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OWWA Expands Coverage of its Seafarers Upgrading Program (SUP)

As part of its commitment to regularly update and improve its programs and services for Filipino seafarers to meet International Maritime Organizations’ (IMO) competency standards, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has added more courses to the list of trainings offered under the Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP).


In its series of consultation-meetings with representatives from the labor and manning groups of the sea-based sector, the following courses were included in the SUP in compliance with the prescribed maritime training courses of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention 2010 Manila Amendments:


1.   Advanced Training for Liquefied Gas tanker Cargo Operations (ATLGT)

2.   Ship’s Catering Services NC 1

3.   General Operator’s Certificate for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System


The courses were added to the existing list of Deck Courses, Engine Courses, Specialized and Safety Courses, and Culinary, Galley and Steward Department offered under the program.


However, the following courses shall no longer be offered under SUP as they have been replaced by updated and advanced versions in compliance with the STCW requirements/competencies:


1.   Specialized Training in Chemical Tanker

2.   Specialized Training in Liquefied Gas Tanker

3.   Specialized Training in Oil Tanker

4.   Messman Course


SUP is a training assistance for member-seafarers for short-term maritime courses, approved by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), to upgrade their knowledge and skills and to ensure their competitive advantage in the global maritime industry.

NAIA now open to GrabCar

Passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will soon be able to book rides with Grab following its official accreditation with the airport management.


The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Grab, a Transportation Network Company (TNC), signed an agreement today which allows GrabCar drivers to pick up passengers from the four terminals of the NAIA.


Both parties agree to have the start of operations on March 14.


Grab is the first TNC to be officially accredited by MIAA, allowing NAIA travellers to book GrabCars to and from the airport.


Grab booths will be placed at designated areas at the terminals where booking agents will assist passengers.


Anyone will be able to book a ride even without a smartphone or mobile data connectivity. Multiple bookings can be made at the Grab booths at any one time to cater to more travellers. Those who wish to book a ride with Grab may also do so using their smartphones.


To better facilitate traffic, passengers and Grab drivers will be prompted to proceed to the Grab booths, which also serve as the pick-up points at the arrival curbside areas.


The pick-up locations are as follows:

Terminal 1

Main Arrival Curbside

Terminal 2

Inner Arrival Curbside between Bays 7 and 8

Terminal 3

Secondary Arrival Curbside between bays 5 and 6

Terminal 4



GrabCar operators will be allowed to enter the arrival areas once it receives a confirmed booking.


MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado thanked Grab for sharing in its goal of enhancing passenger experience at the NAIA.


“MIAA and Grab’s vision are aligned with each other. We fully support the innovation that it brings to our goal of further developing our airports,” Honrado says.


“Since we launched GrabCar in the Philippines in 2014, we have focused on transforming the way Filipinos travel. Our partnership with MIAA takes us one step closer to that goal and will make heading to the next destination more convenient for the 50,000 people that arrive at NAIA daily, especially after a long flight,” says Wee Tang Yee, Country Head of Grab Philippines.


This partnership ensures that NAIA travellers enjoy the highest quality transport service, with the agreement encompassing monitoring and accountability services. Grab will provide MIAA an online platform or a “dashboard” which will allow MIAA to monitor, in real-time, GrabCar vehicles that have been booked from NAIA.


Grab will be covered by the same airport policies on traffic management like other transport providers.

Assist WELL Reaches out to OFWs

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis- Baldoz and OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado personally attend to the needs of OFWs during the DOLE Assist WELL job fair activity held on 10 March 2016 at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Quezon City. The acronym WELL corresponds to W-elfare, E-mployment, L-ivelihood, and L-egal services offered by the Labor Department to OFWs, with the participation of its attached agencies. The government’s Assist WELL Program caters to returning Filipino migrant workers displaced from their jobs due to war, epidemic, calamities, and other critical situations at their worksites. Assist WELL Centers are also located in POEA, OWWA, NRCO, and other DOLE Offices nationwide.


Assist WELL Reaches out to OFWs

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac make the rounds to observe the going-on during the DOLE-led activity dubbed as Assist WELL job fair for OFWs held on 10 March 2016 at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Quezon City. Aside from welfare and livelihood programs extended to returning OFWs by OWWA, POEA offers assistance to OFWs who are interested to find work in alternative jobsites in case of political conflict or other distressful condition in countries where they previously worked.


