                                                                         MECO Taiwan
Magdalena, Joseph                                                              PE Riyadh
Muzones, Santiago Jr.                                                          PCG New York
Noblejas, Dr. Antonio                                                          PE Wellington
Overs, Lilian                                                                         PCG Toronto
Philippine Community Council of New South Wales              PCG Sydney
Philippine Nurses Association of America                             PCG New York
Philipsen, Adelina                                                                 PE The Hague
United Filipino Council of Hawaii                                          PCG Honolulu

Pamana ng Pilipino

Besa, Amelita and Dorotan, Romeo                                       PCG New York
De Leon, Bayani                                                                   PCG New York
Esguerra, Carlos                                                                   PCG New York
Hizon, Federico                                                                    PE Singapore
Pelayo, Libertito                                                                   PCG New York
Ramos, Dr. Teresita                                                             PCG Honolulu
Villarin, Engr. Nilo                                                                PE Washington

Source: http://www.cfo.gov.ph/presidentialawards.htm


Balik-tanaw: With Due Respect – PDI article of Chief Justice Panganiban

November 7, 2008

Arroyo to ease OFW woes

With Due Respect – Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 10, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — I was invited, through Foreign Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, to meet President Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang last Feb. 6. We discussed many non-partisan concerns of the nation, like the seismic tests for oil and other natural resources in the Spratlys, jointly undertaken by the Philippines, China and Vietnam; the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) that is still awaiting Senate concurrence; and the strengthening of the Commission on Elections, started auspiciously with the appointment of Chair Jose A. R. Melo.

OFW recommendations. I took the occasion to submit to the President a position paper of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) recommending five specific measures to relieve them of their woes:

“1. To revoke immediately POEA Memo Circular No. 4 (series of 2007) in order to avert the loss of existing and potential jobs for OFWs in a shrinking and fiercely competitive global labor market;

“2. To bring about the urgent transformation of all international airports in the Philippines, especially Naia I & II, into customer-friendly, cheerful and hospitable places not only for OFWs but for all passengers;

“3. To direct a total revamp of the POEA, and if necessary, to appoint a new administrator, whose credentials equal those of Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte or Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee, in order to reinvent an efficient and effective POEA;

“4. To set in motion the audit of POEA, OWWA, and PhilHealth funds, in order to assure the OFWs that their hard-earned money is in good hands; and

“5. To prompt the Department of Foreign Affairs to raise the bar and to continuously improve its services to prospective OFWs and those who are currently deployed, especially in Nigeria, Middle East and India.”

These proposals were collated and synthesized from hundreds of e-mail by a core group of 20 led by Dr. Carmelita Cochingco-Ballesteros, Ph.D., a professor at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The other OFWs who helped her are Benjamin Baquilod (India), Nardito Sapon (Singapore), Freddie Base (Saudi Arabia), Erickson Alon (United States), Rosa Cagantas (United Kingdom), Ricardo Decena (Nigeria), Jimmy Cabatit (Nigeria), Flori Tuason (Sweden), Juvy Jumalon (Singapore), Manuelito Dagohoy (Saudi Arabia), Maynard Flores (Nigeria), Noslen Sonnel (Singapore), Alexander Moreno (United States), Mark Anthony Serrano (Dubai), Joey Pandy (Middle East), Herbert Sumalinog (Singapore), Jaime Enage Jr. (China), Leo Figaroa (Nigeria) and Eliseo Tenza (Dubai).

These recommendations were triggered by my three successive columns on Jan. 6, 13, and 20, denouncing the shabby treatment of OFWs. These articles can still be accessed at http://www.inquirer.net or my personal website, http://www.cjpanganiban.ph

The President was visibly touched by the OFWs’ stories narrating their airport ordeals, frayed nerves, anxiety, vexatious delays and loss of employment for some. GMA was especially peeved at POEA’s obvious lack of care and efficiency in handling their laments. She asked me to assure the OFWs that she would act expeditiously on their position paper and ease their woes.

xxxx

—-

NB: taken without permission from the personal website of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban (ret)

http://cjpanganiban.ph/columns/arroyo-to-ease-ofw-woes


Balik-Tanaw (2006): Nigerian envoy visits Hundred Islands

November 7, 2008

2006 Nigerian Ambassador visits Hundred Islands, Alaminos PangasinanNigerian envoy visits Hundred Islands
Date posted: 9/3/2006

Nigerian Embassy Head of Mission S.A. Dada Olisa wasn`t able to come with the twenty foreign ambassadors who visited the city and its pride, the Hundred Islands National Park, almost two years ago.

Though he certainly heard a lot about the city from the diplomatic community through the fond memories and experiences the envoys’ had during their brief visit here.

The articulate and jolly Charge the Affaires was here last Wednesday to have a first hand knowledge and experience on the current tourism and economic potentials of Pangasinan particularly the City of Alaminos.

xxxThe dignitaries first called on Mayor Hernani A. Braganza at his office were they exchanged pleasantries and talked about economic policies and some domestic issues.

Braganza, also a former Press and Agrarian Reform Secretary, briefed the honored guests on the city’s history, other vital facts and the current developmental thrusts outlined in his 10-Point Agenda.
xxx

[Full Story]