Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is

FEATURED ARTICLE

I’ve been advocating OFW issues and concerns in our blog but one issue that I am very keen of, is the creation of an OFW Bank. There are many organizations that I am affiliated with, like in the past  the Bohol-Leyte OFW Cooperative, OFW Cooperative Council, OFWNet, United OFW, and at present Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang PilipinoOFW Congress, and even Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP), the proposed political party of OFWs, all of these groups tackled the possibility of creating an OFW Bank that will cater the real needs of OFWs and their families.  

Also, there have been bills filed in Philippine Congress that seek the creation of a bank for OFWs, the Senate Bill No. 639 by Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr.; House Bill No. 723 by Rep. Judy J. Syjuco; and HB No. 1565 by representatives Jaime C. Lopez and Prospero Nograles. Up to this date, the mentioned bills are among those stacked of files found in the dim lit areas of the House of Congress.

There was even a proposal from Vice President Jojo Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns submitted to the Office of the President but there  are many sectors of government opposed the plan for the creation of an OFW Bank.   

The featured article below by: Romie Cahucom  will give an update on this issue and perhaps – would be solution to the most awaited OFW Bank.

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Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is

For this post, we get back to the OFW bank issue by offering a sort of brief rebuttal to the first two (2) objections of Bangko Sentral and the Department of Finance on the proposal of Vice-President Jejomar Binay for the formation of an OFW bank way back in 2010.

We recall that Vice-President Binay, way back on November 22, 2010, sent a formal letter to President Benigno Aquino III recommending the establishment of an OFW bank which “will provide an alternative yet viable economic financial and remittance institution for our kababayans at the local and international levels”.

As reports go, the Bangko Sentral and Department of Finance “had advised the Palace against the scheme, citing issues of cost, redundancy, administrative and regulatory unwieldiness, and sending signals that discourage current private-sector competition which, they claimed, already benefits OFWs by way of driving down transaction costs.”

President Aquino then, upholding the position of government regulators, did not approve the OFW bank proposal.

Vice-President Binay, despite the disapproval, vowed to work on with the OFW bank initiative “to encourage savings and investment among OFWs”.

It is presumably in this light that the Vice-President commissioned the Technical Working Group (as I mentioned in previous posts) to prepare a study for the establishment of an OFW Development Bank.

For purposes of this post, I assume that the recommendation of Vice-President Binay is for an OFW bank along the same lines as the following report from dailies:

“The OFW Bank project was first conceptualized in 2006 to consolidate the financial assets and operational capabilities of government financial institutions like the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC), together with its subsidiary Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), as lead entities towards the creation of a financial institution for overseas Filipinos that is less expensive and more focused in its direction and services.”

Now for the brief general rebuttal on the first two (2) points raised by the government regulators (We shall take up the rest of the objections in a future post).

The Issue of Cost 

Forget about the previous (2006) proposal involving Land Bank, DBP, Philippine Postal Corporation and the Philippine Postal Savings Bank. The solution is simply to buy an existing savings or thrift bank to jumpstart and start the OFW bank rolling. This is not a big deal as I am sure it is not difficult to find a small bank up for sale which should be based in Metro Manila or nearby.

Read more >>>>>>

DOLE to hold first congress on OFWs

OWWA/June 3, 2011 – The Dept. of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its attached agencies will be celebrating its 1st NATIONAL CONGRESS OF OFWs AND FAMILIES on June 7, Tuesday at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City. This momentous event falls on Migrant Workers Day, the special day made for the Filipino overseas workers.

Migrant Workers of various nationalities during May 2011 International Workers’ Day march through Hamra and Sanayeh in Beirut, Lebanon. (Click Photo)

The National Congress of OFWs and Families aims to convene OFWs and families, and other stakeholders to draw up recommendations for program development and policy direction in fostering OFW sector development, and to develop a mechanism in the implementation of the billion-peso reintegration program for enterprise development of OFWs.

The event’s highlight will be the launching of the 2 Billion Pesos Reintegration Program. This is a joint venture of the DOLE, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines. The program offers different enterprises, flexible and easy loan term payments for its OFW availees. This is in support of the president’s desire to give sustainable businesses to the OFWs and their families.

The event will also showcase exhibits of products and services of former OFWs and Overseas Filipino Circles (OFCs) who have previously availed of the reintegration programs and financial and technical assistances offered by the OWWA.

