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April 17, 2017


At least 2,000 OFW came to cheer President Rodrigo Duterte when he visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last Wednesday during his 3-day trip to the Middle East. Most of their concerns revolved around a department for migrant workers, having a Filipino ambassador to Saudi and added pay for OFWs. During the trip, you could hear them chant “Duterte! Duterte! Duterte!” nonstop. They constantly cheered him on.

Saudi Arabia was the first country the president visited outside Southeast Asia. Our OFWs kept screaming and clapping as they welcomed him in Saudi. Saudi is also the primary destination of our OFWs. 1 out of 4 migrant workers that leave the country, usually end up in Saudi Arabia.

It was the remittances from our OFWs that cushioned the Philippines against recession due to the remittances that amount to billions. In fact they are our ‘unsung heroes’ that continue to contribute to our economy.

There was a time when I hosted a show, “To Saudi with Love.” There was this 8-year-old girl named Neneng when she visited DzRH with her mother. We would constantly try to contact her father, who was working in the Middle East. He would constantly slam the phone down on us. This was a time when there was no cellphones and texting didn’t exist.

I asked Neneng’s mother what could have made her husband, Mang Dodoy, feel bad. They let me listen to a taped recording in a casette and I couldn’t forget what I heard, “Uuwi ako dyan sa pilipinas at papatayin kita!”

That was when I found out that it was just mere jealousy that started it all. As a part of my public service segment – Libreng Tawag, we strove to let Mang Dodoy talk to his wife. At first Mang Dodoy was thrilled to receive my call. But when he found out that I had his wife on the other line, he refused to talk to her. He ultimately dropped the call. We tried several times, until I made his daughter, Neneng, make the call.

True enough, when Mang Dodoy heard that it was his daughter on the line, he didn’t drop the call. However I didn’t expect Neneng to utter these words:

“Tatay, hindi namin alam bakit galit na galit ka sa nanay wala namang ginagawang masama sa iyo. Palagi lang siyang nag lalabada ng mga damit ng ating kapit bahay, para kumita, para may makain kami at para magkaroon ako ng baon sa eskwela. Palibhasa kasi hindi ka naman nag papadala ng pera sa amin!”

The 8-year-old daughter scolded her father and this made him change his mind. It wasn’t long until the father asked for forgiveness from both his wife and daughter, “on the air” for the entire Philippines to hear.

This was followed by a media coverage of former President Fidel V. Ramos’ visit to Saudi Arabia. This was when I came face-to-face with Mang Dodoy who thanked me for bringing his family together.

Today, Neneng is now 30 years old, with a family of her own. In her letter to us – she continues to thank us for helping her and how the public service program under “To Saudi with Love ” helped her family.

In case she reads this post, this is my message to her:

“Neneng ipaabot mo kay nanay at sa iyong ama ang aking pangungumusta sa kanilang dalawa, sana ay nasa mabuti silang kalagayan.”

She is one of the thousands of OFWs that the show assisted. Because of the significant contributions to society, “To Saudi with Love” was given a recognition by Pope John Paul II [now a saint], “Radio program with a heart”. The one and only radio program that has a “distinction in serving the mankind,” was given an award by the Pontiff and I received the plaque of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz Award from that Archdiocese of Manila at the PICC when Pope John Paul II visited Manila.

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