MANILA - Former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino was an inspiration to many Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) because of her support to the country's "new heroes."
Rhoel Raymundo Mendoza was one of many OFWs who worked abroad when Aquino was president. He also worked for the Aquino family corporation, Jose Cojuangco and Sons, after graduating from the University of Santo Tomas in 1981.
Now a talent manager and graphic designer, Mendoza fondly keeps an autographed picture of Aquino, in which she sent him her "good wishes." The photo was signed in May 1986, just months after Aquino became president of the Philippines.
In an e-mail sent to ABS-CBN, Mendoza proudly shared that then President Aquino herself had conferred him the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Bagong Bayani Citation in December 1990. That night, Mendoza and his peers listened to Aquino's speech, honoring the awardees and all OFWs throughout the world.
The following is a copy of Aquino's speech that evening, sent to the "Filipino Overseas magazine" in 1995 upon Mendoza's request. In her speech, she thanked OFWs all over the world for their hard work and sacrifice for the country and their families.
|"Sa mga minamahal kong kababayan,
Isang malaking kasiyahan sa akin na batiin ang libu-libong kinikilalang bagong bayani ng ekonomiya ng ating bansa.
Alam namin na kayo, bilang manggagawang Pilipino sa ibang bansa, ay nagtitiis ng ibayong lungkot, at nagsasakripisyo na na malayo sa inyong mga minamahal sa buhay. Subali't ang inyong pagpapasakit ay nakatutulong naman hindi lamang sa inyong sariling pamilya, higit din sa pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya. Taas-noong ipagmalaki ang inyong mga gawain, at buong husay at katapatan itong gampanan. Ang kahusayan at kasipagan ng mga Pilipino'y kinikilala sa buong mundo.
At habang malayo kayo sa ating bansa, sana'y huwag ninyo kalilimutan ang mga magagandang kaugalian at tradisyong Pilipino. Kami'y umaasa na ang The Overseas Filipino magazine ay magtutulay sa ating mga overseas workers na nasa iba't ibang bansa sa pagbibigay-alam sa mga pangyayari sa ating sariling bayan, pati na rin ang mayamang kaugalian at kakayahan ng Pilipino.
Patnubayan nawa kayo ng Poong Maykapal!
[signed, President Corazon C. Aquino]"
Aquino signed Executive Order No. 126, on January 30, 1998. The law reorganized the Ministry of Labor and Employment and renamed the Welfare Fund for Overseas Workers administration to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Aquino is also credited for being the first to call OFWs "heroes," during a 1988 speech she gave to Hong Kong domestic helpers. abs-cbnNEWS.com. Photos courtesy of Rhoel Raymundo Mendoza.