The Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos in partnership with the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) London successfully conducted the “Virtual International Forum on Migration in UK and Ireland” via Zoom and Facebook Live on November 19, 2022. This is part of the major activities lined up by the IAC-MOF for the upcoming Month of Overseas Filipinos (MOF) Celebration in December.

With the theme “Global Compact for Migration: Hakbang tungo sa Pagsulong ng mga Karapatan ng Overseas Filipinos”, the webinar was attended by members of overseas Filipino communities in UK and Ireland. These countries are among the top destination countries of overseas Filipinos, notably healthcare workers, in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

The virtual event was graced by Usec. Abdulgani M. Macatoman, OIC-Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO); Ms. Carmelita Nuqui, President of the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) and Chair of the IAC-MOF; Charge d’Affaires Rhenita Rodriguez of the Philippine Embassy London; and Labor Attache Ameurfina R. Reyes of POLO-UK. They hailed our overseas Filipinos and their families for their invaluable support to Philippine development, and for their myriad contributions to the economies and societies of their host countries. They also highlighted programs and services of the government for the benefit and welfare of overseas Filipinos, including activities organized by the IAC-MOF for the 2022 MOF Celebration.

 

 

 

 

 

The first part of the webinar tackled the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and programs and services of the government for overseas Filipinos. Philippine-based resource speakers under this session include Usec. Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) who discussed the thrust, programs and services of the newly created Department; Asec. Venecio V. Legapi of the DMW who discussed reintegration services of the NRCO and the reintegration roadmap of the new Department for returning/ repatriated OFWs; Mr. Vichael Angelo D. Roaring of the Department of Trade and Industry who discussed the different programs and services of DTI for OFs who want to engage in business; and Dir. Marita del Rosario-Apattad of CFO who discussed the diaspora philanthropy program of CFO for overseas Filipinos who would like to give back, volunteer or donate to the motherland;

The second part of the webinar targeted Filipinos who plan or are interested to migrate and work in the UK and Ireland. Under this session, Ms. Tanya Dewey of the Migration and Borders Group – UK Home Office and Mr. Stephen Walsh of the Embassy of Ireland discussed the Immigration system of UK and Ireland, including visa types and tips in successfully applying for a visa.

 

 

The third part of the webinar highlighted the initiatives and concerns of the Filipino community and organizations thru the presentations of Mr. Christian Estrada, Chair of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora; Ms. Irene Jagoba and Mel Morano of the Migrants Rights Center – Ireland; Mr. Ariel Lanada, President of the Filipino Nurses Association – UK; and Mr. Oliver Soriano, President of the Philippine Nurses Association – UK.

 

The last part of the webinar showcased the success and inspiring stories of overseas Filipinos. They include Ms. May Richell Parsons of the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Service Trust, and known as the Filipino-British nurse who administered world’s first COVID vaccine; Dr. Cristina Juan, Project Head of the Philippines Studies of SOAS University London; and Ms. Liza Libawan Nael, a graduate of POLO-OWWA London Livelihood Training Program and now a proud owner of Mama Liz Bakes.

 

 

During the open forum, the following questions and issues were raised – kind of assistance given to first-time migrants in the host country, process of acquiring CFO sticker by marriage migrants, reintegration program for long-time and distressed returnees, how to appeal a denied visa application, visa extension process, case of Filipino dual-citizens working in Philippine government offices, and pension and healthcare benefits for migrant returnees, among others.

 

The virtual participants were also treated to a soulful song rendition from Haraya Choir (Filipino Health Worker – Nurses), and colourful ethnic dance from the prestigious Bayanihan, the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines. The latter was sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

 

 

The webinar was moderated by Mr. Lance Velasco of PMRW and Vice Consul Beatriz Martinez of PE London. It was attended by more than 200 estimated live viewers; and has almost 4,000 views.

The International Forum on Migration is a major annual activity of the IAC-MOF. The month of December was declared the “Month of Overseas Filipinos” by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 276 in 1988. It gave recognition to overseas Filipinos who contributed to the restoration of Philippine democracy and to Philippine development.