People of OIL Feature 2024-003 Dr. Noel Christian A. Moratilla


Upholding Filipino Workers’ Rights and International Education: Insights from UP’s Office of International Linkages

In a world where globalization often overshadows local interests, the plight of Filipino workers in foreign lands remains a poignant reminder of the complexities of internationalization. Dr. Noel Christian A. Moratilla, Deputy Director of the UP System Office of International Linkages, sheds light on these issues and their intersections with higher education.

Dr. Moratilla’s research, namely his 2013 journal article entitled  Kontra-Diskurso: Testimonial Narratives of Filipino Workers in a Foreign Company published in the 10th Volume, 1st Series 2023 of Humanities Diliman: A Philippine Journal of Humanities, underscores the power of narratives in highlighting the struggles of marginalized groups, particularly Filipino workers facing abuse and exploitation in foreign shipbuilding companies. Through compelling stories, these workers challenge the status quo and demand accountability from those in power. Dr. Moratilla’s work extends beyond mere documentation; it aims to empower workers and other marginalized groups to assert their rights actively.

Moreover, Dr. Moratilla emphasizes the importance of aligning internationalization efforts with national interests. While pursuing global connections, UP prioritizes service to the nation, ensuring that international initiatives ultimately benefit Filipinos, both at home and abroad. This approach reflects UP’s commitment to inclusive development and social justice.

One such initiative is the UP VINTA program, a groundbreaking endeavor to support migrant workers in continuing their education. Recognizing the vital role of education in empowering individuals, UP VINTA provides opportunities for migrant workers to enhance their skills and knowledge, thereby fostering their self-worth and reducing feelings of alienation.

UP VINTA will certainly be remembered as one of the most pivotal innovations to come out of our desire to help migrants, particularly migrant workers, to continue their schooling and eventually earn a degree. The program will provide them the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge, including those that will make them more mindful of their rights and responsibilities as workers in foreign territory. Just as important, it will help increase their sense of self-worth and lessen the feelings of alienation and despair that often characterize a life away from loved ones.

However, Dr. Moratilla cautions against viewing internationalization in isolation from nationalism or localism. Instead, he advocates for an integrated approach that bridges global and local perspectives. Internationalization, he argues, should promote multipolarity among nations and facilitate cultural exchange and collaboration to address global challenges effectively.

Dr. Moratilla also emphasizes the importance of “internationalization at home,” which cultivates intercultural understanding without physical mobility. This approach enriches individuals’ perspectives and fosters creativity and critical thinking, essential skills in today’s interconnected world.

“Unlike other institutions where dominant interests can easily manipulate the discourse, higher education serves as a laboratory for dialogue and collaboration, and it is this character of higher education that lends itself readily to internationalization.  It should likewise be stressed that internationalization is not just about physical mobility because there is what is known as “internationalization at home” which develops international and intercultural understanding without having to leave one’s homeland.”

Addressing the gap between internationalization rhetoric and community engagement, Dr. Moratilla calls for a reevaluation of current practices. He advocates for policies that promote internationalization at all levels, involving not only educational institutions but also government and other sectors.

In essence, these insights highlight the intricate relationship between internationalization, national interests, and social justice. By championing the rights of Filipino workers and advocating for inclusive education, the University exemplifies a commitment to transformative change in higher education and beyond.