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Champion of the Overseas Filipino Workers in the 19th Congress


A television talk show host and movie actress turned lawmaker. This sums up the career path that One Filipinos Worldwide (OFW) Partylist Representative Marissa Magsino took from the early 1980s to the present. For 20 years, she, then known as Marissa Del Mar, had enjoyed a glamorous lifestyle that came with her decorated career as a movie actress who starred with some of the big names in show business and as a multi-awarded talk show host.

Magsino may have left show business but she still shines as she makes her mark in Congress as a hardworking lawmaker, being a member of 22 House committees and having been elected by her colleagues as an Assistant Minority Leader.

Venturing into politics seems like a major career shift, but Magsinos hares that her desire to be of service particularly to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) actually started when she was in show business. She recalls that her personal encounter with Filipino extras during a shoot in another country deeply influenced her decision to join politics in order to address the pressing issues faced by OFWs. That interaction with the Filipino extras who shared their grievances about not receiving proper salaries and basic necessities like food during the shoot was a profound moment for her as “it highlighted the systemic injustices faced by many OFWs and the urgent need for advocacy and policy reform to protect their rights and welfare.” She realized that public service could have a significant impact in addressing these issues and creating positive change for her fellow Filipinos. This realization was continuously hammered upon her as she interviewed hundreds of

OFWs in her shows, until she decided to take her advocacy on OFW rights a step further—to serve our kababayans in a bigger capacity to uplift their lives. She then ran as the first nominee of the OFW Party List during the 2022 national elections and emerged victorious, becoming the lone legislator representing the said sector in the 19th Congress.

Magsino has been appointed as Ambassador in the Philippines and Chairperson of the Philippine House of Representatives Sunfull Committee by the Sunfull Foundation, a non-governmental organization in South Korea, which works to counter cyberbullying, hate speech and human rights violations on the internet. Joining her in the advocacy in spreading peace, respect, and positivity in the digital space is Ms. Princess Adriano, Secretary General of OFW Party List, who has been appointed as the Ambassador for Social Media for the Sunfull Peace Movement - K Respect.


The shift in Magsino’s career from an actress and talk show host to being a lawmaker involved significant changes in her roles and responsibilities. And just as there were hurdles in her showbiz career that she had to overcome, she once again had to face new hurdles that come with her role as a congresswoman.

Among the challenges that she experienced during her first few weeks as a lawmaker were adapting to the formalities and protocols of legislative procedures, understanding the complexities involved in policy-making, and establishing rapport with fellow lawmakers. Dealing with these challenges, she says, “requires humility, openness to learning, and perseverance.” But these challenges did not bother her as much as politicking did. “I am a straightforward person [so] what you see is what you get. Yet in politics, there are maneuverings that do not align with how I am as a person,” she shares. In time, she had eventually learned to take the politicking in stride. “As long as I am doing the right thing for my constituents, I do not let it bother me,” she states.

Now that she has learned the ropes in Congress, another challenge that the first-term lawmaker faces is her being the sole representative of OFWs in the Lower Chamber. She admits that having been “entrusted with the task of advocating for the rights and welfare of millions of hardworking Filipinos working and living abroad who often face unique challenges and vulnerabilities... sometimes feels like a daunting task.” To muster support for bills specifically focused on OFWs requires collaboration and coalition-building across other parties and interest groups. With her fellow lawmakers, she has to work diligently to engage with them as well as to educate them about the issues concerning OFWs. Thus, she considers her task challenging but at the same time a privilege, because it serves as her platform to amplify the OFWs’ voices and push for policies that address their needs.


Magsino attributes her success asa lawmaker to her background asa multi-awarded talk show hostand an OFW rights advocate. Shesays her years of experience as atalk show host of Up Close andPersonal with Marissa Del Mar, Buhay OFW, and World Class Kababayan honed her communications skills, which is essential for her to effectively convey complex issues to diverse audiences and articulate the concerns of her constituents in a compelling manner.Through her advocacy for OFW rights, she has gained firsthand insights about the challenges that beset marginalized communities and the importance of fighting for their rights. Such insights help her identify her legislative priorities and motivate her to champion policies that promote social justice and equality.

