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Pinas-SAHI and TFC's "Kantawanan sa Al Khobar 2015" draws 15,000, unites OFWs on 21st Filipino Community Day

World-class ABS-CBN TFC talents Martin Nievera, Eric Nicolas deliver top Filipino entertainment, family fun and holiday spirit to OFWs in KSA


REDWOOD SHORES, CA, DECEMBER 15, 2015 – The Eastern Province is the largest province of Saudi Arabia and the center of most of the Kingdom’s oil production.  It is the hub of the state-owned Saudi Aramco, the biggest energy company in the world. The Eastern Province is home to around 250,000 overseas Filipino workers.


Located in the east on the beautiful Persian Gulf coast, the Eastern Province is a favorite destination and stopover of those who are in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, who wish to relax at the beach or go to Bahrain, a major trade route.  Just four hours away from Riyadh is the large city of Al Khobar in the Eastern Province.  Here you can find the Al Shola Tourist Village – the sun-lit setting for the 21st Filipino Community Day, Tourism & Trade Exhibit held recently by the Pinas-SAHI International Association, Inc. SAHI stands for Saudi Arabia Hiligaynon, Incorporated, which is composed of Filipinos from the Hiligaynon-speaking provinces in the Visayas.  Pinas-SAHI has grown to be one of the largest and most active Filipino organizations in the region and has been a long-time community partner of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Association (POLO-OWWA).  The organization is known for its welfare assistance to distressed OFWs in the region and for promoting both investment-related projects in the Philippines and the homeland’s culture and heritage.


In 2005, Pinas-SAHI partnered with ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel (TFC) in the region to stage the TFC entertainment hour within the Filipino Community Day called, “Kantawanan sa Al Khobar”, literally meaning “song and laughter in Al Khobar”.  On December 5 last year, during TFC’s 20th anniversary, SAHI and TFC welcomed 12,000 attendees to this entertainment hour which starred TFC 20 Ambassador of Goodwill Gary Valenciano at the Cobra Amusement Park in Dammam.


Proving that the event and the Filipino population in the region continues to grow, “Kantawanan sa Al Khobar 2015” held on December 4 at Al Shola Tourist Village with Philippine Concert King and ASAP 20 mainstay Martin Nievera and Your Face Sounds Familiar Season 2 contestant Eric Nicolas, who was joined by popular action star Robin Padilla courtesy of sponsor MoneyGram, drew 15,000 attendees who enjoyed the world-class musical performances of the TFC artists and the laugh-a-minute comedy acts and contests where audience members participated.


“The best way to describe the experience is that people had a truly rollicking good time! It was a high-spirited, fun-filled celebration where everyone let their hair down and enjoyed like family. Our countrymen were in a cheerful, holiday mood but dressed in spring or even summer clothing and enjoyed the sandy setting of the resort. This ushers a unique Christmas in the region and we at TFC are very pleased to partner with Pinas-SAHI to bring this warm, authentic camaraderie in keeping with the spirit of the season,” said ABS-CBN Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Managing Director Kai V. Rodriguez.


Rodriguez added: “More importantly, with this event, our Kapamilya experienced home right here in Al Khobar.  This annual December tradition casts a spotlight on our Hiligaynon brothers and sisters in the Middle East who spearhead every year a day-long event that allows the Filipinos to celebrate our culture and connect with each other in the community. That unites, empowers and strengthens the OFWs in the Middle East.” 


The 21st Filipino Community Day had the theme of “Dakilang OFWs: Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Pag-Unlad ng Turismo at Produktong Pilipino” (The Great OFWs: The Nation’s Partners Towards Progress in Tourism and Development of Filipino Products).  Gracing the event with their distinguished presence are Philippine Consul Chris Aro, POLO-OWWA Officer Sitti Jaafar, ABS-CBN Managing Partner Engr. Fouad Taher, and Administration Manager Sami Al Milaify of Nesma & Partners, the partner sponsor of Pinas-SAHI.


“Our partnership with TFC is one of the reasons why the Filipino Community Day with Kantawanan sa Al Khobar continues to be regarded as the biggest annual gathering of Filipino OFWs in the Eastern Region, if not in the whole Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Pinas-SAHI President Alex Acanto.  “They are true partners in service and we look forward to working with TFC every year in supporting and growing the OFW community in Saudi Arabia.”











OWWA Graces Fil-Am Educators Awards Rites in New York

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) through its Welfare Officer, Petrona Bergado, of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office based at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, graced the awarding ceremony of the 2015 Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015.   The invitation came from Lumen Castañeda, founding chair of the United Federation of Fil-Am Educators, Inc. (UNIFIED).  It was held on October 17, 2015 at the 3rd Floor of the New York University Palladium, on 23rd St. between 4th and Park Avenue, New York City.   UNIFIED and  LC Legacy Foundation, Inc. spearheaded the event to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of Filipino-American teachers in the USA.


