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OWWA Extends Assistance to Families of OFW Fire Victims in Iraq

The families/relatives of the 13 OFWs who died from a fire incident in Iraq wait for the return of the bodies of their loved ones last Saturday, 13 February 2016 at the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado headed the OWWA Repatriation Team in extending assistance to the families of the female Filipino migrant workers. The OWWA Repatriation Team stayed until the wee hours of the morning to assist the families of the deceased OFWs in the documentation procedures at NAIA in order to release the OFWs’ bodies to their respective consignees.



21 OFW nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers from Kuwait are the initial beneficiaries of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-led Assist WELL Program whose primary objective is to extend immediate assistance to returning OFWs who are displaced due to war or other distressful situations or economic problems in countries where they work, or are victims of calamities, epidemics, and labor problems. Assist WELL is acronym for Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood program for returning OFWs. The 21 Filipino migrant workers are the first recipients of the program when it was launched last week at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building in Ortigas, Pasig City.


The returning female OFWs were met by OWWA at the NAIA in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait.


“Hindi nasunod ang nakasaad sa pinirmahan naming kontrata kaya nagdesisyon kami na umuwi na lang ng Pilipinas,” these are the words the returning OFWs who supposedly applied for employment in a hospital in Kuwait as nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers, but ended up as care givers instead.


According to OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, who met the female OFWs when they were brought to OWWA Center in Pasay City, the remaining 8 OFWs who have no relatives in Manila will be temporarily accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home, before proceeding to their respective provinces. Out of the 8 OFWs, 5 are from Mindanao, while the rest are from the Visayas and Luzon.


The affected workers narrated about their work experience and the reason why they opted to be repatriated. One of the nurses disclosed that instead of working in a hospital, they were forced to work in different homes as caregivers depending on the need or call of their foreign recruitment agency (FRA). Their situation, the OFWs added, was aggravated when they were paid only for hours worked which is a violation of their contract. More so, common quarters provided by their FRA served as their accommodation.


Under the Assist WELL program, affected workers will be provided temporary shelter. A one-stop-shop processing center will be established to attend to the immediate needs of OFWs upon their return to the country. The processing centers will institutionalize the availment of various assistance provided by DOLE and its attached agencies to OFWs. The agencies involved are OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).


Aside from temporary shelter, the OFWs will also be offered legal assistance, transportation fare, as well as OWWA’s “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” livelihood assistance program. Returning workers may also be referred by the participating government agencies for local employment, or in another country of their choice. Other Assist WELL Centers are located in selected DOLE and OWWA Regional offices nationwide.


The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has extended airport assistance to the families of the 13 female OFWs who perished in the fire that gutted a hotel in Iraq. The remains of the OFWs were repatriated last Saturday, 13 February 2016, via Emirates Airways (EK) flight 332 at 4:00 P.M.


Seven (7) cadavers were released to the families who patiently waited at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (cargo). The rest were shipped to their respective provinces in Mindanao via PAL.


The OWWA Repatriation Team assisted the families of the departed Filipino migrant workers in going through the process of releasing the remains of the workers.


OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado has also personally appeared before the bereaved families.


“We feel sad about the fate of our “kababayans” who perished in the hotel fire. However, as mentioned by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, we assure the families of those who died in the incident who were active OWWA members at the time of their death, that they will receive full benefits from OWWA,” Administrator Calzado said.


Eligible families will receive Death and Burial Benefit amounting to Php 220,000.00 and Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), a one-time scholarship-cum-livelihood grant for the surviving heirs of an active OWWA Member.


The names of the fatalities were withheld in respect to the situation of grieving families.


The HRD KOREA – EPS Center in the Philippines is now accepting applications of EPS Returnee-Workers in claiming their Departure/Emigration Insurances.


Only EPS Returnee-Workers who are named in the Official List will be entertained in filing their applications to claim said Insurances. Please call HRD KOREA – EPS Center in the Philippines at tel. (02) 470 18 53 for Application Forms, Instructions and other information.


The HRD KOREA – EPS Center in the Philippines is the only authorized office to accept, process and forward the insurance claims to the respective insurance company in the Republic of Korea and that NO other agency (whether private or public agencies/office) is authorized to deal with EPS Returnee-Workers.


The official listings of EPS Returnee-Workers can be viewed through the OWWA Official Website –


Thank you.



The Management

HRD KOREA – EPS Center in the Philippines


TFC supports the Month of Overseas Filipinos’ Model OFW Family of the Year & Media Advocacy & Migration Awards in Manila; and Pamaskong Handog & Family Day in Bicol Region


January 6, 2016 (Quezon City) – As part of its mission to accompany OFs in their journey before and after they leave the homeland, TFC supported the inter-agency celebration (IAC) of the Month of OFs (MOF) from the National Capital Region to the Bicol Region last December.


Model OFW Family of the Year

Early in December, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) awarded families who succeeded in the fields of community-building, values-formation and financial sustainability at the Model OFW Family of the Year awards.  Administrator Rebecca Calzado bestowed awards to the following winners at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) last December 18: land-based winner Engineer Robert Ranchez and family from Region 1 and sea-based winner Nestor Tunogbanua and family from Region VI.  Special awards went to Husna Sabtal and family for Outstanding Achievement for Entrepreneurship and Robert Guansing and family for Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects.  Winners were awarded with 500,000 in cash and prizes in kind.


Pamaskong Handog para sa OFW
To reward more OFs for their hard work, the LGU of Naga City, the JMDI and OWWA, with the support of private agencies such as TFC, conducted the Pamaskong Handog Para sa OFW in SM City Naga and the Family Day in Albay Astrodome.


Organized by the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), the United Nations Development Program and European Union-commissioned agency that recognizes the role of migration in development, together with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the local government of Naga City, gathered OFs and their families in the spirit of Christmas at the Pamaskong Handog para sa OFW at the SM City in Naga City last December 19.  Over 100 OF families came together for an early Christmas gathering with entertainment featuring talented members and personal gift-giving.


Meantime, in the same region of Bicol the OWWA brought together over 600 OF families in the annual Family Day at the Albay Astrodome also to celebrate an early Christmas.  The Family Day, an annual, institutionalized event created by OWWA-formed OF Family Circle, brought together families not only for merriment but most essentially, to showcase community amongst OF families and to propagate their livelihood programs.


Family Day and Pamaskong Handog

According to OIC Teresita Bantinan, the Family Day, while an annual program conducted by OWWA’s Overseas Family Communities or Circle or OFCs, always takes on a different take each year.  Bantinan said: “The Family Day’s goal is to recognize the OF families’ efforts and to recognize the modern day heroes.  This year, we featured the products of their livelihood projects of OFCs so they can be recognized and put out in the market.”  The Family Day also put the spotlight on OF families’ talent and skills as well with the Family Day “The Voice.”


During the two events, TFC, a purveyor of service beyond a showcase of Filipino talent and entertainment, shared how OFs can still play a role in nation-building despite the distance.  Through TFC’s social advocacy (We Believe in the Power of Good), intellectual property rights (Don’t Pay A High Price for Free) and overseas voting, the network showed the OFs and their families that by donating; patronizing original content & exercising their right to vote, OFs can help their kababayans in need, protect the hard-work of their fellowmen & choose their next leaders.


Launch of the first Migrant Resource Center (MRC) in Bicol

During the same week, the same inter-agency commission of JMDI, CFO and LGU also launched the first Migrant Resource Center in Bicol Region which hoped to gather all government services needed by OFs in one building.  The area was chosen because Region V, specifically Naga City is to date, one of the areas with the highest deployment of OFs.  Moreover, Naga City is the first local government unit (LGU) to mainstream migration in the local development planning. 


Mayor John Bongat explained: “This means that in the city development plans and medium development plans, the government takes an active role in helping the OFs and their families left here.  After their work abroad, upon retiring, the government will continue to give them attention.  The issues of the OFs were previously not part of LGUs.” 


JMDI focal person Atty. Golda Roma said that with the installment of the MRC, OFs can look forward to a one-stop-shop.  “As a hub, the lined up activities cut across economic (such as the conduct of investment or entrepreneurial activities), psycho-social (such as provision of legal and counseling services to distressed migrants), capacity-building and training, and strengthening Pamilyang Migrante ka Naga (PAMANA) as a migrant organization.”  Roma added: “Eventually, the MRC will also serve as venue for Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) or Pre-employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS), for DFA to set up its passport service, and for other agencies to service the public, particularly that of PAG-IBIG, Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, Technical, Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)s and more.”


For Joseph Lee, president of the PAMANA, he is not just happy that this center provides a one-stop shop for OFs but more importantly because it enables OFs to help each other. “I am happy and proud that we have organized today.  This MRC is a great help for us.  The more privileged OFs can help us less fortunate OFs.”


Aside from providing support in terms of financial support and skills training, OFC San Lorenzo Association President Amparo Botis Sanchez, said OFs can also help in terms of service.  “When I returned from overseas work, I have made it my mission to be the mother of OFs here in Bicol.  I was entrusted by OWWA to oversee the help desk.”


One of the help extended by OFs was their own contribution to the relief efforts for Filipinos from Sorsogon who were affected by Typhoon Nona.  Together with CFO, Land Transportation Office represented by Region V officer Vincent Nato and Lewis college students, the Feed the Hungry of Washington DC (FTH) helped repack and distribute relief goods to barangays in hard-hit Sorsogon.  The volunteers visited and distributed over a thousand relief goods to distraught families in Sta Magadalena, Juban and Bulan.


Recognizing media’s role

Beyond serving the needs of kababayans and recognizing the efforts of OF families, the inter-agency commission also highlighted the efforts of multi-media entities in bringing forth the issues that beset OFs.  On December 18, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) awarded ten media entities who highlight the issues which OFs face and at the same time present solutions through their platforms.  Winners included TFC’s JuanEUKonek and TFC@theMoviesEDSA Woolworth under the categories Best TV Program (regular) and Best Film.


In total, the MOF did not only recognize OF’s sacrifices but gave the  gift or opportunity for OF families to repay these sacrifices by coming together in the spirit of community and identifying ways to make these sacrifices all worth it for the entire family.  It also provided avenues for different sectors to play a role in the lives of OFs.


The IAC for the celebration of MOF is chaired by the PMRW and co-chaired by the CFO with members from the government agencies and civil society, which include the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Trade and Industry, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, National Reintegration Center for OFWs, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Pag-IBIG Home Development Mutual Fund, Social Security System, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Philippine Migration Research Network, Migrant Forum in Asia, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, and the United Nations Development Programme.

From left to right: Sorsogon City (Bicol) Mayor Sally Lee, Naga City Mayor John Bongat, and NEDA Regional Director Agnes Espinas, Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) focal person Atty. Golda Roma unveil the marker of the Migrant Resource Center (MRC) in Naga City which hopes to bring together all government agency services in one roof; the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) also recently recognized the efforts of multi-media entities who tackle the issues of OFs and provide solutions as well in the December Media Advocacy and Migration Awards; hundreds of OF families from the Bicol Region celebrate Christmas at the Pamaskong Handog and OWWA OFW Family Day; and OWWA Administrator Rebecca Calzado awards the winners of the Model OFW Family of the Year

Second row from left to right: OF families showcase their livelihood produce as well as their talent at the OWWA Family Day in Legazpi, Albay

TFC's 'JuanEUKonek' and 'EDSA Woolworth' win back-to-back Media Advocacy and Migration awards

December 23, 2015 (Quezon City, Philippines) – The Filipino Channel (TFC) scored a double, consecutive win for “JuanEUKonek” and TFC@theMovies as the show won Best TV Program and “EDSA Woolworth” clinched Best Film at the recently concluded Media Advocacy and Migration Awards (MAM) of the Inter-agency commission (IAC) on the Month of Overseas Filipinos held at Social Security System (SSS) in Quezon City, Philippines.


“JuanEUKonek,” a program produced by JREM exclusively for TFC, won its second straight win as the Best TV program (regular category) just as it celebrates its 2nd anniversary. 


According to CFO Executive Director Undersecretary Mary Grace Tirona, “JuanEUKonek” won for showing the varied lives of Filipinos in Europe – from the conditions of au pairs (specifically Filipinos living with a host family and their children on the basis of an equal, mutual, and caring relationship) in Scandinavia, to the plight of Filipino nurses, especially the achievements of Filipinos, and including the reality of same-sex marriages which caught the attention of the jury. “Ipinakita ng JuanEUKonek na nariyan din ang malayang pagsama ng mga lalaki o dalawang babae man.  Sana magkaroon ng patakarang matuwid at di kinaugaliang pagsasama para na rin sa pag-alaga ng pagimpok sa kanilang kinabukasan at pati na rin ng kalusugan nila sa gitna nga paglaganap ng HIV. (‘JuanEUKonek’ shows the reality of same sex relationships. I hope we can encourage responsibility among them in terms of health and financial literacy),” Tirona said. 


Representing “JuanEUKonek” was executive producer and host Rose Eclarinal who received the award on behalf of fellow presenters ABS-CBN Middle East and Europe Bureau Chief Danny Buenafe and Legal Consultant and community leader Gene Alcantara.


