Monday, March 9, 2009

Special Envoy Amb. Roy Cimatu visited Nigeria

After the visit of Gen Cimatu last week, it seems like the ban in Nigeria will soon be lifted.

As it was, Mrs Derpo spoke at length with Gen Cimatu as he arived in Nigeria on March 4, 2009, before proceeding to Abuja.

On March 5th, Gen Cimatu is said to have met with the Foreign Affairs minister of Nigeria to discuss security situation of OFWs. The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister reportedly told Gen Cimatu that everything is okay with filipinos in Nigeria, except in Oil areas.

Later in the day, Gen Cimatu went to the compound of Julius Berger Construction company, where majority of expat employees are Filipinos. Gen Cimatu was guided by Engr Lito Nocum, the head of Filipino association in Abuja, in touring the accommodations for Filipinos.

Gen Cimatu quipped that he'd never seen so many cars outside the embassy belonging to OFWs. He compared Nigeria to Lebanon. To which an OFW said in jest, "walang pong DH sa Nigeria kasi".

Gen Cimatu wrapped-up his visit to Nigeria with a meeting with Filipinos in Ikeja, Lagos. He was met by the Philippine Barangay Society in Nigeria (PBSN) chairperson (and Banaag 2008 Awardee). Mrs Esperanza Derpo in the airport, and to the PBSN clubhouse in Ikeja.

Gen. Cimatu reiterated his observation that he was impressed at the job positions of Filipinos (managers and supervisors), and the salary/accommodations they have in Nigeria.

When asked what would be his recommendation to the President, Gen Cimatu gamely said that it's obvious from his "body language" that he will recommend for the lifting of the ban.

Gen. Cimatu was accompanied by Consul-Gen Alex LaMadrid on his trip to Abuja and Lagos.

Nigeria is home to almost 5,000 OFWs employed in oil & gas, telecoms, construction, manufacturing and services sectors. Filipinos have been in Nigeria since the early 70's.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Efren Peñaflorida: Kariton Klasrum (onli in da Pilipins)

"I always tell my volunteers that you are the change that you dream and I am the change that I dream. And collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."

This is quoted from the CNN Story entitled, "Pushcart classes help break gang chain."

Efren Peñaflorida,27,founded Dynamic Teen Company in Cavite City in 1997. The teen volunteers take the Kariton Klasrum to unwashed, unshod, and unschooled kids in the least likely learning environments such as public markets, cemeteries, slums, and prison.

Many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) take the plunge and brave separation from their families because they feel that there is no hope in the Philippines.

After working abroad for many years, many OFWs would like to go home for good. But the bleak socioeconomic situation and unstable political conditions stop them. It's a hopeless situation, they say.

Has Kuya Ef , as the kids call him, ever thought of becoming an OFW? Would he apply as an office clerk in a Saudi company? or a bellboy in a Dubai hotel? or a teacher in Singapore?

Probably not. Kuya Ef has found his 'acres of diamonds' right there in the midst of misery where he lives. As a teacher myself, I am humbled by Efren's selfless example.

Fellow OFWs, let's take heart. We have many more skills and many more resources than Efren and his teen volunteers.

We need not be afraid of going home sooner or later. Let's remember Efren's words, "You are the change that you dream, and I am the change that I dream..."