Ilocos Norte unveils Migrant’s Monument, honors Ilocano overseas Filipino workers

LAOAG CITY  – The provincial government has unveiled the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument at the rotunda along the airport road here on December 18, 2015 in recognition of the contribution of Ilocano Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the development of the province.

The inauguration coincided with International Migrants Day, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 2000, to recognize the contributions of migrants worldwide. It also commemorates the international convention on the protection of migrant workers’ and their families’ rights.

The event was graced by Governor Imee Marcos, OFW rights advocate Susan Ople, Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdad, Laoag City Mayor Chevyle Fariñas, Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Angelo Marcos-Barba, Rev. Father Ambrose Monroy, officials of local government units, other government agencies, and various OFW organizations.

“Sa wakas, literal na may monumento na rin kayo. Monumento na hindi inaasahan sapagkat sa tutuusin, hindi naman kinakailangan dahil nakaukit ang inyong hirap, pagod at walang katumbas na sakripisyo sa aming mga puso,” said Marcos in a short speech during the inauguration.

POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said that “monuments are not just an expression of gratitude but also a mirror to the soul of the people and I am very proud to say that Ilocanos always are a symbol of hard work, honesty, dedication…but most especially excellence at work.”

“This inauguration of the migrant’s monuments is in addition to the province’s efforts of preserving the rich culture and history of Ilocos Norte and we in OWWA are very happy that you made the overseas Filipino workers a part of your history,” highlighted Calzado.

The Province of Ilocos Norte currently holds the highest percentage worldwide, pegged at 61%, of families receiving financial assistance from overseas

Artist Renato Ong, an artist from Dingras, Ilocos Norte who created the sculptures, revealed that the project portrays the 15 Sakadas – the first wave of Ilocanos migrants to Hawaii in 1900s — who came from Candon City and other towns of Ilocos Sur, pioneering the success and Ilocano greatness across the globe.

“The tallest of the sculpture is 8-foot anatomically and is made out of resin and fiberglass. I really tried to make them look as natural and as heroic as possible, parang tinitingala sila,” added Ong.
Earlier this year, Marcos implemented more lending services for OFWs and a “One Stop Shop” by Kabayanihan in Laoag City for their certification.

With Ilocanos known to be found all over the world, Marcos said that Ilocos Norte’s tagline for 2015, Timpuyog ti Baro nga Ilocano or “Unity of the New Ilocano”, implies nurturing both the province’s social capital and the increasingly globalized identity of its people – beginning with the migrants. (With reportr from Freddie A. Lazaro, PIA, Ilocos Sur and Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO)