The Philippine Embassy in Berne convened the Annual Meeting of the leaders of various Filipino organizations in Switzerland on January 11.
In his welcome message, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja expressed appreciation to the leaders for the full support and cooperation they have always extended to the Philippine Embassy. In particular, he thanked the leaders for their support during the visit of President Benigno Aquino III to Switzerland in January 2013 to attend the World Economic Forum; and their positive and immediate response in giving assistance to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and the Bohol and Cebu earthquake.
Ambassador Baja commended the Filipino community for their various fund-raising activities for the typhoon victims, which generated approximately CHF 500,000.00 (Php 2.5 million). He commented that the outpouring of support from the Swiss and the international community stemmed from the excellent reputation Filipinos have earned as overseas workers, their dependability, honesty and trustworthiness.
He called on the leaders to maintain the spirit of unity, particularly amidst the challenges that currently beset the country, and to rise above the challenges they face as a migrant community. He also stressed the importance of being able to integrate into the Swiss society as it opens windows to more opportunities.
Organizers of the 2013 Philippine Independence Day in Zürich reported on the outcome of the event while the Geneva organizing committee also gave a briefing on the ongoing preparations for the 2014 Philippine Independence Day, which will bear the theme, “Pinoy ka, Saan Man, Kailan Man”, and will be held on June 7.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Geneva likewise gave a presentation on their programs and projects which include OWWA membership, issuance of overseas employment contract certificate, and verification of employment contract, and entrepreneurial programs for returning migrants.
The leaders were also briefed on the current migration-related programs between the Philippines and Switzerland such as those on the au pair and trainees, both of which help provide employment opportunities in Switzerland for young Filipinos. The Embassy also provided a briefing on the 2014 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas and called on the leaders to submit their nominations.
In his closing message, Ambassador Baja reminded the leaders that they are all “ambassadors” of the Philippines to Switzerland and whatever they do and how they behave will be the image of the Filipino nation that will be projected to the Swiss public. He called on the leaders to continue to uphold the good image of the Filipino migrant community and at the same time, assured them that Team Philippines-Switzerland always stands ready to assist them in their needs to the best that it can.
The leaders also expressed their appreciation to the Philippine Embassy for inviting them to the meeting and for its “open door” policy towards the Filipino community.
The event, which was attended by almost 50 leaders, was the third under Ambassador Baja’s term. Also present during the meeting were officials from the Philippine Consulate General and POLO office in Geneva.