Meantime, TFC@theMovies won its second award for its second exclusive production “EDSA Woolworth” which told the story of a blended family, who despite their mixed values, recognize their differences and love each other as one true, family.  Produced by Rafael “Raffy” Lopez and directed by John-D Lazatin, “EDSA Woolworth” is TFC@theMovies’ second production since “A Mother’s Story” which also won a MAM Award under the same category in 2012.


Lazatin, who is also the Business Unit Head for TFC@theMovies says the second award validates TFC’s decision to venture into film production in pursuit of its goals to tailor-fit content for the OFs.  “The reality is that the OFs is faced with a lot of issues and we at TFC have the platform to bring these to fore so we do so in the best way we can as OF ourselves.  With A Mother’s Story and now EDSA Woolworth, we tried to dramatize the real-life situations of both transient workers and migrant Filipinos who face detachment and continued negotiation of identities in their second homes.  In all their challenges, one thing is key in helping them survive and cope – love for family as these movies show,” Lazatin shared.


Lead actress Marietta Subong or Pokwang who received the award with reel and real-life partner Lee O’ Brian said: “Pinapakita ng EDSA Woolworth ang pagmamahal ng pamilyang Filipino.  Pagdating sa pamilya, wala tayong inuurungan.  Dito natin na-realize na hindi madali ang buhay ng mga migrante.  Nagpapadala sila tuwing Pasko pero hindi natin alam ang pinagdadaanan nila (EDSA Woolworth shows the Filipino’s love for family.  When it comes to family, we are ready to face any challenge.  The movie helped us realize the migrant’s life is not easy.  They send us gifts at Christmas but we do not know the real picture – that they are actually having a hard time.” 


Through MAM Awards the IAC which include the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) has been receiving entries that hope to capture more of the real issues that OFs face, through the print, television, film, radio and online media.


CFO Chairperson Secretary Imelda Nicolas admitted the jurors had a hard time choosing from the 50 entries because of the richness of the Filipino talent across platform.  “Magagaling ang mga Filipino – kahit na anong format.  Very adaptable ang mga Filipino.  Maski ano ang circumstance, somehow they survive brilliantly and rise above whatever the consequences are.  Global ang output pero local ang issues.  It was tough for the judges to choose 10 winners from 50 entries (I can really say that the Filipino is great no matter what communication tool he uses.  The output was global but the issues were local or endemic to their second homes.  Also, Filipinos are very adaptable, no matter what the circumstances are.”


Eclarinal affirmed: “Kaya nating makipagsabayan noon pa pero wala lang avenues, or programs na tumututok para ma-highlight iyong mga achievements ng mga Filipinos.  (The Filipino can keep up with other global citizens but has not been given the opportunity to do so.”


Through MAM Awards, CFO and the other inter-agency committees hope to provide another sustainable platform that will showcase not only the innate Filipino talent but also keen sense on the issues that affect the migrants.  Underscretary Tirona hoped: “the wealth of information has helped us understand the migrant and his family and friends.  However, she says it should not end there as we need to keep on raising awareness especially for the next generation.”


The other winners are as follows:
Nene Ho, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the free monthly newspaper-magazine for Asians in Taiwan - The Migrants (Best Newspaper-Magazine on Migration)
Edna Manlapaz, one of the authors of the book on Filipina migration and women empowerment - Many Journeys, Many Voices (Best Book on Migration)
Maria Genevie Kim and Lee Kwang-Hoon of the Woongjin Foundation for their cultural and entertainment radio show for Filipino migrants in South Korea - Philippine Language Multicultural Family Music Radio (Best Radio Show on Migration)
Rose Paquette for her article at the Philippine Daily Inquirer - Hikes in Container Cargo Tariffs Worry Balikbayan Box Senders (Best Print Article on Migration),
Cherry Hidaki for her Philippine Digest website -
(Best Website on Migration),
Antonio Neri Echevarria, Jr. for his Pinoys to Canada blog - (Best Blog on Migration)
Google Philippines - for its poignant online ad Miss Nothing (Best Advertisement on Migration)
Romabel Yumul, Associate Producer of the magazine TV show Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho of GMA-7 (Best Episodic TV Show on Migration)


With the OWWA Directors and Vehnee Saturno
With Emcee Top 10 Ms. Universe Finalist 2014, MJ Lastimosa
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) recently awarded the Model OFW Family of the Year 2015

The landbased winner is Engr. Robert L. Ranchez and Family from Region I

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) recently awarded the Model OFW Family of the Year 2015

The seabased winner is Nestor S. Tubongbanua and Family from Region VI