Assist WELL Reaches out to OFWs

OWWA Deputy Administrator Josefino I. Torres and NCR Director Emma Sinclair guide OWWA personnel as they assist OFWs during the DOLE-led Assist WELL job fair activity which takes place on 10 March 2016 at OSHC in Quezon City. The Assist WELL Center maintains a centralized data base to monitor and coordinate with participating DOLE-attached agencies and other offices on the applications filed by the OFWs concerning assistance they need.



Passengers with flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are once again advised to be at the airport early.


In view of the recent attack in Brussels, the Manila International Airport Authority is on heightened alert to ensure the safety and security of the flying public.


This entails a strict implementation of security measures including stringent screening of vehicles, passengers, and baggage.


Heavy screening may necessarily take more time.


Management apologizes for the inconvenience this may cause especially during this Lenten period of increased travels.


Passengers are, nevertheless, requested to cooperate and understand that security measures implemented at the airport are for the good of the riding public.


Meanwhile, airport security forces have been ordered to be extra vigilant in their duty.


The Airport Police Department is working closely with the PNP Aviation Security Group for surveillance operations.




08 March 2016


OWWA Extends Assistance to 10 Repatriated OFWs from Saudi MMG


The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has extended full assistance to ten (10) OFWs who were repatriated via Etihad Airways 424 on 03 March 2016.


The workers are among the employees of Mohammad Al Mojil Group (MMG) who were stranded at one of their worksites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) after the company experienced financial setbacks in 2014 resulting to non-payment of their employees’ salaries and other benefits.

The OWWA Repatriation Team has provided airport assistance to the workers upon their arrival. Some of them were also accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home. The workers were also offered transportation fare for their on-ward travel to their respective provinces.

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado immediately instructed the concerned OWWA Regional Welfare Offices (RWOs) to attend to the needs of the repatriated workers particularly in facilitating their application for OWWA’s “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay”Program, a livelihood assistance for distressed/displaced workers in the form of starter kits and skills training worth Php10,000.00.

The workers were also briefed on the Assist WELL Program, initiated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Assist WELL is acronym for Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood program for returning OFWs. It intends to provide immediate assistance to repatriated OFWs who are displaced due to war or other distressful situations or economic problems in countries where they work, or are victims of calamities, epidemics, and labor problems.


For the period of January to December 2015, a total of 308 OFWs, employed by MMG, have been repatriated. Thirty (30) workers have been transferred to another company while 575 OFWs are still actively working in various projects and sites of MMG.


This case is being handled and closely-monitored by an inter-agency committee comprised of OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), and Department of Foreign Affairs- Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) in coordination with the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh. xxx

ABS-CBN TFC celebrates milestone victory of Lav Diaz, "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis" at Berlinale

BERLIN, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 23, 2016 - In 2014, the five-and-a-half-hour epic “Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon” (From What Is Before), a film helmed by multi-awarded Filipino director Lav Diaz about what happened to an isolated village when brutal militias roamed the countryside during the Marcos dictatorship, won the much coveted Golden Leopard prize at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.


When the ragtag team of Diaz returned home in the Philippines after winning the biggest honor for the country in an A-list festival, there was no hero’s welcome or festive parade to greet them: the team either took a taxi or rode the bus on the way home.


This lack of national appreciation did not deter Diaz from embarking on another project, this time directing, writing and editing an 8-hour film that starred powerhouse Filipino celebrities like John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Cherie Gil, Angel Aquino, Alessandra De Rossi, Hazel Orencio, Susan Africa, Bernardo Bernardo, and Joel Saracho.  Entitled, “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery), the film was entered in the 66th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) this year. It just won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, in memory of the festival head, “for opening new perspectives on cinematic art.”


Diaz dedicated his win to other film directors who believe that cinema can change the world.


“It is ironic that Lav Diaz is a rock star here in Europe, has won many awards for the Philippines, yet many Filipinos still do not know him, and even more sadly, are unaware of the power of his art, his medium and his message.  Our role in ABS-CBN TFC is to shine the spotlight on the Filipino talent or genius around the world. We want everyone to know the artistry, creativity, and mastery of our directors like Lav Diaz, writers, actors – in this case, ABS-CBN TFC’s very own Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz and the whole Filipino cast - and other cultural heroes.  This is ‘galing ng Filipino’, true Pinoy talent, at its world-class best.  We celebrate this milestone victory of Lav and his entire team. We celebrate the Filipino triumphant talent and spirit here in Berlinale,” said ABS-CBN Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Managing Director Kai V. Rodriguez.


