ENFiD is an active international networking association that hopes to (a) propagate the sense of Filipino “nationhood” away from the home country; (b) inculcate a strong sense of shared destiny and aspirations; (c) act as a catalyst in promoting resolutions to issues and arising problems among Filipinos in Europe.
The name of this European non-profit association shall be European Network of Filipino Diaspora, hereafter referred to as ENFiD.
The names of country associations that will form part of ENFiD shall be European Network of Filipino Diaspora-[country] and be referred to as eg ENFiD-Belgium, ENFiD-Netherlands, ENFiD-Italy, ENFiD-UK and so on.
Our vision is –
a. A Filipino Diaspora community in Europe with a continued and sustained commitment and link to the Philippines, and at the same time fully integrated with the host country. (COMMITMENT AND FULL INTEGRATION)
b. A vibrant and empowered Filipino Diaspora operating ‘glocally’ (globally and locally), whose talent, contribution and potential are recognized and rewarded both in Europe and in the Philippines, cognizant of the future generation of Filipino descent. (PEOPLE)
c. A Filipino Diaspora in touch with its cultural origins and its best traditional values, and how it enriches the diversity of life of the host country. (IDENTITY)
The European Network for Filipino Diaspora will have its Annual General Assembly (AGA) on 16-18 September 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic. With the theme “The Filipino community in Europe facing the challenges while maximizing the potential in the spirit of inclusiveness,” more than 100 Filipino leaders and community members from about 15 European countries and Israel are expected to converge and jointly re-examine the challenges of the past year, look on to the opportunities ahead, and ultimately reinforce the ties of cooperation among Filipinos throughout Europe.
The AGA will start with a Joint Comprehensive Assessment Meeting of ENFiD Board and Country Representatives at the Philippine Embassy in Prague (ENFiD BOD & Country Reps Only), followed by two days of general assembly sessions at the Czech Association of Scientific and Technical Societies. The two-day event is open to all ENFiD and non-ENFiD members, relations, friends and observers. A registration fee of €50 is required to cover the venues, lunch, a certificate of attendance and print materials. Space is limited.
The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success? Have you connected to your fellowmen and learn about the community around? At ENFiD, we believe that we connect to create resolutions on arising issues and we create a stronger and united voice of Filipinos in Europe. Visit ENFiD website and follow us on Facebook !
The European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) is an active international networking association that seeks to cultivate a sense of shared nationhood and cooperation among Overseas Filipinos in Europe. ENFiD is presently represented by correspondent Filcom Affiliates in twenty countries and is active in organizing cultural events, relief operations, focused training workshops, fora for the discussion of issues pertinent to Euro-Filipinos partnering with institutions for greater access to migration issues on culture and development.
Whether you are an individual, leading a community, or a business man, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event with new and bigger network working together to maximize the potential of facing the challenges. If you want to observe or become an ENFiD member, register now for the best weekend of your life!
The European Network of Filipino Diaspora is pleased to present a uniquely Filipino art exhibition at its General Assembly on 17-18 September 2016 in Prague, The Czech Republic. Spearheaded by ENFiD Board Director and art curator Ver Cuizon, the “Filipinism”-themed exhibit will display a special selection of pieces created by renowned Filipino artists. Apart from showcasing the craft of emerging Filipino painters, the networking organisation will run a raffle draw featuring some of the artwork plus items from various ENFiD members and reputable donors.
THE THEME – Filipinism: What Makes Art Filipino
Filipinism is not a new movement in the art scene. It is a way of showing the real identity of the artist into their works as a Filipino. It is the aesthetic conceptualisation on how the Filipino artist’s ideas, heart and soul is injected in every piece. Filipinism in the art world began during the Impressionism period wherein two Filipino visual artists won at the Exposicion National Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain. In 1881 Juan Luna, the first recognized Philippine artist garnered Silver in painting for a piece titled La Muerta de Cleopatra. In 1884, his more popular work Spoliarium won the 1st Gold medal in the same competition while Felix Resureccion Hidalgo’s artwork titled Las Vigenes Cristianas al Populacho got the silver medal. Many noted Filipino artists won international acclaim in the field of visual art like Rene Robles and Rafael Cusi to name a few. The latest who is called “The Juan Luna of our generation” is Max Balatbat who won Silver in the prestigious competition Lorenzo Il Magnifico Award during the 7th Florence Biennale in Florence, Italy in 2009 besting around 3,000 entries from 80 countries.
