Listen to OFWs, refugees who left because of love – Tagle

Mara Cepeda
Listen to OFWs, refugees who left because of love – Tagle

Angie de Silva

'Kilalanin sila.... Sa kanilang paglisan, sana hindi sila mag-isa. Samahan sila sa paglalakbay,' says Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and refugees leave their homes every day for the ones they love. But they do not need to take that that journey alone, said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. 

In his homily during the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, March 29, Tagle talked about the difficulties OFWs and refugees encounter when they leave their homes. (READ: Tagle: In Philippines, love can separate families

He said they sacrifice many things to be able to provide a better life for their families, including suffering from abuse, maltreatment, and the constant longing for the loved ones they left behind.

According to Tagle, this is why people should spend time listening to the stories of OFWs and refugees.

Makiisa ka sa paglalakbay ng napakaraming tao. Kilalanin sila. Hawakan ang kanilang kamay. Makipag-usap sa kanila. Pakinggan ang kanilang kuwento at baka matuklasan natin hindi sila iba sa atin,” said Tagle. 

(Share the journey being undertaken by many others. Know who they are. Hold their hands. Talk to them. Listen to their stories and you may discover that they are not different from us.)

Sila ay kapatid. Sila ay kamanlalakbay. Sa kanilang paglisan, sana hindi sila mag-isa. Samahan sila sa paglalakbay,” he added.

(They are our brothers. They are travelers like us. When they leave, may they not be alone. Join them in their journey.)

A love beyond self

The Holy Thursday Mass remembers Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. In his homily, Tagle  likened the love OFWs and refugees have for their families and communities to the love Jesus showed in the Gospel.

“‘Yan po ang pag-ibig na ating ginugunita sa ating Eukaristiya. ‘Yan ang pag-ibig na handang lumisan sa honor, posisyon, karangalan [para] maging lingkod, walang ibang hanap kung ‘di mahalin ang kapwa,” said Tagle.

(That’s the love our Eucharist is remembering. It’s the love ready to leave honor and position to be of service a love that seeks nothing else but to love others.)

Tagle also reminded the public of the kind of love they should aspire for – a love beyond self.

Mga kapatid, ang pag-ibig ay walang katapusang paglisan, pag-alis sa sarili. Ang hindi handa na tumawid, umalis, lisanin ang kanyang sarili, hindi marunong magmahal,” he said. 

(My brothers and sisters, love is a never-ending departure, a departure from oneself. Someone who is not ready to cross and leave behind himself or herself does not know how to love.)

Tagle led the Washing of the Feet rites, a symbol of Christ’s command to love one another, during the Holy Thursday Mass. (READ: The washing of the feet: A lesson in humility and service)

He washed the feet of rescued Marawi priest Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub as well as Crisanto and Eva Demafelis, parents of the late OFW Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait. 

The Manila archbishop also washed the feet of 9 other migrants, refugees, and displaced peoples. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.