Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pinoy nurses, teachers encouraged to try their luck in Japan

SAKAI CITY, Japan – There is a growing need for Filipino English teachers and nurses in Japan, Consul General Maria Teresa Taguiang said, although interested applicants must meet some requirements first, among them being able to speak basic Nihonggo.

Interviewed by GMA News Online during the 2014 Sakai-ASEAN Week early this month, Taguiang said there is an increase of Filipinos coming to Japan to work as English teachers.

“They (Japanese) want to increase their competence in English so they are starting very young now in education,” Taguiang said.

Taguiang then cited a Filipino here who she said has been working as an English teacher for 40 years.

“There is an opportunity when you find the right avenue,” she said.

Aside from English teachers, demand for Filipino caregivers and nurses is also starting to pick up in Japan, Taguiang said.

“There is a demand. The only hurdle there is you have to make the competency that is needed if it is within that program,” she said.

She said Filipino nurses who want to work in Japan need to pass a new Japanese regulated licensure exam for nurses after their training.

“We have this economic cooperation agreement with Japan where our caregivers and nurses can come here to train but they have to take the exam to get the license,” she said.

Learning Nihonggo

Taguiang said that apart from meeting the requirements, learning how to speak Nihonggo is mandatory in Japan for foreign workers.

“The best way is to have a background of the language because that is the way by which you can find out what are the opportunities that are here,” she said.

“You don't really have to master it but you have to have a good grasp to get along in the profession and performance in the job,” Taguiang added.

In a separate interview, Sakai City Mayor Osami Takeyama said they are willing to provide assistance to Filipinos once a solid demand to work there is established.

“We could look for places of opportunities where the people of the Philippines can display their abilities in Japan,” he said.

“One example are the students working in Sakai while studying at Osaka Prefecture University. So maybe if the students of the Philippines are willing to do the same thing maybe we can seek the opportunity to provide a place where they can work at the same time they can study,” he continued.

There are around 200,000 Filipinos currently in Japan with at least 80,000 residing in the Osaka prefecture.

According to Taguiang, many of them were integrated into the Japanese society and are married to Japanese nationals.

“There is a growing number of second generation Filipino-Japanese [here],” she said. —KBK, GMA News

2 Pinay nurses lauded for good services in Saudi

Two Filipina nurses were recognized for their 35-year service to a hospital in Saudi Arabia, Arab News reported Wednesday.

Elercy Cruz and Zenaida Lescano were given plaques of appreciation during a fitting ceremony honoring their decades-long career at the Buraidah Central Hospital (BCH) in Al-Qassim, the report said.

Cruz came from Bangui, Pangasinan, while Lescano came from Orani, Bataan.

Fellow Filipinos lauded their dedication to their profession, with assistant nursing director Edna S. Jampil saying they gave free medicine to kababayans for community service on the weekends.

In-service control practitioner Fe M. Gatbonton said the two helped "patients even after their duty" and "showed nursing professionalism at work."

Both Cruz and Lescano decided to return to the Philippines to spend their retirement with their families.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines in 2011 said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the "most aggressive recruiter" of Filipino nursing professionals and personnel.

According to statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Saudi Arabia hired 8,513 professional nurses and 258 nursing personnel in 2010, beating out Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy running for council seat in Bergenfield

Fifteen years after Robert Rivas stepped down as mayor of Bergenfield, a young lawyer is making a bid for a council seat, counting on the support of the residents of “Little Manila” of Bergen County.

Immigration lawyer Arvin Amatorio will be running in tandem with politician Chris Tully as the Democratic candidates for the council. He will be the first Filipino-American to aspire for the position to be decided in the upcoming November 4th council election.

Arvin is a long-time resident of Madison Avenue in Bergenfield, where he lives with his wife Ilya Evangelista, a nurse manager at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and their seven-year-old son Lance. He has a private law practice in New York City, representing clients nationwide, and also serves as Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Victor Sison.
Arvin with his 7-year-old son Lance. The FilAm photo
“My candidacy is one of the ways of my giving back to the community,” he told The FilAm. “I like public service and I’ve always wanted to be engaged and involved.” Specifically, he believed he can be an effective voice of the immigrant community in the council.

Bergenfield is known as “Little Manila” because of its large Fil-Am community numbering about 4.5K or 17.1 percent of its population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Arvin immigrated to the United States in 2002. Prior to practicing lawyer, he worked as an adjunct professor in one of Manhattan’s private colleges. He continued to teach while learning the ropes of immigration law as an associate of the Vinluan Law Offices.

As a young lawyer, he received his baptism of fire, when he became involved in the defense of more than 20 Filipino nurses in the infamous Sentosa case.

“I was made to square off with then State Senator Michael Balboni,” he said. “But like steel that is tempered by fire, that encounter emboldened me to take on tough cases. Everything else seemed easy after that case.”

Arvin later joined the law firm of Prado and Tuy, LLP, where he mostly handled personal injury cases.

In 2007, he decided to go indie by opening his private practice in New York and concentrating on immigration. He took on removal cases, and applications for waiver for clients, some of them coming from other lawyers.

Among his cases are: (1 ) the grant of cancellation of removal to a Filipino who already had a final order of removal from the immigration court in California; (2) the grant of parole-in-place for the wife of a Filipino who served in the military. The wife was brought into the United States illegally, by her parents; (3) the grant of a waiver to a Macedonian woman, who was deported years earlier.

“She was allowed to reenter the United States, and continues to live happily with her family in New Jersey,” he said.

A busy lawyer but an even busier father, Arvin makes quality time for his son, taking Lance to swimming lessons, martial arts classes and other activities related to school and sports. “Family comes first” is an important personal ideology. In immigration practice, he makes sure that families stay together either through a waiver of removal proceedings or by their successful arrival in the U.S.

“The sense of fulfillment is beyond words if I am instrumental in re-uniting families,” he said.

One of his supporters, office worker Jujo Conol, tells The FilAm why Arvin would make a good councilmember: “Arvin is not only a nice and smart guy, but also an honest, go-getter, hardworking family man. He is passionate about the things he does, and takes pride in his work.” —The FilAmGo to comments

POEA warns vs. illegal recruiters plying trade at its premises

Be wary of illegal recruiters, even if they claim they can take you to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's head office.

POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac issued this warning after the arrest last week of an illegal recruiter who claimed to deploy overseas Filipino workers to Japan to work as factory workers.

"Ang modus operandi po niya ay recruiter raw siya ng factory worker sa Japan. Naningil ng tag-P50,000 sa lima niyang biktima, na isinama niya sa POEA mismo para daw may mailakad niya ang papeles," Cacdac said on Facebook.

Cacdac said the recruiter, who was arrested last Oct. 14, was identified as Regulus Arnaiz Mallari, 47.

He said POEA guards became suspicious of Mallari when he and his prospective victims arrived at the POEA head office.

"Natunugan ng security guard na pinahintay ni Mallari ang mga biktima sa POEA lobby habang siya naman ay umakyat sa second floor," he said.

An investigation showed Mallari was not accredited to transact with the POEA. He was then invited to the POEA security office for questioning.

"Doon nabisto na illegal recruiter si Mallari," Cacdac said.

The POEA then sought help from the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, who arredted Mallari.

Cacdac said Mallari faces illegal recruitment charges. He added Mallari was the third to be arrested at the POEA premises in three years.

"Huwag na huwag po kaming subukan. Hindi namin kayo aatrasan," Cacdac said. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PNoy urged to junk circular on terminal fee integration

Migrant workers called on President Benigno Aquino III to declare as void a Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) circular that would integrate the P550 terminal fee into the price of airline tickets.

In a letter dated October 15, received by Malacanang on October 17, the migrant workers groups led by OFW Family party-list Rep. Roy V. Seneres called on Aquino to "totally abrogate" MIAA Memorandum Circular (MC) 08, Series of 2014, saying it violates a 19-year-old law exempting Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the payment of terminal fee.

"The circular flagrantly violates the right of OFWs to be exempted from payment of the airport terminal fee, pursuant to Section 35 of Republic Act 8042 as amended by Republic Act 10022, also known as the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act," the letter said.

Under the MIAA circular, which was supposed to have been implemented last Oct. 1 but was moved to Nov. 1, airline and travel agencies are mandated to integrate the P550 terminal fee in the price of airline tickets for all international passengers, including OFWs.

The MIAA had earlier assured that the amount of terminal fee collected from the OFWs may be refunded upon presentation of an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) at the terminal upon their arrival.

The migrant workers groups, however, did not buy MIAA's assurance, saying that it cannot justify a "flagrant" violation of the law.

"Needless to say, the refund will not in any way cure a consummated violation of the law as it would already be a fait accompli. A mere circular cannot amend or disregard a clear provision of the Republic Act," the letter said.

Aside from Seneres, the letter was signed by leaders of 15 other migrant workers group and non-government organizations, namely, Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy  Center and Training Institute; Gemma Comiso of PinoyExpats/OFW Blog Awards, Engrs. Nelson Ramirez and Bienvenido Lorque of United Filipino Seafarers, Carmelita Nuqui of Philippine Migrants' Rights Watch, Ellene Sana of Center for Migrant Advocacy, Loreto Soriano of the LBS Recruitment, Elso Cabangon of Filipino Migrant Workers Group, Sis. Teresa Evasco of Daughters of Charity Migrants Desk, Luther Calderon of KAMPI, and Ma. Fe Nicodemus of KAKAMMPI.

In a separate press statement, Ople said Aquino's urgent intervention on the MIAA circular is necessary considering that many OFWs are already in the process of booking their tickets home for Christmas vacation.

“If MIAA pushes through with the integration of the terminal fee on November 1, this will likely cause confusion and affect the holiday spirit of our kababayans, many of whom are not even aware about this memorandum circular," Ople said. Elizabeth Marcelo/KBK, GMA News

PHL deploys crisis management team to Yemen to assist in repatriation

The Philippine government has sent a crisis management team to Yemen to help repatriate Filipino workers there after it raised the alert level to 3.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Filipinos may opt to register for voluntary repatriation with the crisis management team or consult with the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, which has jurisdiction over Yemen.

Yemen's alert level was raised due to the occupation of the capital city of Sana'a by Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels, blamed for the recent deaths of 15 people after an explosives-laden car was driven into a hospital in the city.

The Houthis captured Sana'a after overrunning an army brigade affiliated to the moderate Islamist Islah party, making them effectively the power brokers in the country.

Alert Level 3, which mandates voluntary repatriation, is raised when violent disturbances occur in a limited area of a country. Under this Alert Level, the Department of Labor and Employment imposes absolute deployment ban.

The DFA said Filipinos who are already in Yemen are strongly urged to return to the Philippines.

Government records show there is an estimated 1,300 Filipinos in Yemen.

The government raised Alert Level 3 in Yemen in December 2013 after a deadly attack on the Defense Ministry that resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people, including sevel Filipino workers.
Two months later, it lowered the alert level in Yemen to 2, or restriction phase, upon the recommendation of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.  —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Marlisa Punzalan says self-confidence key to her ‘X Factor Australia’ triumph

If there's one advice Filipina "X Factor Australia" winner Marlisa Punzalan can give to aspiring singers, it's to always have confidence in yourself.

The 15-year-old daughter of Filipino immigrants won the singing competition on Monday night, a feat some critics thought impossible when she auditioned as a meek 14-year-old last July.

Punzalan, who has relatives in Bataan, said "it'll be a dream come true" for her to perform and sell her albums in the Philippines.

"I was born in Australia and I've been in the Philippines once only, in 2009,” she shared in an interview on GMA News TV's “Balitanghali.”

“I went to Bataan and each morning I woke up with Coke and not juice,” she recalled when asked about her time in Samal.

Still in disbelief

On her victory, Punzalan said it “hasn't sunk in yet at all.”

“I feel like I'm living in the clouds. I just can't believe it," she said.

While consistently praised for her vocal skills, Punzalan said her age put on some added pressure on her.

“There was a lot of pressure because I am the youngest competitor and all the other contestants are really strong as well. And I think it's mainly because people have disbelief in me, yet I managed to take it, so I'm really proud of myself,” she said.

Earning praises from the judges throughout the competition emboldened the teenager, who confessed that the boost in confidence helped her become a better performer despite “quite a lot of pressure.”

Judges eventually took notice of her improvements and lauded her backstage.

"The judges were telling me that I was starting to soar and I was improving week by week and I was getting better and better. I was really happy to hear those comments, and I think they could see an improvement in me," Punzalan said.

Never give up

Punzalan said that making it to the top three was a combination of working hard and having a good support system.

“I felt really good that I made it to the top three, and I can't thank God enough for my supportive and... supporting me all the way here so they've really given me confidence and I'm so grateful,” she said.

She then advised aspiring singers to follow their dreams and "never give up, believe in yourself, always have confidence in yourself, and just keep fighting."

Punzalan was the only Filipino competitor in the top three, where she competed with solo singer Dean Ray and group Brothers 3.

Aside from the Beatles classic "Yesterday", Punzalan also performed "Stand By You" and "Never Be The Same".

She was mentored by former Boyzone member Ronan Keating, who said she was "incredible"  and "got what it takes" to continue her career.

Other Filipinos who competed in this year's "X-Factor Australia" included girl group Trill and solo singers Jal Joshua, Erin Miranda, Justin Vasquez, and Mary Ann van der Horst. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News


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