OFW Communities met the Ambassador to Libya
Thursday, 07 December 2006
December 22, 2005, the Filipino community of Misurata. Libya held a three in one encounter. There was a Eucharistic celebration, a joint Christmas cum Birthday party with the ambassador Bayani Mangibin as special guest, and an open forum was conducted for the different concerns of the OFW’s. The three in one event was held in the residence of Dr. Gomez-Sia.
The evening started with the celebration of the mass followed by the airing of queries by several speakers. Queries ranged from delayed salaries of nurses to the fact that registered births and marriages cannot be found in the Bureau of Statistics in the Philippines.
From this delay in salaries sprang up the many problems that the nurses face since they are not prepared for it. Some supplement their income by taking part time jobs, others who are not as talented or innovative fell victims to unscrupulous men who take advantage of the situation.
One other speaker was Ms. Ugates who said, “ I find it deplorable that being mainly Christians, we are not able to provide each other relevant support without strings attached.” She further spoke of the common Filipino trait that converts a debt of gratitude into a more personal expression so that a nurse who may find herself recipient of some largesse becomes romantically involved with the giver.
“The deterioration in our morals, is something we should guard against because being foreigners in a foreign land, we bring not only ourselves. But like it or not, we also represent our country. And being Christians, we should be aware of loving and giving without expecting anything in return.”
On the other hand, Ambassador Mangibin explained that the bureaucratic delay in salaries can be rectified by a request for a bigger “sulfa” or allowance from the hospitals while the documents are being processed.
He said, “One possible solution to the problems is the creation of an organization where relevant concerns can be addressed and the embassy would propose an information drive so that those who will come to Libya will be better informed of the existing conditions.”
For the problems of birth registration, the embassy said it will initiate a feed back system whereby the Filipinos may know that the Bureau of Statistics had actually received the documents forwarded.
On December 25, a similar affair was scheduled in Sabratha. What started as a gathering with a strained atmosphere developed into a lively interaction when the ambassador started to talk and discuss things. From there, several issues came up.
One of these was the non -existent housing for the nursing staff. Another was the very high passport and consular fees.
Ambassador Mangibin assured everyone he will look into the matter especially since the housing problem is dependent on the contract But he added, “The matter of consular fees is standardized and not within the embassy’s jurisdiction. If the embassy can do something then we would, but if it is not possible then I would honestly inform everyone.”
He mentioned that it would be a good move for the Filipino community to have an organization through which they can address their worries and can forward these concerns to the responsible authorities. He pointed out a move by the Hongkong OFW’s regarding consular fee problems. “Perhaps you can forward this matter like they did,” He added.
Sabratha speaker Ricky de Guzman mentioned the multiplicity of talents that typifies the Filipino, his high flexibility and adaptability in any given working condition. An observation elucidated on by Ms. Ugates, who added that if everyone can put away personal interest and group together for their common interests then basic rights can be addressed and hopefully resolved.
Further she said, “Unfortunately we are prone to envy another’s good fortune and become destructive in that envy. We should also refrain from bragging too much as it can only cause dissension, and we must not carry our ‘hiya’ or embarrassment to extremes as it inhibits the flow of effective communications. Jesus did not boast but He stood for His beliefs to the point of death that we can follow. Perhaps not to the point of death but enough to get our qualms across to the people who should hear them and in so doing perhaps achieve what we hope for.”
On December 28,, a family Christmas celebration was held at the St. Francis Church, Dahra, Tripoli. This started with the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help followed by a Eucharistic celebration and Agape. Children of the different communities led by the students of the Philippine Community School showed their various talents in singing, dancing, choral recitation and declamation.
Ambassador Mangibin was again the event’s speaker who shared on forgiveness and compassion that was the theme of the homily by Fr. Allan Arcebuche, OFM. He said, “The embassy is composed of people who also have shortcomings, therefore I ask for your understanding of these very human traits.”
Indeed, the December events became an avenue where the Filipino community shared the spirit of camaraderie unique among Pinoys. For the Christmas season, they have put aside their daily concerns to worship together as they welcome a new hope in the celebration of the birth of the child Jesus.
Thoughts of Thomas a Kempis
“It is vanity to seek riches which must perish, and to trust in them. It is vanity also to be ambitious of honors, and to raise oneself to a high station. It is vanity to follow the desires of the flesh, and to desire that which you must afterwards be grievously punished. It is vanity to wish for a long life, and to take little care of living a good life. It is vanity to attend only to this present life, and to look forward to those things which are to come. It is vanity to love what is passing away with all speed, and not to hasten thither where everlasting joy is.”