The event will also feature the presentation of the OFW Manifesto which underscores the needs and concerns of the OFWs and their families. The Manifesto was drafted from the accumulated reports of the Regional Congress of the OWWA Regional Welfare Offices.

The attendees of the event are the OFWs, their families, the OFCs, the social partners, the media and some distinguished guests.

OWWA organized this event in celebration of the national Migrant Workers Day.

Remittance power of Overseas Filipinos to drive community development

Unlad Kabayan, a migrant worker NGO, is one of the beneficiaries of Remit4Change.

Innovation to Spur Remittance-driven Development thru Corporate Social Responsibility

A new programme, called Remit4changewas launched last week by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) in partnership with the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research & Action (TIGRA), a California-based non-governmental organization. The program promotes an enabling environment for the collective remittance practices of Filipino overseas to boost local economic development.“With this programme, we aim to develop an innovative grassroots model of migrant-centered and driven development that truly embodies President Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership strategy for national economic development,” commented Sec. Imelda Nicolas of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. “We have partnered with TIGRA to adopt and adapt its Remit4change program which will generate funding for community-based projects through principles and practices of corporate social responsibility in the money transfer industry.”

Francis Calpotura, TIGRA Executive Director said: “Every time our kababayans use a US-based money transfer company accredited by TIGRA, that company will contribute $1 to a community development project of the remitter’s choice. The remitter selects from a list of projects aimed to improve the lives of migrant families.” According to TIGRA’s estimates, in 2010 alone, Filipinos overseas transacted more than 50 million money transfers from more than 120 countries.

“We launched Remit4Change for Latin America last year, and we’re ready to replicate the program in the Philippines this year. Our partnership with CFO is a historic step in making migration an option and not a necessity for economic survival for millions of Filipinos,” added Calpotura.

“We strongly support and campaign for Remit4Change which highlights the vital role of migrants in generating corporate community reinvestments as a viable and practical model that benefits migrant communities,” commented Melanie Valenciano, Program Officer at Unlad Kabayan, a Remit4change beneficiary and the lead Philippine-based, migrant worker NGO that collaborates with TIGRA in implementing the program. “Furthermore, Remit4Change also reinforces the broader need for lower, fairer, and more transparent remittance fee-pricing that will democratize the industry.” read more>>>>

Why We Need a Comprehensive OFW Economic Reintegration Legislation?

Babalik AKO Bayan Ko!

A few months ago, I featured an excerpt of a blog entry from a former OFW who was known in the OFW Community in Riyadh. In fact we met each other in 2003 during the 1st OFW Conference on Reintegration in KSA initiated by then Labor Attaché Jainal Rasul, Jr.  Like me, he was one of the resource speakers in that conference but we haven’t got the chance to be introduced with each other.

That particular blog entry titled “Dream Big Dreams – a Gadfly’s Wish Listcaught to my attention.  It is a dream for a creation of a specific body tasked with OFW economic reintegration.  And this could only be realized through a legislation to be enacted as a law by the Philippine Congress.  

The same blog entry that inspired OFW Congress Executive Council members to pass a resolution addressed to Pnoy and VP Binay, to quote as follows:     

**“WHEREAS, some of our returning OFWs failed in their business endeavors for lack of  entrepreneurial preparation, short of knowledge in savings mobilizations and unguided investment schemes resulting into failures and bankruptcy. In view of this, we strongly believed that a separate agency or institution is necessary to handle the complex issue of OFW Economic Reintegration. In line with the Presidents’ commitment for transformational leadership and the governments’ agenda that working abroad would not be anymore a necessity for Filipinos; WE therefore urge the President to facilitate the creation of a special body whose task is to craft up policies and comprehensive approach as well as concrete mechanisms for OFW Reintegration Program.**

Three days ago Romie Cahucom in his new blog entry “Why We Need a Comprehensive OFW Economic Reintegration Legislationexplains the necessity why our Congress should pass a comprehensive OFW reintegration legislation as early as possible. What was happening in Middle East and the natural calamity that hit Japan means displacement and suffering  for our modern day heroes.  Therefore, the government must be economically prepared for the eventual return of OFWs.

Click here>>> to read more “Why We Need a Comprehensive OFW Economic Reintegration Legislation.

