The logo of Migrante International is known and recognized worldwide –it shows a group of migrant Filipinos, their fists raised high, wrapped with the red band of courage, and set against the green globe in the background, The green flag of Migrante International with its name in blue is a rallying point in celebrations, rallies, and protests anywhere in the globe, a symbol that not only inspires hope for all migrants who work on sea and on land but also, demands respect from home and host governments and embassies.
Migrante International (MI) marked its 25th Anniversary in a global online forum last March 13 with Filipino migrants, their families, advocates, and friends. MI and its global regional chapters contributed videos, songs, messages that highlighted their past and present struggles. Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson of MI, delivered the keynote speech followed by different guests that included Neri Colmenares and Elmer Labog, the two Makabayan bloc senatorial candidates who are also in the 1Sambayan senatorial ticket, Congressman Ferdie Gait, Xavier Bayoneta, Chairperson of Concerned Seafarers of the Phils., Eni Lestari, Chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance, and Donna Denina, Secretary General of the International Women’s Alliance.
Migrante International (MI) is the BIGGEST alliance of grassroots migrants’ organizations of overseas Filipinos with chapters in 24 countries in the global regions of Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and North America. MI upholds and advances the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos within the framework of the Filipino people’s struggle for democracy, justice, and peace.
The tragic death by hanging of domestic worker Flor Contemplacion in Singapore on March 17, 1995, ignited indignation in the Philippines and beyond and indicted the Philippine government for its failure to help Flor and save her life. It brought international awareness of the life and death situation of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
It is a solid fact and consistent truth that throughout all these years, MI has been in the forefront of the defense and promotion of the rights and welfare of OFWs. But what makes MI unique? What sets it apart from other migrants’ organizations? It is looking at Filipino migration not as a personal individual decision but as a social and political phenomenon rooted in the deep-seated problems of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal situation of the Philippines: foreign stranglehold of the country, landlessness, and corruption. MI holds the critical analysis that the Philippine government’s labour export policy is the main factor of the commodification of Filipino workers. It is responsible for the Filipinos’ forced migration.
MI is the organized response to issues and problems in the Philippines. It believes that a Philippine self-reliant economy will help stop forced migration and will promote social equity and justice, and advance national development and democracy.
According to Joanna Concepcion, MI was created to fight for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and to forward the national and democratic aspirations of the Filipino people. The important role and task of Filipino migrants recognized and acknowledged worldwide is to unite with one voice and one strength to fight their systemic exploitation, defend their democratic rights, and end the oppressive system in the Philippines. In the national election on May 9, overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers are ready to demand the makabayang pagbabago at the polls with their votes and are pushing the 10-point Migrants Agenda!
From Flor Contemplacion to Mary Jane Veloso, MI has proven its consistency and dedication to the service of migrant workers. MI has fought (and continues to do so) for migrant Filipinos who have been stranded, detained, or have died in mysterious circumstances, raped or sex-trafficked, maltreated, etc. MI has been in the struggle for repatriation and evacuation of migrant workers in war-torn countries, and now, under the pandemic. MI has fought for against state exactions and unjust schemes like the mandatory PhilHealth membership and increased premiums. It has demanded assistance for migrant workers and their families under this continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Eni Lestari said that “where there is Migrante, there is a migrants’ movement.” MI was a founding member of the International Migrants Alliance in 2006 and remains a strong partner of IMA. “MI has always linked the problem and struggle of Filipino migrants everywhere to the core issue confronting Philippine society, the very reason why millions of Filipinos are forced to migrate. And you continue to address these problems side by side with Filipino farmers, workers, women, youth, and various oppressed sectors because at the very core of MI is the dream of a society where families are not torn apart by the need to survive, a society where imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism do not anymore exist.”
So many songs have been created because of the Filipino diaspora. These are lyrics from the song “Ang Aking Pangarap” written by Filipino singer and songwriter Danny Fabella:
Nangangarap ako ng isang lipunan na may pagkalinga at pagpapahalaga
Sa mamamayang lumilikha sa lahat ng yaman ng bansa
Nangangarap ako ng isang lipunan na ang bawa’t isa’y laging magkasama
At di ipinaghihiwalay ng pangangailangan para lamang mabuhay.
Mabuhay ang Migrnateng Piilipino!
Migrnateng Piilipino, Ngayon ay Lumalaban!