Assertionism, an art movement with the underlying principle of having the power to assert, transform and transcend, was pioneered by Rene whose work highlights challenging visual perspectives that suggest a sense of reminiscence, melancholy and displacement. His collectors are King Carlos of Spain, Bill Clinton, King Bhumibol of Thailand. One of his brilliant art works worth €1500 will be donated as a grand prize in a raffle draw at the general assembly.
Ernesto Bagtas Jr.
Considered the genius of his generation in the Philippines, Ernesto or “Aris” uses motifs and compositions that are more attuned to Philippine cultural sensibilities. His works are distinctively Filipino which inspire to create a country where family values, traits and traditions are not forgotten. Aris is donating a painting worth €1000 as a grand prize for General Assembly Raffle Draw.
Sherwin Paul Gonzales
Celebrated Filipino artist Sherwin is the originator of “Tareptepism” from the old Tagalog word tareptep, which means “ripple of water”. It outlines the Filipino art style which aims to convert the ripple of Filipino art into waves in the national and global art scene. Sherwin has won 3 consecutive national and international competitions in 2015.
Vincent Christopher Gonzales
Self-taught visual artist Vincent, like his brother Sherwin, are advocates of truly indigenous Filipino art style. Vincent hypothesised that the illusion of motion is what gives worthy paintings impact and created with Sherwin “Tareptepism” based on this principle.
Emmanuel Nim is a prolific artist whose portraiture echoes his love for the human figure and deep concerns for Mother Nature. He is also known for his portraits, human figurative and landscape paintings that usually carries a message that humans are the stewards of mother earth.
Ronna picks female themes of mother and child, grieving Virgin Mary, and gossiping women and stayed close to into the intentional breaking down of subject into near abstract form. She uses subjects of ordinary rural Filipino folks in various activities and projects the raw and pure character of a strong woman, depicting her grandma, mother and herself.
Hardcore abstractionist and feel-good artist Fred Ramirez uses internal landscapes to evoke mental states and emotions. Applying bright splashes of paint and even generous impasto on his canvas, with occasional contrasting blobs for accent – the gifted Leyte-born artist emerges strongly, even defiantly – from the group of realists and surrealists.
Anna Yacat Bader
Anna Yacat Bader is a Filipina living in Vienna whose profession is an art painter. A self-taught gifted artist, she renders using acrylic or watercolor and is inspired by the beautiful sceneries in Austria such as fields, the alps and old buildings. Anna’s work is very much appreciated in Austria and internationally. She started sharing her fascinating work since she moved to Austria over a year ago.
Filipinism: An Art Exhibit that is Truly Filipino
Opening on Saturday 17 September 2016
Exhibition continues until Sunday 18 September 2016
Gallery hours are 9am to 5pm
Venue: Czech Association of Scientific and Technical Societies (CSVTS) Novotného lávka 5, 116 68 Prague 1
On the evening of Friday, 16 September, the Philippine Embassy in Prague led by Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros, will have the 5th ASEAN Film Festival in Prague. The film “Kid Kulafu” will be screened during the Philippine day at the Kino Cinema. AGA participants will be special guests to this special screening, which will be followed by cocktails. The Film Festival is organized by the ASEAN Committee in Prague.
A dinner-fundraising concert and walking tour of Prague will be held on Saturday, 17 September with ENFiD Ambassador of Goodwill, Ms. Stephanie Reese, the Fil-Am soprano famous for her performance as Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in Germany and the very first Filipina to hold a sold-out concert in the famous Carnegie Hall. Stephanie is also the lead star in the musical ‘Marco Polo, An Untold Story’ currently running in London.
