By: Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Seoul

Seoul, 2 November 2020- The Philippine Embassy in Seoul held an online Leaders' Forum on 31 October 2020, which brought together around seventy (70) leaders of Filipino organizations, religious communities, and migrant center partners in South Korea, and the Philippine Embassy officers and personnel headed by Charge d'affaires, a.i. Christian L. de Jesus.

2020 Leaders' Forum: Zoomustahan with FilCom Leaders in Korea by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, led by Charge d'affaires a.i. Christian L. de Jesus
For many years, the Leaders' Forum has served as the dialogue platform between the Embassy and Filipino community, through their respective leaders, on consular, labor and other urgent matters. By holding the online meeting, the Embassy was able to fulfill its commitment to regularly consult, inform and engage with the Filipino community despite social distancing measures during the pandemic.

In his address, CDA de Jesus lauded the enabling role of the Filipino community leaders in implementing the programs of the Embassy and for initiating assistance to their respective members on the ground especially during the pandemic. "Hindi po lubos na magagawa ng Embahada ang aming tungkulin kung wala ang ating mga Filipino community leaders," CDA de Jesus said. Upon his designation earlier this year as Charge d'affaires, a.i. until the assumption of a new Ambassador, he said that the FilCom leaders were his constant source of information, ideas, friendly advice, and constructive feedback as the Embassy faced new challenges and implemented changes in its frontline services. "Kayo po ang nagsilbing inspirasyon namin, at taos puso akong nagpapasalamat sa inyo for your teamwork with the Embassy and for heeding the call of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in coming together to heal as one community in this time of pandemic," the CDA added.

During the Forum, the detailed presentations and ensuing open forum focused on the latest consular and labor updates, particularly on the Embassy appointment system, Overseas Absentee Voting, entry and exit requirements to or from the Philippines and Korea, anti-illegal recruitment, online reintegration seminars, arrival and quarantine services for returning Filipinos in the Philippines, and the new DOLE-OWWA livelihood grant program for OFW groups. The concept of a FilCom event in December, "Paskong Pinoy 2020" was also presented and unanimously endorsed by the FilCom leaders. Labor Attache Maya Valderrama and POLO-OWWA Korea led the participatory activities for the attendees.

The FilCom leaders expressed their appreciation to the Embassy for the highly informative and interactive Forum. "Thank you so much for a well-organized Zoomustahan meeting. It has been a notable experience for me. It did not only bring us new experience but also saved us a lot of time especially as we normally need at least 10 hours to travel to and from Seoul," said Mhar Peji of the Filipino community in Geoje.

In closing, CDA de Jesus advised the participants that he would continue to welcome suggestions and initiatives of the FilCom leaders as new challenges continue to emerge due to the pandemic. "These are extraordinary times, and often, we find that the solutions and answers are neither tailor-made nor easily available. We appeal to you for your continued support and understanding as the Philippine government, in cooperation with the host government, exerts coordinated efforts to address these new challenges," he said. END