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Filipina injured in North Point bus crash recounts ordeal to OWWA

Posted on 17 December 2018 No comments
Rescuers trying to remove bodies of people trapped under the bus

By Daisy CL Mandap

Filipina Marjorie Salvador, 43, had a narrow escape when an empty school bus rolled down a busy North Point street on Dec. 10, and slammed through an alley where she and her wheelchair-bound elderly ward were checking out items at a makeshift stall.

Salvador was thrown to the side as the bus rammed the wheelchair, then pinned it underneath along with the elderly woman, before coming to a full stop a short distance away.

Marjorie Salvador 
The Filipina who had been in Hong Kong for just two months, escaped with just contusions on her body. She was taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan but was discharged the next day.

Her 89-year-old employer surnamed Yip was not as lucky, as she remains in serious condition at Eastern Hospital.

Four people who were all local Chinese, were killed in the accident. Eleven others, including two Filipinos - Salvador and and family driver Silvestre Velasco, Jr., - were injured.

The story of what transpired that fateful day was recounted by Salvador when she reported to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration on Dec. 17. OWWA had tried to reach her earlier, but the police initially declined to give names of the casualties. The contact number supplied by her employment agency was no longer working.

Welfare officer Nini Clarin finally got through to her on Dec. 16, after her agency managed to get her new telephone number.

Salvador, who is from Cavite and is married with three children, told The SUN her employer, surnamed Yip, had been good to her. Only the two of them lived together in nearby City Garden, and they used to spend a lot of time going around their North Point neighborhood.

Often, the elderly woman would reportedly ask Salvador to wheel her to the makeshift stall in the alley just off busy King’s Road where the bus crash happened. She particularly enjoyed going there every 10th of the month, when the stall is tended by a vendor selling emergency lights and other electronic gadgets which she collected.

That particular 10th of the month, the two had taken a longer time than usual checking the goods that they were there at the precise time that the empty bus rolled fast down Cheung Kong street in the opposite side, and rammed through the stall.

Salvador said she was holding on to the wheelchair when the bus mowed it down from the side, and she was thrown off to one side.

Salvador appeared to have been so traumatized by the experience that she panics each time she sees a yellow school bus similar to the one that mowed down her employer.

Clarin said the Filipina will be referred to a social worker for counseling.

OWWA has also advised her and Velasco to file claims with the Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme of the Social Welfare Department and employee compensation from the Labour Department.

On Dec 11, Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged help to the families of those who died or were injured in the accident. She also said safety measures to prevent road accidents will be stepped up.

Employment back home still the best

Posted on No comments
By Josefina Pingkihan

The jolliest season is again approaching, and most overseas Filipino workers would again be wishing they were back home with their loved ones on this most celebrated event in our country. Indeed, even the most modern video-chatting could never replace the happiness that we experience when we are physically present to bask in the love of our families back home.

The feeling of loneliness experienced by most migrant workers could soon be amplified when China truly opens up its labor market to 10,000 household service workers from the Philippines. According to our Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, this was one of the takeouts from the recently concluded visit to Manila of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

More employment equals more income, as proved by the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report on remittances by Filipinos abroad. As of September this year, the total amount sent home by OFWs already amounted to a staggering US$23.713billion, an increase of 2.4 % from last year. This should be a good thing, according to analysts, but at what cost?

In exchange for the dollars sent home are the tears and sweat from millions of  OFWs who were forced to leave behind their families in search of greener pasture, only to find themselves trapped in the quagmire of the costs of migration. Broken families and estranged children often result from an OFW having to go away, while they themselves find themselves falling victims to abuse by their employers, debt bondage which often starts from the mounting cost of securing a job abroad, cultural shock…the list goes on.

We have been led to believe by the present government that there would be “changes” if we only stayed on course and remained patient. But three years since President Rodrigo Duterte took over, these promised changes never happened. In fact, if we are to say it fair and square, the economy has worsened considerably under his rule.

Instead of the promised relief from a robust economy, the country’s inflation rate shot up from just 1.3% in June 2016 to a whopping 5.7% in July this year. This happened back to back with a record low for the peso, which dropped to Php7 to HK$1 in the latter part of the third quarter of this year. Analysts say the Philippine peso has been the worst performing currency in Asia. Despite this, surveys show cash remittances fell to US$2.36billion in June 2018 from US$2.47billion in the same month last year.

Amid this doom-and-gloom scenario, it is not surprising that many Filipinos are scampering to work abroad to secure their family’s future. From a daily OFW deployment of just 4,000 a day during the previous administration, about 6,000 are now joining the daily exodus.

The government avers that more jobs are being created for Filipinos. But statistics show that the claim is not true, as there are now 11.1 million unemployed and underemployed Filipinos.

Why would anyone in their right minds decide to leave the country if they had good-paying jobs at home? The explanation is simple. It is not true that more jobs are opening up to Filipinos, despite claims that more foreign investors are coming in. Also whatever new jobs were created from these mostly Chinese foreign investments appear to have gone also to Chinese workers.

While our agriculture and fishing industries remain stagnant, the manufacturing sector boosted by foreign investments does not really contribute much to our economy as they come in only because of sweeteners or incentives.

Given these indicators, it is clear that the present administration has failed to deliver on its promise of genuine change to address the acute needs of the people, particularly the poor. Nearly three years on, and it is obvious that Dutertenomics or whatever the present administration wants its policy direction called, has failed miserably.

Migrant workers like us have simple needs, and we have made them amply clear from the migrants agenda we have drawn up even before the current president assumed office. We have relentlessly followed up on this, but have received no relief so far.

What we want to say is, yes, we need jobs, but jobs that would give us security and wages that would complement our socio-economic needs. The offered jobs in China, if true, could be a big help, particularly to many poor families in the Philippines, but these are not what we are hoping for. What we need are jobs that would not lead us away  our families. 
Our contributor this issue is a long-time Filipino migrant worker who became known for leading Cordillera Alliance in Hong Kong, one of the oldest and most active OFW organizations around. Josie now spends a lot of time traveling between Hong Kong and China with her employer, giving her more time to hone her talent for writing.

Nabago ng Card-MRI ang kanilang mga buhay

Posted on No comments
Rose Madelyn Marquez

Ni George Manalansan

Makailang ulit na pagpapatunay sa serbisyong naibibigay ng Card MRI at ng sangay nito na Card Hong Kong Foundation ang nangibabaw sa seremonya ng pagtatapos na isinagawa sa Bayanihan Centre sa Kennedy Town noong Nob 18.

Kabilang sa mga nagbigay ng testimonya mula sa Pilipinas ay si Rose Madelyn Marquez, Card-MRI Gawad Maunlad National Awardee.

Ikinuwento niya na mula sa inutang niya na Php2,000 mula sa Card MRI ay nag-umpisa siyang magtinda ng mga kakanin, at nang lumago ang kanyang munting negosyo ay naisipan niyang pumasok sa agrikultura. Nang umabot sa Php50,000 ang maari niyang mautang ay bumili na siya ng traktora, hanggang lumawak nang lumawak ang kanyang sinasaka. Ngayon ay may 93 ektarya na ang lupain, bahay at mga sasakyan, pero balak pa rin daw niyang mangutang ng ng hanggang Php8.5million sa Card para patuloy pang palaguin ang kanyang negosyo.

Ang payo ni Marquez, huwag nang hintayin pa na makaipon ng malaki, ang importante ay magsimula na sa balak na negosyo. “Mangutang kayo sa Card,” wika niya.

Irene Fadullo
Medyo taliwas naman ang payo ni Irene Fadullo, na pinarangalan bilang Card SME Bank Gawad Maunlad Awardee.

“Kami ay nangungutang nang may paglalagyan, hindi yung tipong mangungutang ka para lang ipampasarap sa buhay, sadyang sa negosyo namin inilaan. Sa Card po sila ang talagang dahilan kung saan kami ngayon,” sabi ni Fadullo. “Nagsimula lang kami sa isang oven ngayon ay mahigit 20 na ang gamit naming sa bakery. Maraming salamat sa Card.”

Ang mga nagtapos naman sa financial literacy program ng Card HK Foundation ay ubod din ang pasasalamat sa pagsasanay nilang tinamo, katulad ni Evelyn Tambalos ng Batch 48.

“The chance of learning financial literacy changed my perception in life regarding finances, especially how to spend it wisely. I have goals in my life now, I focus on it and I am firm about it,” sabi niya.

Sa katunayan daw, pagkatapos ng seminar ay nakapag-umpisa sila kaagad ng kanyang asawa ng kanilang sariling food cart business. Ang una nilang binenta ay piniritong manok na tinawag niyang “chicken joy” at nang lumaon ay dinagdagan na nila ng banana cue, fishballs, at iba-ibang pang meryenda.

“Looking forward to having more food carts,” sabi niya.

Payo pa niya, kailangan daw na magkaroon ng kasunduan sa mga kapamilyang naiwanan para hindi sila gagastos ng walang kabuluhan.

Ayon naman kay Josephine Tabcao ng Batch 49 suwerte daw siya dahil naimbitahan ng isang kaibigan na maging parte ng pamilya ng Card.

“Ngayon I am applying what I have learned lalo na sa budgeting at pag-iipon,” sabi niya.

“Being an OFW, kung minsan puro tayo padala at gastos. After the fin- lit seminar, nalaman ko ang distinction ng needs and wants. Mas natuto ako na I- prioritize ang needs at isantabi muna ang wants.”

Kumpisal naman ni Reyna Elevenson ng batch 50, sa loob ng 12 pagtatrabaho niya sa Hong Kong ay wala siyang naipon o investment, at baon pa sa utang. Pero sa loob lang ng tatlong buwan matapos siyang sumali sa financial literacy seminar ng Card, nakikita na daw niya kung saan napupunta ang perang pinaghirapan niya, at nakapag-umpisa na siyang mag-ipon.

“This training has opened the door for an opportunity for us to achieve financial freedom. I will forever hold a part of this training in my heart, it has given me and helped me realized what matters most in life especially when it comes to our finances”, wika niya.

Sambit naman ni  Sheila Marie Almine ng Batch 51: “Laking tulong po sa akin ang workshop dahil mas na- motivate ako na mag-ipon. Ang kaalamang natutunan ko ay ibinahagi ko sa ilang mga kakilala dahil talagang na-inspire ako. Nawa’y mas marami pa kayong mabigyan ng kaalaman mabuhay po kayo!”

Para naman kay Sheryl Alalag-Mapandan ng Outreach group, “The seminar gave me a clear idea on how to manage my finances wisely to achieve a better financial situation. It is not an overnight transformation but slowly and surely, we are applying the financial concepts we learned to be better individuals, especially in handling our finances. We pray that you will not tarry, but will continue this program you started. If all OFWs will become debt-free and have secured savings, then we will be very proud to say we are indeed “bayani ng ating bayan.”

Dagdag ni Ma. Elvesa Apostol ng Entrepreneurship group, “Since I plan to go home for good soon my learning especially on entrepreneurship will definitely guide me and give me strength to successfully manage my agriculture business in the Philippines. You cannot be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t know how to plan your business, kaya importante ang pag-aaral natin ng business Planning na itinuro sa atin ng Card Hong Kong Foundation.”


Posted on No comments
Marami ang nangangarap na mag-negosyo kapag umuwi tayo sa Pilipinas balang araw. Pero ilan ba sa atin ang may ginagawa upang makamit ang ganitong pangarap?

Ang marami sa atin, kahit plano ay wala. Kung may plano man, hanggang doon na lang, dahil iniisip nila na wala naman silang pang-kapital.

Pero marami sa atin ay tahimik na gumagawa ng paraan upang mapalapit sa kanilang pangarap. Kumukuha sila ng training mula sa “skills” gaya ng pagmamasahe at paggawa ng tinapa, hanggang sa kaalamang pangnegosyo.

Kalimitan ay libre ang mga pagsasanay na ito. At para sa mga naghihirap na ituro ang maraming paraan sa paggawa ng pera, sapat nang kabayaran ang makitang nagtatapos ang kani-kanilang tinuruan.

Sa 23 taon namin bilang tagamasid ng Filipino community sa Hong Kong, naging saksi kami sa pakikipagsapalaran ng mga OFW, at sa pagtupad ng pangarap ng ilan na mamuhay kasama ang pamilya.

Kaya kapag naaanyayahan kami ng mga grupong gaya ng CARD OFW Foundation Hong Kong, Balikatan, Umela at Diwa’t Kabayan Benlife Society Club upang dumalo sa mga pagtatapos ng kanilang mga trainee, hindi namin pinalalagpas ang pagkakataon na makipag-kuwentuhan. Dito kasi nabubuhay ang pangarap.

At lalo kaming natutuwa na sa mga nagtatapos, may mga patuloy na naghahanap ng dagdag na kaalaman upang maging handa sila sa pagdating ng panahong sila ay dapat nang umuwi.

Kung lahat ng mga OFW na nasa Hong Kong ay gagaya sa kanila, at susundan ito ng milyon-milyong OFW na nagkalat sa buong mundo, mababago hindi lang ang kanilang buhay, kundi ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas dahil sa kanilang kikitain at sa taong mabibigyan nila ng trabaho.

Mabuti at unti-unting nabubuo ang alyansa sa Hong Kong sa pagitan ng mga grupong nagbibigay ng livelihood training at kursong pangnegosyo upang bigyan landas tungo sa mas malawak na kaalaman. para sa mga interesado, at ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas, upang maituro sila sa mga tulong na ibinibigay ng iba’t ibang ahensiya sa mga nangangarap nang ganito.

Malugod naming susundan ang mga mangyayari sa pagbuo ng isang sistemang tunay na makatutulong sa mga OFW na baguhin ang kanilang kabuhayan.

Pinay artist-in-residence holds workshop with OFWs

Posted on No comments

Filipino Artist Alma Quinto conducts a Textile art workshop  

By Cris Cayat

She came to Hong Kong to finish two projects about migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong but didn’t know how, and where, to do the project at first.

Alma Quinto, who is here as an artist-in-residence at Centre for Heritage Arts and Textiles in Tsuen Wan, said her first few days of stay was a blur, but after connecting with a few members of the Filipino community, the project blossomed.

Some of the participants with their finished artworks.

She eventually came up with a project called “Day-off Mo?”, in reference to the question frequently asked of her by Filipino migrant workers she encounters everywhere.

The first part of this project was held on Nov 18 at Statue Square in Central, the iconic hangout of Filipino migrant workers on their days off.

Quinto collaborated with various groups in the morning to hold a workshop using textile as a medium of expressing their activities on Sundays. The idea was to compile all the artworks and create a textile book.

In the afternoon she worked with two migrants with a passion for the arts in another collaboration for a more symbolic but silent assertion of women migrants’ role in the progress of Hong Kong.

Cecil Eduarte, who is from Abra, created a doll statue of her famous townmate, the feminist icon Gabriela Silang. Her soft statue had a raised fist to symbolize her stand to fight for the rights of fellow migrants.

This writer, who is from Benguet, was the second collaborator. My own soft statue was dressed up in indigenous fabrics as a representation of our tribe in a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong.

The two soft statues were placed in front of the black-colored stone statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, more famously known among migrants as the “Blackman,” in the middle of the Square.

Quinto said the installation was very symbolic, as it reflected the life of migrant workers in Hong Kong.

On Nov. 25, more soft statues were placed in front of Blackman, which also represented the way migrants spend their Sundays.

The collaborators on this day included were Joan Pabona and Dholeeh Ann Hidalgo for photography, Mharz Balaoro for LGBT rights, Elpie Leba for Upcycling, and Victoria Munar in contemporary Filipiniana outfit.

All the artworks were exhibited at The Mills in Tsuen Wan, site of the former cotton spinning mills of the Nan Fun Textile factory. The exhibit included a presentation of Quinto’s research and collaborative works with Hong Kong locals and Filipino migrants. The exhibit will run until Jan. 6.

Quinto, the fourth artist-in-residence at Chat at The Mills, is a visual artist, educator and cultural worker whose works aim to empower underprivileged people and “heal broken dreams”. Her three-month tenure runs from September to December this year. – with a report from Ellen Asis

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