FILIPINO CHRISTMAS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos receives a warm welcome from the Filipino community in Brussels, Belgium before attending the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit on Dec. 14, 2022. In his weekly Vlog on Sunday (Dec. 17), Marcos urged Filipinos to support the government’s effort to provide OFWs with a “Filipino Christmas”. (Photo courtesy of Bongbong Marcos Facebook page)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. renewed his commitment to provide overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with more quality jobs in their home country, saying it is the “best Christmas gift” the government could give them.

In his weekly vlog which aired Sunday, Marcos recalled his experience in meeting with the Filipino community in Belgium and other nearby European countries where they gave him a “warm” welcome despite the country’s cold weather.

“Napakaginaw talaga pero ang bumungad naman sa atin ay ang napaka init na salubong na binigay ng Filipino community. Sila naman ay sanay na yata sa lamig kaya’t parang wala silang nararamdaman na (It was really cold, but it was a very warm welcome given by the Filipino community. I guess they are used to the cold so they don't seem to feel cold anymore),” he said.

While watching some OFWs perform a Christmas song medley for him and other members of the Philippine delegation, Marcos said this made him realize how many of them were going to spend Christmas away from their families.

He said this inspired him and his administration to work even harder to ensure better job opportunities back home.

“...Lalo tayo nainspire na paigihin ang ating misyon sa ganitong mga international summit, bilateral talk at roundtable meeting (We are even more inspired to strengthen our mission in these international summits, bilateral talks and roundtable meetings),” he said.

“Dahil ang pinakamagandang regalo na maibibgay natin sa ating mga overseas Filipino workers ay ang lalo pang pagandahin ang kalagayan ng ating bansa upang magkaroon ng mas maraming oportunidad para sa bawat manggagawang Pilipino (Because the best gift we can give to our OFWs is to further improve the condition of our country to have more opportunities for every Filipino),” he added.

Marcos, likewise, urged Filipinos to support the government’s effort to provide OFWs with a “Filipino Christmas” and check up on them.

“Ngayong nalalapit na ang kapaskuhan, gawin natin ang lahat upang iparamdam sa ating mga OFW ang init ng paskong Pilipino nasaang dako nang mundo man sila (Now that the holiday season is approaching, let's do everything to make our OFWs feel the warmth of the Filipino Christmas wherever they are in the world),” he said.

“Kumustahin natin, tawagan at iparating ang pasasalamat sa kanilang di matatawarang kontribusyon sa pagtataguyod ng Pamilyang pilipino, sa pagbabangon ng ating ekonomiya at sa pagwawagayway ng ating bandila bilang isang lahing magaling, respetado ng buong mundo (Let's say hello, call and express our gratitude for their selfless contribution in supporting Filipino families, reviving our economy and waving our flag as a great race, respected by the whole world),” he added.

Following his participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (ASEAN-EU) Commemorative Summits in Brussels, Belgium, Marcos said the country brought home PHP9.8 billion worth of investment pledges from European business executives which is expected to result in more jobs.

World class seafarers

He also assured of the government's ongoing efforts to address deficiencies identified by the European Union (EU) in the Philippine seafarers’ education, training and certification system through the creation of an advisory board.

“Wala naman akong duda sa pagkaka world-class ng ating seafarers pero kailangan ay maging world-class din ang sistema natin ng pagpapatakbo ng industriyang ito para naman ang number one preference para sa seafarers ay mananatiling Pinoy pa rin (I have no doubt that our seafarers are world-class, but our system of operating this industry must also be world-class so that the number one preference for seafarers will still remain Filipino,” he said.

“Kaya’t gagawin natin ang lahat upang masigurong lalo pang dadami ang mga pagkakataon sa ating mga manggagawa (That’s why we will do everything to ensure that opportunities for our workers will increase even more),” he added.

The Philippines remains the top provider of seafarers for both officers and ratings, across all departments, aboard merchant cargo vessels, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2021 study.

In 2021, Filipino seafarers remitted a total of USD6.54 billion from USD6.353 billion in 2020, or an increase of 3 percent, making them a significant contributor to the country’s economy. (PNA)