About 15,000 men and women or almost 7% of the total population are overseas workers in the province of Abra. They remit an average of Php 50 million per month. Forced to leave their families in search of better economic opportunities abroad, their stories are endless: prosperity, triumph, alienation, abuse, trauma, terror, and even death. Realizing that national agencies are already saddled with cases of millions of overseas Filipino workers all over the world, the provincial government took the lead in championing the cause of its own migrant workers. In August 1997, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution creating the Abra Overseas Filipino Workers Center. The Center provides pre-departure orientation seminars, information drives against illegal recruitment, free legal assistance and free telephone service worldwide in cases of emergency. It also coordinates with national agencies, consulates and embassies especially on cases that need immediate attention.
Livelihood and credit assistance, counseling, scholarship to children of migrant workers and financial aid for the shipment of cadavers overseas can also be obtained from the Center. Several cases of rape, maltreatment and breach of contract have already received legal assistance. Of the 52 cases handled so far, 48 have been successfully resolved and four await resolution from the Department of Labor and Employment. More than 1,500 phone calls have been placed in the Center serving as a hotline and/or communication link to any part of the world. The credit assistance program operating for almost a year now offers a maximum loanable amount of Php 2000 payable in two years to farmers. Donations from Abra overseas workers are likewise coursed through the Center to facilitate development projects to needy barangays in the province. Two barangays involved in rice trading and loom weaving have already received monetary support from them. This program is the first and the only one in the country among local government units.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1999 Galing Pook Awards.