An exclusive Filipino-themed art exhibit will also be running during the assembly. Spearheaded by ENFiD Board Director and art curator Ver Cuizon, “Filipinism: What Makes Art Filipino” will display a special selection of pieces created by renowned Filipino artists, showcasing the craft of emerging Filipino painters.
A raffle draw will give away some of the artwork, plus items donated by various ENFiD members and reputable donors, such as two-framed post Haiyan/ Yolanda sketches of Tacloban by Ed Rompal, an artist survivor who recently exhibited his works in London, Filipino woodcrafts, native Filipino wraps, 3 to 7 days free accommodation in Stockhom, Sweden, EcoHotel accommodation in El Nido and Tagaytay, free balikbayan boxes shipping via BCS Vogt Magno from selected countries in Europe to Philippines and many others. Fibre Filipinas, a leading enterprise specializing in piña, abaca and jusi fabrics will be coming straight from Laguna to exhibit and sell Barong Tagalog, shawls, pañuelos, bags, accessories and fibers.
The ENFiD General Assembly will culminate with a Prague river dinner cruise on Sunday, September 18 in a private boat with live music, spectacular sights and wonderful Czech cuisine.
Here’s a glimpse of two guests at the General Assembly who will play vital roles in the plenary and parallel workshop sessions.
What is Gender and Development? Why is gender sensitivity important for migrant communities in Europe?
17 September 2016 10:45-11:00am Plenary Session Guest Speaker: Dr. Lucie Sladkova of IOM Prague
Lucie Sladkova born in Prague the Czech Republic in 1958 studied history and Russian Language and became a teacher. After the democratic change in the country she has joined Immigration Service a Border Police. Within this service the resettlement from BiH in early nineties was organized and during the Kosovo crises she had worked in the refugee camps in Macedonia. Before joining Ministry of Interior she learned a lesson of the fight against human trafficking and smuggling and irregular migration as a scholar of Fulbright scholarship at the University of Maryland. In 2000 Lucie joined IOM and ever since she works as a Head of Mission in the Czech Republic. The IOM programs and projects are responding to the needs of the host country and therefore IOM Prague staff is involved in Migration and Developmnet in Assisted Voluntary Returns, Re-integration back in the countries of origin, Integration of migrants as well as Gender issues. Lucie is married and has two children.
Future generation Euro-Pinoys: A workshop on how to involve second and future generations of Euro-Pinoys
17 September 2016 10:45-11:00am 14:30- 16:00 Parallel Workshops Facilitator: Lenny Bugayong in cooperation with Noi-P
Lenny Kaye Bugayong is the co-founder of the network Network of Integrated Pinoys (Noi-P.) in Switzerland – a group that deals with 2nd generation migrant issues and promotes intercultural exchange between Swiss and Filipinos. She has released several series of short stories on the Filipino migrant identity. Bugayong is a trained linguist and works, among other things, as a registered translator/interpreter for Tagalog in Switzerland. She has also taught Filipino to German-speaking learners from various backgrounds; her experience spans a period of over 15 years and she has released her own teaching materials.
The workshop will be facilitated with the help of other members of Noi-P. and will focus on issues of 2nd generation immigrants in the European diaspora as well as strategies to address them.
The workshop themes are younger Filipino descent in Europe (Euro-Pinoy youth), environment, art and culture and training/education. These themes are the four Project Themes of the ENFiD Two-year Action Pan. In each workshop, the challenges faced, the opportunities that are open and the means to overcome the challenges and ways to maximize the opportunities and concrete actions will be discussed.
The Third ENFiD General Assembly wouldn’t be half as productive and informative without the strong Preparatory Team behind it.
A very special praise and gratitude to the Prague AGA Secretariat and volunteers who are working exceptionally hard in making the coming General Assembly a success. They are looking after all the Pre, Proper and Post conference requirements with unlimited amount of energy, and are ensuring that every need is and will be catered for. We would also like to convey our sincere gratitude for everyone working far beyond the call of duty to meet the logistical, cultural, registration and local IT needs throughout the coming event.
