MANILA, Nov. 1, 2014 – Often seen as a threat, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) would benefit from more high-level dialogue between the Philippines and their host countries.
“The Church may organize migrant communities to convince their host countries that these diaspora communities could be assets and never threats to recipient countries,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said during a press briefing on Oct. 30.
Asked about possible Church programs for OFWs, Tagle said there are some indications the Church will facilitate these dialogues among countries to further protect migrant workers’ rights and assure them of just wages.
According to him, countries where Filipino communities flourish need to see the unique contributions of OFWs in their societies.
The Catholic Church is also concerned with the growing phenomenon where single parents are on the rise not because of irreconcilable differences between husbands and wives, Tagle explained, but because of migration.
“Couples separate not because of misunderstanding, but because of love,” he added. Either the husband or the wife would find a job abroad to send their children to school.
Tagle added there is also a need for deeper pastoral care for Filipinos overseas and their families back home.
Thinking of families back home
He recalled attending a forum organized by the Pontifico Collegio Filippino in Rome during his recent trip to Italy for the Synod on the Family where a number of the OFWs who attended wept while talking about their families back home.
Tagle quoted one of them saying “If not only because of povery, I would not have left my spouse and children in the Philippines.”
He said several of them admitted thinking of their love ones almost all the time, even while working.
The 57-year old prelate recounted how a Filipina working as babysitter could not but help think of her children while feeding her wards, wondering, “Who is feeding my own children back home?”.
However, she would later on realize that her wards are “her children as well”, Tagle said.
“This, for me, is the Paschal mystery,” he added.
The cardinal also shared how he has been “traumatized” by airports as he gets to meet mothers glued to their mobile phones as if assuring their young children that “everything will be alright”. (CBCP News/Melo Acuña)