Washington, DC — The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. and its attached agencies celebrated Filipino Migrant Workers Day with an open house at the Embassy Chancery on June 8, 2019. It was the first-ever Filipino Migrant Workers Day Open House held in the Embassy.
“You toil tirelessly for the country. You work almost without rest, the way it is in America. So accept my congratulations on Filipino Migrant Workers Day. And saludo ako sa kapwa kong Pilipino. (And I salute my fellow Filipino)”.
These were the final words in the heartfelt video message recorded by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for Filipino migrant workers in the United States, which was shown during the Opening Program.
Around 150 Filipino migrant workers from Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC participated in the event and availed themselves of the various services. These included teachers, health care workers, household workers, Filipino staffers in the World Bank/IMF and various foreign embassies, and other workers.
The opening program was led by Consul General Renato Pedro Villa, Labor Attaché Angela Librado-Trinidad and Welfare Officer Josephine Tobia. Aside from the President’s message, there were also video greetings from Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard P. Olalia.
“We are very pleased to be able to open the grounds of your Embassy today and to host this Open House not only to enjoy each other’s company, but also to be able to provide you the services that are available at the Chancery Annex,” Ambassador Romualdez said in brief remarks to the participants as he joined the festivities during the course of the day.
“As you heard in the messages of the President and other officials this morning, including Labor Secretary Bebot Bello, the Philippine government recognizes the individual and collective contributions of Filipino Migrant Workers. And I applaud the Embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office/OWWA (POLO/OWWA) for spearheading this great initiative,” Ambassador Romualdez added.
The Embassy’s day-long celebration was designed to celebrate Migrant Workers Day in the traditional Filipino spirit of fun, camaraderie and togetherness, where Filipino food and other cultural traditions were also showcased.
At the same time, the Embassy’s consular section was open to provide passport renewal services; and there were briefings on investment and business options, and entrepreneurship from the Trade and Agriculture Attachés.
Representatives from the Embassy’s Consular Section and the Assistance-to-Nationals Unit, OWWA, Pag-Ibig Fund, Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Office of the Police Attaché provided counseling, registration, membership updating, and other services throughout the day. Officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the Social Security System were likewise available for on-line consultation.
Consistent with the “Bayanihan ng mga Manggagawang Pinoy sa DMV” theme, there were booths set up by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) and the United Federation of Fil-Am Educators (UNIFFIED) Washington DC & Maryland Chapters showcasing their organizations and activities, as well as Philippine culture and cuisine. The US-Philippines Society also had a table that shared the story of the bilateral efforts for the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines.
Food for the potluck lunch were generously contributed by the U.S.-Philippines Society, Bistro 1521, Matthew’s Grill, Migrant Heritage Commission, CDC Holdings and Tito Al’s 2A Marketing Center and Magnolia.
To celebrate Philippine heritage, there were cultural performances from the MHC and UNIFFIED. Bianca Camille Lopez and Ma. Rhina Paula Palma-Cruz, alumnae of the world-renowned Philippine Madrigal Singers and now both singing as the Nightingales, made a special appearance and serenaded the crowd with folksongs and original Pilipino music.
There was also a Kiddie Corner that was manned by the children of Embassy staff. Visiting children were re-introduced to the Philippines and their cultural heritage; and the mosaic making activity was designed to underscore the need to work together and highlight the importance of conserving the fast-vanishing Philippine crocodile and pangolin.
Philippine global brands Philippine Airlines, PLDT USA, CDC Holdings, and GMA Pinoy TV provided give-away items for the participants. All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Smart Cargo, and Cargo Plus contributed raffle prizes.
Celebrated annually on June 7, to commemorate the signing of Republic Act 8042, or the Philippine Migrant Workers Act, Filipino Migrant Workers Day is intended to recognize the significant contributions of Overseas Filipino Workers to the Philippine economy and society.