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More than 500 overseas Filipinos and OFW families from South Cotabato and General Santos City, participated in the Regional Migrant Fair held at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center, Koronadal City on October 16, 2019. Organized by the Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF), led by the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the Provincial Government of South Cotabato, the event kicked off this year’s MOF Celebration. The gathering was also supported by Region XII Offices of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).


 

Instituted in 1988 by virtue of Proclamation No. 276, the MOF is a month-long celebration every December as our nation’s way of recognizing all overseas Filipinos for their hard work and efforts, sacrifices and significant contributions to local and national development.

The Migrant Fair has the theme “OFs NGAYON, BALIK–PINAS BUKAS”, highlighting policy pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte of “making migration a choice rather than a necessity for every Filipino” and for bringing government services closer to migrants and their families.

The event was graced by Provincial Administrator Renette Bergado (representing Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr.), Asec. Ameenah Fajardo of DTI, Dir. Regina Angela Galias and Dir. Marie Apattad of CFO (representing Secretary Francisco Acosta and Usec. Astravel Pimentel-Naik), Regional Director Kristine Marie H.Sison of OWWA, and Asst. Regional Director Fatima Emban and Dr. Joel Buenaventura of DOH.

The migrant-serving agencies stressed the importance of universal healthcare for migrants, and that the government is implementing reintegration programs for them and their families, as well as investment opportunities that they could avail of in preparation for their return. CFO’s BaLinkBayan Program – Overseas Filipinos’ One Stop Online Portal for Diaspora Engagement was also promoted to the LGU. The Provincial Government will also be opening soon an OFW Help Desk in the province.


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During the Fair, participants were treated to free basic medical check-up, free dental service, free medicines and vitamins, health and wellness activities, free food, cultural entertainment by the South Cotabato Performing Arts Ensemble, games and raffle.

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Participants also consulted with migrant-serving agencies like Department of Foreign Affairs, DOH, DTI, Department of Labor and Employment, CFO, OWWA, National Reintegration Center for OFWs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Presidential Communications Operations Office, International Organization for Migration, and Ayala Foundation. Some also enrolled to become members of PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG and Social Security System.

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Part of the activity also include sharing of success stories by former OFWs and a mini trade fair showcasing products of successful OFW returnees/ families. Micro small enterprises that exhibited their products were Sweet Plate Cakes and Pastries (by Tessa Catherine Durias, former OFW from Qatar), Mic’s Food Products (by Rosalie Espino, former OFW from Russia), Emy’s Food Products (by Janet Paki, former OFW from Saudi Arabia), Mhanie’s Food Products (by Asmah Udtog, former OFW from UAE), Jigian’s Food Products (by Arlene Ducusin, former OFW from Hong Kong and Singapore), Kendengen Kenbeyen Native T’boli Products (by Hazel Joy Mas, former OFW from Singapore), GFA Marketing-Reina Bananas (by Elaine May Pacifico, former OFW from Norway), Bai yn’s Food-Crispy Amik (by Anas Sirag, former OFW from Saudi Arabia), Pick Your Choice Food Products (by Rommel Calanza, former OFW from Saudi Arabia).

 

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The pre-MOF activity was a huge success in the “Land of Dreamweavers”. The participants expressed that this convergent activity of the Provincial government and IAC-MOF, should be made a regular event in the province. Latest records from the CFO and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) show that in Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN), South Cotabato is the leading province of origin of OFWs and Filipino emigrants, with more than 117,000 living or working abroad.

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The Migrant Fair was hosted by Rose Astrologo of the Provincial Government and Lance Velasco of IAC-MOF. It is part of the series of activities being organized at the local, national and international levels by the IAC-MOF. The next Migrant Fairs will be conducted in Sorsogon and Leyte.

 

For more information about the MOF Regional Migrant Fair, please contact,
Mr. Frencel Tingga or Ms. Patricia Salvador of the IAC-MOF Secretariat
at tel. nos. +632 8552-4766, +632-8552-4767 and
e-mails:   ftingga@cfo.gov.ph, psalvador@cfo.gov.ph
website:  http://mof.cfo.gov.ph/      facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MOFDecember/