A BIG Thank You to members of the following AGA Committees: Program and Over-all Administration, Logistics, Registration and Reception, Documentation, PR & Communications, Nominations and Election, Food & Beverage, Graphics and Design, Recreation (Walking Tour, Dinner Cruise, Concert, Art Exhibit, Raffle, Souvenir Items), Fundraising and Budget:
Rohlee de Guzman
Richelle Anne Craw
Love Unia Salit
Mary Jane Balgos
Ariel Kitane Funa
Ronald Jay Ventura
Special gratitude to our Assembly guest speakers, artists, workshop leaders, and event organisers:
Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros
Consul Jed Dayang
Emmalyn Liwag Kotte
Betsy Von Atzigen
ENFiD Acknowledges the Support of the Philippine Embassy in Prague and Ambassador Jaroslav Olsa Jr. of the Czech Embassy in Manila
Ambassador Lecaros and Consul Dayang
Ambassador Olsa Jr.
During the 2015 ENFiD Conference in Malta, we were privileged to be personally invited by PE Prague Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros to have the 2016 ENFiD General Assembly in Prague. From the moment we happily accepted the invitation, he and First Secretary and Consul Jed Dayang and other members of their good office have selflessly donated their time and services to prepare for the coming event.
ENFiD would like to take this opportunity to express its heartfelt thanks to PE Prague for hosting the joint meeting of ENFiD Board Members and Country Representatives on 16th September, which will be held at the embassy with a generous helping of lunch and snacks.
On the evening of Friday, 16 September, ENFiD, along with the General Assembly participants, will be special guests to the 5th ASEAN Film Festival in Prague, which is again, a very well organized project by PE Prague and the ASEAN Committee in Prague. A big thank you for this exclusive screening of the film “Kid Kulafu” on the Festival’s Philippine day at the Kino Cinema. Plus – as an added delight – film viewers will end the evening with a social chat over some cocktails.
We would want to convey our sincere gratitude to Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros for accepting to open the General Assembly on the 17th of September. Nothing can beat a warm welcome from the PE Prague Ambassador himself on such a momentous event for the Filipino community.
On top of that, not only are they working far beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of coming general assembly, but PE Prague Ambassador Lecaros, Consul Jed Dayang and other Embassy staff will also participate in the ENFiD General Assembly sessions. Their valuable insights on how to help in ENFiD’s mission to connect Filipinos all over the world will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you once again to the Philippine Embassy in Prague for working exceptionally hard in making the coming general assembly a success.
Incidentally, ENFiD also wants to recognize the assistance of Ambassador Jaroslav Olsa Jr. of the Czech Embassy in Manila in providing Schengen visa to our guest sponsors from the Philippines.
ENFiD is happy to have endorsement from two lovely Ambassadors!!!
PHILIPPINE AND CZECH CONTEMPORARY FICTION AT ITS BEST
1. COMING SOON: ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY PHILIPPINE FICTION TO BE PUBLISHED IN CZECH TRANSLATION
A few of some 30+ anthologies and numerous short story collections is being consulted for a forthcoming anthology of modern and contemporary Philippine fiction to be published in Czech translation by Argo publishing house early next year.
Jaroslav Olša, Jr. is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to the Republic of the Philippines and is also author of books and articles on history, culture and literature of Asia and Africa and historical relations of the non-European countries with the Czech Lands. He also widely wrote about science fiction and edited dozen anthologies of Czech and international science fiction.
2. NOW AVAILABLE – DREAMS FROM BEYOND: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CZECH SPECULATIVE FICTION
The second anthology of Czech science and speculative fiction in history is now freely available. Selected by leading Czech space opera writer and scientist Julie Novakova, whose stories were also published in Clarkesworld and Apex Book of World SF, it mainly features the youngest generation of contemporary Czech genre writers. And a small note for Philippine speculative fiction writers and fans – Julie Novakova also translated Filipino writer Andrew Drilon´s The Secret Origin of Spin-Man into Czech!
Dreams From Beyond is an anthology of Czech speculative fiction freely available in English, edited for Eurocon 2016 (November 4-6, Barcelona). The anthology is free to share for all readers interested in world speculative literature. Showcasing some of the best current Czech SF authors, Dreams From Beyond will take you from the stellar pastures of long-gone mythical creatures through warring future cities and strange alien worlds to the mysteries within ourselves. For more information and to download PDF format of the book click here.