The lady solon's awareness and deeper understanding of global issues, particularly those related to migration and labor rights, allow her to engage in debates on international affairs and advocate for policies on human rights both in the domestic and international scenes.


Magsino cannot stress enough the significant contribution of OFWs to our economy, saying that OFW remittances, which amount to $37.2B per year, are the cornerstone of our economic survival.Hence, she considers our OFWs as heroes, deserving to be treated as such.

This perspective is reflected in the OFW Party List’s slogan, OFW, ikaw ang bida! (OFW, you are the star!)

To make sure that their party’s slogan is actualized, Magsino advocates for policies that will give OFWs star treatment, such as better working conditions, fair wages, and access to essential services. In addition, she engages with government agencies to address issues concerning OFWs such as illegal recruitment and human trafficking, pushing for reforms through legislative proposals and policy dialogues. She also prioritizes programs like skills training and financial literacy to

empower OFWs.Among the bills that she has filed to protect the welfare of OFWs from pre-deployment to repatriation are the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, Anti-illegal Recruitment Bill, and the Internet Voting Bill. HB 7325 or the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers is expected to ensure decent work and safe working conditions for our seafarers. As stipulated in the bill, Filipino seafarers have the right to: a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; fair terms andconditions of employment; decent working and living conditions on

board a ship; health protection, medical care, and welfare measures; self-organization; educational advancement and training; relevant information; free legal representation and speedy disposition of cases; appropriate grievance mechanism; and access to communication, among others.

HB 7865 or the Anti-illegal Recruitment Bill was crafted to address the growing cases of illegal recruitment, which are evolving through online platforms and multi-country transit point schemes. Magsino says that there have been numerous cases of illegal recruitment of OFWs, particularly targeting Southeast Asian countries and that such cases often lead to human trafficking. Recognizing the challenges

on jurisdictional issues faced by our law enforcement agencies due to the cross-border nature of illegal recruitment, HB 7865 includes mechanisms designed to expedite the investigation of violations through coordination with law enforcement agencies abroad. This comprehensive proposed new law against illegal recruitment was crafted in collaboration with the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Migrant Workers, and the Department of Foreign Affairs.


In addition, Magsino sponsored the substitute bill for HB 6770 or the Internet Voting Bill to address the long- standing clamor of OFWs for mechanisms that would enable them to exercise their right of suffrage while abroad. This is in support of the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) initiativeto introduce internet registration and voting for OFWs by providing a legal basis for it. Magsino says that while she acknowledges the COMELEC’s authority to implement “other means of voting” under the existing law, she sees the need for a bill that would provide a specific statutory basis through legislation for clarity and prevention of potential questions of interpretation.

The congresswoman also led the launching of the OFW App, a project of the OFW Party List and her brainchild.This is in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). This application is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at providing comprehensive assistance and information to OFWs worldwide through a digital app.

Magsino also filed a resolution urging appropriate committees of Congress to review and assess the Philippines’ existing bilateral labor agreements with countries of destination. These labor agreements ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of OFWs, and her initiative to have these reviewed would address the challenges faced by OFWs, such as labor rights issues and inadequate legal protection. “Reviewing bilateral agreements is crucial to identify weaknesses and improve protection for OFWs, covering areas like employment contacts, wages, and legal assistance,” she explains. Other than the bills and resolutions she has filed, she also spearheaded high-level policy dialogues with government agencies and various Philippine embassies, and community stakeholders. Such dialogues have been instrumental in filing effective and responsive legislation. She also fostered collaboration between government agencies, embassies, and non-governmental organizations to leverage resources and expertise that would provide comprehensive support to OFWs and their families. Such collaboration involves initiatives such as skills training programs, financial literacy workshops, and psychosocial support services.

