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Five Pinays lose more than $300k in love-jobs scam

Posted on 22 July 2018 No comments
The victims had to pawn their passports
to borrow more money for John 

By Daisy CL Mandap

In just over two months, a group of Filipina domestic workers found themselves neck-deep in debt, all because of a charlatan who promised to get them work visas through a tech company he was supposedly setting up.

Banking on that promise, the five Filipinas racked up debts totaling a whopping $312,000, money they said all went to the Egyptian man they identified as John, but whose passport name they gave as Ghonam Aly Elsayed Aly Ibrahim.

But after reportedly demanding increasing amounts of money each month from the victims, saying he needed funds to set up the business and for him to live on, John suddenly cut off contacts with them by the end of last month.

By then, the Filipinas were already facing the fruit of their folly. Debt collectors from the various financing companies and individuals they borrowed money from, began calling them up to demand payment.

As a result, at least three of the alleged victims had their contracts terminated, and they would soon head home penniless and in tears, fearful of the adverse consequences of not being able to pay the huge amounts of money they had borrowed so recklessly.

All five filed statements at the Consulate on Jul 15, with at least one making a separate complaint at the Central Police station. Everyone was desperately seeking advice, wary of the notorious debt collectors that were closing in on them, and worried they could no longer work in Hong Kong.

The alleged scam unfolded on Feb. 18 this year, when Vivian - who was among those who complained - met John, a good-looking man who said he was from Alexandria, Egpyt, in a park in Hong Kong. 

John, who was on tourist visa, reportedly wanted to look for a job in Hong Kong, but he had no money. He allegedly said he could also set up his own IT company from home, but he must need at least a computer and an iPad.

Vivian responded to this by borrowing $30,000 from a financing company so John could buy whatever he needed for his business, and to pay the recruitment agency that would help him find a job.

Not long after, they became a couple.

But soon, John’s needs began to include his daily meals and accommodation, forcing Vivian to borrow heavily. In the end, she said her losses had run up to no less than $110,000.

Still, John reportedly kept asking for more that Vivian had to look for other people who could help put up the money for him.

That was when Mariz, whom Vivian met at the training centre they both attended in the Philippines prior to deployment, came into the picture.

Mariz, a single mother of three who had been working in Hong Kong for only 15 months, was easily lured by the promise of transitioning from maid to staff at an IT company that she readily took out a loan of $20,000 on Apr 15 to give to John.

At one point, she said Vivian even managed to get her to sign the loan agreement for an iPhone 8 that they bought for John in Worldwide Plaza.

Mariz ended up borrowing a total of $80,000 for him.

But so impressed was she of John’s vision, and also allegedly because of Vivian’s relentless nudging, that Mariz enticed a 24-year-old niece to also borrow money to help set up their dream company. This young newcomer ended up with debts totaling $63,000.

A friend who also quickly fell into the trap reportedly ended up indebted by $52,000; while a friend of this friend lost “a mere” $7,000 because she got into the picture much later than they did, and even managed to make Vivian pay $2,000 of her original $9,000 loan.

According to Mariz, they were told to borrow money nearly every week that on their days off they would look for all possible sources, even the loan sharks who demanded their passports and work contracts as collateral.

At one stage when she began entertaining doubts about the whole scheme, Mariz said she was told by Vivian that she already had a two-year work visa and had paid for a flat that she and John would move into. That reportedly erased whatever doubts she had in her mind.

Thus, when John had to leave for Macau at the end of his three-month visitor visa, Mariz said she even went there on her day off to deliver some of the borrowed money. She said John and Vivian gave her money for her boat fare, but the loaned amounts were delivered to them intact.

That was the first and only time she met the man who would soon leave
them all with a mountain of debts, and a shattered future.

3 Pinoys in US$5B bank draft case denied bail

Posted on 21 July 2018 No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao
The 3 Pinoys were denied bail in Eastern Court 

Three Filipino male tourists who are accused of presenting a fake US$5 billion bank draft to HSBC failed in their attempt to secure bail at Eastern Court on Jul 19.

In two separate cases, a male tourist who allegedly attempted to encash fake traveler’s checks worth US$50,000 in February and a fellow Filipino who tried to verify an HSBC deposit slip for US$943 billion in April appeared in District Court on Jul 17. 

In the first case, Elmer P. Soliman, 57, his son Eric Jude P. Soliman, 31, and Eliseo L. Martinez returned to the court with bail money and addresses to stay in Hong Kong in case they gain temporary release, as well as a promise not to leave the city and report to police daily.

But that did not convince Magistrate Peter Law to grant their bail applications.

The three defendants, who are facing a charge of “using a false instrument”, were ordered back in jail.

HSBC staff called police after seeing
the fake US$5billion bank draf
Soliman and his son, who claimed to be a secretary and engineer, respectively, submitted an address on Jordan Road near the Tsimshatsui Police Station. They also offered bail money of $15,000 each and their Hong Kong Chinese friend who was in court was ready to put up a surety of $3,000 each, their lawyer told Law.

Third defendant Martinez, a lawyer, offered bail of $15,000 in addition to an offer of $15,000 surety from his friend “Mr Pieter”,  a Hong Kong resident. His lawyer also offered a new address, also in Saikung, where Martinez would reside.

Despite the offers, however, Law remained firm in refusing the bail applications of all three.

The magistrate told the defendants that their offense was serious, so he could not grant their applications. But he said they could apply for bail at the High Court.

Law told Martinez he had considered his case separately, but rejected his bail application.   

Martinez, wearing a red round-neck shirt, smiled to his wife and daughter as he emerged in the dock along with the Solimans. The daughter wiped off her tears as she beheld her father, a 46-year-old municipal lawyer in Tarlac province.

For the Solimans, a son and grandson of Elmer came with two local Chinese friends and a Filipina companion.
Magistrate Law said the case could now go to a pre-trial review on Aug. 9.

The three defendants were arrested on Jun 25 at the HSBC main office in Central after they tried to open an account using the fake bank draft worth US$ 5 billion. Two other unidentified persons who were with them were initially arrested but were later released by the police.

The prosecution said the elder Soliman approached a female staff to open an account. He then presented the bank draft that was handed to him by Martinez. The staff called the police when they noticed that the bank instrument was spurious.

A raid on their hotel room in Tsimshatsui followed, and police seized a suitcase with contained documents. Investigations are continuing.

In the District Court, Filipino tourists Noel Rambuyon and Brudencio Bolaños appeared for the first hearing of their individual cases of “using a false instrument” since their transfer from Eastern Court in Sai Wan Ho.

No plea was taken from either of the defendants. Their lawyer from Legal Aid  applied for a six-week adjournment to study the cases.

Judge Gary Lam adjourned the cases until Sept 4 and ordered Rambuyon and Bolaños back in jail. 

UCCP bishops warn federalism will lead to a Duterte dictatorship

Posted on 19 July 2018 No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

There is a “creeping tyranny” in the Philippines, as shown by the big number of people killed in the first two years of the administration’s war on drugs, a figure that now equals the number of those who died in 21 years of Marcos dictatorship, church leaders said.

Two bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines who visited Hong Kong in June said the “Operation Tokhang,” President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and the extended martial law in Mindanao are manifestations of the drift to authoritarianism.

Bishop Melzar Labuntog and Bishop Joel E. Tendero.
Bishop Joel E. Tendero of the UCCP -South Luzon Jurisdiction and Bishop Melzar Labuntog, UCCP general secretary, said they believe the administration’s push for a federal system of government, if it succeeds, would seal a Duterte dictatorship.

Duterte formed the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council in 2016 to push for charter change that will allow a shift to a federal system. More recently, he formed a 22-member committee tasked with drafting a new constitution providing for a federal type of government, which is due to be submitted to him on Monday, Jul 16.

