If being an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), or having a family with an OFW, is a disqualification for any government aid, then it just proves that the Philippine’s local leadership does not really understand the life and the plight of their OFWs.
WE WERE ALSO FRONTLINERS
For the longest time, we, the OFWs worked to provide for our families so that we don’t have to depend on the government’s aid. Before the spread of COVID-19, we were the “frontliners” of our country.
Everyday, we put on our protective suits and went to work with no certainty that our jobs were ours to keep. We put on our masks and reported to employees who treated us like robots. When we got sick, they isolated us. Worst, they fired us without warning. When we died, our remains came home in undignified boxes.
No amount of disinfectant could wipe away the dirt our hands have touched and the injustices our eyes have seen.
WE WERE HEROES
For the sake of not loosing our jobs, we kept GOING TO WORK so our families can STAY AT HOME in the Philippines. The money we earned overseas, we sent back home. We struggled to lift our families from poverty, so that our politicians can take care of others. We helped the economy and you called us heroes.
In the past years, when our families were in crisis, we did not plead for the government to give us relief goods. We sacrificed our minds and bodies to provide for our own. In the process, for most of us, we lost our identities and worth as human beings.
WE ARE EQUALLY IN CRISIS
Today, some of us have lost huge portions of our incomes, some have lost jobs altogether and yet our financial obligations remain the same.
What is the basis for our family’s disqualification?
- Our houses and our cars? Think of all the years we were overworked and underpaid.
- Our travels and vacations? Think of all the days we were not given proper rest nor granted our holidays and annual leaves.
- Our eating out and partying? Think of the loneliness we had to bear everyday, being far away from our families.
- Our shopping and buying? Think of all the good things you received when opening a Balikbayan box.
WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET
For many of the million OFWs, what you see is NOT what you get. In reality, we can be the poorest of the poor compared to other overseas workers. For decades, we have been suffering from an illness that has spread to so many Filipinos working for wealthier countries – the CANCER of LOW SELF-VALUE.
Perhaps brought about by centuries of colonization, poor governance and national insecurity, we are forced to forget our worth and dignity as a human being. For most of us, coming home is not an option. So for the sake of survival, keeping our jobs and providing for our families back home, we unwillingly allow ourselves to be treated as inferior, to be bullied and enslaved by other nationalities.
A LONGING FOR EMPOWERMENT
Now that everybody is equally hit by this virus, isn’t it time for our local leaders to give back and gift hope to our OFWs?
This is your chance to empower your brothers and sisters working abroad. When you support OFW families, you are loudly telling us, “We got your back. Cheer up! We will take care of your families. Don’t settle for less, don’t allow yourselves to be treated like dirt. You are important. We value you!”
The COVID crisis has given our country the opportunity to boost the morale of every OFW. Imagine us going back to work after this pandemic, with our heads held up, a little bit higher. Because our government stood up for us, we could stand up to our bullies in these foreign lands.
DIGNIFY NOT DISQUALIFY
We OFWs do not expect a huge financial assistance. But being excluded right at the top of the list, is like being slapped on the face for a job well done. When you disqualify OFW families from receiving help from the government, you are no different from other nationalities who discriminate us Filipino workers.
As a nation, we may suppress the COVID-19 virus in the coming months, but we could have enhanced the spread of the cancer of insecurity, which has killed more OFWs than this virus.
Let us truly “HEAL AS ONE” Period. Not “HEAL AS ONE, EXCEPT FOR OFWs and their families”.
Dignify not disqualify!
As of 9 May 2020