Tag: OFWs

Merry Christmas Darling – The Carpenters

GlobalGranary would like to dedicate this song to those people who are going to be away from their love ones.

It is true that Christmas can be the happiest time of the year but conversely a very sad time for some as well.

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas!


THE CARPENTERS’

“Merry Christmas, Darling”

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas, darling
We’re apart, that’s true
But I can dream
And in my dreams
I’m Christmasing with you
Holidays are joyful
There’s always something new
But every day’s a holiday
When I’m near to you
The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
The logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too
I’ve just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you
Merry Christmas, darling

Maria Embry – Living Patron Saint of OFWs & OFs

Forget St Ballsy of the Filipinas!!!

There is a lady who is more than deserving of gratitude and homage from Oveseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and their families and ultimately the whole Filipino nation.

This lady is Maria Elizabeth Embry. She has on numerous ocassions highlighted the sad flights of Filipinos abroad.

Everytime I hear from her, she writes about someone who was abused sexually, someone who was slained, someone who was tortured, someone who was left stranded and penniless and can’t go home, someone’s body that needed repatriation!

I have to turn into a human octopus to be able to count in my octopussy arms with fingers 😉 (perish the thought!!!I am trying to give you a picture of the many advocacies Maria does) all the times Maria Embry had tried to help our compatriots.  To these days Maria continues to do so.

In fact, today as I opened my emails, the first thing I saw was an email from a Waldon Bello assuring St Maria Embry of OFWs his full attention and action.

Well Mr Bello, we are going to hold you to your assurance and promise of help wiith utmost urgency.

PS:  Maria is often helped by Eddie Calderon, reminding us of Maria’s advocacies. There are times when her emails are swamped by the deluge of overly-active and enthusiastic Filipino posters  in forums!

…………………………………………………………..
From Cong. Walden Bello:

Hi Maria:

Rest assured we will act on this.

Best,

Walden

……………………………………………………………..
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 7:55 AM
Subject: S.O.S. Cong Bello, kindly endorse to the DFA, DOJ, DOLE the case of 5 distressed Pinay maids who were sold by the syndicated group working the Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Malaysia, Jordan route… they are TRAPPED & DESPERATE!!… their options are running away & if caught: arrest, jail, false accusation by employer of theft…going to labor agency where they were sold: physical abuse or being sent back to employer who are holding their I.D. passports & other legal docu

S.O.S. Cong Bello, kindly endorse to the DFA, DOJ, DOLE the case of 5 distressed Pinay maids who were sold by the syndicated group working the Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Malaysia, Jordan route… they are TRAPPED & DESPERATE!!… their options are running away & if caught: arrest, jail, false accusation by employer of theft…going to labor agency where they were sold: physical abuse or being sent back to employer who are holding their I.D. passports & other legal docu

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: maria embry <maria.embry@att.net>
To: “”Hon Joy Ngozi Ezeilo UN Special Rapporteur”” <infodesk@ohchr.org>; “”U.S. Department of State 2014 Trafficking in Person Report”” <tipreport@state.gov>
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:40 AM
Subject: Open Letter to the Hon Sect John Kerry Re: Filipina housemaids who are complaining that they are victims of contract substitution (receiving $200 instead of $400 monthly salary) unlawful witholding of passports, etc and that Philippine Embassy in Jordan, not only denied to assist them, but instead responded that they just suffer their fate (“magtiis”)

http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask_confirm/refno/130718-000185Your Question has been Submitted

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of State.

Open Letter to the Hon Sect John Kerry Re: Filipina housemaids who are complaining that they are victims of contract substitution (receiving $200 instead of $400 monthly salary) unlawful witholding of passports, etc and that Philippine Embassy in Jordan, not only denied to assist them, but instead responded that they just suffer their fate (“magtiis”)

Dear Hon John Kerry:
Sir, as your honorable office gather the data for the 2014 Trafficking in Person Report, allow me to call your attention Re: Filipina housemaids who are complaining that they are victims of contract substitution (receiving $200 instead of $400 monthly salary) unlawful witholding of passports, etc and that Philippine Embassy in Jordan, not only denied to assist them, but instead responded that they just suffer their fate (“magtiis”).

Sir, the U.S. State Department 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on victim identification as the top priority and further states that protection is one of the “three P paradigm” established in the 2000 UN Palermo Protocol to guide government action in combating trafficking in persons, however only a mere fraction of trafficking victims have been recognized by governments and the consequence of inadequate victim identification is that the traffickers are operating with impunity, beyond the reach of the law. Traffickers around the world commonly threaten their victims: law enforcement will incarcerate or deport victims if they seek help. The success of victim identification will often depend on who that trafficking victim first encounters―whether a police officer, immigration agent, or labor inspector (Source: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/210542.htm).

Sir, I would like to inform you that in this particular incident the staff at the Philippine Embassy in Jordan are the first responders and although the Filipina housemaids already volunteered to positively identified themselves as trafficking victims, however they were not only denied assistance, but were inappropriately advised to just “magtiis” meaning just suffer because if they provoke their employers to anger, they may end up in jail falsely accused of theft.

The Filipina housemaids are complaining of contract substitution when their wages were reduced upon arrival in Jordan to $200 instead of the agreed upon $400.00 per month. Additionally, they are complaining that their employers are unlawfully witholding their passports. Other complaints from some of them are inadequate food; feeling weakened by unbearable long working hours caused by working not only in the household of the employer, but also in the households of the employer’s parents and in-laws; inadequate sleeping hours, confinement and restriction of movement resulting from padlocked exit doors.

As I communicated with some of them thru facebook, they expressed strong feelings about not wanting to run away, fearful of what the Philippine Embassy said that they may end up in jail. They are also fearful of their local manpower agency in Jordan because stories about agencies that physically abuse Filipinas who signify their intention of leaving their employers.

I am very worried exactly for the same reasons because one of them told me about accusations of theft by her employer when she signified her intention of leaving her employment because of being called stupid so many times by her male employer.

Some of the Filipina housemaids are more isolated than the others because they do not have cellphones and facebook accounts, so they rely on those who possess them. The ones who have cellphones and facebook accounts are also fearful because upon discovery by employers their means of communication will be cut off.

I forwarded to the Philippine government agencies and officials an e-mail describing the situation of the seven Filipina housemaids with information about their locations. I have not receive any response to that e-mail.

Sir, it is common knowledge that the Philippine government is one of the largest labor sending countries in the world. It is also common knowledge that it keeps on sending household workers to countries with the most oppressive human trafficking practices. This is akin to throwing its own citizens to the wolves.
Sir, it is also an outrage that the United States is able to close her eyes to these realities and keeps on giving the Philippines a passing grade in the annual Human Trafficking Report.

Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING as the recruitment….for labor through the use of fraud for the purpose of subjection to INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE, peonage, DEBT BONDAGE or slavery (emphasis supplied)
Sir, thank you for your attention regarding this matter.
Sincerely,
Maria Elizabeth Embry

Antioch, California
~~~~~~~~
sent to Philippine government Jul 15 2013 @11:32 PM
S.O.S. DFA OUMWA, kindly verify & rescue 7 distressed Pinays, victims of illegal recruitment, involuntary servitude & contract substitution…lumapit na daw sa embassy, walang aksyon, ang response: magtiis lang sila (magtiis is not the proper response to victims of severe forms of trafficking…contract substitution is an outright fraud that leads to involuntary servitude…no ifs, no buts abt it…instead of $400/month, they are receiving only $200/month)
Dear Sir/ Madam:
with due respect, allow me to remind you that Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING as the recruitment….for labor through the use of fraud for the purpose of subjection to INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE, peonage, DEBT BONDAGE or slavery (emphasis supplied).
Undeniably, CONTRACT SUBSTITUTION is an OUTRIGHT FRAUD that leads to INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE.
The United Nations, similarly define human trafficking along this term.
The Philippines as signatory to international agreements and more importants as recipient of financial funds and grants from various donors made a commitment to reduce the number of human trafficking victims.
Allow me to forward to you in a separate e-mail the names, contact information of the 7 Filipina workers.
Caution: for their safety do not contact them thru their local agency because they are fearful of physical harm (pinay worker: ” nakakatakot ang agency dito kahit babae sinasaktan kapag nalaman gusto nang umuwi sa pinas”) two of the employers are siblingsThank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Maria Elizabeth Embry
Antioch, California

The World of OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers)

The World of OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers)

BUHAY OFW

“Hon, padalhan mo naman ako, kasi may gusto akong bilhing shoes dito.”

“Sa uwi mo, ‘wag mong kalimutan yung pasalubong nina nanay at tatay ha?”

“Akala ko ba, may padala kang package? Ang tagal naman!”

“Punta tayo sa Cebu sa next vacation mo…”

Ilan lang ito sa mga walang katapusang requests ko sa asawa ko nung nasa abroad siya. At kapag walang favorable response, nagtatampo ako. Nasasabi ko pa na tinitipid o pinagdadamutan niya ako. Dun na pumapasok ang pag-aaway namin, dahil hindi ko daw siya maintindihan. Nabubuwisit ako, kasi alam ko na malaki ang sahod niya, pero bakit ang higpit niya pagdating sa pera? Di ko man masunod luho ko gaya ng sapatos, mga bags, damit at iba pang gadgets? Hayyy nakuuu…

Until dumating yung time na nagdecide kami na sumunod ako sa kanya sa banyagang bansa. At last, makakasama ko na rin siya at maipabibili ko na rin mga gusto ko, bwahahaha!

Sa eroplano pa lang, naiisip ko na ang mga bagay na gagawin ko –shopping, bakasyon, dine-out, gala to the max! Paglapag ng eroplano sa Kuwait International Airport, wow! Ang INIT! Humid pa! Sumasakit na ang ulo ko sa biyahe pauwi sa tutuluyan naming flat (kung tawagin ang apartment). Latang-lata ang pakiramdam ko sa init ng klima, summer daw pala kasi! Naisip ko, huwag na muna ang shopping at gala, pahinga muna…

Dumating yung time na lalabas na kami at mamamasyal, excited pa mandin ako.

Pagdating namin sa Mall at nakita ko ang mga bagay na gusto kong bilhin…bigla akong nakaramdam ng panghihinayang…Makita ko pa lang ang tag price, gumagana na kaagad utak ko sa Riyal to Philippine Peso conversion! Napansin ako ng asawa ko at tinanong nya kung alin daw ba gusto ko, sabi ko na lang, huwag na, next time na lang…

Dumaan ang mga araw at nagiging malinaw na sa akin ang araw-araw na pamumuhay ng mga OFW. Kay lungkot pala maging malayo sa pamilya, ang hirap mahomesick! Nakakaiyak makita ang mga pictures ng family sa FB tuwing me okasyon. Yung malungkot ka at gusto mo silang makasama kaya lang hindi naman puwede magbus pauwi ng Pinas.

Mas naiiyak ako pag naiisip ko na, kawawa naman pala ang kabiyak ko noong wala pa ako sa piling niya. Sa init at pagod maghapon sa trabaho, wala siyang choice kundi magluto pa rin pagkauwi para me makain, at gawin ang mga bagay mag-isa tulad ng paglalaba.

Bigla akong nahiya sa sarili ko…naalala ko bigla yung mga araw na nagtatampo ako sa kanya kasi hindi niya ako mapadalhan ng pera para mabili yung gusto ko. Yung mga araw na natitiis ko siya dahil sa aking walang kabuluhang pagtatampo, natitiis ko na hindi tumawag o magtext man lang…Yung mga araw na wala akong ginawa kundi planuhin kung ano ang mga bagay na ipabibili ko sa kanya pagdating ko dito.

Dahil pala bawat text na mabasa niya, ay laksang tuwa na ang dulot sa kanya. Bawat tawag at dinig pa lang sa boses ay ibayong lakas ang bigay sa kanya…dahil sa bawat baryang kinikita niya, wala siyang naiisip kundi ikaw na pamilya niya…

