With many of them savoring their first taste of home in years, over thousands of overseas Filipinos and their loved ones trekked to the SM Mall of Asia on Saturday, December 15, 2018 for a holiday treat, the likes of which they missed while abroad.
They were treated to a whole day of entertainment from some of the country’s biggest stars, as well as big raffles, discount sales, and free food during this year’s ‘Pamaskong Handog.’
Aside from providing assistance year-round to overseas Filipinos, BDO Unibank and SM Supermalls have been staging a Pamaskong Handog event featuring services for the benefit of the modern day heroes and their kin, particularly BDO Kabayan Savings account holders and SM Global Pinoy card members. Those who are not yet account or card holders are also able to avail the services during the annual event.
The annual Pamaskong Handog is SM's way of giving back to the country’s heroes, and is part of the conglomerate’s social responsibility initiatives, said Jonjon San Agustin, SM Supermalls’ senior vice president for Marketing.
"The Global Pinoy program is one of the advocacy campaigns of SM Supermalls where we really give proper recognition to our heroes, the OFWs. We do this program for them every year… For SM, we always know that when the OFWs come home, together with their entire family, SM Supermalls is really their preferred venue to dine, to shop… We’ve become part of the way the family does things over the years," he said.
This year's Pamaskong Handog at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia featured performances from artists such as Kapamilya stars Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, Moira Dela Torre, Iñigo Pascual, Maris Racal, and the TNT Boys.
Other performers were comedian and singer Donita Nose, ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ finalists Anton Antenorcruz and Jennie Gabriel, and comedians MC and Lassie, who hosted the event.
TO THE PHILIPPINES, WITH LOVE
Tourists around the world know Paris as a city full of art, romance, glamor, and luscious food. For overseas Filipino workers (OFW) however, it can be a desolate place, with days full of hard labor and evenings alone in cramped rooms.
OFW Violeta Suyong worked in the City of Love for 31 years as a domestic helper. Originally expecting an administrative position upon arrival in France, the Manila native was lucky enough to meet with kind employers despite being fooled into taking a different job by recruiters.
"Domestic helper ako. Noong una, ang sinabi administrative, pupunta ka sa bahay-bahay. Pagdating doon, ganoon pala. Ok lang sa akin iyon. Nag-full time ako nang two years, tapos nag-part-timer na," she said.
After more than three decades of part-time work as a domestic helper and babysitter in the culturally diverse city, and surviving upheavals in Europe including terrorist attacks and political brawls, she is retiring only now and staying for good in the Philippines with her children and grandchildren at the ripe age of 76.
Caregiver Winifred Yap, 54, meanwhile, has been in San Francisco for six years. She and her two children joined her sister there after their petition for residency came through and they left Metro Manila in 2012.
While she was also lucky to get kind employers in the US, life has been complicated for the former housewife and single mother of three. She had to work abroad to help sustain her family including her youngest son, who has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Despite having difficulties at first, she and her family have now been able to adjust to life abroad, she said. She has also been lucky in her work, finding good people to care for in their old age.
"Mahirap [ang trabaho bilang caregiver] kung hindi mo iintindihin [ang mga pasyente]. Mababait ang mga tao, at kailangan mong malaman kung ano ang mayroon sila," she said of her work caring for the elderly with conditions such as dementia.
Suyong and Yap are only two of thousands of OFWs doing their best to give their loved ones a better life in the Philippines. With stories as varied as their daily tasks, they all have one thing in common—they have families they hope to help rise from difficult circumstances through a good income.
They all also coursed this through a trusted conduit—such as SM and BDO’s collaboration for the benefit of overseas Pinoys worldwide. Through this collaboration, Yap and Suyong were able to open Kabayan bank accounts to help their families withdraw their remittances more easily.
Her Kabayan account helped Suyong send money home to help one of her children who got sick a few years back. Suyong has also been receiving her pension through the account.
"Iyong anak ko nagkaroon ng psoriasis, ang pera napupunta lahat sa gamot. Malaki ang kita, pero napupunta lahat sa gamot kaya hindi ako agad nakauwi. Nakarating ako dito ng 2012, ngayon lang ako ulit bumalik kasi gusto ko kung babalik ako for good na,” she said.
Yap, meanwhile, also finds it easier to send money home for her son's daily needs through her Kabayan account while waiting for his visa to come through in three years.
"Ipinagbabayad ko ng bills niya, sa school, sa bahay, sa teacher," she said.
The ease that families find in using BDO Kabayan accounts to send money home is heartwarming, because it was their intention to provide public service to the country’s numerous OFWs, said BDO senior vice president and Remittance Head Genie Gloria.
"Naglalagay kami ng booths for account opening. Marami pa kasing overseas Filipinos na wala pang account. Ginagawa namin, instead of waiting for them to go to the bank, we reach out to them. Because of our partnership with SM, we collaborate and we use the location to be able to reach out to the families," she said.
More information about the Global Pinoy program can be found on the SM Supermalls website and Facebook page and the BDO website.
NOTE: BrandNews articles are promotional features from our sponsors and not news articles from our editorial staff.