By Floro L. Mercene
Of the nearly $3 billion remitted by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in 2017, a big slice was contributed by the 2.5 million Filipino women laboring abroad, mostly in the Middle East.
These heroic women are scattered around the globe, exerting Herculean efforts simply to keep body and soul together.
It is their financial clouts that enable members of their family to attend colleges, buy condominiums, invest in real estate, put up small businesses, finance small-time ventures, and keep the economy humming.
But think of ruined families that they left behind. This is caused mainly by the irresponsible hands of a worthless husband who probably spend part of her earnings on booze, women, or gambling.
The 2.5 million mostly domestic helpers who left the country since 1992 until this year was recorded by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), collated and made available to the public by LBS Recruitment Solutions.
This figure does not include the almost 150,000 household service workers, a fancy name for domestic laborers, which were trafficked to Lebanon, Syria, and UAE in 2008 up to 2017 by illegal recruitment syndicates.
Thousands more are victims of human smuggling who end up in households who took advantage of their illegal status to be abused, enslaved, or given inhuman treatment.
These are the gloomy pictures that are sometimes found in newspaper accounts but mostly ignored in most cases. There are many more abused, battered, and trafficked Filipino women who are housed in our embassies and consulates abroad.
Thousands of them are repatriated back home through the help of kind Samaritans, who shoulder the cost of airplane tickets, but mostly through the intercession of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the International Organization on Migration (IOM).
Poverty in the home country is what drives our women to toil in a foreign household in exchange for the minimum $400 monthly salary.
If the government is planning to repay our women’s priceless labors, a huge, huge statue dedicated to our unnamed women should be set up in a highly visible public square.
No amount of gratuitous award by the government is enough to make up for their sacrifices.