39 HK OFWs who died of cancer remembered

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Filmcass members hold pictures of their compatriots who died of cancer.

WITH songs and prayers, a group of migrant workers held a program in Central to raise cancer awareness and remember the 39 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here in HK who passed away due to the dreaded disease.

The Filipino Migrant Cancer Support Society (Filmcass-HK) held its Concert for a Cause and Cancer Awareness in Chater Road on October 14.

Filmcass had seen 39 of its members— including its coordinator Melina Lagarbe—die of cancer since 2007.

This year, five Filmcass members passed away—-Sr. Vicky Ramos, the group’s spiritual adviser who died on Feb. 6; Leonida Barrozo, who died of breast cancer on Aug. 15; Norma Zuniga, who died of breast cancer on Jan. 16; Necita Casalme, who passed away due to breast cancer on March 23; and Rosita Ramos, who died on May 26 of ovarian cancer.

Gemma Solomon, Filmcass-HK chair, said the group is currently helping five OFWs here in HK after they were diagnosed with cancer.

“Maging maingat tayo ngayon sa ating sarili dahil dumarami ang ating mga kababayan na nagkakasakit ng cancer. Prevention is better than cure,” Solomon said in an interview.

“Huwag masyado magpa-apekto sa stress at sikapin natin na maging masaya sa kabila ng stress na nararamdaman,” she added.

Solomon offered Filmcass’ help to OFWs in HK who are gravely ill.

“Sa mga kababayan natin na may malubhang karamdaman, nandito lang kami handang umalalay at umagapay,” she said.

“At sa aming ibang mga kababayan, kung gusto nyo sa aming sumuporta o makiisa, maluwag namin kayong tatanggapin,” she added.

Filmcass, she said, is composed of at least 50 members, including caregivers, patients, and cancer survivors.

Among their group, 20 have survived cancer, including three who had migrated to Canada, Macau, and Saudi Arabia.

According to data from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), cancer was the second leading cause of illness of OFWs who were repatriated from HK back to the Philippines from 2014 to 2017.

Stroke victims comprised 36 percent of OFWs repatriated back to the Philippines, while those with cancer comprised 27 percent. The other illnesses reported were tuberculosis/ lung problems (13 percent), mild depression (21 percent), and fracture/ spinal problems (three percent), according to OWWA.

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