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Hundreds of Filipino leaders celebrate Independence Day in Taipei

2019/06/15 13:05:02

MECO Chairman Angelito T. Banayo (front, right) and MECO Labor Center - Taipei Deputy Director Dayang Dayang Sittie Kaushar G. Jaafar (front, left)

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Over 200 leaders and officers of various Filipino organizations in northern Taiwan gathered in the country's capital on Friday to celebrate Philippines Independence Day at a karaoke banquet hosted by the Philippines' representative office, which praised them as important people who connect the Filipino migrant workers community in Taiwan.

Gilberto Lauengco, vice chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), said the leaders and officers of the Filipino community "are the fulcrum and center point for all migrant workers," because they help us "to better know and understand the plight of our fellow Filipinos in Taiwan and to know their needs and aspirations so that we the government may be able to help them."

According to Ministry of Labor statistics, there were 153,742 Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan as of the end of April.

Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan remitted US$152.99 million back home from January to March, up US$20.65 million from the same period a year earlier, according to data from the central bank of the Philippines.

Gilberto Lauengco, vice chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office

For all of 2018, they remitted a total of US$583.84 million back to their home country, the data showed.

Filipino migrant workers contribute greatly to their family and country, but they also need help in the country where they work and these organizations' leaders help the Philippines representative office look after them.

MECO Labor Center Director of Labor Affairs Cesar Chavez Jr (left) and CIASI Taiwan National Chairman Rheden Delumen

The some 200 leaders and officers at the banquet are one of the main reasons behind the success of MECOnnect, an outreach program that allows MECO to reach out Filipinos in both dormitories, and in towns and villages, in northern Taiwan, Lauengco said.

Launched in May last year, the program seeks closer ties and instant communication with Filipino migrant workers by providing them a hotline number to connect to the office. The program also allows MECO staff to visit their residences and workplaces.

Nene Ho, editor-in-chief of the Filipino magazine "The Migrants"

The various leaders and officers were able to point out where the Filipino communities were and how they needed help, Lauengco said.

Because of the various leaders and officers, MECO was able to go "where Filipino communities are and they were able to express their desires and their problems so we may be able to answer them," he said.

MECO Chairman Angelito T. Banayo (front, left)

Sometimes caregivers go missing and various leaders and officers were able to point out where the caregiver was located so that MECO was able to help them, Lauengco said.

"We find out that they are either sick or they have other problems and we are able to reach out to them because fellow Filipinos have already pointed them out to us," he said.

MECO Chairman Angelito T. Banayo

In addition to citing their importance, Lauengco also expressed his gratitude to the leaders and officers of the various organizations, which included Filipino fraternities, basketball tournament organizers, newspaper magazine publishers, business owners and church groups.

"For the leaders who are here, I would like to thank them for their service and for their tireless service to their fellow Filipinos in going around and understanding their plight. Without them we would be unable to perform our duties, so they are our brethren in the service of our fellow Filipinos," he said.

Philippines Independence Day celebration host Marie Yang (left)

The Philippines Independence Day celebrations will continue this week in Taiwan, with events to mark Migrant Worker's Day, and a Friendship Fun Run in New Taipei on Sunday.

The Philippines gained independence on June 12, 1898, after more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.

"It is this independence when we first raised our flag, during the time we shook off the yoke of Spanish colonial rule, which we celebrate every year," Lauengco said.

(By William Yen)