Friday, September 4, 2015

Heroes for Better: Western Union's Way of Honoring Filipino Migrants

I know how hard it is for a family member to be away from their respective families just to give them a decent living here in the Philippines.  I have a lot of relatives who are working abroad just to provide the basic needs of their own families.  Being away from the family also poses some risks; some may be unlucky to be working with a cruel employer, getting an inhumane treatment and sometimes ending up in a coffin.  

What I like about Filipinos working abroad is that they take care of each other.  They form support groups and communities.  When someone is in need, they come to the rescue.  

After months of searching for Filipino migrants who had made an outstanding difference in making a positive impact in the community, The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a leader in global payment services, announced last August 24, 2015 the top 25 Filipino migrants who are living proof that Filipino migrants are indeed our modern day heroes.  The search is called "Heroes for Better".




Western Union had deemed it important to recognize heroic efforts of Filipino migrants, especially during Filipino Heroes Day, to affirm their invaluable contribution to their families, communities, and the country.  The migrants did not just send the money back home; they had also given pride to the Filipino community with their successful missions.

Patricia Riingen, Senior Vice President of Western Union South East Asia and Oceania, said, "Heroes for Better campaign celebrates lives of migrant Filipinos, their work and their personal advocacies because they were the ones who were courageous enough to run after their dreams and in fact, they even took it further by fulfilling other people's dreams.  The campaign does not just recognize and tell their stories, it also provides them a platform to inspire others to pay it forward."


Patricia Riingen, Senior Vice President of Western Union South East Asia and Oceania


The 25 Filipino migrants who were given Heroes for Better recognition are the following:


  • Eddie Vega -- ambassador for Soles4Souls, a charity organization collecting new and gently worn shoes from shoe companies and individuals for donation to the world's underprivileged children.
  • Nestor Puno -- a missionary who teaches in a small school for Filipino and Filipino-Japanese children who cannot enter regular schools due to their status of stay.
  • Nilo Beltran -- founder of Skills Caravan, a non-profit organization which provides free technical skills workshops to jail inmates, out of school youth and unemployed members of underprivileged communities in the Philippines.
  • Adelaida Saito -- established the "Ishinomaki Haway-Kamay", an organization that organizes fund-raising events to help people in Japan and in other parts of the world who are experiencing emotional/social/economic devastation made by natural calamities.
  • Edmond Corpuz -- founded the "Black Pencil" project, which helped bring school supplies to 1,200 school children in rural areas.
  • Nanette Carillo -- initiated setting up the Pinoy Street Children and Orphan's Trust (SCOT), a charitable nonprofit organization based in Auckland, New Zealand.  Several projects of SCOT are to provide scholarship and conduct feeding programs to street children in various places in Bulacan, Batangas, Caloocan City, and Antipolo City.
  • RJ Garcia -- founder of The Appledrive Project, a campaign to educate indigent kids in both rural and urban areas in the Philippines to advocate a healthier lifestyle by eating apples, instead of candies or chocolates.
  • Agnes Granada -- co-founded Migrant Action Trust which provides services for migrants in New Zealand.  They provide support for funding applications and acquittals, accounts and day-to-day issues.
  • Mauro Oreta -- created an online group called "AKInzPINOYS", a vehicle for New Zealand migrants to share their experiences on job seeking, house hunting, settlement and visa processing.
  • Vangie Jorquia -- founder of Addicon Organization which is helping schools in the Philippines.  She mounts her own fund raising events to support her school medical missions.
  • Consorcia de Leon-Scholtz -- founder and president of World Mission for Peace and Development (WMPD), a non-profit organization established in 2000. 
  • Jay Jaboneta -- his advocacy "Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids" has raised money to buy bright new yellow boats for kids in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga, who had to swim to get to school everyday.
  • Vincent Benares -- radio broadcaster who started Pinoy Tayo, Sanman.  Its goal is to inform and entertain the hundreds of thousand of Filipinos in Hong Kong.  
  • Edna Dorado -- factory worker who established her own agency to service the same factory.  She helped and hired so many Filipinos primarily the jobless and those who need an employer to regularize their stay in Italy.
  • Mary Jane Al-Mahdi -- she the CEO of Geoscience, a leading testing laboratory in the United Arab Emirates.  She is also one of the founders of the UAE-based Filipino Digerati Association (FDA).  FDA hopes to give better job opportunities to Filipinos living in the UAE.
  • Hengie Taton -- he does different charitable activities that cater to the needs of Filipinos in the Middle East.  Through his active involvement in several organizations such as Pinoy Ambulance Nurses in Kuwait (PANIK) and the Pinoy Nurses Association-Kuwait (PNA-K), he has helped many distressed Filipino workers recover from their grim experiences.
  • Mario Balboa -- organized Philippine Council of Engineers and Architects -- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (PCEA-KSA).  Its main objective is to promote and showcase to the highest standard--the skills, talents, credentials and qualifications of Filipino engineers and architects for global recognition and competitiveness.
  • Alexis Belonio -- created a low-cost cooking stove (rice husk stove) designed to help poor people have access to hot meals.
  • Benette Cueto -- one of the founding members of the Oriental Mindoro Association Qatar (OMAQ), an organization created primarily to assist distressed Filipinos in Qatar.  She also started granting scholarships to few deserving student from her hometown in Oriental Mindoro.
  • Ma. Theresa Bautista -- helped a lot of Filipina harrassment victims out of the goodness of her heart.
  • Armand and Bing Serrano -- a talented Filipino animator who has worked for some of the biggest companies in the world of animation, for more than two decades.  Together with his wife, they set up a foundation called ICON to provide humanitarian aid and conduct international conferences to upgrade the skills and knowledge of future animators and artists.
  • Judith Gonzales -- former caregiver who assisted not only the caregivers but also the new Filipino migrants who are not that fortunate.
  • Nilda Cochrane -- opened an orphanage in Sorsogon called Oasis Christian Children's Home, caring for 23 orphans for their education and well-being.
  • Cecilia Orola Czech -- president of Babaylan-Austria, which conducts project for the benefit of Filipino women.  She also helps streetchildren, impoverished families and students in the Philippines
  • Asma Vilmonte -- founded the OFW Council of Leaders in collaboration with the Filipino Community Leaders in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  Its purpose is to help distressed Filipino workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in terms of their health, security, safety, finances, and moral upliftment.

During the press conference last Monday, August 24, 2015, three (3) Heroes for Better awardees were present--Nilo Beltran, Edmond Corpuz, and Nestor Puno.  They all shared their experiences on their respective causes, their future plans, and their thoughts about the current Philippine economy.  

Nilo Beltran, Edmond Corpuz, and Nestor Puno


I feel honored to be part of the launch of Heroes for Better campaign of Western Union.  Meeting these people who are making a change in our society is indeed a humbling experience.  


Hand in hand, let's work together on building a nation of heroes!


Learn more about inspiring stories of the top 25 Filipino migrants by visiting wuheroesforbetter.org.