This native of Tuao, Cagayan could beat all the odds in offering public service in a land not her own, and such service is where she was called to be – to help her fellow Filipinos abroad in times of need.
When Ester Cabasag-Beatty personally witnessed through the years, that many Filipinos working in foreign countries suffer because of discrimination, injustice, maltreatment, and many more problems, she could not resist reaching out. Thus, whenever the call for support was needed, she intercedes, knowing the lives and well-being of her fellow Filipinos are at stake.
It is now almost two decades ago when she stayed with her family in Cyprus, after she married her British husband, Stuart. Ester has raised three children with him.
While she juggled her time between family and her role as officer in various organizations, still, she manages to attend dutifully to her other commitments.
As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) herself, she witnessed the ups and downs of every OFW in Cyprus. She has seen how they cry for help as they experience many injustices, and these pained her heart. These were the same situations that awakened her and heed the call of service.
Ester finished her bachelor’s degree in commerce (accounting) at the Far Eastern University before working in Cyprus. At present, she is a full-time working mother with three children who are now all adults.
Known for her passion in helping many overseas Filipinos, she was chosen to serve as president of the Philippine Community Association from 1996 to 2003, and as a committee member and secretary of the St. Joseph Social Centre in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, in 2000.
Her pioneering activities and charity works paved the way for her to also become the president of the Cypro-Philippine Association from 2003 to 2010. Aside from the positions she held, she had other tasks on hand as she was also a staff member of the Tinig Pinoy: Filipino Voice, a monthly publication released in collaboration with the Politis newspaper from 2007 to 2011.
In 2016, her various activities for the advancement of Filipinos put her name as the Chairperson of the Federation of Filipino Organizations in Cyprus (FFOC). As chairperson, she is responsible in organizing various activities, fund drives, trainings, and assistance for the OFWs.
She believes in the power of the pen to touch and change lives, as she is into writing. Her passion led her to become a member of the editorial team of Waves, Art, and Culture, a multilingual journal published by a team of non-European migrants based in Cyprus.
The trust on her capabilities has brought her again to hold another position after she was elected as a member of the executive board of the ENFID (European Network of Filipino Diaspora). The ENFID aims to bring different communities of overseas Filipinos and OFWs in Europe together, to become a platform for exchange across European borders, and to promote joint actions for the cause of Filipinos, all in support to the development of the Motherland, the Philippines.
Ester’s genuine love for her fellow Filipinos was recognized when she was bestowed the Banaag Award, a presidential award conferred upon Filipinos and foreign individuals or associations who advance the cause of Filipino communities overseas.
This is a result of her countless efforts in helping and assisting Filipinos in Cyprus during her time as president of the Philippine Community Association.
Among her various endeavors are organizing events, especially the annual celebration of the Philippine Independence Day. Others include cooking competitions, fund raising activities and sports events, as well as promoting the cultural heritage of the Philippines within the local community.
She is also actively involved with many local NGOs over the years and has organized numerous activities on behalf of charities and disaster relief projects nationwide.
During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in Cyprus, Ester led a team of volunteers to distribute relief goods to her fellow Filipinos as well as other nationalities who were in need of food. She also led a team in the house-to-house distribution of sanitary kits, groceries, hot meals, and vegetables, especially to those who were under quarantine.
The funds used, she said came from one of their projects – the mass production of washable high-quality masks, where she gathered ten ladies to help her sew the materials. Other sources of funding were from generous Filipinos and friends who believed in her advocacy.
In 2019, Ester, a very keen quilter, crafted and raffled a king-sized hand-made quilt to raise funds for the flood victims of Typhoon Ulysses in Cagayan. The monetary assistance was channeled to different NGOs in Cagayan and the Police Regional Office 2.
From October to November of 2020, in support to repatriated Filipinos in Cyprus, she organized a group of Filipinos for a training entitled “Learning the Art of Sushi”. The event was participated by 40 OFWs. This is a Reintegration Training Support Project by the POLO/OWWA of Cyprus and Greece to OFWs in Cyprus, where she took charge of the logistics.
In the same year, she launched a program called “Appeal for Donation”, where her group sold food items while requesting her kababayans to donate “barya” (coins). The money raised was sent to typhoon-affected families in Cagayan Valley, in Bicol, and to co-federation members who were affected by the typhoons in the Philippines.
While doing all these philanthropic works abroad, Ester never failed to provide support to her own family in Cagayan. According to her, it was her mother, from whom she inherited her love and passion for charity.
She may be at the other side of the world but she is one of the living manifestations that patriotism and love for the country and fellow Filpinos is beyond boundaries and time zones. ALM/GCB/PIA Cagayan)