Maximizing the development impact of remittances

SINGLE –YEAR EXPERT MEETING ON

 MAXIMIZING THE DEVELOPMENT IMPACT OF  REMITTANCES

 Geneva, 14‐15 February 2011

 MOBILIZING THE USE OF REMITTANCES TOWARDS POVERTY  REDUCTION AND ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL  DEVELOPMENT

  THROUGH GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES:

  THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE

By

Saul DE VRIES

Deputy Director

National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers

Department of Labour and Employment

Introduction

 Compared to its ASEAN neighbors, the Philippines has more extensive experience of sending manpower abroad. Numerous policies and programs, crafted by the government, reflect this reality. Realizing the potentials of migration for work, the Philippine government pursued its overseas employment program with the general objective of achieving economic and social benefits for Filipino migrants, their families, communities and the country as a whole.

Being one of the major labor-sending countries in the world, the Philippines ranks high in the list of top receivers of remittances from overseas. From a macro angle, foreign remittances have significantly contributed in maintaining the country’s foreign exchange reserves afloat and have become a constant source of income, which even supersedes direct foreign investments and overseas development assistance funds received by the Philippines.

Please click the UNCTAD Logo for the full text

Dream Big Dreams – A Gadfly’s Wish List

Dream Big Dreams – A Gadfly’s Wish List
By: Romie Cahucom (former OFW in Riyadh)

Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s souls”, the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once said. Before the mania of the New Year season finally ends, I will hasten to add a couple of big dreams or wistful thoughts for the OFW sector.

And so, folks, bear with me for a short moment of wistful thinking. Let us dream of bigger things for this year 2011. Maybe some time this year a stroke of luck may bring us closer to the fulfillment of our desires. Or some of those in a position to act will act for us.

I only have two big dreams or wish list for the OFW sector and this concerns the ideas or line that I am most concerned about: investment literacy.

The first of this wish list is related to the last article I posted which is entitled, “A Gadfly’s Proposed OFW Resolution Calling and Urging Congress to Craft Legislation on OFW Economic Reintegration”. The dream is simply that Congress passes a law creating a specific body tasked with OFW economic reintegration. Or at least, a legislation along this line is crafted in either or both houses of Congress.

I have written about this in the last post and will elaborate on the compelling reasons and the possible structure or set up of this body in future posts. Hence, I will not dwell much about this issue in this post.

Just one last note: the body to be created by the law should be something similar to POEA and OWWA but specific to OFW economic reintegration. We leave the other aspects of reintegration (psychological, redeployment, and so forth) to DOLE. That is their line of expertise.

The second item on the wish list concerns the OFW organizations of which a myriad exists practically everywhere there is deployment – a testament to our gregariousness as a people. There are as many types as there as subsectors or interest groups: sports, social-civic, professional, regional-provincial ethnic and so forth. A small number are business and/or investment-oriented.

All these organizations, once registered with the Philippine Embassy, are officially called Accredited Community Partners or ACPs. At least, that’s what I know in the place where I used to work. Maybe other worksites have different names for the same thing.  read more>>>> 

Note: Romie Cahucom was a  former Senior Relationship Manager of a major Saudi bank, a  former long-time financial analyst and one-time Legislative Officer and  Executive Assistant of a  Senator. He finished Business Management from the University of the Philippines. He is at present engaged in financial consulting work.  

Region 8 OFWs formally organize themselves as an association

PIA Press Release
Friday, December 17, 2010

Tacloban City (December 17) — For the first time, the Overseas Filipino Workers in Eastern Visayas have organized themselves into an association, on December 17, 2010 at the OWWA Region 8 Conference Room.

OFW Alex Veloso Bello and Family during MOFYA Awarding Ceremony with H.E. Philippine President Noynoy Aquino and OFW Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, Vice President Jojo Binay andOWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon. Also in the photo, Globe Telecom chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz

Mr. Alex Bello, this year’s Model OFW Family Awardee for Region 8, land-based category, informed the Philippine Information Agency that during the OFW Family Day, upon the suggestion of Board Member Roque A. Tiu, the group decided  to meet on December 17 to formally organize into an organization.

Mr. Bello said that the OFWs could be a strong force in implementing changes in the Region, in the policies on OFWs and in helping other OFWs who are in  need, even OFWs who are now back from abroad.

With Mr. Bello is the interim President, vice presidents for every province  were also chosen. They are Teresita Contado; Reynaldo Tuazon of Samar, Rogelio  Labarrete for Northern Leyte, Araceli Sevilla for Western Leyte, and Pablito Cuizon for Biliran.

Rosario Macapugas is the Secretary while Delia Reyes isTreasurer. Batasheba Dy was chosen as the auditor and Victor Quimbo and Nida Robin are the Marshalls.

