The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF) in partnership with the City Government of Zamboanga successfully conducted the 2022 Migrant Fair at the Gymnasium of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), Zamboanga City on November 10, 2022.

More than 200 OFWs, migrant returnees, and their families attended the event. The Migrant Fair was an early Christmas gift by the Philippine government and migrant civil society for them, in honor of their hard work, sacrifices, and significant contributions to national development.

The kick-off activity for the 2022 MOF Celebration, the Migrant Fair is a convergence activity at the local level of migrant-serving agencies and organizations headed by the CFO, Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Department of Health, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Other participating agencies include the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Migrant Workers/Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Technical Education and Skills and Development Authority, Social Security System, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and International Organization for Migration.

CFO-OIC Chairperson Usec. Abdulgani M. Macatoman virtually graced the event and honored the bagong bayani of Zamboanga. He said “masaya kami na dito uli nangyari ang aming first MOF face to face activity. This beautiful city here in Western Mindanao, known for its colorful vintas, woven fabrics, and warm people, is a melting pot of Spanish, Malay, and Muslim cultures, and thus, the people here are not new to the concept of migration. This Migrant Fair is an avenue for us to fulfill our responsibility to overseas Filipinos and their families by bringing government services closer to you.

Resource speakers also include Mr. Amado Natividad, who represented Mayor John Dalipe of the City Government of Zamboanga, Ms. Carmelita Nuqui of PMRW, and Dr. Maria Soledad Q. Antonio of the Department of Health.

Participants, who were mostly affected by Typhoon Paeng a week before the event, were happy with the day-long activity that was prepared for them such as the various booths of participating agencies and exhibitors. Services provided include basic medical check-ups, health promotion and wellness activities, COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot, giving of vitamins, massages, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, demo on baking, photo booth and consultation, and frontline services from migrant-serving agencies. They were also treated to several freebies, food, and raffle prizes.

OWWA Region 9 shared thru videos, inspiring stories of former OFWs who successfully reintegrated back to the Philippines and are now engaged in professional endeavors and flourishing businesses. DTI Region 9 and OWWA also mounted a mini Trade Fair showcasing food products and merchandise of former OFWs and their families in the Zamboanga Region.

The annual celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos started with President Corazon Aquino issuing Proclamation No. 276 in 1988 which institutionalized the month-long celebration every December. This is in recognition of the significant contributions of overseas Filipinos to Philippine development and the restoration of Philippine democracy.

The Migrant Fair is one of the major pre-MOF activities organized by the IAC-MOF. In Region 9, Zamboanga del Sur is the leading province with the most number of migrants.

Please visit our website at https://mof.cfo.gov.ph/ to know more about the MOF.