Nurse-turned-politician, ex-seaman bag R-12 Model OFW Family awards

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 October) – A nurse who survived the 1990 Gulf War and a seaman-turned-entrepreneur from North Cotabato have been chosen as 2010 Model OFW Family of the Year (MOFYA) awardees for Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao).

Abdulghani Umag, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-Region 12 director, yesterday said former Kuwaiti hospital worker Ma. Belen Sabio and retired seaman German Collado stood out in this year’s MOFYA regional search, which recognizes the achievements of OFWs and their families.

“They serve as role models and inspiration to the OFW community in their respective areas and in the entire region,” he said.

Sabio and Collado, both residents of Midsayap town in North Cotabato, were declared winners in land-based and sea-based categories, respectively, out of the four 2010 MOFYA finalists from various parts of the region.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Sabio, a registered nurse-turned-politician, worked at a hospital in Kuwait from 1987 to 1990 and personally experienced the risk of being in the middle of a major conflict when Iraqi troops invaded the oil-rich state in August 1990.

The invasion, which led to the Gulf War, was ended seven months later by a United States-led United Nations military coalition.

“I was a survivor of the Gulf War and that was a very difficult situation for us OFWs then. But I have no regrets,” said the 49-year-old Sabio, who completed her three straight terms as councilor of Midsayap last May.

After spending four years as a nurse in Kuwait, Sabio returned home for good to attend to a family business venture.

Over the years, she focused her attention on socio-civic works and other activities within her community that later ushered her to run for a seat in the municipal council of Midsayap.

“This (award) is very inspiring for me. I hope this will encourage other OFWs to give more attention to their families and at the same time go out and touch the lives of other people in any way they can,” Sabio said.

On the other hand, sea-based MOFYA winner Collado said he shares his award to all fellow seafarers from the region that are currently working in the vessels plying the lonely, open seas just to provide for the needs of their families.

The 49-year-old Collado worked for 17 years as a seaman before retiring in 2001 to focus on some business ventures.

Along with his wife Fely, German initially opened a buy and sell business and later went into beauty parlor, Internet Café and gasoline station ventures.

“Through my earnings as an OFW, I was able to send my children and some relatives to school,” said Collado, who is also actively involved in various community initiatives in his locality.

Lawyer Ma. Gloria Tango, Department of Labor and Employment-Region 12 director, described the lives of the two regional MOFYA winners as very inspiring and worthy of emulation by their fellow OFWs.

“I hope that this will encourage our OFWs to even work harder and in the process make sure that their families remain intact, their children growing up as model citizens and get involved in various community initiatives,” she said.

The two regional winners received a G-cash worth P20,000 from Globe Telecoms and P10,000 Savings Account at Banco De Oro and trophies.

Tango, who chaired the 2010 MOFYA regional search, said the two winners will represent Region 12 for the national awards, which will pit two regional winners from each of the country’s 17 regions.

Aside from the declaration of two national winners, the 2010 MOFYA organizers will confer special awards for outstanding achievement in community projects and outstanding achievement in entrepreneurship. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)