IGNACIO BUNYE: LET US GIVE OUR OFWs THE WARMEST WELCOME
MANILA, December 22, 2003 (BULLETIN) By Ignacio R. Bunye - AMONG the Middle East countries, Bahrain is undoubtedly one of the closest to the Philippines.
Bahrain is very supportive for quest for peace in Mindanao and is considered home away from home by about thirty thousand overseas Filipino workers.
Through its prime minister, Shaikh Salman Bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, Bahrain has committed to send a delegation to form part of the cease fire monitoring team in Mindanao.
Bahrain is also actively pushing for the grant of observer status to the government of the Philippines in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a development that could further insure success of peace and development efforts in Mindanao.
Bahrain recently donated 1 million dollars as seed fund for projects that would help displaced Muslims.
We have signed at least five memoranda of agreement with Bahrain, covering prevention of double taxation, mutual protection of investments, technical cooperation on vocational training, tourism and air transportation.
Prime Minister Al-Khalifa, a brother of the late Emir of Bahrain and an uncle of the present Emir, had donated a 2.5-hectare property where the Philippine School in Bahrain now offers elementary and secondary education mostly to children of Filipino overseas workers.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited the Philippine School last week. On her way there, she also passed by the proposed site of the AMA College. Ambassador Amable “King” Aguiluz V told me that the 5-hectare property was likewise donated by the Prime Minister.
What have we done to deserve this very special treatment from the Bahrain royalty?
Plenty and we can thank our overseas Filipino workers. More specifically, the Filipino nanny.
We found out that the royal household is practically managed by Filipinos many of whom have been with the prime minister for years and years.
Prime Minister Al Khalifa considers Filipino members of his household to be very hardworking and extremely loyal and he has developed a fondness for them. A Filipina nanny reminds him when to take his medicine and what food not to eat.
Through them, he first came to know about our country. He became curious and one day he decided to visit the Philippines. He has since become enamoured of the Philippines, its people and its culture.
He enjoys Filipino foods. Like most of the Filipino members of his household, the Prime Minister even enjoys watching The Filipino Channel. When I was introduced by the President to His Excellency, the prime minister remarked to my surprise: “ Oh yes. I always see you on TV.”
I found out later that he counts Boy Abunda, Cito Beltran, and Pinky Webb as among his favorite TV talk show hosts.
Cardinal Sin once related how a Filipino nanny has changed the life of an Italian family. The story is told that the nanny was employed by a high-living Italian couple who had an only child. One day, the child got seriously ill and on her sickbed, she made her parents promise that if she got well they would hear mass together again. They did. Thanks to the Filipino nanny who taught the child to pray.
One can never underestimate the influence that Philippines exerts on other countries through the Filipino nanny. Considering that our nannies have been serving overseas for decades, it is quite possible that very soon we would be seeing a new crop of world political and business leaders raised by Filipino nannies.
This season, thousands of overseas Filipino workers, who have sent home almost 8 billion dollars to our country this year, are coming home to spend time with their loved ones. Let us give the warmest welcome we can give.
Not only are they truly deserving of the name The Great Filipino Investors. They are also The Great Filipino Ambassadors.
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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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