By Leslie Ann Aquino
A former overseas Filipino worker was among those who tried his luck at the “Jobs Jobs Jobs Caravan” held at the SMX Convention Center SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Sunday for the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program of the government.
Joel Baculado, 47 years old, used to work in Saudi Arabia but returned home in 2016 when his contract ended with a construction firm.
“I worked as a wheel loader in Saudi but when my contract ended, I returned here,” he said in an interview.
Baculado, who is applying as a heavy equipment operator, said he is hoping that his vast experience abroad in the construction industry would help land him a job here.
“You have this feeling that when you are older you get discriminated. Most of the employers still prefer the young that’s why it’s difficult to get a job. My only advantage is that I have the experience,” he said.
Although he admitted he is still applying abroad because of the high salary there, Baculado said personally he would rather work here in the country so he could be with his family.
“When you work here you are with your family unlike abroad wherein you have to wait for years to be with them,” he said.
Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has called on jobseekers, particularly workers who have returned from overseas employment, and graduating students to take advantage of the job opportunities that will be offered in the Job Caravan.
Among the nearly 17,000 jobs that were offered in the caravan are in the fields of building; construction; architecture; and engineering.
Bello said more programs would be pursued by the government to provide job opportunities.
“We all intend to fulfill our mandate to help generate employment and provide decent jobs for the Filipino workers. This is just the first of many endeavors,” he said.
In a statement, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said the caravan is the “largest event of its kind this year with almost 17,000 job openings from contractors of the Build Build Build program of the administration.”
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said more than 40 employers were at the caravan.
“The job generation component of these projects does not stop at construction. After a project has been completed, we will need people to operate and maintain these facilities,” he said.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said they are proud to offer millions of direct and indirect jobs to complement their Build Build Build efforts.
“This Golden Age of Infrastructure will not only build better road networks, airports, and bridges, but it will also build better lives for Filipinos now and in the future,” he said.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vivencio Dizon said Sunday’s job caravan is just the first of many for the Build Build Build program
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, the number of registered applicants at the jobs caravan was at 628, six of whom were hired on the spot (HOTS).