FFW-slideshow

Kasama ang Kasambahay sa Byahe ni Noel

Just like the struggle to enact that elusive law that would establish better standards for them, kasambahays barely caught the last trip of Noel Cabangon’s Byahe.

"I'm thrilled to have kasambahays and fellow advocates of decent work for domestic workers as my guests for the concert," said singer Cabangon.

“Tuloy ang Byahe,” the encore performance of Cabangon’s successful staging at Music Museum earlier this year, was already deep in rehearsals and preparations, when the Domestic Work Technical Working Group (DomWork TWG) agreed to be part of the concert.

"Domestic workers have a lot to celebrate this year. The Philippines ratified ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The Kasambahay Bill has finally been passed by both Houses of Congress and just awaiting the President's signature before it is enacted into law," said Julius Cainglet, assistant vice president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and member of the DomWork TWG.

"Nakaabot sa last trip (we made it to the last trip)," added Cainglet. "For almost two decades and several sessions of Congress, the Kasambahay Bill got the least attention. Until this Session, which passed the bill before the legislators' terms ended."

Cabangon went on a journey on his own over the past couple of decades. Long the face of protest music, together with other stalwarts of Musicians for Peace, Cabangon has since broken into the mainstream music industry with a bang.

From "Kanlungan," his collaboration with longtime buddy Rom Dongeto of the old Buklod, that became a fast food chain's theme song, Cabangon's "Mabuting Pilipino" became the anthem of the inauguration of Noynoy Aquino as President of the Republic in 2010.

Indeed, what a journey it has been for both Cabangon and kasambahays.

"I was a child domestic worker then when the Kasambahay Bill was filed for the second or third time. I'm now a certified social worker," said Lilibeth Masamloc of SUMAPI, a national domestic workers organization, which is also a part if the DomWork TWG. Her own byahe was a full one. "I'm about to get married," Masamloc said in describing her own byahe.

Cabangon has written songs for OFWs who are mostly domestic workers like "Pauwi na" and "Ako ay Simpleng Pilipino."

For Byahe, Noel will dedicate "Kayod Kabayo" to domestic workers, who after the Kasambahay Law is enacted may not necessarily settle for "kayod barya".

"Domestic workers deserve to be treated like other types of workers who enjoy minimum wage and automatic coverage to SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig," said Cabangon.

International Labor Organization (ILO) Country Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson agreed with the singer.  "Decent work starts at home; those who work taking care of our families and households are entitled to the same human and labor rights like any other worker," Johnson said.

"Perhaps we could consider a ticket to Tuloy ang Byahe as a Christmas gift to our domestic workers," Cainglet said.

Aside from the ILO, FFW and SUMAPI, other members if the DomWork TWG are the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Migrant Forum in Asia and the Department of Labor and Employment. 

The DomWork TWG is an active member of the “12 by 12 campaign,” an international campaign spearheaded by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) that seeks to get 12 ratifications of Convention 189 in the year 2012. The culminating activity of the campaign happens on 12/12/12 worldwide, where a new target of 12 + 12 ratifications will be launched.

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