Mr. Bello who is also this year’s National Special Awardee for community  service, said that the association is named as  Pagkakaisa OFWs Families in Region 8.

The name expresses the desire of the OFWs to unite together to help Region 8 and to help other OFW families who are in need.

The little help from each member will have bigger impact when added together,  Mr. Bello said.

With the 26 years of being an OFW leader in Saudi Arabia, here is wishing Mr.  Bello and the other officers good luck in their endeavors. (PIA 8)

Open Reply to Rose

Dear Rose,

Hindi ako taga OWWA, isa rin po akong OFW na katulad ninyo. Nais ko rin pong mag for good pero hindi pa sapat ang naiipon para makapagsimula. Nakapag loan na rin ako sa OWWA pero ito ay sa contruction ng fence sa aking bahay, maliit lamang pero nakatulong na rin sa akin ang OWWA. I’ll share you a little about OWWAs OFW reintegration program.

OWWA has already an existing livelihood program for returning OFWs who don’t want to work abroad again. This program is a joint undertaking of OWWA and National Livelihood Support Fund (NLSF). The program helps OFWs to become an entrepreneur when they decide to return into the mainstream of our society. It is not just only for individuals but also to organizations. Possible business opportunities are 1) general merchandise and buy and sell, groceries etc. 2) repair shops, carenderia, parlors etc., 3) Meat and fruit processing etc 4) agri-business.

All OFWs and their dependents can avail for a loan, all you need to do is to visit OWWA Regional office near in your area. I advice you na sa ngayon palang na andito ka, papuntahin mo na ang member ng iyong pamilya or asawa para magtanong sa mga kailangan kung paano maka avail sa loan para sa pag uwi mo handa ka na sa iyong gagawin.

If ever you’re residing Laguna, instruct your family members to visit ATIKHA in San Pablo, Laguna. This NGO or Non-government organization helps OFW and OFW family members in determining viable business in your area. They will give training and assist you to start the operation. If you have time please visit this site:    http://www.atikha.org/index.php 

Good luck and please share this message to our fellow OFWs.

Salamat sa pagbisita.

Bong

P.S. To my readers and fellow OFW, I just want to share with you a Video taken at ATIKHA web site. The title of this Video  is  “Migrants’ children struggle with absence of loved ones.”

Pinoys abroad tapped to wake up sleepy town of Bohol

MARIBOJOC, Bohol–THE explorer Pigafetta would have chosen this town over Mactan had it already sported a Hollywood-like sign on its mountain ranges.

But had this town did, it may have attracted not only Pigafetta –desperate to escape after his and Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet was pummeled in the Battle of Mactan– but also other explorers who may know only Bohol because of its famed chocolate hills.

That is ultimately what this project hopes to accomplish, according to mayor Leoncio Evasco: to lure back its former residents, or at least their resources, from abroad.

MARIBOJOC’S HIDDEN TREASURE. This Is the Postan Mangrove Forest, located in the heart of the Abatan River (where a tourist can visit via a banca ride). But this forest bares century-old mangrove trees, 18 identified species of forest mangrove trees, and nipa forests. Postan is the cherished treasure of the Bohol town of Maribojoc, whose local officials plan to make this forest an eco-tourism destination for Maribojocanons abroad.OFW Journalism Consortium Photo Service

Evasco said he has secured commitment from the Maribojoc Association USA to construct a Maribojoc billboard —similar to what Hollywood in Los Angeles, USA, has— on the side of the mountain range that faces the Maribojoc Bay.

Evasco is the man behind such project that, he said, aims to raise tourism receipts and attract investors in his town, a five-minute ride northwest of Bohol’s capital city of Tagbilaran.

Evasco said he’s starting with Maribojocanons overseas as a target market.

“We want to raise awareness to the returning Maribojocanons about the town that they left, of what it has become today, and of the values and people that were lost here.”

Evasco spoke to the OFW Journalism Consortium last month to promote the project, which will be announced during the annual town fiesta on May 5.

The fiesta is the highlight of a town-wide reunion from April 10 to July 31 called Balik Maribojoc.

Considered as one major grandiose sight in the barangay of Punta Cruz in the municipality of Maribojoc, this structure with Baroque features once served as a lookout for incoming pirates for the townspeople. This tower is composed of ground and upper floors that offer a breathtaking view of the sea facing the provinces of Cebu, Siquijor and Mindanao.