No less than legendary actress Meryl Streep headed the jury that selected the winners.  “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery) was the longest entry in said festival.  The film provided a one-hour lunch break for the audience who came from all over the world.  Loud cheers and a standing ovation greeted it after the screening, which started at 9:30am, ended at 7:00pm.


Set in the 19th century at the period of Philippine revolution against Spanish rule, “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery) focuses on the influence of Andres Bonifacio y de Castro and follows the lives of several groups of people, including Castro’s wife who is searching for his body on a mountain that is inhabited by people from the spirit world.


The film was produced by Ten17P, Epicmedia and Sine Olivia Pilipinas. Executive producer is Paul Soriano, an award-winning director himself, who also shares producer’s credit with Bianca Balbuena.


For more about “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery) at Berlinale, visit

ABS-CBN EMEA Managing Director Kai V. Rodriguez and her team welcomed Lav Diaz and company when they arrived in Europe

Co-stars John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, executive producer Paul Soriano and Lav Diaz

Lav Diaz receiving the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize award

Legendary Holywood actress Meryl Streep, who headed the Berlinale jury, with producer Bianca Balbuena, "Hele" cast members Hazel  Orencio and Susan Africa plus Melo Esguerra



The OWWA Repatriation Team assists 10 OFWs repatriated from Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 03 March 2016.  The returning OFWs are part of the group of stranded workers employed by MMG, a construction company in Saudi Arabia, which experienced financial difficulties in 2014. On-going efforts are undertaken by the officials Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, in coordination with other concerned Philippine NGOs to resolve the workers’ predicaments. Aside from airport assistance, accommodation at the OWWA halfway home, OWWA briefed the workers on the Assist WELL Program spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment.   From January to December 2015, 308 MMG workers were given assistance by OWWA. More workers from MMG are expected to arrive within the next days/weeks.



OWWA Supports Juana Agenda


OWWA joins the nation in the celebration of Women’s Month. This year’s theme, “Kapakanan ni Juana, Isama sa Agenda!” embodies the imperative role of every Filipina in nation-building and that women’s concerns should be included in the government’s development agenda.


OWWA Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Committee, headed by Director Carmelina F. Velasquez set and organized the following activities to support and celebrate the said event:

  • Kick-off activity at the OWWA Multi-purpose Hall
  • Film showing featuring female OFWs
  • Posting of the official National Women’s Month Celebration Streamer
  • Photo collage and exhibit at the OWWA lobby
  • Special sessions and Fora on Gender and Women’s issues
  • Participation to the PCW Public event



In addition to the aforementioned activities, OWWA has also invited Ms. Emmeline L. Versoza, the Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), as guest speaker in its Flag Raising Ceremony on 14 March 2016 at the OWWA Multi-purpose Hall to share her expertise and experience in the area of gender and development.


OWWA’s activities for this year’s celebration aims to increase gender awareness by engaging both the RWOs and overseas offices to conduct GAD activities, continuously support the advocacy and prioritize women’s issues in various agenda, and strengthen the advocacy on National Women’s month to OFWs and their families, with emphasis on OFW women’s issues that still need to be addressed.


Through the years, OWWA has been a reflection of “women in action”. DOLE, as its mother agency, has been headed by a woman, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, who boldly face leaders from countries where we send Filipino workers and fervently pushed for the implementation of bilateral agreements to strengthen the protection of our OFWs. OWWA has also been headed by female Administrators since 2008. Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado has tirelessly devoted her service in ensuring that OWWA’s mandate of protecting the rights and promoting the interest of OFWs are being lived up to.


Female Welfare Officers were also sent to “high-risks posts” in Middle East to ensure more comfortable interaction with our female OFWs. OWWA, thru its regional offices, has also continuously conducted events and seminars to empower female OFWs and their families. Lastly, OWWA’s workforce is comprised of 248 female employees out of the 374 total workers, who passionately serve the OFW sector.



“I salute each and every Filipina who continues to toil abroad and bravely conquers the costs of migration in order to provide better living for her family and contribute to nation building. I also commend all female OWWA employees who are behind the unceasing service to OFWs. And to all men who love and support women, hats off to you”, Administrator Calzado