JEDDAH: Last week, Susan V. Ople, secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers of the Philippines, visited Arab News headquarters in Riyadh.
Commenting on her visit, she tweeted: “Once upon a time, I was (a) columnist of @arabnews. Visiting its office in Riyadh was (a) homecoming of sorts.”
Yes, you read it correctly. Ople was once an important part of Arab News. Her visit to Arab News brought back so many memories of the time I dealt with her as an editor.
Appointed to head the Department of Migrant Workers by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in 2022, Ople previously served as chief of staff of the Office of her father, Senator Blas Ople, and later as chief of staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs when Senator Ople became its secretary.
She was appointed as undersecretary of the Department of Labor and Employment by President Gloria Arroyo in 2004.
Writers and editors generally share a love-hate relationship, but it was difficult to hate a humanitarian of Ople’s stature.
During my dealings with her, I noticed thoughts of her overseas compatriots’ welfare always consumed her, as was evident from her articles published in Arab News.
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She is the founder and current president of the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC), which assists distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in various parts of the world.
Yet, no matter how good she was as a columnist, social worker, or politician, she never failed in giving me nightmares or panic attacks by delaying her submissions.
I vividly remember every time I used to vow that I would not accept any excuses from her but her emails exuded so much honesty that I had to accept her submissions.
I would like to share one of her emails with the readers: “My New Year’s resolution is to reduce your stress over my column.”
Though sometimes behind schedule, her write-ups always got her point across, and like a loving mother, she always made efforts to protect the rights of her fellow countrymen working around the world.
Today, she remains actively involved in the media. She is a co-anchor at a popular daily radio show, “Bantay OFW,” at DZXL’s Tatak RMN network and has a Saturday radio program on DWIZ 882 AM called “Global Pinoy.”
With her latest role in government, I am sure Ople can do a much better job translating her ideas into actions for the well-being of her people. It is not every day that we see a humanitarian at the helm.
We, at Arab News, wish her the best of luck.