We always say that respect is earned. By this standard, OFWs have earned more than they have been so far given.
Some may say that it is in their role in country's economy that has also earned them the moniker new economic heroes. While the more commonly used basis for such a tag is the remittance OFWs send, this should also include the billions more infused in the national coffers through the shopping list of fees that the government charges from them, the mushrooming of businesses related to sending off workers abroad, as well as the increase in financial capacity of their respective household.
Respect accorded to them can also be from their strength of will to brave new places and culture. We all heard of harrowing experiences of OFWs and we all know that it takes courage to face the unknowns when one becomes a migrant worker.
It can also be from the sacrifices they made. Choice is really not a luxury for OFWs. In the first place, given a genuinely free choice, most OFWs will probably say that they still prefer to be home if only decent jobs exist. If only education and health services are accessible. If only ….
My respect for OFWs includes but also goes beyond these.
It is in the easy camaraderie that usually springs among OFWs. It is in the care of the 'manangs' who do not seem to run out of food and other comforts to offer while sitting in their 'tambayans'. It is in their sincerity to give help if they can. It is in the stories they are willing to share. It is in the tales of their everyday life that are sometimes funny, oftentimes sad, and always bittersweet.
It is in their drive to maintain their dignity. Many of them have been battered and bruised in more ways than one but eventually, they can learn to fight. Their remarkable endurance in facing hard work is matched, if not surpassed, by their commitment to right wrongdoings done against them as workers and as human beings.
It is in the likes of Agnes Tenorio that OFWs earn respect.
It is time cash this out and make Labor Attache to Hong Kong Romulo Salud pay.
(Written as part of the Respect OFWs Blog Action Day that stemmed from the verbal abuse and neglect that OFW Agnes Tenorio experienced from Labor Attache Romulo Salud)