BAGUIO CITY – An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) expressed her gratitude for being treated like a “special person” when she arrived in the country for a vacation.
“Nakatataba ng puso ang binigay na service sa amin. Hindi ko ine-expect na ganun ka efficient and organized (The service we received was very heartwarming. I was not expecting it to be that efficient and organized),” Janice “Janz” Emboltorio shared to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.
Janz, a nurse, has been an overseas Filipino worker for 14 years in the Middle East. She arrived in the country on April 14 and said she was more than satisfied with the way she was assisted by the government from the time she stepped out of the plane.
Arriving around 1 in the afternoon, they went through the usual process of going through immigration procedure. There, she was handed a pack containing biscuits and water. At the exit, she got a packed lunch and was led to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) counter.
“Hindi ka mawawala sa process na pinapatupad kasi may mga nagga-guide sa iyo (there is no way you will get lost in the process because there are guides that lead the way),” Emboltorio said.
From the OWWA counter, they were brought to a room where they can sit and fill up forms, and eat if they so desire. They were also triaged at the airport before they were led to the vehicle waiting to bring them to their accommodation for mandatory quarantine.
“I did not pay for anything, I was given food, I did not have to carry my luggage because there were people assisting us. Upon arrival at the hotel, we simply pointed at our luggage and they brought them to our rooms,” the nurse said.
She said that during her stay at a resort facility in Laguna, she received meals four times a day, including water, which was more than enough for her.
“Naiuwi ko pa nga ang ibang kape na ibinigay sa hotel kasi marami (I even brought home some of the coffee packs given at the hotel because there were plenty),” she said.
She commended their accommodation for serving cooked and well-prepared meals that vary every day.
“They will knock on the door to inform you that your food is ready. They leave it on a table beside the door,” she narrated.
Emboltorio said she packed food in her luggage that will sustain her during the mandatory quarantine which she was not able to touch because everything was provided.
At the accommodation, there was an OWWA personnel that checks on her welfare, she said.
“There is a ‘house mother’ sa hotel na tumatawag na nagpa-follow up kung okay lang ako and kung okay lang services and kung may kailangan ako at kung meron, itawag lang sa hotel para i-provide (There is a house mother at the hotel that calls to check on me if I am okay and if the services are okay and advised me to just inform the hotel if I need anything),” Janz said as she shared that what she experienced is contrary to what has been publicized and posted on social media.
She said that her arrival was communicated to the Philippine government through the online registration balikpinas.ph where she got instruction on the processes and rules that the country is applying for returning OFWs.
“Very accommodating ang mga nasa OWWA. I appreciate Mocha (Deputy Administrator Margaux Uson) kasi sumasagot siya pag nag message ka at nagtanong. Very efficient. Nakakatuwa na mataas na opisyal mismo nila kumakausap sa tulad ko na ordinary lang na Pilipino (she replies with prompt messages and queries and very efficient. I am happy that a high ranking official is hands-on and is communicating to an ordinary person like me),” Emboltorio said.
She mentioned that she underwent swab testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on April 19 and the result came out on the 20th. She went home to Baguio on April 21.
“I decided to go to Baguio first to be with a very good friend but really the way the government treated me is overwhelming,” she said.
She said that had she went straight to her province in Mindanao after her release from quarantine, her plane ticket and the transportation to the airport could have been handled by the government.
Gov’t aid to OFWs
The OWWA, in a report as of May 3, said a total of PHP69 million in government aid has been released to 6,269 OFWs from the Cordillera and their families.
According to the report, 5,775 OFWs received the PHP10,000 financial aid or a total of PHP57.75 million released by the government under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.
There were also 141 who benefited from the Education Assistance through Scholarship in Emergencies (EASE) which is PHP10,000 financial assistance for four years to a dependent of an OFW.
For the “Tabang” OFW program where a grant of PHP30,000 is given, there were already 309 OFWs who benefited.
The project Alalay sa Pag-aaral para sa mga anak OFWs sa Panahon ng Pandemya was also extended to 44 beneficiaries with a PHP20,000 one-time financial assistance.
An OWWA representative who reported during the last Benguet Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) meeting said, “the government thru the OWWA does not only assist thru financial assistance but also in other means with the existing programs to help the overseas Filipino workers and their families. Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com