BALANGA City, Bataan, September 3, 2014—In a bid to make families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) less dependent on remittances, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) recently launched the Diocesan Awareness Seminar for Migrants’ Apostolate (DASMA) in Luzon and Mindanao.
In an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas, Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos reported that CBCP-ECMI has been at the forefront of these livelihood program seminars especially designed to train relatives of Filipino migrant workers in valuable skills.
The bishop, who also chairs the commission, explains the project will enable OFW families to supplement their income and improve their lives in the process.
“We started this in Luzon and Mindanao …The bishops of Mindanao held a series of consultation meetings on August 21-22 hosted by the Diocese of Ipil in Zamboanga-Sibugay. This meeting recommends the setting up of Ministry for Migrants in each Mindanao diocese,” said Santos.
The prelate shared that the next scheduled livelihood program seminars will be conducted in November in the Dioceses of Dipolog, Pagadian, and Iligan, and the Archdiocese of Ozamiz.
To ensure the program’s success, Santos stressed they have teamed up with the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and with the various dioceses and organizations.
Santos shared it is EMI’s desire that in the future, Filipinos will not have to leave their loved ones behind to seek greener pastures overseas.
Social costs of OFW phenomenon
According to the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (CFO), there are approximately 13 million recorded Filipino citizens abroad to date, no less than 2.2 million of whom the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) identifies as OFWs or migrant workers.
Experts fault the lack of employment opportunities in the Philippines for forcing many Filipinos to consider finding them elsewhere in the hope of earning dollars.
This option, however, almost always entails prolonged isolation from one’s partner and children for months, even years, and having to get by in an unfamiliar socio-cultural setting. (Raymond A. Sebastián)