[PHOTO - Four-year-old Jhon Carlo Samillana looks at poinsettia plants, usually abloom during cold months, being sold at Manila Seedling Bank on Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. After the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Filipinos are now preparing for Christmas season.]

By Mayen Jaymalin - More Filipino workers are likely to be hired abroad with the government’s plan to ease overseas employment regulations.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will be coming out with the new policy on hiring of Filipino workers.

“The POEA is now undertaking a review of the existing regulations in order to come out with a new one and we are looking at lesser regulation for skilled and professional workers,” Baldoz said.

She explained that the POEA needs to come out with a new regulation that would conform with Republic Act 10022, or the Amended Migrant Workers Act.

The new law was enacted a few years ago in an effort to improve the standard of protection and promotion of welfare of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs).

Under the new law, the Philippine government would only allow deployment to countries that could ensure safety and welfare of OFWs.

The new law also mandates deployment only to countries with existing bilateral agreements with the Philippine government and countries with necessary certification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

There are 180 certified countries that are considered compliant with the requirements of the new law, while 15 are classified as “unsafe destination” and therefore banned from hiring OFWs.

Baldoz stressed that existing POEA regulations are yet to be adjusted with the newly amended Migrant Workers Act.

She also noted that the new policy being drafted by the POEA would also reduce the number of private recruitment agencies.

“There are more than a thousand recruitment agencies at this time and we have to reduce their number,” Baldoz said, adding that the number is likely to be trimmed based on the market or host countries.

[PHOTO - Store owner Baby Cortero arranges her display of Christmas lanterns at Mega Q-Mart in Cubao, Quezon City on Sunday. Store owners immediately put up their decors and Christmas display as soon as All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day were over. Photo by Manny Palmero for]


‘Bayanihan’ Spirit Shines In Storm-Ravaged East Coast By ELLSON QUISMORIO November 4, 2012, 9:43pm

[PHOTO - JERSEY CITY VISIT. Consul General Mario L. De Leon Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York talks to Filipinos in Jersey City, which was among the areas that were hit hard by superstorm Sandy. Filipinos there have been helping each other deal with the damage to their homes and property. (Photo by Philippine Consulate General New York)]

There’s Bayanihan on stage, and then there’s “bayanihan” on the streets.

The Philippines’ world-famous national folk dance company, the Bayanihan, performed last Thursday at the Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City as tales of mutual cooperation among Filipinos in the US East Coast cropped up in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy’s wrath.

Performing before a large audience, the Bayanihan took center stage on the same night the lights reopened in Broadway in a sign that New York was slowly picking itself up from the storm that brought it to its knees just a few days ago.

“What makes the performance particularly memorable is that it took place while Filipinos in various parts of the East Coast were performing their own acts of bayanihan to help each other rise on their feet,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr.

[PHOTO -BAYANIHAN. The home of a Filipino family, one of a few that still has electricity in storm-ravaged Jersey City in New Jersey, serves as a charging station for the mobile devices of other Filipinos in the area. Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York said Filipinos have been helping each other cope with the aftermath of superstorm Sandy which caused damage to the homes and properties of countless Filipinos in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. (Photo by Philippine Consulate General New York)]

The envoy cited stories received by the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Philippine Consulate General in New York of how Filipinos have opened the doors to their homes to assist their kababayans (compatriots) in getting over the effects of one of the worst storms in American history.

“True to its name, the bayanihan is a shining example of the can do spirit of the Filipino and that hope endures,” said Cuisia. “In its own special way, the Bayanihan was able to dance its way into the hearts of both Filipinos and Americans who came to see the performance.”

“It was spectacular,” said former Ambassador to Manila Frank Wisner who raved about the beautiful, creative, and energetic repertoire of the Bayanihan that included six dance suites showcasing the diversity of Philippine culture and traditions.

According to Consul General Mario De Leon, almost 2,000 Filipinos in the Country Village section of Jersey City, New Jersey are helping one another emerge from the storm-wrought devastation.

[PHOTO -FILIPINO STORE. Filipinos line up for food supplies and other necessities at the Philippine Farm in Jersey City, one of a few establishments there that is powered by a generator. Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York said hundreds of Filipinos remain without electricity following the havoc wreaked by superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and other areas in the eastern seaboard of the United States. (Photo by Philippine Consulate General New York)]

“The few Filipinos who have generators let kababayans who have no electricity charge their mobile devices,” he said. “Filipino store and restaurant owners also kept their establishments open despite fears of possible looting.”

In Staten Island, where two Filipino families lost their homes to storm surges, fellow Filipinos opened their doors to them and took them in. The same is true in New Jersey and Long Island where Filipinos whose houses were damaged by floodwaters, falling trees or violent winds found shelter in the homes of friends and relatives.

In Suffolk Country in Long Island, a Filipina said kababayans can come to her home where they can have hot meals, take their showers and do their laundry. In Manhattan, a family of Filipino doctors and nurses has been volunteering their services in local hospitals.

The Consulate General in New York itself had launched Operation Kapitbahay (Neighbor) that allowed Filipinos access to the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue where they could charge their mobile devices and connect to the Internet.

Filipino organizations have also risen to the occasion. The Oriental Mindoro Association headed by Juliet Payabyab is gathering clothes and water for affected Filipinos in Staten Island, which is among the worst-hit in New York. The Handang Tumulong Foundation Inc. is also mobilizing assistance for relief efforts.

Even the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has offered to a helping hand with its Operation Kaligtasan (Safety). Bayan leader Gary Labao visited the Philippine Consulate and volunteered to search for Filipinos who may have been in evacuation centers in hard-hit New York and New Jersey.

The Association of Filipino Teachers in America led by its Vice President Ronnie Mataquel are volunteering at a shelter in the Bronx that caters to displaced residents of City Island while members of the Filipino-American Amateur Athletic League in Connecticut are helping out at the Red Cross facility in Greenwich.

In Long Island, community leader Ramon Villongco is leading efforts to look into the situation of Filipinos in Long Beach, Mastic Beach, Babylon, Hempstead, Bayshore, Brentwood, Hicksville, Glen Cove and other areas that were badly struck by Sandy.

The East Coast-based Filforce airsoft group was the first to provide the Embassy with the first reports of the impact of Sandy on the Filipino Community as some of its members in Atlantic City, Jersey City and Long Island absorbed the brunt of the storm in terms of flood-damage to their homes and vehicles.

In Washington, the Filipino Migrant Heritage Commission also responded to the call of the Philippine Embassy for Filipino organizations to look into the situation of their members in the affected areas. FMHC leader Grace Valera said their group was in touch with members in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey before, during and after Sandy’s onslaught to make sure that all of them are all right.

Bayanihan, performed last Thursday at the Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City as tales of mutual cooperation among Filipinos in the US East Coast cropped up in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy’s wrath. 

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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