With the immense contribution of the Ilocano Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the development of the province, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) unveiled the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument along the Airport Road in Laoag City today, December 18, 2015.
The sculptures were created by Renato Ong, an artist from Dingras, Ilocos Norte, who revealed that the project portrays the 15 Sakadas (first wave of Ilocanos migrants to Hawaii in 1900s) who pioneered the success and Ilocano greatness across the globe.
“The tallest of the sculpture is 8-foot anatomically and is made out of resin and fiberglass. I really tried to make them look as natural and as heroic as possible, parang tinitingala sila,” added Ong.
The Province of Ilocos Norte currently holds the highest percentage worldwide, pegged at 61%, of families receiving financial assistance from overseas.
“Sa wakas, literal na may monumento na rin kayo; monumento na hindi inaasahan sapagkat sa tutuusin, hindi naman kinakailangan dahil nakaukit ang inyong hirap, pagod at walang katumbas na sakripisyo sa aming mga puso,” said Governor Imee R Marcos in a short speech during the inauguration.
The long history of the migrating Ilocanos started in 1906 to 1946 when they went to worked at the pineapple and sugar plantations of Hawaii followed by the Ilocano who went to the Middle East in the 1970s.
“Sa Ilocos Norte alam natin na umaabot mahigit kumalang 11 to 12 billion ang rine-remit ng ating OFWs at balikbayans…61% ng pamilya rito ay may foreign aid din galing sa kapwa Ilocano,” added Governor Marcos.
The inauguration, which was held in line with the celebration of the International Migrants Day, was attended by the OFW rights advocate Susan Ople, Honorable Rebecca J. Calzado, administrator of the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA), Honorable Hans Leo J. Cacdad, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), local government units, other government agencies, various OFW organizations and their families.
“This inauguration of the migrant’s monuments is in addition to the province’s efforts of preserving the rich culture and history of Ilocos Norte and we in OWWA are very happy as you made the overseas Filipino workers a part of your history,” highlighted Calzado.
The establishment of the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument is the first ever tribute of Ilocos Norte to the migrants who unselfishly invest in the province and for their extraordinary role in its progress and development.
Most importantly, the monument also honors the families of the migrants for their dedication and for upholding the resiliency and industry of Ilocanos.
“Our OFWs are very generous not merely to their families but also to the communities from which they came as they endow us with churches, hospitals and libraries and auditoriums, different medical facilities, medicines and for their assistance during calamities,” Governor Marcos highlighted.— John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO