OFWs, meet your new labor attachés

Don Kevin Hapal

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OFWs, meet your new labor attachés
At a seminar organized by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, 8 new labor attachés present their credentials to the OFW community

MANILA, Philippines – Some of them may seem young but regardless of age, they maintained that they are all capable of taking on the challenge of looking after the country’s modern-day heroes scattered around the globe.

This is the message of the new labor attachés of the Department of Labor and Employment, who were presented to the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) community in a seminar organized by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institution in cooperation with DOLE on Thursday, April 8.

Participants from OFW groups and recruitment agencies couldn’t help but notice how young-looking some of the new labor attachés were. The 8 new labor envoys, mostly from the private sector, all took the stage to present their credentials as well as their “outside” experience that, they said, would help them bring a different perspective to DOLE.

Macy Monique Maglanque – Assistant Labor Attaché to Singapore

ASSISTANT LABOR ATTACHE TO SINGAPORE. Macy Monique A. Maglanque.

Macy Monique Maglanque graduated from De La Salle University in Manila, and earned her masters degree from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. She has a “background on human resource, real estate, and construction.” According to her linkedin profile, she is a licensed real estate broker, was the president and CEO of MacyMonique Property Ventures, Incorporated; and the co-owner of Nic & Mace Trading. 

Marie Rose Escalada – Labor Attaché to Tokyo, Japan

LABOR ATTACHE TO TOKYO. Marie Rose C. Escalada.

Marie Rose Escalada has a background in government service, human resources, and the academe. But her real strength, she said, comes from her own experience as an OFW. Escalada said she has lived in Japan for some time, giving her a deep insight into the issues faced by Filipino workers there.

Escalada asked the OFW community to join the government’s one-country team approach (OCTA).

Fidel Macauyag – Labor Attaché to Jeddah

LABOR ATTACHE TO JEDDAH. Fidel A. Macauyag.

Fidel Macauyag, a lawyer, graduated from the University of the East and worked for the Commission on Audit (COA) in 1995. He practiced law for 8 years, focusing on labor issues. He then worked as a state prosecutor, provincial prosecutor, then city prosecutor in Cagayan de Oro City for 9 years prior to his latest appointment. He brings to the job his understanding of the Islam faith, being a Muslim himself; as well as the life of an OFW,  coming from an OFW family.

“I can dance with the music of the Arabs…[because] I know about their culture, especially their religion,” he explained.

Maria Corina Buñag – Labor Attaché to Milan, Italy

LABOR ATTACHE TO MILAN. Maria Corina P. Bunag. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

Maria Corina P. Buñag obtained her Management Economics degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo Law School. She headed a multinational BPO company with around 5,000 employees. Bloomberg’s executive profile database shows that she has years of corporate experience.

Buñag was the director and corporate secretary of F-I-R-S-T Carbon Solutions Corporation, as well as of Pharma KPO Coproration and ADEC Group Philippines Corporation. She also served as a director for Maria Victoria Realty Development Corporation and Blue Pearl Management and Development Corporation. 

She said she’s excited to take on her new role as labatt “with a multi-stakeholder approach,” acknowledging that she had a lot to learn from the OFW community. 

Celeste Marie Ramos – Labor Attaché to Toronto, Canada

LABOR ATTACHE TO TORONTO. Celeste Marie T. Ramos.

Toronto’s new labatt, Celeste Marie Ramos, has a science background. Ramos has a degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. She aims to use technology to help streamline the information flow within the department as well as with the many agencies they work with.

“As you all know, the processes are often long and every step costs money for everybody….A better technological infrastructure can help with this,” she said.

During the the seminar, Ramos defended the choice of people from the private sector, saying they can help bring in fresh perspectives to DOLE. “One of the benefits of coming from the outside is our standard of moving things along. We want things to go efficiently and faster and we see the holes and gaps that we can change.”

Haney Lynn Gerona Siclot – Labor Attaché to Rome

LABOR ATTACHE TO ROME. Haney Lynn Gerona Siclot.

Rome’s new labatt might be young but she’s got big plans for OFWs. Haney Lynn Gerona Siclot is a nursing graduate of the University of San Carlos in Cebu, where she later got her law degree. Siclot focused on labor, civil, and corporate law. She also worked for the Clark Green City Project, tasked with getting institutional partners.

My expectation in Rome is that it’s not much a problematic city as I’ve heard, but it’s a good testing ground for new policies to empower OFWs, [especially] since Europe has a really good labor system,” she said during the forum.

Labor Secretary Sylvestre Bello III said that she is a distant relative of his wife, Regina Gerona.

Angelica Sunga – Assistant Labor Attaché to Lebanon

ASSISTANT LABOR ATTACHE TO LEBANON. Angelica M. Sunga.

A graduate of the University of the Assumption, Angelica Sunga worked as community nurse for the expanded program for immunization and labor and delivery. Sunga was also an OFW herself, having worked as an administrative staff and then as a human resource executive for a healthcare company in Dubai.

I was once an OFW so I know po kung ano ang makakatulong sa mga kababayan natin (I know what can help our countrymen). And then we can work together to protect their welfare,” she said. 

Jesus Vicente  “Jobo” Magsaysay II – Assistant Labor Attaché to Abu Dhabi

ASSISTANT LABOR ATTACHE TO ABU DHABI. Jesus Vicente  "Jobo" H. Magsaysay II.

Jesus Vicente Magsaysay II comes from an influential political family in Zambales. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Master’s degree in public administration. The son of former Zambales 1st District representative Mitos Magsaysay, he ran but lost in the Zambales congressional race in 2013.

In 2007, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him as a board member of the  Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. He also worked as a business development officer and vice president for various private companies, and was an expert consultant to the Solomon Islands’ government. 

He said he brings to the DOLE his skills in policymaking to give justice to the hard work of OFWs who give so much to the Philippine economy.

“My expectations for this job – I know this is a hard job…hindi ka sisikat (you won’t get famous) as a hero or anything. Kailangan mo gawin trabaho mo nang hindi ka malagay sa diyaryo (You need to do your job so you won’t end up in newspapers),” he said. “I took this job… because my background is policymaking, and the only way to make good policies is to experience the job itself. I want to help.”

Toward the end of the seminar, members of the OFW participants gave the new officials advice on their jobs, among them, that they should make themselves accessible to OFWs at all times, and they should be open to community feedback.

Susan “Toots” Ople, who heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said they organized the seminar to get to know the new labor attachés. Ople said they’ll do their best to cooperate with them and monitor their performance.

“Because they’re all new, they have to learn a lot of things on the ground on a speedy manner. We will give them a honeymoon period, of course, and I think they all want to do a good job,” she said. – Rappler.com

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.