In partnership with the Provincial Governent of Davao Oriental and in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Public Employment Service Office, this year’s celebration of Migrant Workers’ Day was successfully held at the Provincial Covered Court, Capitol Hills, City of Mati on  June 8, 2019. More than 1,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and dependents from the different municipalities of the province gathered  to commemorate the event.

 ow on its 24th year, the annual celebration is in pursuant to R.A. 8042 also known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 as amended by R.A. 10022 which aims to recognize the vital contributions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the national economy and to show the government’s resolve in protecting and promoting their welfare and their families.

OWWA XI Programs and Services Division Chief, Carmelo Elaya welcomed guests and participants while Regional Director Petrona Bergado read the messages of DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III and OWWA Administrator, Atty. Hans Leo Cacdac.

In his message, Sec. Bello said that DOLE has enhanced a number of services to effectively help prepare our OFWs to be ready to reintegrate into our communities once they come home. Administrator Cacdac, on the other hand, said that OWWA underscores its efforts to bring the agency’s programs and services closer to the OFWs and their families.

The celebration was also graced by Henry Montilla, the Chief for the Internal Management and Services Division of DOLE XI representing Regional Director Raymundo G. Agravante. In line with this year’s theme: “Salamat sa Tapang, Sipag at Pagmamahal Mo, Kabayan,” Montilla expressed his gratitude to the OFWs and migrant workers who are recognized as the unsung heroes of the republic. “Because of your courage, you survived despite challenges and trials of overseas employment. Because of your hard work and efforts, you became great contributor to our economy and the society. You also have the love for your families and for the country as well”, said Montilla in his message. He added that DOLE XI is in full support in the implementation of OWWA programs and services in the region.

Among the highlights of the region’s celebration include; awarding of Notice of Award to the thirteen (13) new scholars under the OFW Dependents Scholarship Program (ODSP) of OWWA, awarding of livelihood assistance worth P20,000.00 each to seventeen (17) beneficiaries of Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! (BPBH) Program, and recognition of the Public Employment Service Offices (PESO) in Davao Oriental for their unwavering support in the promotion of OWWA programs and services in their respective localities.

To foster Filipino cultural values, members of the different OFW Family Circles (OFCs) in the province showcased their dancing talents and skills during the OFC Folk Dance Contest. There were five (5) OFCs who participated and demonstrated various folk dances, namely; Marayag OFC, Banaybanay OFC, Calapagan OFC, City Eagles of Mati OFW Family Circle Association (CEMOFCA), and Cateel OFC. Among the five groups, CEMOFCA emerged as the winner of the contest garnering an average score of 90.33%. A cash prize of P5,000.00 was given to the group.

Similarly, partner government agencies like Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth Insurance Corporation, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) provided basic and relevant information on their respective programs and services. Representatives from each agency addressed the various queries and concerns of the participants.

The crowd was entertained by Chabelita, a home grown comedian from Davao City and Indayaw Dance Troupe of Davao Oriental Regional Science High School who performed the doxology and the opening salvo. A special entertainment number was also performed for the children attendees.

Various products of the OFW Family Circles were likewise showcased during the event. Among the products displayed were handicrafts and food products.

The most awaited part of the program was the raffle draw. Five lucky participants won Fujidenzo chest freezer worth P16,000.00 each as the grand prize from OWWA. According to the winners, said freezers were very useful to them because these can be used in their livelihood endeavor.  Likewise, livelihood packages courtesy of this year’s social partners were raffled off during the program. The Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) gave 3 sets of Chafing Dish worth P10,000.00 which is helpful in catering business while MMML Recruitment Services, Inc. raffled sari-sari store showcase worth P10,0000.00. Cash prizes from Zontar Manpower Services, Inc. LMB Worldwide Services, Inc. and Luzvimin Employment Agency, Inc. and various appliances from Safe Future Manpower Agency, Inc. and A. Kanan Manpower Corp were given to the lucky participants. Freebies and school supplies were also given to the children courtesy of Jensen Manpower International, Placewell International Services Corp., and Concorde International Human Resource Corp.

This year’s event was made possible through the sponsorship of the following social partners: Provincial Government of Davao Oriental, Bank of the Philippine Islands, RD Pawnshop, and Association of Recruitment Agencies in Davao, Inc. (ARADI). They were likewise given  Plaques of Appreciation for their invaluable support in ensuring the success of this year’s celebration./ By Maricel T. Sarabillo, LCO, OWWA-RWO XI