The truth is Filipino migrant workers are not lazy
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the 498th anniversary of the so-called discovery of the Philippines by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in the name of Spain. Since 1521 up to today, Filipino migrants have gained the admiration of foreign employers.


Magellan's slave and interpreter Enrique de Malacca was actually the first to circumnavigate the globe, according to some researchers. He was allegedly not a Malaysian but from an islet in Lapu-Lapu City. After Magellan died in Mactan, Enrique was brought by the remaining Spanish sailors back to Spain to testify before the king on what happened in Cebu. And in 1565, 44 years later, he supposedly returned as the guide and interpreter of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. Thus, he was the first to circle the globe, not Sebastian del Cano. It can be said, therefore, that Enrique was the first OFW, working in Spain from 1521 to 1565. To say OFWs are lazy, as one so-called Filipino diplomat to China reportedly said, is an unforgivable insult to the memory of Enrique and the millions of OFWs today.

Those who speak ill of the ten million Filipinos in two hundred countries all over the world don’t realize that because of the hard work, sacrifice, and reliability of OFWs, the Philippine economy receives no less than U$38 billion in remittances every year, thus helping tremendously our economy. Daily, around 6,000 Filipinos leave the country to work or permanently reside abroad. But whether OFWs or immigrants, they continue to infuse our economy with billions of dollars, which help students enter universities, build decent houses, pay hospital bills and related medical care for the aged, handicapped, or sick.

Just this month, Queen Elizabeth, the royal head of state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, honored Joy Ongcachuy, a Filipina nurse from Mindanao, for her commendable and gallant services for treating the victims of the 2017 London Bridge bombing. Joy has been working in the Royal London Hospital as the robotic lead nurse, a long way from her former position as scrub nurse in 2002. She is now a permanent resident of Stratford, London, and an outstanding member of the Filipino community there. Her daughter, also a nurse, is working for the same hospital, primarily because of Joy's impeccable record as a hardworking, passionate, and reliable worker.

For a supposed diplomat to make a very negative statement against OFWs, the highly admirable employment record of Joy is the best argument that such an allegation is false. I, for one, can testify that the adjective “lazy” can never be appended next to OFWs. I have seen for myself the many sacrifices of the factory workers in Taiwan, hospital employees in Kuwait, and nurses, engineers, waiters, and domestic helpers in Malaysia. I have not seen such hard work from writers who were appointed diplomats.

Tomorrow, my column will focus on outstanding OFWs and Filipino expats who demonstrated beyond doubt the excellence of Filipino migrants. Our OFWs are not burdens to their host nations. They help tremendously to build the economy of that country. We should be proud of them immensely, from Enrique de Malacca to Joy Ongchachoy.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with