In just a week from now, the third ENFiD General Assembly will be held in the historic city of Prague. After months of preparation, this once-in-a-lifetime event will be a certainty. A hundred community leader- delegates from 17 European countries, Israel and the Philippines are coming together in the City of a Hundred Spires to rekindle the ‘bayanihan’ spirit and to inspire and be inspired by fellow Pinoys who are engaged in in various projects connected under the aegis of ENFiD.
In this age of advance technological infrastructures where contacts through social media is the name of the game, it is amazing to witness the enthusiasm of ENFiD members, friends and relations to come for face-to-face exchanges and connections. A couple of Pinoy professionals and academicians based in Europe and corporate representatives coming all the way from the Philippines, are also coming to this ENFiD event. Having been enthused about what they heard and read about ENFiD and its work among the Euro-Pinoy communities across Europe, it is the first time for these new relations to come and be a part of ENFiD.
ENFiD, in just four years existence, is proving to be effective in linking Filipino community leaders and organisations situated across Europe. There is a growing positive awareness about ENFiD as a serious and ambitious organization that caters to Filipino-Europeans answering to their need to interact with each other, sharing their mutual aspirations, and their willingness to share good practices and provide support to one another where needed. For some, it is comforting and heartening to know that there is ENFiD, a group with an extensive network that links the Euro-Pinoys and at the same time addresses current important issues that affect and influence the lives, the future and circumstances of Euro-Pinoys.
Added-value of ENFiD
This brings me to the key question commonly asked about us: what is the added-value of ENFiD in Filipino community organizing in Europe?
Aside from connecting Filipinos in Europe as stated above, ENFiD embodies the vocal representation of Euro-Pinoys in celebratory events and global tragedies through its Statements. For example on the occasion of the positive ruling of the The Hague Tribunal against China’s unfounded claims of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), ENFiD issued a statement of its jubilance, also on behalf of Euro-Pinoys. Another example is a Statement issued about our vehemence in the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and Turkey and the Statement of concern with the victims of the recent earthquake in Italy.
Through its Two-year Action Plan, ENFiD is promoting the qualitative standards of various development projects in the Philippines as well as activities in Europe that various organisations and individuals linked with ENFiD are supporting and organizing. Where possible we partner with reliable groups in carrying out our projects. An example is our cooperative undertaking with PhilAm Life Foundation, a big development foundation in the Philippines, in building a school in Bohol which was devastated by the earthquake that ENFiD Italy supported.
ENFiD also acts as a platform to connect different Philippine government agencies and Europe-based NGO’s in providing support to kababayans in need. An example is the support to the three truck drivers, victims of human trafficking who first landed in Bratislava and ended up in the Netherlands. ENFiD coordinated with the FNV (a Dutch Labor Union), CoMensha (a Dutch institute supporting trafficking victims), and Migrante (an international alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers) as well as the Philippine Embassy in the Hague. Each organization has its way of supporting and ENFiD took the initiative to connect these organisations so that there will be no overlapping and so each efforts complement each other. This is also less confusing to the truckers because then they know which organization is doing what. This case started sometime in June and is still on-going as of this writing.
At the same time, ENFiD acted as a bridge between POEA and CFO (and through these agencies, also with the OWWA) and one of the victims of trafficking mentioned above, who was repatriated back to the Philippines. These illustrates that ENFiD’s role is important in leveraging the synergy in attending to a common goal of supporting legally, materially and morally, the trafficking victims.
This case illustrates too one of the added-values of ENFiD: that it deals with across-the-border issues like trafficking. ENFiD links the relevant organizations/ institutions with one another thus making the lines of communication shorter and more efficient in delivering the needed assistance. A separate article about this trafficking case is included in this issue.
ENFiD as a Europe-wide network avoids work-overlap with what the existing national and local organisations are already doing. It delineates its scope of engagement from that of the local/ national formations within the Filipino community without losing its operational partnership.
