“Long overdue”. This was the unanimous sentiment of several Filipino migrants, majority are residents of Utrecht, The Netherlands, as they jubilantly welcomed and joined the founding assembly of Migrante Utrecht in the city of Utrecht last February 23. The Pinoy (Filipino) migrants represented compatriots who work as household cleaners, au pairs, professional employees, cultural workers and Filipino refugees in Utrecht.
A long-time resident of Utrecht and an active member of the Pinoy community in the city, Ric Bermudo, himself a household cleaner, emphasized in his welcome remarks, that the time has come to build the organization of Filipino migrants in Utrecht to confront the challenges facing Filipinos in their struggle to promote and defend their rights and welfare. He said the founding of Migrante Utrecht signals the start of a more organized effort to reach more Pinoy migrants in the province of Utrecht, and mobilize them to act on the issues confronting them as part of the migrant community.
Bermudo, who was also elected chairperson of Migrante Utrecht later during the assembly, admonished Pinoys in Utrecht to understand that all of them have been forced to work abroad because of poverty and the lack of jobs and security in the Philippines.
The assembly sat down to the business of the day as they discussed and ratified their constitution and by-laws and their one-year general program of action, which included among others providing assistance to undocumented compatriots when they are confronted with a need. Edgar Estrella, an IT professional, who presided over the discussions also explained to the delegates that Migrante Utrecht also intends to attend to the social and cultural well-being of the families of Filipino migrants, and help them cope with the new environment they are in. Estrella was also elected later as the treasurer of the organization.
Jun Saturay, a cultural worker and activist, and who was elected secretary-general, led the assembly in singing songs about Filipino migrants and migration.
The members and newly-elected officers of Migrante Utrecht took their oaths at the conclusion of the assembly.
Warm greetings of solidarity were received via video messages from Migrante Alberta (Canada) and Migrante Europe whose chair is Fr. Herbert Jr., chaplain to the Filipino Community in the Diocese of Leicester in the Church of England.
Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, the most famous Filipino political refugee in the Netherlands, and chief political consultant of the NDFP peace panel, spoke at the closing of the assembly to congratulate the formation of Migrante Utrecht and to encourage Filipino migrants to build, strengthen and expand their organization. He shared to the young audience how they were able to organize and build many organizations and labor unions during the 1960s and 1970s, from being small to big.
As in any gathering of Filipino migrants, several delicious and favorite Filipino dishes of dinuguan, pinapaitan, pasta and “nilasing na hipon” (shrimp cooked in beer) were prepared by volunteers and served at the end of the activity.###