WelOf Bergado presented OWWA`s programs and services before the awarding ceremony.  The cases of Filipino teachers who got sick while still working on H1B visas were presented to highlight the need for renewal of OWWA memberships.   She also solicited the assistance of the teachers in disseminating the information about OWWA and the agency`s role in promoting the welfare and protection of Filipino migrants worldwide.


The activity was attended by around 100 people, half of whom were educators who came with family members and friends from various parts of the USA.  The renowned Loida Nicolas- Lewis was the guest speaker.  Her message focused on the need for the continuation of the gains of the Aquino administration and how it has been studied that the Philippines needs 18 years of continuous good governance to attain inclusive economic growth.  She also encouraged the teachers and their families to register and vote in the 2016 Philippine National Elections.


The awarding ceremonies followed honoring teachers who excelled in various teaching capacities in the fields of Mathematics, Science, English, Physics and Special Education.


Meanwhile, Lorli Villanueva, a movie actress-director in the Philippines since the early ‘70s, shared her experiences on how she ended up being a Special Education teacher in the United States after becoming a Fullbright scholar.  Her talk on values education and how it impacts on the lives of the teachers and Filipinos in general capped the activity.

Photo shows Lynne Ciocon (center), a Special Education teacher and UNIFIED President, District of Columbia and Maryland Chapter, receiving her award from Loida Nicolas-Lewis (in black suit) while Lumen Castañeda, (leftmost) founding chair of UNIFIED, OWWA Welfare Officer Petrona Bergado and Ronnie Mataquel look on.  (Photo credit: Lynne Ciocon)

Above photo shows from left to right:  Lumen Castañeda, founding chair of the United Federation of Fil-Am Educators, Inc., Loida Nicolas-Lewis, guest of honor with Ronnie Mataquel, a teacher-awardee and OWWA Welfare Officer Petrona Bergado during the awarding ceremony of the Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015 at New York University Palladium, New York City.  (Photo credit: Ronnie Mataquel)

Some of the awardees pose with Loida Nicolas- Lewis and Lumen Castañeda, fifth and sixth from right, respectively, on October 17, 2015 in New York City. Taken during the 2015 Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015 awarding ceremony organized by UNIFIED, Inc. and LC Legacy Foundation, Inc.  (Photo credit: Lynne Ciocon)

Lorli Villanueva,  (in Filipiniana attire) a movie actress/director in the Philippines since the early ‘70s said that she was destined for a career in teaching Special Education in the USA.  She later gave a talk on values formation and its impact on the lives not only of teachers but on Filipinos in general. Taken at the New York University Palladium, New York City on October 17, 2015. (Photo credit: Lynne Ciocon)

Another batch of teacher – awardees in a souvenir shot during the awarding ceremony  of the Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015 organized by the United Federation of Fil-Am Educators (UNIFIED, Inc.) on October 17, 2015 in New York City. Photo credit:  Lynne Ciocon.


Above photo shows Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Guest Speaker during the awarding ceremony of the Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015 held at the New York University Palladium in New York City last October 17, 2015. (Photo credit: Lynne Ciocon)


Above photo shows OWWA Welfare Officer Petrona Bergado presenting the Programs and Services of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration prior to the awarding ceremony of the Most Influential Teachers of the Year 2015 held on October 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo credit: Lynne Ciocon)



Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait has reported to Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz the successful Special Professional Licensure Board Examinations held by the Professional Regulation Commission on 24-26 September 2015 at the Philippine International English School in Fahaheel, State of Kuwait.


“A total of 221 OFWs took the examinations for eight professional broken down as follows: nursing (94), dentistry (1), electrical engineer (15), master electrician (8), architecture (29), mechanical engineer (17), chemical engineer (33), and teachers (24)”, said Chavez in his report.


The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) coordinated the special examinations through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). 


These special examinations are being held every year by the PRC in selected areas in the Middle East to provide OFWs the opportunity to get certified without taking a leave of absence from their jobs.


Examinees apply for the examination through the On-line Application System (OAS) found in the PRC website, Upon submission of the application for licensure examinations via the OAS, applicants must submit the following required documents to the POLO: (1) photocopy of Transcript of Records (with or without scanned picture and remarks “For Board Purposes Only”); (2) Photocopy of Valid Passport; and Four (4) passport-size pictures with complete name-tag in white background. Original copies of the said documents shall be presented to members of the PRC Examination Team for validation upon examinees’ arrival at the examination venue.