MANILA, Philippines — For Filipinos overseas, what do you miss the most about the Philippines? Why not tell the world about it through a song?
There were nearly 12.5 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as of 2014, making up over 10% of the country’s total population, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reported. In 2014 alone, 1.7 million OFWs were deployed.
Every day, approximately 4,500 Filipinos leave the Philippines for various reasons. Most of them, however, do so for the sake of those they leave behind.
It is a common story among households: Children growing up without one or both their parents, long distance lovers growing apart, and OFWs growing more and more reminiscent of life in the Philippines.
In an effort to reconnect Filipinos overseas with their family and friends, Google Philippines is crowdsourcing lyrics for an “OFW song.” This is part of their Balikbayan campaign, which not only aims to keep Filipinos connected but also to keep them informed of their rights as migrant workers
Anyone can post their lyrics using #GoogleMissKoNa on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. Filipinos abroad could craft lyrics about what or who they miss the most back home, while those in the Philippines could share what it is like to be apart from their loved ones abroad.
Crowdsourcing begins on Wednesday, August 5. The song will be released on YouTube on September 1, in time for the National Heroes’ Day — as OFWs are dubbed as the country’s modern-day heroes, with their remittances making up 14% of the GDP.
The words and music will be put together by local bands Sponge Cola, ItchyWorms, and Kjwan, together with singer Ebe Dancel and YouTube star Mikey Bustos.
“I fly back and forth and I’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of them are OFWs,” said Yael Yuzon, SpongeCola’s frontman. “I wanted to take part of something that would celebrate OFWs. They’re basically heroes of our generation. I want to share their stories.”
The lyrics could be in Filipino, English, and other languages.
Sing for a cause
For every line submitted, Google Philippine pledges to donate one peso to the Blas Ople Center, a non-profit organization working on labor and migration concerns of OFWs.
The crowdsourcing iniative aims to raise P1 million. The funds will be used to create halfway homes for maltreated OFWs. These are shelters where OFWs could receive medical care, counselling, and other forms of assistance.
Susan “Toots” Ople, president of the center, stressed that many of the abused OFWs are women who come from poor families or farflung areas in Mindanao. The halfway homes could be a great help for these women and girls.
Aside from creating shelters, the crowdsourcing activity itself could help OFWs feel closer to home. “OFWs also lean on music when they miss their families,” Ople added. “Music can help ease their homesickness.” (READ: What you don’t know about OFW lives)
“It also gives OFWs a chance to have a sense of ownership over a song that depicts their lives,” she concluded. – Rappler.com
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