Ofelia Baquirin, the president of UMELA in Hong Kong has mixed emotions for being feeling fulfilled in equipping OFWs with knowledge in various skills through the trainings which she conducted and feeling lonely that she already have to leave them so she can go back to her family in the Philippines and stay for good.
Baquirin arrived in Hong Kong on December 16, 1996 and was only 28 years old then. This year, Baquirin sums up 21 years working diligently in Hong Kong while supervising Filipina domestic helpers through theoretical and hands-on training in massage therapy.
UMELA’s President is working for many years under the United Migrants Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Association who trains interested OFWs in various skills as they source of living should they decided to go home for good. Recently, she supervises 20 Pinay domestic helpers undergoing training in massage therapy. Their session lasts every Sunday from 10am-1pm.
49-year-old Buquirin is considered a good and effective teacher and a good team player who was very hands-on with her students.
“See, the learners go through both theoretical and hands-on training here. They are also like students in a formal school who go through theory and practice,” Baquirin told The SUN in an interview.
“We conduct massage therapy training every Sunday and also teach other skills such as macrame bag making and basic dressmaking.”
The training also includes preparation for TESDA’s NCII certification examination to be taken in the Philippines or at any onsite assessment in Hong Kong to be accredited by the agency as a more competitive massage therapist.
Last August 27, while Typhoon “Hato” was badly hitting Hong Kong, a total of 96 trainees representing batch 20 and 21 successfully graduated at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Admiralty Centre, 75 among them as therapists and other 21 as macrame bag makers.
The graduation was said to be Baquirin’s last moving-up ceremony as she expressed her intention of going back to the Philippines on December 14 to her hometown, Victoria, Mindoro Oriental to be with her family and loved-ones, finally, after 21 long years working as an OFW in Hong Kong.
Baquirin was a co-founder of UMELA-UK which was founded on June 22, 2998 with her fellow veteran community leaders namely Joel Almeda, Arnold Grospe, Danny Velasquez, Rolando Cuz, Cora Carsola and Remedios Borlaza. However, it was learned that Carsola and Berloza were no longer in Hong Kong.
Apparently, its programs started with meat processing, ribbon folding, beads crafting and soap crafting, bag knitting and basic dressmaking. It was later on that they added the massage training seeing its big potential for providing livelihood back home.
The OFW expressed how grateful she was for working in Hong Kong as she said it fulfilled some of her dreams as she remained focus with her dreams and always sought the guidance of our Lord. She was humbled by being able to invest in some properties, send her children to school until Tertiary and shared her blessings to some relatives.
Buquirin will be leaving this year but rest assured, the discipline and the training that she imparted with her trainees will never be forgotten. She said she will be missing the Filipino community, her relatives and her UMELA family.
Meanwhile, Buquirin’s eldest daughter will be staying in Hong Kong to continue training new members in massage therapy.-via SunwebHK