Filipino turns new chapter of life, asks others to be positive - GulfToday

Filipino turns new chapter of life, asks others to be positive


Some stranded Filipinos are also there among the passengers.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

No way but to look up and remain positive as it is also the time to take a bit of rest and contemplate on the “new game plan.”

That was how Nico had accepted the new chapter in his life, after having gone home early last week. He was among the latest 354 Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates repatriated on the chartered late evening Aug. 9 (Sunday) PR8659 flight to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, Metro Manila-”8” being the designated mark for a chartered flight of the Philippine Air Lines (PR), according to Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes.

Unlike the numerous distressed visit visa holders whose repatriation flight expenses are paid for by Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, Nico returned to his country, with his employer for the past several years, shouldering his airline ticket. The 27-year-old was grateful.

Gulf Today managed to contact Nico on Wednesday morning, “the second day” of his return trip to Metro Manila, after he and his fellow returnees or repatriates had secured their Philippine National Red Cross-sponsored COVID-19 swab test.

He and some of his co-passengers were then billeted and assigned one room each at the St. Giles Hotel in Makati City while others were checked in at “Sheraton, Eurotel and Heritage Plaza. All hotels are fully booked because of the returning OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers).”

Nico shared: “All of us have been well-informed with everything we need to know about the quarantine procedures and the swab test by staff of the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration). There were strict (local government procedures) upon arrival at the airport. Everything was calculated. You have to be patient. It was the Coast Guard who helped in the quarantine procedures. Once done, we were led out to the waiting hotel buses. The OWWA staff and Coast Guard gave each of us packed food and drinks.”

He was happy that true to the commitment of the Duterte Administration, overseas Filipinos (OFs) impacted by and amidst the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are well-taken care of and except for personal buys, everything is free: “We are not allowed to go out of the hotel. Yes, we are allowed to loiter within the hotel premises but we must first seek permission by the assigned OWWA house staff.”

Nico’s negative COVID-19 test results were handed to him on Thursday. On Friday morning, he had posted with smileys and laughter on his Facebook page a traffic-free EDSA, the main artery connecting all Metro Manila towns and cities notorious for its ultra-snail-paced bumper-to-bumper.

Nico walked into his home in Novaliches, Quezon City where his parents also live on Friday after a free OWWA bus and staff dropped him off near it. He was open to the suggestion of enquiring from the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas Regional Office regarding financial and technology transfer assistance on farmlands. He laughed when this reporter told him he could be the next enterprising farmer.

At the May 28 University of the Philippines-CIFAL Philippines webinar on “Food (In)Security in the Midst of COVID-19,” Food and Agriculture National Farming Systems specialist, Dr. Jaime Montesur, a Filipino agricultural/soil scientist, encouraged an OFW to enquire from the DA regional office nearest her inherited farm property about assistance.

On Aug.9 (Sunday), President Duterte approved and signed the release of additional Php5 billion (Dhs374,229,105.50/$101,880,950.00) by Manila’s Department of Budget and Management for the COVID19 evacuation/repatriation and aid packages to distressed OFs worldwide.

Approximately a little over 140,000 OFs had been repatriated by since May by the Duterte Administration, either on its own or with the assistance from employers.

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