Already in the United States there are job advertisements which say “preferably Filipinos.” In the Middle East, there was an article which states, if you want a job done, hire a Filipino. And in Canada, in America, in Europe, and in other places Filipina nurses are in demand. Why? read on..

11 JULY 2001

Mabuhay ang DFA!

Fellow workers, friends, this is a very auspicious occasion. We celebrate the 103rd Anniversary of the founding of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Republic of the Philippines. Apolinario Mabini was the first foreign affairs secretary, the sublime paralytic who with his vision planted the seeds of a real foreign policy that is primarily nationalistic, free and dedicated to public service.

Today, 103 years after, we not only celebrate, but we also dedicate ourselves to the concepts propounded by Apolinario Mabini and the foreign affairs secretaries that succeeded him. In all these years that have gone by we have endeavored to render better public service to the people. We want to have swifter passport and visa availments to the public. We would like to render vital services with the vision and the theme of "Magkaisa tayo, Umunlad tayo!" for our Overseas Filipino Workers. We will protect them as mandated by the law.

We at the DFA will also empower them. OLAMWA has entered into a protocol with the International Labor Organization or ILO to provide for mechanisms so that our foreign workers abroad can communicate faster with us, and be provided with bigger opportunities not only for training, but also to become good savers so that their lives and futures of their families here can be enhanced, and the betterment of the nation achieved.

We would also like to ask our ambassadors, our career ministers here and abroad, to realize the vision of bigger public service and to care for the Filipinos, documented or not, because they are Filipinos. They are citizens of this land entitled to protection whether they have papers or not. We should listen to their complaints no matter how busy we are. You know, there are many who come to the office asking for appointments. Sometimes they come even without appointments. There are many who petition for help, and while we cannot attend to them all, we have to listen to them all. A problem may seem meaningless to the ambassador or to the boss upstairs, but to that man who goes to the embassy for assistance, it may mean the whole difference. It may mean his whole fortune. It may be a very vital issue, one of extreme importance to him. And so let us prepare ourselves to render better services for the benefit of the nation.

In return, I pledge to you that I will work for the benefit of the officials and the rank and file of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the best of my ability. We have initiated the Provident Fund. I understand it is already in its initial stages. We are reviewing the imbalance in pay scales between our office and other offices. When the salary standardization law was passed, the budget was accordingly made based on rank, and the ranks assigned to the foreign affairs department were different from the ranks in other agencies of government. For instance, the salary of a director here is not the same as the salary of a director in other government agencies. An assistant secretary in the DFA, who holds the rank of ambassador, does not get the same pay as an assistant secretary in other agencies. In the beginning, we were advised to just accept this, and ask for corrections later but I don't know what happened. There were no corrections made, and so now we should make the corrections. And if time permits, I will mention it when we have no less than the president of the land here with us later on.

We will also have a housing project for the DFA personnel. And if possible, we are going to have a housing program for the Overseas Filipino Workers. We have to plan it well because they are contractual, in the sense that their contract of employment is for three years, four years, two years. And we must provide for a fund so that the continuity of the payments for the installments will not be disrupted. But all of these things and all of these benefits we will put together and what is more is that we must try to restore the respect of the international community, not only for the officials and personnel of the DFA, but also for our Overseas Filipino Workers.

Already in the United States there are job advertisements which say “preferably Filipinos.” In the Middle East, there was an article which states, if you want a job done, hire a Filipino. And in Canada, in America, in Europe, and in other places Filipina nurses are in demand. Why? Because they do their job with a smile, with charm, with grace, with the real purpose of helping to ease the patients’ pain, without looking at the clock, without minding the overtime, really trying to cure the patient and comforting him in his time of crisis. And that is why Filipino nurses are in demand. And that is why we are fighting for these Filipino nurses. The ASEAN is saying that Filipino nurses and other members of other vocations and professions should be treated as such, and should be paid accordingly regardless of the number of years of education as long as they have the diploma, as long as they are accredited by an institution such as the Department of Education. Even if a nurse has only had twelve years of education, she should be paid accordingly. Nurses of other nations are paid more just because they have 14 years of education. Twelve years is quality. The twelve is where grace, dedication, and “service with a smile” come in, and therefore they should be paid accordingly. And so for all of these, we shall endeavor, as I've said, to redirect and rededicate ourselves because the celebration today not only means we will have festivities but also dedication coming from the heart.

We rededicate ourselves to public service, and to the lofty ideals of the foreign service. To pursue the nationalism of Apolinario Mabini and other successors of the foreign secretary of old. And I would like to pass on to you this poem, to strengthen the moral, the fiber of the Department of Foreign Affairs. We would like to quote the poem and prayer which says and I quote:

"Lord, in the battle that goes on through life, I ask for a field that is fair; A chance that is equal with all in strife, and the courage to strive and to dare. If I should win, let it be by the code, with my faith and my honor held high, but if I should lose, let me stand by the road and cheer as the winner goes by.“

Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Source: - April 8, 2002

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