The ENFiD General Assembly in Prague
With the theme, “the Filipino community in Europe facing the challenges while maximizing the potential in the spirit of inclusiveness”, the gathering in Prague will be opened on Friday, the 16th of September with a joint closed-door session of the ENFiD Board and 16 of the 20 ENFiD Country Representatives where key decisions regarding the Membership rules and regulations as well as motions and amendments on the ENFiD Constitution will be made. Other organisational policies, ENFiD’s future course and some pressing organizational matters will also be discussed as well.
The General Assembly sessions follow on Saturday and Sunday, 18-19 September, will include inputs from invited experts like the IOM Prague Director Lucie Sladkova and Atikha Executive Director, Mai Añonuevo and the IOC of CFO, Director Regina Galias. Also presentations, discussions and workshops about gender, Euro-Pinoy youth, the environment and migration and development trends are programmed which will give the participants the chance to gear up and be armed with information which directly affects us as Euro-Pinoy migrants.
But there are also social and cultural sides to this gathering. A film screening, a benefit cocktail dinner concert, a Prague River dinner cruise and an exclusive art exhibit of works of award-winning contemporary Filipino painters are all part of the whole event. For detailed information, a comprehensive write up about the ENFiD General Assembly 2016 in Prague can also be found in this issue.
Many ENFiD members and relations who, for one reason or another, would not be able to come to Prague expressed that they will miss a lot. Well, this might be a little comfort, but we are planning to organize a live streaming and of course updates would be posted in our social media pages plus a news correspondent of The Filipino Channel (TFC) would make a news item about the Assembly. The inputs and workshop results will also be posted in our website.
I hope these updates about ENFiD and the General Assembly wouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the rest of the articles in this issue. In observance of Prague being the host city of the AGA, we devoted a CZ-Fil section to highlight cultural/literary news with Czech Republic-Filipino themes. As usual, you’ll find some hot items which are the talk of the town which the editorial team thinks would be of interest to you. We also included informative articles on migration and development but also news about courses, conferences, job opportunities and scholarships. For this particular issue, we have a special “Brexit section” where you could read the latest (non)developments about UK’s departure from the EU, and two articles on the Post-West Philippine Sea crisis. And don’t miss our entry on ‘On the lighter side section’ which features Mike Bustos’ funny song, a parody of being a Filipino which will really strike a chord!
With these, dear readers, I leave you to enjoy this News & Views issue perhaps as your weekend read?
The European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) Holds Annual General Assembly in Prague, Czech Republic on 16-18 September 2016
The European Network for Filipino Diaspora will have its Annual General Assembly on 16-18 September 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic.
With the theme “The Filipino community in Europe facing the challenges while maximizing the potential in the spirit of inclusiveness,” more than 100 Filipino leaders and community members from about 15 European countries and Israel are expected to converge and jointly re-examine the challenges of the past year, look on to the opportunities ahead, and ultimately reinforce the ties of cooperation among Filipinos throughout Europe.
Participants of the General Assembly will include Filipinos from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. and delegates from the Philippines; Public and Private Agencies and Non-Filipino NGO’s involved in Migration Issues; and Business establishments with Overseas Filipinos clientele.
The AGA will start with a closed-door Joint Meeting of ENFiD Board and Country Representatives at the Philippine Embassy in Prague, followed by two days of General Assembly sessions at the Czech Association of Scientific and Technical Societies which are open to all ENFiD and non-ENFiD members, relations, friends and observers.
Before the closed-door meeting on the 16th of September, Ms. Marketa Hronkova, Director of La Strada Ceska Republika will give a presentation about human trafficking. She was invited by the Philippine Embassy Prague which is hosting the closed meeting where the Board and the Country Representatives will confer on ENFiD membership, motions and amendments on the Constitution, future activities and other organisational matters.
The General Assembly sessions will cover substantive discussion on the current affairs around Europe which will include the Brexit and its effects, the ongoing refugee flow, the recent terrorist threats, and the changes in Philippine administration, particularly the policies around migration and development. There will also be an input on gender followed by an opportunity to discuss its relation to development, plus a presentation of the developments of ENFiD’s activities and course within the framework of its Five Year Strategy Plan and the Two Year Action Plan. For example, the successful Paaralan Project of ENFiD Italy will be presented after which workshop groups will be broken down with the following themes: Euro-Pinoy Youth, the environment, art and culture and education and training. Challenges and opportunities relating to these themes will be discussed in the groups and contributions that Euro-Pinoys can do will also be mapped out.
ENFiD acknowledges the support of the Philippine Embassy in Prague, especially Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros and Consul Jed Dayang.
A registration fee of €50 is required to cover the venues, lunch, a certificate of attendance and AGA materials.
Solving the Phenomenon of Trafficked Filipino Truck Drivers in Europe through a Powerful Synergy of Dedicated Groups Head writer: Vanda Brady; Co-writer: Rohlee de Guzman
Synergy is the cooperative interaction of two or more agents or forces resulting to an enhanced combined effect that is greater than sum of the power achieved by working separately. This is how ENFiD, along with other concerned and passionate humanitarian groups are working hard together beyond the boundaries of their respective countries to help trafficked Filipino truck drivers in Europe.
How it started
In June 2016, a concerned kababayan contacted ENFiD regarding a group Filipino truck drivers who needed urgent help in Venlo, the Netherlands. He reported that they were suffering abuses from a logistics company and that there are 12 Filipino truck drivers who are working there and with no accommodation, receiving heavy verbal and psychological abuses, and is only getting €690 a month. Two years ago, this same man helped these truck drivers to come out from a Latvian/German company that was likewise very abusive. They are Filipino passport holders with working visa in Bratislava, Slovakia, not in the Netherlands, therefore the company in Venlo is only renting the workers, which is a form of illegal recruitment. The company is(Martin Wismans BV).
ENFiD Executive Director Rohlee De Guzman, who was in Manila at that time, asked some ENFiD officers in Holland and Germany to contact the Philippine Embassies, the labor unions, or any newspaper who would pick up this story.
In the Headlines
Unsurprisingly, on Sunday, 18th of June, the story of the 11 Filipino truck drivers in Venlo was the headline of the regional newspaper, De Limburger in Netherlands. It was also in the website of the national news NOS.
The links are in Dutch so here’s a translation:
Eleven drivers employed by transport company Martin Wismans BV work in pitiful situation for a net salary of only €690 per month. They are asked not to abide by rest- and driving time laws. They do not have any accommodation and so they stay for weeks in their truck cabins. The Dutch labor union FNV is going to report this as cases of exploitation and trafficking.
The government agency ISZW, Inspectorate of Social Affairs and Employment, started an inspection of Wismans while the Inspectorate on Habitat (Physical Environment) and Transport is also already involved.
The 11 Filipino drivers employed for the Venlo-based (Venlo is the name of the town) company, get paid way below the Dutch minimum wage. Damages and fines are also deducted from their salaries. The Filipinos were recruited through various ‘shelf companies’ in Slovakia that Wismans contacted. In Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, there is a new group of Filipinos waiting already for 3 weeks, ready to work for Wismans. They said that as long as they do not drive, they do not get paid. One of them said, ” We are not a disposable objects but we do not have a choice. We can only fight and survive. Our families need money”.
Edwin Atema of labor union FNV looked into the matter. The salary and the way these people were treated, this is the most exotic and most poignant case that we have seen so far. From the information that we have now, this is done purely to take away the rights of the drivers and (use them) as an extension of their ignition key to let them drive for a Dutch company. They are chained to their lorry’s in everything, socially and economically. The FNV has no other conclusion than: we have here a case of criminal exploitation of people and of trafficking of persons. The FNV finds this a very poignant case that we are going to do a report (to the police).
The Filipino truck drivers took their visa at the Slovakia embassy in Jakarta. The Philippines has no embassy in Slovakia. They landed in Vienna then they were transported to Bratislava where they were told to come to Holland to work for Wismans, which then exploited them as soon as they started. Their wage is not fixed. They are sometimes paid €400, sometimes €500. In the first months they didn’t get paid. They are made to drive more than the allowable hours and they sleep in the truck cabins in parking places, with no proper housing. They go to toilets in gasoline stations to wash themselves.
Shortage of Truck drivers
As early as 2013, a serious shortage of truck drivers was ascertained. The high costs were passed on to the costumers which is not sustainable for trucking companies as this would eventually scare costumers away. The problem was complicated by the fact that this profession is no longer attractive to young people and the high costs of study to become a professional trucker make it even more unappealing.
Therefore, recruitment was directed to developing countries like the Philippines and are managed from cheaper European countries where labor control and inspection are less strict. Some legal construction obviously is used to make it possible for the drivers to be sent on the road to Western European and Nordic countries although the registration is in formerly East European country.
Here are more links for further information in English:
From the time the news came out until now, several truck drivers, ENFiD, Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) through their AssistWELL (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal Assistance), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Embassy The Hague, FNV (The Dutch Labour Union), Migrante, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO), and members of the church and concerned kababayans– are all working hard together to achieve the following:
1) extend support to the victimized drivers;
2) sensitize the public in Europe and in the Philippines about this phenomenon;
3) inform the concerned institutions/offices so that the abuse, exploitation and inhuman treatment of the drivers be stopped;
4) to ensure the protection of the truck drivers as workers;
5) promote the welfare of the truck drivers according to the EU standard of working conditions and ILO standard of decent work;
6) ensure an efficient regulation and inspection of hiring and deployment;
7) review the bilateral agreements of the countries involved regarding employment and welfare of workers.
ENFiD Board Members, Gene Alcantara and Virgilio Cuizon together with the Honorary Member of ENFiD Germany, Oggie Maristela visited the truckers in their temporary shelter in the north of the Netherlands to bring donations of clothing, food and money and to document their story.
Here is the news item about them aired on July 19, 2016 at TFC:
Stopping the Onset of Trafficking
Lex Sumampong was the first truck driver to report the case of trafficking. Sadly, and ironically, his case was rejected. His two companions, Joseph Reyla and Cirilo Melanub were able to get the B8, which is a temporary permit to stay while the case about the trafficking is on-going. Lex was expatriated on August 19 and was back in Manila on August 20, 2016. His safe arrival was coordinated by ENFiD with the POEA and the CFO where he was immediately assigned to one of the case officers to determine how to proceed with his case/complaint and other assistance that could be extended to him.
ENFiD requested help from POEA’s Licensing and Regulation Department to find new employment for Lex, the reason being:
1) his case is a precedence for other truckers still in Europe who,neven if they want to file cases, are afraid because they don’t want tonlose their employment, just like Lex;
2) To be able reassure trafficked truck drivers that they don’t necessarily become double victim (first trafficked and then losing their employment), which will then motivate the other truckers to come forward and file a case against trafficking and not just accept the inhuman treatment that they are
3) providing Lex with new employment also gives a signal to the traffickers that they are not the ‘gods’ in this trade and that other means of employment can be acquired.
Joseph Reyla and Cirilo Melanub can stay in Netherlands while the case of trafficking against their employer is on-going. Once it is finished, the law requires them to leave too unless they find new employment there, either as truckers or with other profession. Since there is high unemployment in the Netherlands and they are required to have Code 95 (a special license/ permit for European truckers) which they currently don’t have, it might not be possible for them to get new employment too. However, ENFiD and Migrante continue to assist them in looking for proper housing (as they are still in their temporary shelter at the Asylum Seekers Center) and for a job. In the meantime, they get social money from the Dutch government.
As of this writing, in the Philippines, Lex attended the first day of hearing at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with a case representative of CFO. They are waiting for the Embassy of Vienna to sign documents from Wismans which contains their case against Lex. Lex is demanding a copy of his employment contract to prove that he never received his full salary since he started working for them. The next hearing is on September 23.
To ENFid, POEA, CFO, and the other organizations mentioned who are devoted to the promotion of human welfare, keep up the good work! Without your combined effort, Lex and his fellow truck drivers would have never been heard.
Filipino truck drivers of Dino Trans, Lübeck Germany