A scene with Rafael Rosell in OFW the Movie, which features Filipino expat Griselda Tongol (inset).


OFW Movie features UAE expats in debut roles


DUBAI – Two Filipinos in the UAE landed their first movie bit roles to share the screen with Philippine stars in the upcoming inspirational film, OFW the Movie.

OFW the Movie, which producers say is “based on true stories”, features the lives of five Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Canada and Qatar and stars Sylvia Sanchez, Rafael Rosell, Dianne Medina, Kakai Bautista and Christian Vasquez. It is directed by Neal Tan.

In the film, Sanchez and Bautista portray the role of domestic helpers, while Medina takes on the role of a caregiver. Vasquez and Rosell play the role of fathers forced to leave their families behind in the Philippines while they earn a living abroad.

Debut acting by Filipinos in UAE

UAE-based tutor Griselda Tongol plays the bit role as the Arab employer of Sanchez, who portrays a domestic worker in the movie.

Speaking to, Tongol said acting alongside the veteran actress was a challenge because it was her first time to act in any film. “When I met the producer and director they told me I would fit the character because of my age and looks,” the 48-year-old Filipina said.

She said that she eventually gained confidence in acting because of the message behind her role. “My role was important in this movie because it showed that not all Arab employers are heartless. There are also kind and helpful people out there,” Tongol told

She also said that the movie taught her “not be embarrassed of your job as a domestic helper. Just love your job and everything will be easy for you.”

OFW The MovieA scene with Sylvia Sanchez (left) and Griselda Tongol.

The film also features Rudy T. Parilla Jr, a businessman based in Dubai, who plays the bit role of an Arabic driver in the movie. Parilla described his role as “unique”.

“The shooting was really challenging on my part, but it was fun and exciting as a whole. It was my first time to act in front of a camera, and I had to portray the role of an Arabic person. But I don’t look like an Arab at all!” he told

With OFW the Movie Director Neal TanRudy T. Parilla with movie director Neal Tan.

UAE premiere

The UAE screening of OFW the Movie has been postponed, organizer Sabio Productions said in a statement. No new date was announced. The movie was scheduled to premiere in the UAE on July 26 at Reel Cinemas in Al Ghurair Mall at 1pm and at Oscar Cinema in Al Wahda Mall at 4pm. Organisers said Vasquez and Medina will be in the UAE for the premieres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with Arnel Ignacio, former deputy administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), who is the narrator in the movie produced by OWWA.

Filipino expats in UAE react

Speaking to, Dubai-based entrepreneur Warpeace Arnold said that the film is different from other OFW-related movies because it is a “feel-good movie on the success and inspirational journey of Filipinos working abroad”.

Arnold has been one of the staunch supporters of the project, along with Dubai-based businesswoman Geraldine Quizon of construction firm KBH Group.

“It is great that our movie makers are now focusing on making films that feature the positive stories of Filipinos abroad because there are also many success stories here on varying levels,” Quizon said.

Ericson Reyes, a bank executive based in Dubai, said he can’t wait to watch the movie. “I am excited to know the lives of OFWs in other parts of the world, because this movie features not one but five countries,” he said.

Charlene Agoncillo, radio jockey of online music station Pinas Music Zone, said the movie shows how OFWs “really go through great lengths and sacrifice for their family”. “Not all OFWs go through hardships because there are those who succeed in life. The movie teaches us that whatever life throws at us, if we do everything with an open heart, something good will be waiting for us,” Agoncillo said. ICA/Expat Media



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