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500 OFW families to “pass the hat” at Christmas party for OFW on Saudi death row and typhoon victims

Over five hundred relatives and families of overseas Filipino workers will celebrate Christmas with their own party organized by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists migrant workers, on Wednesday, December 12 at the Ramon Magsaysay Hall of the Social Security System Building at East Avenue, Quezon City from 1 to 5.30 PM.

Labor advocate Susan Ople said that the Ople Center organized a similar Christmas party last year for OFW families because some of them feel left out of the usual Christmas parties held in various boardrooms and corporate offices. The Ople Center said it was thankful to the SSS for agreeing to host the party at its Magsaysay Hall.

“Karamihan sa kanila walang mga opisina dahil ang breadwinner nila ay nasa abroad, kaya naisip namin na bakit hindi na lang kami ang magpasimuno para may Christmas party din naman ang ilan sa ating mga OFW families?,” Ople said.

The Second Annual Happy OFW Christmas party shall have the usual raffle draws with entertainment numbers courtesy of the Hotdog Band and well-known late night anchor and performer, Jojo Alejar. There is also a “peace parol-making contest” where OFW families will be bringing in Christmas lanterns made out of recycled materials and bearing peace messages. The theme of this year’s OFW Christmas Party is all about peace as OFW advocates led by Jun Aguilar of the Filipino Migrant Workers Group will take their oath as officers of the “OFWs for Peace” movement before Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, the presidential adviser on the peace process, who will also be the keynote speaker for said event.

The OFWs for Peace intends to be actively involved in monitoring the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and supporting its goals by helping promote livelihood and reintegration services for Mindanao-based OFW families.

“The event is free but we will ask our OFW families to contribute whatever they can to help us raise funds for the victims of typhoon Pablo particularly the family of 7-year old Aimee Kay Sayson and to help the family of OFW Joselito Zapanta,” the president of the Center explained.

“The mother of Joselito Zapanta sought our help because her son, Joselito, has a 4-month deadline to raise Php 40 million in exchange for his life,” Susan Ople added. She recalled that the OFW families who attended last year’s Christmas party also donated money for Jonard Langamin whose life has since been spared through the intercession of the Office of the Vice-President and the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Zapanta’s mother, Mona, and sister, Rosemay, are expected to attend the Christmas party to receive the donations raised during the event. A separate fund drive will also soon be launched to help OFW victims of typhoon “Pablo” including the family of seven-year old Aimee Kay Sayson who died of hypothermia at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught in New Bataan, Compostela Valley. Aimee Kay’s mother is a domestic worker based in Hong Kong.

The Blas F. Ople Center will also be recognizing the contributions of two of its major institutional partners in helping OFWs, namely the Villar Foundation and iRemit Corporation, through its annual Pusong OFW Awards. “For this year, our ‘Pusong OFW’ awardees are Mrs. Cynthia Villar of the Villar Foundation and Mr. Bansan Choa of iRemit because they have a proven personal track record in helping our OFWs through scholarships and other forms of assistance,” the former labor undersecretary said.

OFW families who wish to attend the Christmas party organized by the Ople Center can register by calling up the Center’s hotline: 8335337. The second Annual Happy OFW Christmas Party is organized by the Ople Center in partnership with the SSS and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process with the support of PAG-IBIG and the participation of iRemit, PhilHealth and Pagcor.