Commission on Filipinos Overseas meets with LA Pinoys

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America

Posted at Aug 04 2012 08:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 04 2012 04:57 PM

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - It can be tough for young immigrants moving from the Philippines to the US, but for many, leaving the homeland for the opportunity to make it in a first world country may be worth it.

"My mom thinks life is better here and that there are a lot of opportunities to prosper,” said 16-year old Margot Lao, who migrated with her mother last July.

While some of their American friends go to school, work and socialize, many young immigrants have other priorities.

"Teenagers here usually take a job so they can buy whatever they want. But in my case, I work so I can help ease the expenses of my father,” said 19-year-old Jeffrey Alindada who arrived about a year ago and currently works for a retirement center.

Prior to migration, youth like Alindada attended an orientation with by the government-run Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

Established in 1980, the commission helps create legislation while providing services for Filipinos living abroad. The commission met with the local Filipino communities in Los Angeles to figure out ways to help OFWs.

"It's all for checking on them. We want to know what's happening with them and what we can do for them. We do orientations before they come here," said Regina Galias, a division chief for the CFO.

The biggest concern for the Filipino American community has been the economy. According to the Philippine Consulate, Los Angeles is home to about 30,000 dual citizens, but more Filipinos are applying for dual citizenship because of economic hardship.

"The sad thing about it is many of them are also going home because they cannot afford the life in the US and these are citizens. We're not talking here of immigrants, we're not talking of those who have working visas," Deputy Consul General Dan Espiritu said during a round-table community discussion.

The commission is already making plans on handling the issue through a reintegration program which it hopes to develop within the next few months.

"We want the government to be ready to receive them once they get home so we're mobilizing people to match the investments of overseas Filipinos. We know they can pull together resources and bring it all to the Philippines for investment but we want to make sure they have the right partners so we can create more jobs," Galias said.