The Working Pinoy

Bagong Bayani: Why OFWs are our ambassadors to the world

The formal definition of an ambassador is that it’s a person sent by a country to be its official representative to a foreign country. It may also be a representative or promoter of a specific activity; think of brand ambassadors – they act as the “face” of a brand, and they promote it by sharing their experiences with their following.

While we do have our official ambassadors who work in our embassies abroad, we also have unofficial ambassadors who have been representing our interests and promoting the Filipino way of life for years. As a matter of fact, they’ve even earned the moniker Bagong Bayani – they are no less than our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

When Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) hit the country, some may have noticed foreign aid pour in. This is despite some aid relations that may have soured in the past. Japan, Canada, China, and the European Commission came to our help, just to name a few. The United States is always ready to help. And when you look at the countries around the world where OFWs are stationed, you’ll see that they’re the same names.

One can surmise that these thriving trade, diplomatic, and aid relations are due to the continuously healthy relationship our people have with their hosts. That Filipinos are helpful in the consciousness of the world, probably makes it easy for the world to help us when we’re in need.

Making ripples worldwide

We all know at least one OFW in our direct family – many of us know several. Filipinos are everywhere, because it has become a fact of life for us that some opt for greener pastures abroad.

Filipinos are seen as a hardworking, dedicated, and caring people. We are nurses and doctors, caregivers and nannies, engineers and architects to the world. Every single OFW, an ambassador – of the idea of what it means to be a Filipino, of that fabled warmth and hospitality that we have been known to possess.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during President Duterte’s visit to Jerusalem, extolled the Filipino caregiver through a personal experience. His late father was cared for by a Filipina, who was of “exceptional compassion and intelligence.” She took care of the Prime Minister’s father, and even took care of his uncle’s niece after his father passed.

Who knows, perhaps this lone Filipina may have influenced Israeli leadership to accommodate the Memorandum of Agreement that will lessen, if not completely eliminate, the expensive placement fees that Filipinos pay in order to get a job there. She may not have penned it herself, but she was a direct ambassador to the Prime Minister, who represented every hardworking and compassionate Filipino for which that agreement has been signed for.

It always comes back to family values

The late television personality and celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain is another who is no stranger to the modern-day heroism and heart of Filipinos. In a 2017 article for an episode of his show, “Parts Unknown,” which featured the Philippines, he revealed a very personal relationship that he had with his daughter’s nanny, Vangie.

Vangie cared for Bourdain’s daughter at the start of her life, and much like our relationships with our personal helpers here back home, she became part of their family. Vangie’s grandson even became the best friend of Bourdain’s daughter, who he described as “her older brother in every way but biological.”

More than being just a helper, Vangie represented the idea of the Filipino family to the Bourdains, and brought our culture into theirs. From an ambassador of the Filipino values of charity and hard work, she became an example of that deep sense of community, which borders on the familial, that we Filipinos cultivate with the people closest to us.

We miss our dear OFWs, but we should be happy that they’re out there advocating for us. They are our ambassadors in the purest sense – they represent us to the world, on a personal, day-to-day level, showing the world the best of us as a people. 

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *