Bernardo M. Villegas
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OFWs As Multitasking Talents

           In late 2008, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the Great Recession went from bad to worse, there were prophets of doom who predicted that there would be a precipitous decline in the dollar remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers to the Philippines. The dire forecasts were based on the premise that as the host countries experienced serious economic difficulties, OFWs would be sent home, together with other overseas workers.  True enough, many overseas workers were sent home from Europe and the Middle East.  Surprise, surprise!  There was no decline in the employment of Filipinos all over the world.  Remittances continued to rise at a constant rate of 3 to 5% annually.  Through thick and thin, Filipino workers continue to be in demand in more than 100 countries all over the world.

          What is the secret of OFWs?  There are many answers.  They are always smiling and give tender and loving care, especially in such personal services as nursing, care giving, waitering, etc.  They are good in learning foreign languages, having been born multilingual in their home country.  They practise good hygiene, having the habit of taking a bath every day, not very common among other overseas workers.  One answer I got from hotel managers in the Middle East is that they are multi-talented.  They can be assigned different tasks and they are able to perform.  A Filipino driver can also be a mechanic, a tourist guide or a valet.  One example I heard more than once is that a Filipina chambermaid can go from cleaning rooms in the morning to singing like Celine Dion in the restaurant’s lounge in the evening.  No better person illustrates the last example than Rose Fostanes, the X Factor Israel 2013 Grand Champion, who will be performing at the Music Museum in Greenhills on February 26, 2015, thanks to the Embassy of Israel.

          Rose Fostanes was born in Taguig, Rizal.  At the age of 23, she left the country to work in Egypt, then Lebanon and finally as a foreign caregiver in Israel for an ailing woman in her 50s.  In Israel, by day she was a caregiver. By night, she was the lead vocalist of a band that performed in a small bar in Nueve Sha’anan, Tel Aviv.  On October 25, 2013, she auditioned for X Factor, a talent show in Israel.  She sang Shirley Basey’s song “This Is My Life.”  All the four judges gave her a “Yes” vote.  She then performed again during bootcamp, receiving a standing ovation from all the contestants.  She made it to the top 20 and was assigned Shiri Maimon, a famous Israeli singer, as mentor.  She was the winner of the first season of the X Factor Israel.  She then went from one singing success to another.  On November 23, 2013, she performed at a charity event, “Concert For A Cause For Typhoon Yolanda” in Haifa, Israel, organized by the OFWs in Israel Organization.  On April 10, 2014, she signed a record contract with Star Records to release her music material in the Philippines.  Her Philippine debut album, “My Way,” was released on June 8, 2014.

          In one of her international engagements in Sydney, Australia, Violi Calvert wrote in a local newspaper:  “Some things are meant to happen no matter what.  Despite great odds along the way, if the universe has scripted it, there’s no stopping them from becoming a reality.  This pretty much sums up the fairy tale story of Rose ‘Osang’ Fostanes, a 46-year-old caregiver Filipina who won in January 2014 the inaugural season of X-Factor Israel.  Osang shares similar story as Susan Boyle, a Scottish singer who at the age of 48 won Britan’s Got Talent in 2009 and has not looked back.”  There are thousands of “Osangs” among the millions of OFWs all over the world.  I have no doubts that Filipinos and Filipinas will dominate the world’s entertainment industry as more countries discover the hidden talents of our multi-tasking OFWs.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.