Hero of migrant workers: Tribute to Ka Sol Pillas

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairman, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

We in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle condole with the family and close associates Ka Sol Pillas, secretary general of Migrante International. We all grieve her passing but we celebrate her efforts, sacrifices and achievements in promoting, defending and advancing the rights and welfare of Filipino overseas workers.

Ka Sol is praiseworthy for having served the OFWs until her last breath. She knew the difficulties, problems, needs and feelings of OFWs because she herself was a domestic helper in Hong Kong for 25 years.

She knew the issues and concerns of migrant workers because she herself was one of the first residents of Bethune House when she had problems with her employer who terminated her contract. Here she had her first education on the actual situation of the Philippines that drove people to seek work outside the country. From then on, she worked continuously in the organization.

To help fellow workers, she volunteered as a counselor and case officer of the Mission for Migrant Workers and became the leader of the Association of Concerned Filipinos. This intensified her activism.

As a long-term officials of the militant migrants alliance – the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, she led many OFW campaigns and struggles, including the effort to save the life of Flor Contemplacion and opposition to the layers of charges and fees and anomaly in OWWA membership. Because she was also convenor of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body – the coalition of migrants of different races – she was participated in large-scale struggles, such as the march of 12,000 migrants in HK against huge wage reductions in 2002. She ably advocated solidarity and unity among the migrants of different races.

She returned to the Philippines in 2014. Her decision to return to the Philippines was partly driven by personal difficulties to work as a full-time organizer in Hongkong. Along with her sister, she sought to overcome the challenges here. She overcame the pull of working for a living and she continued to work full time activist because she held on to the correct analysis of the roots of poverty she witnessed and experienced.

In December of this same year, she was elected Secretary-General of Migrante International in recognition of her long service to migrant workers and her splendid — because persistent, militant and effective leadership in various forms of struggle for the rights and welfare migrant workers.

Until September 2015 she worked diligently leading and serving OFWs. When she had a stroke, she was at congressional inquiry on the issue of laglag-bala (planted-bullet), Mary Jane Veloso and seeking justice for victims of trafficking in the US. Her last campaign was to save the life of Mary Jane, and seek justice and her release.

We all salute Ka Sol Pillas as a true hero of migrant workers and the Filipino people. She is an outstanding example of honest, prudent and diligent service and leadership to her fellow workers. She inspires the current generation and those yet to come. She thus remains alive in our minds and hearts.

Because of leaders and members like Ka Sol Pillas, Migrante International remains the largest, most steadfast, most reliable and most effective organization of Filipino migrant workers. It is also the living monument that will perpetuate the memory of Ka Sol Pillas. The ILPS is fortunate to have Migrante International as its member-organization.

Long live the spirit and work of Ka Sol Pillas!
Long live Migrante International!
Long live the migrant workers and the Filipino people!