Of Heroes and Patriots

Manila Bulletin, September 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Of Heroes and Patriots


Those who make little of government’s efforts to bring home OFWs stranded in foreign lands should give it a try. The fact remains that different countries have different laws and regulations.When you breach any one of their rules, you get into serious legal trouble, not to mention the possibility of detention or even death. The only thing that can save you is clemency --- and that requires high-level negotiation. Even the matter of being allowed to go back to one’s own country becomes problematic if the host country has an exit permit requirement. Lifting the effect of those rules requires negotiations at political levels. Politicians, whether of this administration or otherwise, who have brought runaways home have benefited from this administration’s continuing engagement of their counterpart officials or the payment of requisite fines for infraction of rules. There are, of course, other ways of doing this. We can teach our people to respect those rules or we can prevent our people from leaving. We all know the difficulties of doing both.These difficulties illustrate why we work at helping those who help our compatriots get out of the fixes they find themselves in. If we call our OFWs Bagong Bayani, those who help them deserve to be acknowledged for their heroism as well. This is the story of one such person. This is the story of Tess.Tess is a Filipino community leader in one of the Kingdoms that OFWs. She has been active in assisting the Philippine consulate and its labor officers attend to the welfare of our workers.She lives in a place that is 2.5 hours away from the consulate. Thus, those who have cases near her house usually are taken care of by her. She feeds them, takes care of them when they are sick, and even takes care of the children of incarcerated Filipinos. All of these, she does for free. My own sister, who used to be HR director in a hotel near where Tess lives, attests to this as well. …

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