“I would also mention the oft-neglected, yet real contributions of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the society in which they live,” Pope Francis said in a speech in Malacanang on the second day of his visit to the country.
Government data shows that over 10 million Filipinos are working abroad. Majority of those who go abroad have only one thing on their minds: to provide better lives for their families.
But the remittances, they send home, cannot entirely compensate for the time they spend away from their families.
“Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals, and genuine concern for others. But, like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed,” the Pope said.
“It needs our support,” said the Pope.
The Pope will meet with Filipino families and young people in a gathering at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday afternoon.
“We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.”
“For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision, which can help bring about a culture of integrity — a culture which honors goodness, truthfulness, fidelity, and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together,” he said.
This was also echoed by Migrante International, a global alliance of OFWs, who also thanked Pope Francis for acknowledging the OFWs and their families.
“Thank you very much, Pope Francis, for hearing our cries! Thank you for speaking in behalf of the 15 million overseas Filipinos all over the world who are being neglected, abused and exploited and abandoned by the Aquino government,” said Migrate International chairperson, Garry Martinez.
Martinez stressed that the phenomenon of forced migration is tearing families apart.
“Our OFWs are separated from their families because of desperation and the need to survive. Pope Francis, who hailed from a family of migrants, knows this by heart. We agree with the Pope that what we should strive for is a ‘society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace’, something that is very far from what we have now which is a society of corruption, greed and conflict under the Aquino administration,” Martinez said.
Before ending his speech, Pope Francis issued a challenge and a “word of prayerful encouragement”.
“May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development. In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country,” he said.