“In summary, there is a creeping dictatorship that started with ‘Operation Tokhang’ that began when President Rodrigo Duterte said in his inaugural speech on Jun 30, 2016 that he will end the drug problem in six months,” Tendero said.

The church leaders spoke in a solidarity forum, “Hear the Lament of the Prophets: A solidarity forum on church involvement in the struggle for justice, peace and human rights” that was held in KUC Space in Yaumatei on Jun 29.

They said many church leaders have become victim of human rights violations as government forces harass those who fight for justice, peace and people’s rights, although the number is still below that registered during the Arroyo administration, when UCCP alone lost 28 priests.

In an interview with The SUN a day after the forum, Tendero, citing statistics from various human rights groups and academic studies, said two years of “Oplan Tokhang” has killed about 12,000 mostly poor people suspected of being in the drugs trade.

He said the police estimate was only more than 3,000 killed in legal anti-drug operations.

The German  news broadcaster Deutsche Welle gave a much higher figure, citing the Philippine National Police’s Bantay Krimen website which shows 21,999 people died in drug-related killings in 2017, including those slain by vigilantes and drug syndicates.       

The creeping tyranny is more intense in Mindanao, where martial law is still in place despite the siege of Marawi ending in October last year. The bishops said Duterte used the attack by Islamist fighters as its justification for declaring martial law.

“Since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the number of government troops on the island increased to more than 50% of the 250,000-strong Philippine military,” Tendero said.

The clerics said that unlike the Marcos-era martial law where soldiers were not very visible, large troop concentrations are observed in Mindanao. 

Labuntog said martial law in Mindanao is more intense in the rural areas, where soldiers encamp in schools, health centers and multipurpose  barangay halls.

He said there was one school near a mining company site where soldiers where asked why they were there in big numbers, and they replied that they were there “to guard the teachers.”

“If the teachers go home on Friday, why don’t you go home as well?” the soldiers were asked and they replied, “Because we will meet with the villagers.”

Tendero and Labuntog said the soldiers, known as peace forces under the military’s “Operation Kalayaan,” were actually engaging the villagers to set up intelligence networks and win their hearts and minds.

The face of martial law implementation was the Marawi City incident, said Labuntog, who was a prelate in Mindanao at the time. He and Tendero said the pocket conflict was used by Duterte to justify martial law on the country’s second largest island.

Harassment of Church people is continuing in the rural areas, as the military brands those who fight for the rights of indigenous people like the lumads as communist sympathizers.

Three priests have been killed since December last year. The most recent victim was Fr Richmond Nilo, who was shot dead on Jun 10 while he was about to say evening mass in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

His death followed the killing of Fr Mark Ventura, an anti-mining advocate who was slain in Cagayan while giving his blessing to children and the choir. In December last year, Fr Marcelito Paez, also of Nueva Ecija, was murdered.

Their deaths followed the killings of many church people from Iglesia Filipina Independiente/Philippine Independent Church, United Methodist Church and UCCP.

‘Sin’ taxes raise BIR collections

Posted on No comments
Thanks to the higher and new taxes slapped on the so-called sin products and sugary drinks under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act because the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) exceeded its target collections in the first half of 2018 by 13 percent.

BIR Commissioner Caesar B. Dulay said the agency collected P967.4 billion from January to June, up 13 percent from P853.6 billion in the first six months of last year.

The BIR also surpassed its end-June collection goal of P938.7 billion by 3 percent, Dulay added.

In June alone, the BIR’s tax collection rose 4 percent to P136.9 billion from P132.2 billion a year ago.

The actual collections last month were almost 1 percent more than the P135.7-billion target, Dulay said.

He attributed the strong six-month performance to a combination of improved tax administration and performance of revenue personnel as well as the higher levies under the TRAIN Law.

For this year, the BIR was tasked to collect P2.074 trillion, equivalent to 11 percent of gross domestic product.

Last year, the BIR’s collections grew 13 percent to P1.772 trillion from P1.567 trillion in 2016, although 1 percent below the P1.783-trillion goal.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the TRAIN law last December. It raised in January the excise taxes on cigarettes, sugary drinks, oil products and vehicles, among other goods, to compensate for the restructured personal income tax regime that raised the tax-exempt cap to an annual salary of P250,000.

The excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages, for instance, was a new levy, hence a fresh source of revenues, Dulay noted.

He said the new taxes on consumption compensated for the lower personal income tax rates under the TRAIN Law, which pulled down income tax collections so far this year, without disclosing by how much.

During the first half, the “big-ticket” sources of tax revenues were cigarettes and sugary drinks, Dulay said.

Under the TRAIN Law, the unitary excise tax slapped on cigarettes rose to P32.50 per pack effective Jan. 1 from P30 a pack last year.

Starting July, the cigarette excise tax further increased to P35 per pack, as mandated under the TRAIN Law.

Dulay said implementation of fuel marking by yearend as well as higher excise taxes on alcoholic drinks under the proposed tax package “2+” of the Department of Finance were expected to further shore up government revenue collections.

The taxes on petroleum and ‘sin’ products had consequently increased prices of basic consumer goods, thereby eroding the purchasing power of consumers.

Bagong grupo ng taekwondo, itinayo

Posted on No comments
Ni George Manalansan

Pinasinayaan noong ika-8 ng Hulyo ang bagong tatag na Royal Eagle Taekwondo Academy kung saan 20 manggagawang Pilipino ang kasapi, sa 10/F ng Fa Yuen Street Municipal Services Building sa Mong Kok.

Ang grupo ay pinamumunuan ni Master Durga Rai, isang Nepalese.

Naging panauhin si Dr. Willy Fu ng Hong Kong Basic Law Association at Deputy Secretary General ng Hongkong Legal Exchange Foundation.

Sinabi ni Dr. Fu na suportado ng gobyerno ng Hong Kong ang kapakanan ng lahat ng naninirahan sa siyudad, kabilang na ang mga kasapi sa grupo.

Pinasamalatan niya ang ang nag-imbita sa kanya at sinabi ang “I wish you all the best.”

Bilang bahagi ng programa ay nagpakita ang ilang miyembro ng kanilang husay sa iba’ t ibang istilo ng pag depensa sa sarili, sa pamamagitan ng suntok, pagsiko at pagtadyak nang naaayon sa larangan ng taekwondo.
Mga kasapi ng bagong tatag na Royal Eagle Taekwondo Academy sa Mong Kok.

Kabilang sa mga nagpakitang gilas si Crisel Chiong Calipayan, 37 taong bulang at tubong Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Ang kuya daw niya ay isang manlalaro ng karatedo kaya 16 na taong gulang pa lang siya ay nahikayat na siyang sundan ang mga yapak nito.

Naging 3rd dan black belt siya sa karatedo sa Pilipinas, gold medalist sa Philipine Karatedo National Games na ginanap sa Cebu City noong 2003, at silver medalist noong 2004- Philippine National Games sa Cagayan De Oro City. Dati siyang miyembro ng Philippine National Team sa Karatedo.

Sa taekwondo naman ay 2nd Dan Black Belt si Crisel at undefeated sa Kyorugi o sparring.

“Masaya kami sampu ng aking mga kasamang OFWs, dahil sa suporta ng mga senior sa Taekwondo Masters,” sabi niya.

Sa kasalukuyan si Crisel ay instructor sa Yuen Long branch ng Royal Eagle.

Kabilang sa sumuporta sa grupo ay ang mga Nepalese na kasapi sa Unity Taekwondo Academy- sa pamumuno ni Master Gurung Dil, at sa Phoenix Taekwondo Academy, sa pangunguna naman ni Master Homarshad Gurung.

Unifil-Migrante eyes new aims as it marks 33 years

Posted on No comments
By Leo A. Deocadiz

United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil)-Migrante HK marked its 33rd anniversary with a day-long celebration on Chater Road on July 8, recalling past victories and setting new targets in its fight for the rights of overseas Filipino workers.

In between cultural presentations, Unifil-Migrante leaders also took turns exhorting fellow OFWs to participate in the fight being waged by the first militant organization of OFWs.

Eman Villanueva, Unifil-Migrante HK secretary-general, said each gain made in protecting OFWs, such as the yearly minimum wage increases since 2004, had been a result of struggle and were not given free.
Unifil affiliate organizations parade their colors.

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson, said: “The challenge is for us to join organizations, not just going alone and sympathizing with Migrante’s battles in Hong Kong…. We are the mass action here in Hong Kong.”

She said the group will continue fighting for long-term changes that will resolve the problems in the
system of government in the Philippines. “Change where we will no longer go home for one to three years, and then return to Hong Kong and other countries because our families’ lives have remained miserable,” she added.

Villanueva said the group is now focusing its attention on winning government approval for its proposal for humane accommodation for OFWs and an uninterrupted 11-hour rest period every day, plus meal breaks.

“We need rest because we are not slaves, we are workers,” Villanueva said,

He noted that more than 120 OFWs died of various ailments in Hong Kong in 2016—many due to cancer, hypertension, leukemia and other illnesses that are due to stress.

He blamed lack of rest and the fact that people sleep on top of refrigerators and washing machines, in toilets, in hallways, on rooftops and on floors — after working for up to 18 hours daily.

“How could you not be stressed? You are working for 16-18 hours. You are also far from your family. And when it is time to rest, you sleep on top of the washing machine?” he added.

He said this was a natural progression of Unifil’s history of struggle. “The history of Unifil is the history of fighting for our rights. The history of Unifil is a struggle against racism, against excessive exactions, against low wages. Against long hours of work and against exploitation of migrants in Hong Kong,” Villanueva declared.

He recalled instances when Unifil’s protest actions benefited not just OFWs but also migrant workers
from other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal.

When it introduced the two-week rule in 1987, for example, the Hong Kong government was very strict: after an OFW is terminated or finishes her contract, she had to leave within two weeks. But efforts of the group led to a more lenient policy in which three exceptions were allowed: the employer’s death, financial incapacity and departure from Hong Kong. “OFWs are now allowed to find new employers without leaving Hong Kong,” he said.

In 1997, Villanueva said, a legislator proposed a 35 per cent wage cut for migrant workers. Unifil, along with migrant workers’ groups from Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal and other countries joined in the fight against it. “While the wage was still cut,” he added, “it was reduced by only 5%.”

In succeeding years, proposals for more wage cuts were filed, but were opposed by labor groups, until Hong Kong fell into an economic slowdown that forced it to reduce the domestic helpers’ pay in 2003 by $400 to $3,270 – a rate that was level with pay in 1992.

But economic recovery the following year prompted militant migrant groups to fight for pay increases. “Since then, until last year, the government has increased wages every year,” he said.

Villanueva also noted that the group was able to fight off efforts of some Hong Kong officials to denigrate foreign workers.

He cited Chip Chao, who called the Philippines a nation of servants; New People’s Party legislator Regina Ip, who said migrant workers were home wreckers, for snatching the husbands of their empoyers; and her fellow NPP lawmaker Eunice Yung who said foreign workers taking a rest in public places were a nuisance. Villanueva said protest actions led by Unifil forced these people to apologize.

He repeatedly took potshots at other groups criticizing them for holding protests: “They do not know what they are talking about.”

Vicky Casia Cabantac, chairperson of Migrante HK, enumerated other Unifil victories against a
Philippine government that saw OFWs as milking cows.

She cited the abolition of the rule of the government of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, under its labor export policy, of forcing OFWs to remit their income to the Philippines on pain of being fined.

Unifil also formed in 1998 a coalition against government exactions. The result had been reductions in passport and authentication fees, the Consulate staying open on Sundays, and direct hiring being allowed (although the government reimposed a ban in 2006).
The fight for OFWs who were victims of injustice and tragedy has resulted in the enactment of the law known as Magna Carta for OFWs, Cabantac said.

Shiela Tebia Bonifacio, vice-chairperson of Unifil-Migrante, said Unifil is an organization fighting for the welfare and rights not only of migrants in Hong Kong but also of their families left behind in the Philippines.

That is why, she said, Unifil has been vocal against policies that have driven millions of Filipinos to go abroad to find jobs they could not at home.

One of them is the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN law, which imposes additional taxes on the poor and not on the rich. “We should oppose this because the additional taxes imposed on goods bought by our families are an added burden for migrants, too,” she said.

Sakim na kapatid

Posted on No comments
Bumalik si Annie sa Hong Kong dalawang taon na ang nakararaan na masamang masama ang loob. Nag for good na kasi siya noon sa kanilang bayan sa Abra pagkatapos ng 20 taong paninilbihan sa among Intsik na taga Mid Levels.

Sa buong panahon ng kanyang pagtatrabaho ay nag-ipon siya para makapagpatayo ng malaking bahay na may apat na kuwarto para sa kanilang limang magkakapatid. Sa isip niya, sapat na iyon para sama-sama silang mamuhay ng mas maginhawa, kumpara noong araw na sa kubo lang sila nakatira.

Ang masaklap ay inangkin ng kaisa-isa niyang kapatid na lalaki ang bahay dahil siya daw ang gumastos doon. Ayon kay Annie, paano naman maipapatayo ng kanyang kapatid iyon e Php3,000 lang ang kinikita nito buwan-buwan at may pamilya pang umaasa sa kanya?

Sa kanyang pagbabalik ay doon lang daw nakita ni Annie ang mapait na katotohanan na mismong mga kapatid mo ay maaari kang walanghiyain dahil lang sa pera. Wala ka raw maaasahan kahit natulungan mo pa sila noong ikaw ay kumikita pa ng malaki.

Sa ngayon ay ang sariling pamilya na lang niya ang kanyang pinaglalaanan mula sa kanyang kinikita sa paninilbihan sa mga among taga Clearwater Bay. Dahil dito ay madali siyang nakapag-ipon at nakapagpatayo muli ng bahay.

Sabi niya, huwag paiiralin ang pagiging maawain dahil pagdating ng panahon ay ang sarili mo lang talaga ang maaasahan mo sa panahon ng pangangailangan. Si Annie ay 50 taong gulang, may asawa, at isang anak na ampon. – Merly Bunda

Dahil sa tinapay

Posted on No comments
Biglang pinababa si Marites, 30 taong gulang at Ilongga, pagkatapos lang ng tatlong linggong paninilbihan sa among taga Quarry Bay. 

Noong Hunyo 14 ay inutusan siya ng amo na bumili ng burgenr bun sa Wellcome supermarket. Dahil alas siyete pa lang ng umaga ay sarado pa ang grocery kaya bumalik siya sa bahay ng amo. Pagdating niya ay hinanapan siya agad ng amo ng tinapay at nang sabihin niya na alas otso pa ang bukas ng tindahan ay nagalit ito nang husto, at agad siyang pinababa muli.

Habang wala siya ay pinagtatapon ng amo ang kanyang mga gamit mula sa kanilang banyo, at may mga salawal at bra pa siya na sumabit sa bintana. Pagbalik niya ay sinabihan siya ng amo na mag-empake at bumaba ora mismo.

Hindi siya nito binayaran ng kahit magkano. Dala-dala ang kanyang mga gamit ay dumiretso siya sa kanyang ahensiya at ikinuwento ang lahat ng nangyari. Sa hapon ng araw ding iyon ay dumating ang kanyang amo sa ahensiya at binayaran ng buo ang kanyang dalawang buwang sahod, at $700 para sa kanyang annual leave.

