Written by: Kenneth C. Siruelo

In its pursuit to address the plight of displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Central Luzon brought about by COVID-19, the Central Luzon Subcommittee on Migration and Development (SMD) held its first meeting last 21 January 2021 to discuss its Work Program and learn about the BalikaBayanihan Campaign (BC). 

In his message, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) OIC-Regional Director and Chair of the SMD, Agustin C. Mendoza mentioned that the creation of the SMD is an offshoot of numerous meetings advancing the regions’ advocacy to address the concerns of the OFWs. He added that as the country’s second largest OFW sending region, it is high time that all sectors should work to ensure the protection of OFWs and their family. 

Ms. Estrella Mai Dizon-Añonuevo, Chair of the Board of Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative, Inc. (Atikha) and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), presented the BC. She congratulated the Region for coming up with its own committee to address the OFW concerns. In her presentation, Ms. Dizon- Añonuevo shared that the  BC is reliving the spirit of “Bayanihan” or volunteerism among Filipinos to come to the aid of and lend a helping hand to the displaced OFWs for their reintegration and to succeed in their chosen investments and/or business endeavors.  She added that BalikaBayanihan is a partnership of the national and local government, OFW organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, development agencies and private organizations to provide integrated services to the repatriated OFWs affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.  She also called on volunteers to provide technical and mentoring services to help the returnees access capital, market, training and other consultancy services to start, scale up or  re-strategize their business and sponsors to provide training, grants and other services to assist in setting and scaling-up or to re-strategize OFW owned business. The BC is co-organized by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), OWWA and Atikha.

The Central Luzon SMD was created through RDC III Resolution No. 03-47-2020 through the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (CL-RDC) during its 02 October 2020 Full Council Meeting. The resolution also identified Atikha as a member of the Civil Society Organization of the SMD.

The author is currently the Officer-In-Charge, Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division (PATSD), Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

For more information and inquiries on the BalikaBayanihan initiative you may contact Ms. Mai Dizon-Anonuevo at maianonuevo@gmail.com or Mr. Kenneth C. Siruelo at ksiruelo@pnvsca.gov.ph, and/or you may visit at www.balikabayanihan.org.

Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.