Ang hirap palang maging OFW…pag nakikita ko sa mga pictures yung ngiti nila, mga magagandang lugar na pinapasyalan nila, mga pagkaing nakahain sa harapan nila, sa likod ng mga ito, nakakubli ang ‘di masukat na lungkot at pangungulila. Marahil ayaw nila na tayong mga kaanak nila ay mag-alala kaya tunay na sitwasyon at nararamdam ay itinatago nila. Nakakaya nilang malayo at magtiis, mabigyan lang ng magandang bukas ang kanilang pamilya.

Saludo ako sa lahat ng OFW na nagtitiis para sa mga pamilya nila!….

OFW’s Agony

An OFW’s agony. PNoy and Baldoz, please read


Written by ATTY. DODO DULAY


We received a letter from an exasperated and incensed Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) detailing the agony she went through securing an “exit clearance” from the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) so that she could go back to work abroad after a brief vacation here.


We are sure her story will resonate among the millions of Filipino OFWs who surely suffered the same harrowing experience and shabby treatment from the government offices and officials who were supposed to make things easier and convenient for the country’s so-called “modern-day heroes”.


Here is her letter:


“Dear Sir,


“It was not long ago when I first had my OFW experience. I went home for my 2011 Christmas break and stayed in the Philippines for 2 weeks. I did not go to POEA for the “exit clearance” so when I got to NAIA, my suffering began. I arrived early and lined up for hours to check-in for my 11:45 PM flight in January 2012. When my turn came, the airline ground crew informed me that I have to pay the travel tax first since I did not have my Overseas Exit Clearance (OEC)/E-receipt from POEA. When I got to the travel tax counter I was instructed to go to the POEA office outside to confirm if I needed to pay any taxes. I said, “Are you kidding me? I have to get in line for the luggage x-ray and airline check-in again, I only have an hour left?” I refused to go and insisted that I just pay the travel tax instead but they said it will be better if I went and so I did.”


“I was surprised to find out how the POEA/OWWA employees treat OFWs. They were not helpful and accommodating. They were actually rude. There was this old gay staff who was speaking in a very loud voice saying, “Ano ba yan! Yung mga 5 days lang dito sa Pilipinas ang pinapayagang kumuha ng exit clearance dito sa NAIA!’’ Ano ba naman kayo!” He said the same thing to me so I replied in the same tone that ‘’this is my first time!’’ He then changed his tone and handed me this form to complete and asked me to bring it to OWWA for checking and then bring it back to him. I completed the form, brought it to OWWA and that is where I learned it is mandatory to pay the OWWA membership fee of P1,200, Philhealth fees of P1,200 and the exit clearance of P100. I could not do anything. I was obliged to pay the fees so I can leave the country to work and send money back to the Philippines, for the government and public officials to keep and use. I returned to this rude gay staff afterwards to collect my OEC/E-receipt. I then rushed outside to do x-ray and then to the airline check-in counter but unfortunately, I missed my flight that night. This is the kind of assistance offered to OFWs by the government.


“After that unforgettable experience from my last vacation, I made sure I got an exit clearance ahead of time when I returned to the country for another vacation. So last month, I went to the POEA office around 10 a.m. (Tuesday) to again secure an “exit clearance.” Outside the main door of the building there was a lady seated on the side giving out “balik-manggagawa” forms. I asked which form I needed for the OEC. She just handed me several forms without explaining what they were for and instructed that I wait for my number to be called. It was like a market place inside. There were so many people and not many chairs for the waiting OFWs. I stood in a corner and completed the forms (Philhealth, Pag-Ibig, absentee voting and balik manggagawa). I went to the room where they were processing the OECs. The room was packed and disorganized. They were only serving “430A” that time and I was “428B.” 997 OFWs to go, I said to myself. There was a “priority” window and 15 other windows for the not-so-important people like us, but there were only seven (7) windows open serving the OFWs. How efficient, right?”


