OFW gets answer to his prayer

FORTY EIGHT-year-old Berlin Cruz, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, went home last December 23 with one fervent wish in mind – to rebuild their house that was destroyed by typhoon Ondoy.

Thanks to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-led Pamaskong Handog sa OFW 2009, his prayer was answered in more ways than one. This annual welcoming and gift-giving activity for returning OFWs is done every Christmas season in cooperation with the Labor department and partners from the private sector. Now on its 15th year, the program is a way of recognizing the OFWs' valuable contribution to national development.

Cruz was among the batch of OFWs who arrived aboard Gulf Air GF 154 and were told to draw from a bowl without any idea of what is in store. To his surprise, he picked out a paper indicating that he won a “special prize”. He was then brought to a room where he was awarded the P200,000-worth Kabayan Savings Account from Banco De Oro (BDO), a major sponsor of the event. Bank officers Ismael Estela Jr. and Jonathan Diokno of the transaction banking group (TBG), OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon and Labor Secretary Marianito Roque were present to personally award the prize.

“Maligayang-maligaya ako kasi meron na akong savings para sa enrollment ng mga anak ko at pang-pagawa ng nasira naming bahay sa Rizal. Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa BDO,” said Cruz.

A father of five, Cruz works as a structural engineer in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and UAE, is host to many Filipinos workers, mostly engineers, nurses or hospital workers, accountants, office employees, construction workers, restaurant crew and domestic helpers.

“Sana, tuluy-tuloy ang ganitong programa ng OWWA dahil maraming matutulungan na katulad kong OFW,” he added.

Shown in photo were (from left) Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Carmelita Dimzon, BDO SVP for transaction group Ismael Estela Jr; Pamaskong Handog winner Berlin Cruz; Labor Chief Marianito Roque; and BDO FVP for TBG-remittance international operations Jonathan Diokno.