Damayan chief bids adieu after 2 decades

By Alex P. Vidal

“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.”— Margaret Chase Smith

MEMBERS of the Filipino community in New York City came together at The People’s Forum in Manhattan on February 25 to pay tribute to outgoing Damayan executive director Linda Oalican, who has stepped down after leading Damayan for two decades.

Damayan is a membership based organization in New York City that promotes the rights and welfare of Filipino im/migrant workers and organizes low-wage workers to fight for their labor, health, and immigrant rights.

Some of those who came were Damayan members, labor trafficking and wage theft survivors and their families, current and past board members, allies and New York State Assemblymember Steve Raga.

They thanked Oalican and shared stories of struggles when they were newcomers in New York. They gave tribute to Oalican for her “significant” role in the movement with her “commitment and tenacity” in building the power of Filipino domestic workers.

Pinoy New Yorkers hailed the outgoing executive director for helping empower them to fight for their rights, justice and dignity as domestic workers, migrant workers and labor trafficking survivors.

“I learned how to be an activist from Linda. I learned from the movement here. Filipinos are a part of a legacy of struggle and Linda is a direct connection to that history. She is unapologetically pro-worker and anti-imperialist,” said Leah Obias, former Damayan staff, board member and campaign coordinator for “Baklas: Break Free from Labor Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery”.

Obias is also the current director of Policy & Strategy, Race Forward.

“I have always been inspired by her fearless nature…she speaks from the heart and practical experience. She is a role model and a fierce leader, as an immigrant and a person of color,” said Narbada Chhetri, director of Organizing and Programs, Adhikaar.

“She has also modeled to me what a good human being is–that is, to be in service of others,” said Riya Ortiz, current Damayan executive director.

“There are men and women who struggle for a day and they are good. There are men and women who struggle for a year and they are better. There are men and women who struggle many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives. These are the indispensable ones,” Karina Garcia, Damayan board chair quoted Bertolt Brecht in her tribute to Oalican.


A WARNING FROM MY BANK. I recently received a very important e-mail from my bank, Capital One, warning to “keep yourself safe from scammers” by learning about the following scams to keep my account safe and secure.

Business email compromise. The scammer may impersonate a company executive by hacking their email ID to send me a spoofed email requesting a change in the payment destination.

Social media marketplace scams. Scammers are placing ads on social media marketplaces for selling goods and services. Often, these deals require the customers to pay in advance. Once I pay the scammers, I won’t be able to get in touch with them again.

Impersonating a Capital One associate. I have been warned further that “scammers will try to pose as Capital One and ask you to provide your personal information or even transfer money by phone, text or email. In this process, the scammer is attempting to gain unauthorized access to your account.”

Pay myself. Scammers may contact me impersonating Capital One and tell me that they’ve noticed suspicious activity. They’ll ask me to send money to myself using my mobile banking app to reverse the payment or prevent account depletion.

The following were the tips sent by Capital One to protect myself and my family:

—Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number from a legitimate source—don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing—and call the company to ask if the request is authentic.

—When in doubt, call us at the number listed on the back of your debit or credit card. You can also call the number listed on your bank statements. Be sure to turn on activity notifications in the Capital One Mobile app and report any suspicious activity as soon as possible.

— Research the seller and products independently and compare prices with other websites to ensure legitimacy. When a deal or offer seems too good to be true, it usually is. If possible, refrain from transferring money to someone you don’t know.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)


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