Being away from your family and loved-ones brings unimaginable sadness. Imagine this struggle that our OFW's need to face every day as they perform their duties in different countries missing every event with their families.
I still remember when I was an OFW in Hong Kong, despite my everyday struggle in missing my family, I always think of their future and that makes me stronger. Providing them what they need and sending money to my loved ones back in the Philippines gives me satisfaction from all the sacrifices I made abroad, and of course, sending the hard-earned money requires a trusted remittance partner where I can ensure that my family will receive it safely, and that's where BDO partner establishment helped me.
Experts in the Philippines and other countries have been warning us: along with the wave of COVID-19 infections would be a wave of mental illness. There’s no avoiding that: people are anxious, afraid, and many have lost jobs and face an uncertain future.
Add to that our collective isolation, loneliness, and dread. Overseas Filipinos (OFs) are particularly vulnerable. Actor Piolo Pascual is among those calling for more support for OFs during the pandemic.
He said that overseas Filipinos are already under a great amount of pressure as they face tough emotional, physical, and financial challenges. It’s not surprising then that some of them would have mental health issues.
“For decades, our economy benefited from billions of dollars in remittances. At this time, it’s our turn to give back and support OFs now that they are going through both a pandemic and an economic downturn,” said Piolo.
OF roles in movies, TVCs Piolo has played several OF characters in various dramatic films it’s a role that he also knows in real life because he used to be a security guard in Los Angeles, California before he achieved Philippine movie stardom. Recently, it was revealed that he again played versions of these characters in three new videos that will be shown in BDO branches, on BDO’s YouTube channel, and the BDO Kabayan Facebook page.
The commercials are light-hearted spin-offs or even slight spoofs of classic scenes in his movies “Milan” (with Claudine Barretto) and “Starting Over Again” (with Toni Gonzaga).
As the videos’ release coincides with OFs’ present situation, they take on more significance and meaning in Piolo’s view.
“Mahilig ang mga Pinoy sa drama eh. Pero pati comedy rin. Etong mga videos, parang pinagsama yan tapos may twist. Yung pangkalahatan na mensahe ng video ay kailangan natin ngayon: yung kasiyahan at pag-asa. “Ang drama natin ngayon, real life. Pandemic.
Lost jobs. Quarantine. Sandaang araw na itong drama. Hindi kagaya ng drama sa pelikula, two hours lang. So we need relief, we need to feel lighter, to see that we can still smile. Ma-realize lang natin na, oo nga, okay pa rin tumawa, magsaya. Na meron pa ring pag-asa. May solusyon. We can always find ways,” said Piolo.
Reaching out, getting help Piolo said that the most important thing that OF's need to remember is to reach out for help.
“Marami kasi sa atin, may tendency to keep things to ourselves. Masyado tayong matiisin. Akala natin puntos para sa atin yung magdusa. No, it’s not. Kung malungkot ka, o masama ang loob, call a friend. Makipag-usap sa kapamilya. Wala namang award na ibibigay sa iyo kapag sinarili mo ang problema mo. Nagiging delikado lang lalo ang mental health mo,” he said. He also reminded OFs not to hesitate to get professional help if needed. “There’s still a stigma over mental health.
Sa panahon ngayon, hindi na dapat ikahiya ang mental illness. Tratuhin natin na tulad lang ng ibang sakit sa katawan.” He noted that there’s no shame in getting help to be better in our minds and emotions.’
Piolo added that people should be more empathetic and compassionate.
“Pag may lumapit sa atin dahil nalulungkot, o may problema. Huwag balewalain. Sometimes, we say, ‘Kaya mo yan!’ pagkatapos iiwanan natin.. Hindi sapat yun. Huwag natin iwanan. Samahan natin tapos pakinggan natin.Hindi naman kailangan tayo ang mag-solve ng problema. Basta maiparamdam natin na hindi siya nag-iisa. Na nandon tayo to support him or her.” Call for bayanihan Piolo added that the new videos show precisely how to help.
“In all the videos, mapapansin mo na kahit light and funny ang approach, malinaw ang mensahe: kapag ang kapwa Pinoy ay nasa alanganin, kapwa Pinoy ang tutulong. Hindi naman kailangan na solohin natin ang problema. Ang lakas ng Pilipino, nasa pagtutulungan, bayanihan. Especially during this pandemic, which is a huge, global problem, we need to call on the best in ourselves and help each other,” he said.
In one video, “Starting Over There”, a desperate man (named Marco Villanueva, played by Piolo) chases after a taxicab in the rain, calling after “Ginny” (the character played by Toni Gonzaga in the original film). It is implied that similar to the film, Ginny is leaving Marco to work abroad.
We then realize that Marco is doubly desperate as he kneels in the rain because Ginny seems to have left with his ATM card. He says that he needs it to access a remittance. Then a twist happens when an old woman, hair done in curlers, finds Marco as he fumbles in his pockets. Marco sees the ATM card was in his pocket all along.
Amidst this pandemic, let us remember to check with our loved ones abroad and let them feel the gratitude and love that they need to stay strong and positive even if they are far away from us.