In line with its goal to recognize efforts of Ilocano Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) inaugurated the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument in Laoag City this Friday, December 18.
Believing that government assistance and recognition are key factors in nurturing OFWs, PGIN invited representatives from the Philippine Overseas Employment Association (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Ilocos Norte to partake in the event.
Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac of POEA said that “monuments are not just an expression of gratitude but also a mirror to the soul of the people and I am very proud to say that Ilocanos always are a symbol of hard work, honesty, dedication…but most especially excellence at work.”
This was echoed by OWWA administrator Rebecca J. Calzado who shared that
“this symbolizes your appreciation of the sacrifices of our migrant workers who work patiently in foreign lands as well as your gratitude for their contribution in boosting the local economy.”
Also present were OFW rights advocate Susan Ople, Mrs. Gloria Ortinez, an OFW from the Municipality of Paoay and the families of Ilocano OFWs, to whom the monument also pays tribute.
Migrants are most often employed abroad as household service workers, nurses, caregivers, hospitality servicers, and general laborers or helpers, according to POEA statistics from 2010-2014.
Ilocano migrants have been a significant component of the provincial economy since the 1900s, when laborers were recruited to work in sugar plantations in the State of Hawaii, USA.
Presently, Ilocos Norte holds the highest percentage, at 61%, worldwide of families receiving financial assistance from overseas.
The inauguration coincided with International Migrants Day, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 2000, to recognize the contributions of migrants worldwide. It also commemorates the international convention on the protection of migrant workers’ and their families’ rights.
Constructing the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument is part of Provincial Governor Imee Marcos’ advocacy to boost support for OFWs, and to reflect the Ilocano culture of timpuyog (unity).
With Ilocanos known to be found all over the world, Ilocos Norte’s tagline for 2015, Timpuyog ti Baro nga Ilocano (“Unity of the New Ilocano”), implies nurturing both the province’s social capital and the increasingly globalized identity of its people – beginning with the migrants. — (Mizpah Grace G. Castro – PGIN-CMO)