‘Sinalo kami ng gobyerno’: Stranded OFWs grateful for stay in Clark

Overseas Filipino workers who were stranded in the Clark International Airport the past weeks, expressed thanks to the government now that they are comfortably staying for free in Clark, Pampanga.

“Noong sinabi nila na dalhin kami dito, hindi ko rin alam ang lugar na ito, pero nang makita ko, wala akong masabi…Kumportable kasi safe kami dito. Pinapasalamatan ko na sa panahon na ganito, sinalo kami ng gobyerno,” says seaman Jimmy Catubig.

Coming from Egypt, Catubig booked a connecting flight to Clark so he can eventually go to Davao and travel home to his family in General Santos City. He was among the OFWs and other passengers stranded in Clark due to the travel bans imposed in various provinces in the country amid the COVID-19 threat. 

This was the same sentiment of another seafarer, Joseph Presillas, who came from Qatar and hoped to come home to Coron, Palawan. “Well-provided naman po lahat at wala na kaming hinihiling pa kasi napakaganda ng accommodation namin dito. Free po lahat.”

Meanwhile, Leonora Antolin, a household worker in Saudi Arabia, was first stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before she was able to stay in Clark. She was supposedly going back to her hometown in Surigao del Sur to attend the graduation of her daughter.

“Even [at] the airport, they provide food,” says Antolin recalling the time when she was stranded at the Clark airport but still decided to stay there for a chance to travel home, before eventually deciding to join other OFWs at The Mansion.

“Mas gusto ko pa nga dito kasi…ano pang hanapin natin, ‘pag umaga pwede tayong maglakad. ‘Yung breakfast, lunch, dinner, nandiyan…Maganda ang facility dito,” she said.

Aside from the OFWs, there are also other stranded passengers currently staying in Clark including Davao-based radio station manager, Magnolia Fernandez-Yrasuegui, who arrived from the U.S. with her husband when they were stranded due to travel restrictions.

“Nung nag-state of emergency na si President Donald Trump at sabi niya baka magsara na ng borders, dali-dali kaming umuwi because ayaw naming maipit kami,” Yrasuegui previously shared over a radio interview. “We are in a safe place, may pagkain na rin kami. Everything is okay na ngayon.”

“We couldn't have found a much better place to be stranded. We thank God it is here in Clark. The amenities are great. The room is comfortable, and staying here makes our situation lighter to bear. Being away from family is difficult but we praise God for the people of BCDA who are always looking out for our welfare,” Yrasuegui said in a separate interview.

In addition to the free food and lodging, health monitoring of the stranded passengers is also being undertaken by the Clark Development Corporation through individual checking of temperatures and orientation on the practice of social distancing and proper personal hygiene.

The said effort is a collaboration of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), and the Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corporation (LIPAD), to help passengers affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon and the travel restrictions imposed in other parts of the country.

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