Nagsabi din ang amo ng “sorry” dahil may hot temper daw siya. Masuwerte na rin si Marites dahil hinanapan siya ng bagong amo ng ahensiya at hindi na siya pinagbayad muli ng placement fee- Merly Bunda

Hindi pa huli para kay Mia

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Sa edad na 38 taong gulang ay nakahabol pa sa huling biyahe si Mia, na taga Dingle, Iloilo. Ikinasal siya noong Hunyo 9 sa isang lalaking nakilala sa pamamagitan ng isang programa sa radyo mahigit dalawang taon na ang nakakaraan.

Binigyan siya ng kanyang amo ng 10 araw na bakasyon, na sapat lang para magpakasal sila ng kanyang kasintahan sa harap ng isang huwes. Kapag nag for good na raw siya pagkatapos ng kanyang kontrata ay saka na sila magpapakasal sa simbahan.

Dahil sa makabagong teknolohiya ay napanatili nilang matatag ang kanilang relasyon. Halos araw-araw silang mag-usap sa pamamagitan ng messenger na walang pinangangambahang malaking bayarin dahil ito ay libre.

Ilang araw bago ang takdang araw ng kanyang pag-uwi ay  namanhikan sa mga magulang niya ang kanyang nobyo at mga kapamilya nito. Wala namang tutol ang pamilya ni Mia, bagkus ay masaya pa sila dahil sa wakas ay nakatagpo din siya ng taong totoong nagmamahal sa kanya.

Kahit biglaan ang kanyang naging kasal ay masaya pa rin si Mia. Ang sabi niya, mas importante na nakapangasawa pa rin siya. Mas matanda si Mia ng pitong taon sa kanyang asawa, pero ang sabi nila, hindi naman importante ang edad dahil nagmamahalan silang tunay. Merly Bunda

Prevalence of cancer among Pinoy workers alarms OWWA

Posted on 18 July 2018 No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

Filipinas who have been working in Hong Kong for a long time seem to be most vulnerable to cancer, and this phenomenon is baffling officers of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Welfare Attaché Virsie Tamayao told The SUN that many of the medical cases reported to her office recently involved cancer patients. But she could not provide  exact figures due to a lack of statistics.

At the end of June, two OWWA  officers escorted home a female worker who was suffering from a type of cancer. At about the same time, a former domestic worker who had overstayed here for 10 years surrendered and was taken to hospital in Kowloon with an advanced-stage cancer.

Most recently, longtime Mission volunteer Violy Macatol chose to go home, accompanied by an OWWA staff, after being found to be seriously ill with a rare type of blood cancer. And before her, political activist Lily Jimenez who had worked in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, flew home to her native Albay province, along with a concerned friend, after being diagnosed with late-stage bone cancer.

Tamayao, who assumed her post in late May, said she had been assigned to other places, such as Abu Dhabi and South Korea, but it is only here in Hong Kong where she has seen cancer being prevalent among OFWs.

Tamayao said this had prompted  her to wonder  why this is so.

“Notable is, most of those afflicted have been working here for quite some time,” Tamayao said. This has led her to ask the patients about their lifestyle – what kind of food the workers eat here.

“About 80% of illness comes from our food and also lifestyle, stress, stressful work, the environment, even the family, if the worker doesn’t get support system from the family,” Tamayao said.

The phenomenon has prompted her to consider compiling a database of illnesses afflicting OFWs, including cancer.

Cancer victims among OFWs. A group of Filipinos (and an American) gave Lily Jimenez a warm sendoff recently. Violy Macatol bid a teary goodbye to her employer when she left for good (above) while Violy Macatol bid a teary goodbye to her employer when she left for good (below).
Tamayao said OWWA Hong Kong is already preparing its first-semester report on death statistics and hopefully, could make a comparative study on the causes.

She said OWWA is always there to give support to ailing OFWs, starting with the psycho-social aspects.

“We give all kinds of support other than the interventions, like bringing them to the airport, giving them escorts up to the airport in Manila, and requesting the head office if they need an OWWA ambulance to bring them to the hospital in their home place, and contacting their families,” Tamayao said.

OWWA also contacts other agencies that can help a sick OFW set up a livelihood activity so she can reintegrate back home  with some ease.

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