With what Magsino has accomplished so far for OFWs, she is definitely the star of these heroes, the bida ng mga bida (star of stars).


Magsino envisions that in the next few years, OFWs would be “empowered, protected, and recognized for their invaluable contribution to our nation’s development and prosperity.”To achieve such a vision, she will continually focus on policy proposals and programs “that directly affect our OFWs such as retooling and upskilling, capital grants for micro-enterprises for returning OFWs, and other reintegration programs.”

Magsino also plans to actively engage with foreign governments and international organizations to advocate for OFW rights abroad, such as helping look for labor markets that are committed to respect and value our OFWs through their adherence to labor standards and strong policies in the host countries. Doing this would prevent deployment to host countries with an unabated record of abuses against OFWs and ensure deployment only to host countries that will truly take care of them. But she also stresses the importance of strengthening our local economy and providing more opportunities for gainful and decent employment in our country “so that Filipinos no longer have to work abroad out of desperation, but only out of free choice.” For the remainder of her term, Magsino will advocate for initiatives that promote the economic empowerment of OFWs and their families, such as programs for financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and skills development. “Empowering OFWs with the necessary tools and resources will not only improve their own livelihoods, it will also contribute to the overall economic development of the Philippines,” she explains.


Magsino also intends to prioritize measures that would help returning OFWs to integrate into the local workforce and communities so that they could easily transition back to life in the Philippines. Such measures include job placement programs, vocational training, and psychosocial support. And as response to gender-based violence and discrimination of OFWs, she commits to advance policies that promote gender equality and protect their rights.


Magsino relishes the idea of “making a positive impact on the lives of the people I represent and the nation as a whole” and is committed to continue pushing for her various initiatives. This, despite the challenges that she faces at the Lower House. “Perhaps the most challenging part of my job is navigating the complexities of the political landscape and balancing competing interests and priorities,” she reveals.

“Serving as a lawmaker requires making difficult decisions, negotiating compromises, and overcoming obstacles to advance the common good,” she continues. “Additionally, the fast-paced and demanding nature of a congresswoman’s job can sometimes be overwhelming, requiring resilience, perseverance, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite these, I am committed to facing all challenges with integrity, empathy, and dedication.”

One particular challenge that Magsino faces, together with other partylist lawmakers, is the continued call forthe abolition of the partylist system. In the face of this, she remains steadfast in her belief that “partylist groups are essential for ensuring inclusivity and representation inour democratic processes.” The system, she underscores, provides a platform for underrepresented sectors, such as migrant workers, farmers, indigenous people, women, and youth, to have a voice in government and advocate for their interests.

Abolishing the partylist system, she says, “would disenfranchise these marginalized sectors and undermine their ability to participate in governance and decision- making.” Instead of abolishing the partylist system, the lady solon stresses the need to focus on strengthening it by enhancing transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in the selection and accreditation of partylist organizations. This, she says, will help ensure that genuine representatives of marginalized sectors are elected to Congress and that their voices continue to be heard in shaping policies and legislation that affect their lives.


Magsino recognizes the sacrifices that OFWs make every day, being away from their loved ones and facing unfamiliar environments. She assures them and their families that “their efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated” and that her office is “tirelessly working to ensure that their contributions are recognized, their rights are protected, and their welfare is safeguarded.”

The lady legislator stresses that the support and understanding of families of OFWs is crucial in enabling their loved ones to pursue opportunities abroad. “I commend your strength and resilience as you navigate the challenges of separation and maintain the home front,” she says.

Magsino calls on everyone to join her in ensuring the welfare of OFWs and their families. “Together, let us continue to work hand in hand to create a better future for all OFWs and their families,” she stresses. To OFWs, she says, “Your sacrifices and hard work fuel our nation’s progress, and we are deeply grateful for your dedication and commitment. For me, OFWs are the stars!”


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