“It was a long wait. You could actually sense how tired, irate and impatient many OFWs were. There was a lot of complaining. I heard someone telling his wife over the cellphone to come to POEA to experience his suffering saying, ‘Akala mo ba nagpapasarap kami dito?!’’ Another OFW was saying it is easier to come home than to leave Manila. Others were asking how many times they needed to update their personal information (i.e. full name, address, birthday, parents’ name, profession, etc)?” 



“While waiting for my turn, I paid my SSS and Pag-Ibig fees. At the OWWA window, after checking their system, I was told my OWWA membership had expired and that I needed to pay P2,600. ‘How can that be when I just paid my OWWA and Philhealth this January 2012?,’ I asked. The lady didn’t answer and just told me to wait for the evaluator and then go back to her.

 

“After a long 9-hour wait, my number was finally called at around 7 p.m. I submitted the ‘personal information sheet’ to POEA to be evaluated and then to OWWA. I was told to pay P2,600 so I presented all my receipts in January (P1,200 for Pag-Ibig, P3,360 for SSS and P1,200 for OWWA). I was asked to pay P1,300 instead (P1,200 for Philhealth and P100 for the OEC). Why is their system not updated when the whole point of going through these aggravation is for them to keep their records up-to-date? How come payments are not registered correctly? Are they really keeping all the information they collected from us? When I left POEA with my OEC/E-receipt in hand, there were still around 500 people waiting for their OECs.

 

 

“With all the hassle I went through, I thought that I was done with POEA. But on the day of my flight, the NAIA airline staff told me to go to POEA/OWWA to have my exit clearance verified. So I asked her why I had to have my exit clearance verified when I already went to POEA precisely not to be inconvenienced anymore when I leave. Wasn’t that the whole purpose of getting an exit clearance? She just replied it’s the ‘new policy.’

 

 

“I was so pissed off. I went out and lined up at OFW lounge again only to find out that the e-receipt only needed to be signed by the POEA staff at NAIA. I was so frustrated that I told him, ‘Why do you let us spend and waste one whole day in POEA office to get an ‘exit clearance’ and pay all those dues and then ask us to still come here just so you can sign it?! This is an e-receipt, computer-generated, released by your office, right?!! Why don’t you spare us this inconvenience, trouble and suffering?!’ The staff just said: It’s policy.”

 

 

“Then it was time for immigration/passport control. There was a line for OFWs so I went there thinking that it would be faster or easier. But no, the line wasn’t moving. OFWs were being interviewed and their papers checked again. That’s when I decided I’ve had enough so I took a chance and went to the regular travelers’ line. Luckily, it was just a plain passport/immigration check and I was able to fly out that day.

 


“I really feel sorry for my fellow OFWs who have to go through the same b***s*** every time they leave the country after their vacation. It saddens me to know that the government is adding distress and trouble to OFWs. All they do is suck and collect money from all of us. What do OFWs get as benefits from all these hassles? That we do not pay airport or travel tax when we leave? I would rather pay them than go through hell every time I leave my own country. I would rather be an unregistered OFW if this is how Filipino workers abroad are being treated. We do not just work for all of you; we also work for our families. So stop this b***s*** and stop making our lives miserable. You do not ease our pain. You do not help us. You are, in fact, a burden to all of us. I wish you realize that. Better yet, try to be an OFW and go through this entire b***s*** and tell us what you think.”

 

 

The nightmare which this unfortunate Filipina OFW went through only reflects the government’s cavalier attitude toward our labor expatriates. Despite pumping some US$23-billion into the Philippine economy last year, our OFWs have not been given the privileges commensurate to their contribution.

 


It’s also quite shocking to learn that with the billions of pesos in fees collected from our OFWs, the POEA and OWWA still don’t use modern technology like biometrics, database networking or the internet to make it faster and easier for our OFWs to get the needed clearances or to exit the country. And forcing OFWs to cough up hard-earned money for fees that have already been paid but are being charged anew because POEA and OWWA have been negligent in updating their records, is nothing but plain and simple extortion. Apparently, the Labor Department’s press releases about making things more convenient for OFWs are just that – press releases.

 


Is this how the Aquino administration treats its “bosses”?

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