Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Recently, President Benigno S. Aquino III came to Brunei Darussalam for a State Visit. Apart from conversing and strengthening economic and political ties with the Sultanate by working hand in hand in terms of natural gas and agriculture, Pnoy, our President's monicker, met up with the Filipino community and delivered a well-applauded speech. The gathering of the Filipino community in Brunei Darussalam was attended by Filipinos who work in different fields in Brunei Darussalam.

I was fortunate to be seated in the second row of the front area during the event. I was almost 10 steps away from Pnoy when he delivered his magnificent but very casual speech. In fact, because of the warm tone of his delivery, you wouldn't even notice that a President is giving a SONA like composition.

Pnoy opened his speech by sharing a scene in a Movie of the Comedy King Dolphy that he remembers. The film's scene shows a group of Filipinos and Dolphy looking at a big fish. After looking at the fish, everyone will grab a rice and eat. Wrapping up the story and comparing the movie to the Filipino's reality, Pnoy uttered "Siguro kung may titingnan tayo sa ating bansa, napakayaman pero bakit ganon, bakit lagi tayong bitin, bakit parang laging kulang." From a reflective statement, Pnoy laid the weight of his good news to everyone.

 Pnoy's speech showcased the Philippine Government's efforts in restoring the beauty of the Philippines. And that encapsulates the economic, political, educational, cultural and even environmental aspect of the nation's needs.  Some of the highlights were a progressive effort in adding equipment for weather forecasting in the Philippines; the continuous payment of the country's loans which led to gaining a low-interest loan to finance Philippine economy; boosting of tourism through the Pocket Open Skies policy wherein Airports in the Philippines shall be opened to International flights; the building of train stations which will provide convenience among citizens of San Jose Del Monte Bulacan, Cavite, and Antipolo; self sufficiency in rice program which reflectS in the lowering of importing tons of rice; the Balik Probinsya program which encourages settlers to enjoy a productive life in the provinces; the enrollment of 4.6 million families in Phil Health; and the Condition Cash Transfer Program that will enable 2.3 million Filipino families to receive 1,400 pesos.

As an OFW, I waited for Pnoy to share his plans for the welfare of the OFWs, ang binansagang Bagong Bayani ng makabagong henerasyon. As I listened attentively, I pieced the puzzle of his words that he's trying to capture the confidence of the Filipinos, inside and outside the country; that's through showing good governance. By saying his signature line which is "Puede napo ulit tayong mangarap," Pnoy reiterates the government's effort in building a contingency plan for emergencies which may be encountered by OFWs. By laying out the case of the Filipinos who were affected by conflicts in Middle East and calamities such as the Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan, Pnoy spotted on the need for support. He may joked about the lack of airplanes or ships which may accommodate all the Filipinos in times of turmoil, he assured everyone that the government is redefining public service accordingly.

Additionally, Pnoy highlighted the ballooning jobs offered by BPO in the Philippines. To Pnoy, BPOs have been giving birth to different job opportunities among Filipinos in the local soil. In subtext, the local government reiterates that there are jobs which OFWs may get, just in case they wish to go back to the country and work.

With all the applauded lines like "Tapos na ang malligayang araw ng mga taong umaapi sa bayan," Pnoy extended his sincerest gratitude to all the Filipinos in Brunei Darussalam and across the globe. "Number one, malaki ang pasasalamat ng taong bayan sa inyo sa talagang kayo ang kumbaga sinandalan ng ating bansa pagkatagaltagal. Walong milyon kayo," Aquino gestured.

Zooming into Pnoy's speech, just like the past administrations, the current one gives hope to the Filipino people. The only difference, by establishing a good and transparent governance, Aquino is getting the trust of the people to venture into a progressive and united country. Although Pnoy didn't clearly state his plans for OFWs and its future, he then assured that Filipinos may enjoy a developed, corrupt-free and justice-enabled country. Although there are a lot of problems that need solution, Pnoy shows that all efforts are being made. Given this landscape of Philippine image as presented by Aquino, OFWs may now find light and enjoy a life by going back to the Philippines.

Taking off from Pnoy's words, I believe that the government has to know more about our conditions, struggles and needs as Overseas Filipino Workers. Some are the readiness of an OFW to go back to the Philippines; a competitive job; adjustments with the family and community; and financial stability. But of course, more than depending on the government, wonders work in one's positive attitude and hardworking hands.

Interestingly, in this digital times, there are a lot of ways and channels which we can all use to let our voice be heard. And so, loud and proud, I am in full support of the 4th Philippine Expat Blog Awards (PEBA). With this year's theme, "Ako'y magbabalik, hatid ko'y pagbabago," (I will Return, I will Bring Change," Overseas Filipino Workers may not only share their happy Balikbayan stories, wherein they bask in white sand beaches with their families and friends, or perhaps indulge in a all-Filipino buffet set during reunions. They may also deliver insights on their joys and challenges in living a life abroad, while expressing plans on going back to the Philippines and contributing change to oneself,  to one's family and to the community, or even to the betterment of the nation's welfare.

Admit it or not, Overseas life doesn't guarantee a lifetime. We all live in countries that we can't call our own. We are foreign nationals. Time will come and we shall be back to our mother country, the Philippines. And so, readiness with the right amount of financial support, well-informed decision and high-powered skills shall be an OFW's keys in fostering a productive life on their return to the Philippines. Now, should you have the thoughts running in your mind, it's time to let it out and create an impact to others.

Join PEBA 2011! It's your time to be heard!

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