1 JULY 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In commemoration of Philippine Migrant Workers Day, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, (POLO-WDC) held a three-part webinar series for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United States and the Americas on 17, 20 and 27 June 2020.
The first webinar, entitled “Kabayan, may Kabuhayan sa Kabukiran”, was conducted in collaboration with the Office of the Agriculture Attaché in Washington, D.C. It featured Philippine Agriculture Secretary William Dar who encouraged OFWs to venture in agriculture, fishery, and agribusiness enterprises should they decided to return home or invest on behalf of their families. He also presented current programs of the Department of Agriculture that provide financial assistance, technical training, scholarships, livelihood development, and agri-fishery enterprises.
The Secretary was joined in at the DA office by actor-singer James Reid, who was recently designated as DA food security ambassador, and his team from “The Freshest”, a firm engaged in hydroponics, led by its CEO Fiona Faulkner.
Dream Agritech – a start-up of millennial professional agriculturalists also gave a presentation on how they can help OFWs develop their “dream farms”.
The second webinar, “Kamusta Ka Kabayan?” underscored the importance of mental health during this time of uncertainty. Fr. Nilo Tanalega of the UGAT Foundation shared tips on how to harness the power of an idea, passion, determination, and meaning to overcome the negative thoughts and emotions stemming from the pandemic. The session was capped off with a reaction from Atty. Dennis Gorecho who is an expert on issues concerning seafarers.
In the final webinar of the series, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard P. Olalia discussed the guidelines and procedures that are being implemented with the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), for OFWs who are to be deployed for employment, as well as those who have been scheduled for repatriation. The adjusted process in the revalidation of Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs), implementing an appointment system to avail of POEA services, and designating “green lanes” are among the measures taken by the agency to better serve returning OFWs. At the same time, Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) shared OWWA’s operations and experiences while serving OFWs who had to be transported from the airport to their homes. OWWA is providing repatriation assistance to its member-OFWs, guiding them through arrival formalities at the airport, providing them with transport to their designated hotels for quarantine, and arranging transportation from the quarantine facilities to their homes in other parts of the Philippines.
Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline Javelosa, Welfare Officer Josephine Tobia and Assistant Labor Attaché Marie Josephine Borromeo moderated the webinars.
“COVID-19 might have prevented us from holding our annual commemoration in the usual way but it should not stop us from reliving the spirit behind the Migrant Workers Day celebration. As our Filipino migrant workers face the most challenging times of their lives, the duty to protect and empower them becomes more imperative,” said Labor Attaché Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in a separate statement, “All of us at the Philippine Embassy are here to support our OFWs who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This webinar series is only the first of many initiatives that will aim to prepare, educate, and inspire OFWs as they navigate the new normal.”
Filipino Migrant Workers’ Day is celebrated every year on 7 June to celebrate the signing of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995. All webinars are available for streaming on the Facebook page of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC: www.facebook.com/PHinUSA.