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New welfare attaché eager to seek Filcom’s help in doing her job

21 December 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The new DSWD attache has extensive experience as a social worker

The woman who will be listening to Filipino workers in this city who are troubled by problems at home has assumed her post as the country’s second social welfare attaché in Hong Kong.

Lucita J. Villanueva, a career social worker, took up her place at the Consulate with a vow to continue the work for OFWs of her predecessor, Elizabeth Lim Dy.

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Lim, who retired in mid-November after being posted here in 2014, used to say that she often had to fight back tears each time an OFW mother poured out an array of family problems back home that she was physically unable to fix long-distance.

Villanueva, the new representative from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Philippines, expects to do her duties effectively with the help of domestic workers’ advocates before she herself goes into retirement in three years’ time.


The 62-year-old Ilongga takes pride in her being a veteran social worker who says DSWD “is the first and last institution” where she practices the profession.

She came to Hong Kong after a brief stint at the head office following two and a half years in Korea attending to issues of Filipinas married to Koreans, their children, as well as factory workers in that country’s technology industries.

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“I’ve been with the department for 41 long years and I’ve risen from the ranks. I started as a community worker until I became a social worker handling court-related cases like adoption, abused women and children, and even youth offenders,” Villanueva said.

She began working for the department after she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of Iloilo, where she also earned a Bachelor of Laws degree some years later.


Villanueva then took up a Master of Science in Social Work in Central Philippine University in Iloilo City while she was a part-time professor there.

“While I taught, I also studied, so, basically I was both a practitioner of the profession and also shared my knowledge with BSW students,” the social welfare attaché said.


From the municipal DSWD unit, Villanueva was assigned as the regional training coordinator and was in charge of the training programs that included seminars, capability-building, seminars and workshops. 

At the time, all municipal social workers were under the national government, until the devolution in 1991, when all DSWD units were placed administratively under the city, municipal and provincial governments.

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But even after devolution, the department continued its technical and training support to the newly weaned units. With the government set-up, DSWD still has staff stationed in every province who work together with the local social welfare and development officers.

“I came from the regional office, in the training program, and became the supervisor and center head, so I also managed residential facilities for abused women and children,” said Villanueva. She and her team would rehabilitate victims of abuse and domestic violence.


She rose to become regional manager of DSWD special projects such as the Kalahi scheme, Pantawid and livelihood programs that she shared with local governments.

She held that position until she was made a social welfare attaché and worked in the head office while waiting for her foreign assignment, first in Seoul, Korea, before Hong Kong.


Her extensive exposure to grassroots issues in the regions makes Villanueva well-prepared to deal with OFW problems, especially domestic helpers who are mostly mothers who left their families to earn their bread and butter in foreign homes.

She had heard and read about the situation of more than 200,000 Filipino helpers in Hong Kong who are stressed by their work in local homes and mentally tortured by problems at home which they are too helpless to handle personally.

Villanueva is welcomed to HK by Consul General Raly Tejada

The role of a social welfare attaché is crucial as she is the overseas workers’ bridge to resolving domestic issues, especially urgent ones that concern the safety of their children from abuse or harm from their own family members.

Sometimes a distress call comes in the middle of the night from an overworked helper who is able to contact her family back home only at about that time. On hearing about an emergency in the family, the hapless worker in turn calls the Consulate’s hotline for help.


Whoever gets such a call in the PCG passes it on to the social welfare attaché, who knows who to contact in the regions to get the problem resolved before it gets out of hand.  

Winter’s bleak weather seems to play a part in driving troubled workers into depression, heightening the need for psycho-social intervention to keep them from harm.   

Pindutin para sa detalye

On this aspect, Villanueva said she would continue the work began by her predecessor, Dy, and coordinate with officers of the Consulate, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration on the best approach for intervention.

She said she will also work with Filipino community groups and nongovernmental organizations that are helping and supporting the workers resolve their problems.

Having just completed a week on her new post when interviewed, Villanueva said she wanted to meet NGOs and groups, especially those who are actively aiding distressed OFWs, to discuss programs that will help the workers resolve and survive the challenges they face.


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