Going to Malaysia for the ASEAN integration

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty Josephus B Jimenez - The Freeman

Dateline: Kuala Lumpur. With the ASEAN INTEGRATION a matter of about six months hence, this columnist is here in Malaysia this whole week in order to spread the news of the Philippine private sector initiative to prepare the Filipino human capital for the ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY in 2015. We are here in the KL Shangrila meeting the top Filipino people managers here and organizing the first ever chapter of the PEOPLE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES  outside the Philippines. We have a core group of successful Filipino expatriates, business entrepreneurs and managers and spouses of rich Malaysians all over the thirteen states of the Federation of Malaysia, from Penang in the far north to Johore in the far south and from as far west as Malacca to as far east as Sabah and Sarawak.

As the incumbent national president of PMAP, I have been going around the 24 chapters in the Philippines, inducting local chapter officers and lecturing on many labor relations, HR and Asean Integration topics. Here in Kuala Lumpur, since Monday, May 12, I have been conducting meetings. Last Thursday, we had a very big conference inside the Philippine Embassy, attended by Filipino people managers, successful businessmen and Embassy officials. This writer gave a long presentation on the ASEAN INTEGRATION and led a round table discussion about PMAP. This year's leadership of PMAP has chosen as theme HUMAN RESOURCES READINESS TOWARDS ASEAN INTEGRATION. Our mission in Malaysia is to organize the Filipinos into a separate chapter and to link with the PMAP counterpart organization in Malaysia.

There are about two hundred thousand documented Filipinos mostly in Kuala Lumpur, Johore, Selangor, Malacca, Penang, and in North Borneo mostly in Sabah and Sarawak. But it is common knowledge that the total number of undocumented Pinoys in Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Meri, Sebu, and other big palm oil plantation in the eastern side of the Malaysian territory, bordering TawiTawi and southern  Palawan. All the groups were represented in the conference that we convened in Kuala Lumpur. The meeting ended with the signing of a MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT between their federation and PMAP. We are designating them as our affiliate organization, which is equivalent to a chapter, with all the rights and obligations appurtenant to a component of our organization.

ASEAN Integration entails a stiff competition among workers in the ten ASEAN member nations which we divided into two groups: Section One is called SMITHPHIL or Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. And Section Two is VICAMLAB or Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Brunei Darussalam. Under the ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY, there will be a free flow of goods and services, as well as migrant workers across the ten member states. The Filipino migrant workers are being threatened by workers from Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. If our workers do not watch out we shall also be competing heavily with those from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Our mission in Malaysia is to help our people prepare by giving them a detailed orientation and mentoring, counseling, and coaching to our migrant workers.

Tomorrow, we are going to hear mass in the Saint John's Cathedral, where hundreds of Filipinos congregate every Sunday to have fellowship, meetings, and social activities. We are visiting the Cathedral's Migrant Training Center and will also proceed to the Filipino Workers; Training Center in the afternoon where about 300 Filipinos are preparing to see us. I served as labor attache in Malaysia from 2005 to 2008, thus they all know me, and I lived there for three years in the service of the OFWs. I expanded the small training group into a center where 700 OFWs study for free every weekend. They learn computers, nursing, arts and craft, social graces, basic laws (I taught law for non lawyers), cooking, table setting, tailoring, dressmaking, and many other skills without paying anything. I also founded a scholarship where twenty domestic helpers have become nurses now.

And so, I am here in KL, meeting a lot of grateful people. And my mission is easily facilitated by my many alliances and connections. I love the Pinoys in Malaysia and I can feel that they too value my services to and friendship with them. If we care for our migrant workers, they can do amazing things for themselves and for the nations. The Filipino migrant workers are the best in the world,...Brainy, Multi-skilled, and World Class in services. The OFW in Malaysia are some of our most competent and reliable human capital. We are ready for the Asean integration.


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