Who would ever think that a newbie in the biz during the early 80s who was tagged as a non-entity and touted as an epitome of a trying hard just to be noticed would turn out to be one of the more dependable champions of the Overseas Filipino Workers?
What was wrong being a person, to begin with, who tries hard to want to achieve something beneficial initially for oneself but later good for others?
It was a misnomer, indeed.
Because the upstart who wore a Wonder Woman outfit during a movie press gig would eventually start a many wonders in her life as a bit player mostly in action movies and later blossomed into a perfect solo star material. She was eventually launched as a titular role in “Mapaglaro,” a skin flick which catapulted her to stardom with the stellar support of such icons as Pilar Pilapil, Ernie Garcia, Ronaldo Valdez and the late George Estregan.
Earning a name for herself as Marissa del Mar, she evolved into many facets like being a TV hostess initially in Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC)’s Channel 13 when she launched her own boob tube magazine show, “Marissa del Mar Up Close and Personal.”
When the sequestered network had been under siege, Marissa thought of moving in to a new station which welcomed her with open arms, Aksyon TV, the cable television platform of TV5. She brought to the newly formatted broadcast outlet her new conceptualized public affairs show, “Buhay OFW.” Until now, the Marissa del Mar OFW show is running every Saturday at 9 to 10 pm for years.
“Buhay OFW” translates to English as “life of OFWs.” What a media platform to promote and to advance the causes of Filipino migration and international employment. Problems and complications arise and the show attempts to provide assistance to the people concerned.
Every week, del Mar features fascinating and interesting stories about lives of OFWs at random, happy or sad, hopeful or frustrating, inspirational or bleak etc. In her vision, Marissa just wants to present the narratives very objectively and the let the audience decipher on their judgment. “As much as we could, we reach out to our kababayans who are in distress. I coordinate with agencies, government or non-government, to help them in their plight.
“But there are also success stories which we are proud of our fellow Filipinos manage to achieve in other countries,” explained del Mar.
Marissa extends as well her presence and participation to world view of migration and overseas work. Being an active member of various local orgs on women’s rights and emancipation, transnational engagement and foreign work relations, del Mar is able to connect to her counterparts abroad. She holds posts very challenging especially espousing also the causes of gender equality and security like being the Chairwoman of Anti-Trafficking OFW Movement (ATOM); National Real Estate Association and Buhay OFW Foundation, Incorporation and Vice-Chairman of the Woman Empowerment Committee of the Management Association of the Philippines. She’s also a Board of Trustee of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and emissary as Public Image and TV/Brand of the Philippine Rotary International District 3830.
Her performances of these duties and responsibilities have impressed women’s world leaders like Galina Karelova, Deputy Speaker of the Council of Russian Federation and Deputy Chair of the Organizing Committee of the 2nd Eurasian Women’s Forum so she invited Marissa to attend the recent summit in St. Petersburg in Russia.
Proudly, Marissa was very interactive in the discussion attended by no less than the Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I was humbled to be the third scheduled to ask question where only 4 questions were entertained. Everything was in the program really and protocol. My Russian Invitation was worth it,” quips del Mar.
For her, just seeing and listening to Putin was history in itself. “We were not allowed to use cameras during his appearance. I regret that I have no pictures with President Putin but seeing and listening to him was an opportunity already. It was riot,” she relates.
The forum which carried the theme “Women for Global Security and Sustainable Development” was attended by 60,000 women delegates from all over the world.
Del Mar is also the Vice-President for SME/ OFW ng Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
At the moment, Marissa wants to expand her support to OFWs in many areas. “We would like to form a cooperative for all OFWs and their families and a halfway house for all the returning OFWs to stay for a few days until they return to their provinces. While staying in the place, there would be various trainings and seminars on values formation, financial literacy, practical trainings and more,” she reveals.
Her advocacy is omnipresent. “We are open to everybody without racial discrimination and preference for religion,” she encourages.
Like any endeavor, she hurdles a lot of challenges. “We would like to do more projects but because of limited funds, we are deprived of many things so we have to raise funds,” she said.