Aside from announcing the construction of the Hollywood-like sign, the reunion aims to showcase some of Maribojoc’s tourist spots.

One of this is Punta Cruz, Bohol’s remaining watch tower, which deterred Spanish pirates during the 19th century.

Punta Cruz is also symbolic for overseas Filipinos and their families in Maribojoc since it is here where the germ for the town’s version of diaspora philanthropy was seeded.

Crossing

PUNTA Cruz is a historic site for the informal, town-wide group of families of overseas Filipinos who meet in this triangular, sturdy structure almost every month.

The last gathering in October of over-300 families affirmed Evasco’s belief in the possibility of tapping OFWs as source of social investment.

People just kept coming and the seats were not enough. Municipal government employee James Mabilin, then manning the entrance of the watch tower compound, couldn’t stop the influx.

The organizers said they expected representatives of only 200 migrant families.

Seafarers waiting for their next contract bankrolled lechon (roasted pig). College-schooled children of overseas Maribojocanons hosted parlor games around the grassy complex.

Amazed at the turnout, Evasco said he donated P5,000 for additional cash prizes for the parlor games.

“We never had this kind of a crowd, coming from OFWs [and their families] in our town,” Evasco said.

The parish of Maribojoc was founded in 1768, and construction of a church started 1798 and lasted 18 years. The church is located in Maribojoc town, 14 kilometers from the Tagbilaran. The place can be reached by bus of jeepney.

Still, those who joined the gathering represented only half of the total 742 overseas workers and emigrants from this town of 18,133 people.

The figure is based on Mabilin’s census of families with dependents and relatives abroad in Maribojoc’s 22 upland, lowland, and coastal villages.

While only half were represented in that gathering last year, it failed to dampen the spirit of Virginia Alindajao, 48, wife of an electrician in Saudi Arabia since 1993.

“I never realized that we OFWs and OFW families,” she said in Tagalog, “are just around waiting to get ourselves together.”

Alindajao is also one of the organizers of Punta Cruz Environmental Organization.

When the buzzword of forming an OFW group swept Maribojoc, she signed up.

Alindajao’s euphoria was shared by Laura Manuta, mayor Evasco’s sister and a former nurse in Germany and in Saudi Arabia.

Manuta is also a volunteer nurse for the Holy Cross Parish’s medical clinic since retiring in 1997.

She’s also president of the land-based OFW family circle group called the Maribojoc Land-based Migrant Workers and Beneficiaries Association.

On the other hand, the Maribojoc Seafarers and Beneficiaries Association has the town’s agricultural officer, seaman’s wife Eva Bolasco, as its head.

Stronghold

THE stronghold of Maribojoc’s OFW population, Mabilin told the OFW Journalism Consortium, is not the remittances plowing into the town, estimated to be between P52 to 84 million annually.

It is the OFW townmates’ alayon (bayanihan in Tagalog, or community spirit), Mabilin said.

Last December, the groups recommended foregoing a town-wide Christmas party to donate school supplies and slippers to children in the town’s poorest village of Candavid.

Filipino migration-and-development analysts have remarked the potential of luring the resources and bayanihan spirit of overseas Filipinos and their families right in the migrants’ rural hometowns.

Evasco and the OFW family circles that his office, the Municipal Manpower Development and Placement Office, facilitated to organize are seeking to make that spirit transform the town into an economic paradise.

Currently a fourth-class municipality whose income in 2008 was P61.358 million, this sleepy town lacked jobs, forcing some middle-class residents go to the provincial capital of Tagbilaran City, the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao (like Evasco himself) and Manila, and overseas.

Overseas Maribojocanons’ remittances that pass by the town’s only two pawnshops, as well as banks and money transfer outfits in Tagbilaran City (some 14 kilometers from Maribojoc), are the single biggest economic drivers of Maribojoc, says Evasco.

The lack of vibrant economic activities apart from retail trade, fishing, and farming made Maribojoc a fifth-class municipality previously.

“Nothing wrong if you go elsewhere,” two-year mayor Evasco recalled telling some Maribojocanons during casual conversations, “but come back home and bring with you the ideas and experience you learned elsewhere.”

Maybe after the Hollywood-like sign facing the sea, some would mimic Pigafetta’s journey but not accidentally landing in this town whose name was taken from a pine tree named “Malabojoc”.  

by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO ( OFW Journalism Consortium)

Governor Challenges Migrants

Governor Challenges Migrants: “Peso for Peso” to Develop Province

(Press Release) November 12, 2007, Utrecht, The Netherlands – In sharp contrast to the intense politically-charged environment in the Philippines, overseas Filipinos were pleasantly surprised by Governor Oscar Moreno’s dynamic response to a call for action for matching funds in Misamis Oriental’s development projects spearheaded by local and overseas Filipino organizational partners.

Anak Mindanao Party List Representative Cong. Mujib Hataman, Alex Bello & Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno

Anak Mindanao Party List Representative Cong. Mujib Hataman, Alex Bello & Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno

During his keynote speech at the Diaspora Convergence Conference in Amsterdam on November 2, 2007, Governor Moreno emphasized that migrants could do better by pushing the right buttons and partnering with government and local social cause-oriented, volunteer-based organizations (a.k.a. civil society). He also promised to champion development partnerships with overseas Filipino groups among his fellow governors, especially those in Northern Mindanao.

A series of events organized by diverse groups, leading to the Global Forum in Migration and Development in 2008, are expected to revive the activism and engagement that Overseas Filipino organizations displayed during the 2001-2002 campaigns for the OAV (overseas absentee vote) and dual citizenship. The conference also symbolized the coming together of Overseas Filipino leaders from three global regions – Middle East & Asia, Europe, and North America – with an agreement to support each others’ development programs and projects. The conference also recognized the changing cultural landscape in Europe, such as the need to address the second generation’s problems, gender issues, and the development of emerging community leaders. The need to dialogue with faith-based organizations and to engage them in common development efforts was also scheduled on the agenda.

The diaspora convergence conference was immediately followed by Filipinas Magazine-s Lorna Lardizabal Dietz’s book launching of Filomenita “NitNit” Mongaya-Hoegsholm’s anthology entitled “In De Olde Worlde: Views of Filipino Migrants in Europe.” Certificates of Appreciation were also given to outstanding Euro-Filipinos in The Netherlands: three Ph.D. graduates for their ground-breaking research – Dr. Rommel Bacabac, Dr. Jonathan Palero, and Dr. Arni Sicam; Sheryl Lyn Paderes-Baas, Miss Nederland 2006, for her humanitarian projects; Flora Abangan-Schuyt, for engaging in a socially-responsible business; Ricky Tuazon, for promoting Filipino dance and performance arts; Irma Galias, for promoting Filipino music and songs; and Ms. Leila Rispens-Noel, for promoting the role of the diaspora in development work.

POST-CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES

The momentum of the migrant conference, fueled by the participants’ enthusiasm, continued with post-conference activities such as networking and planning sessions. Governor Moreno, who met with Mindanao constituents, was joined by the Caucus to brainstorm on setting up a European-based development fund that could enable small business enterprises to thrive in the rural areas.

Philippine Congressman Mujiv Hataman, of AMIN or Anak Mindanao, joined the discussions and committed to explore the possibilities of mobilizing countryside development funds of his fellow representatives in Congress for the diaspora conference’s initiatives.

Governor Moreno, during a pre-departure conversation at Schiphol Airport, was asked his opinion about his Netherlands visit. He flashed that enigmatic Moreno smile and replied, “Others may have all the publicity and propaganda, but your conference convinced me that there is much that migrants like you could do. I hope other groups could do the same.”

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

A conference of Filipino organizations in the Netherlands entitled “Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development” will be held on November 2, 2007. Prior to the said conference the participants will be having a preliminary conference on October 29 to 30 dubbed as “The Filipino Expert’s Meeting”.

Damayan

Damayan

The general objective of the conference is to develop a common agenda towards harnessing the development potentials of migration and underline the importance of the contribution of the migrant and overseas Filipinos to the development of the Philippines, emphasizing the better use of their remittances, skills and acquired knowledge.

The participants will include Filipino organizations, especially those involved in development projects, other migrants groups based in the Netherlands and Dutch institutions concerned with migration and development. Representatives of Filipino networks from other European countries as well as from North America, Asia, Middle East and from the Philippines is also part of the conference.

Filipino resource persons will shed light on the current situation of the Philippines on a number of relevant themes related to migration and development. A Panel of Reactors composed of migrant and overseas Filipinos will share their specific responses and current initiatives.

Habagat

Habagat

Invited guest include Senator Kiko Pangilinan to speak on the role and impact of the contribution of the Filipino diaspora to the development of the Philippines. Ms. Djahlia Sitti, of the Moro Human Rights Center, a young Moro leader, will focus on the role of women in development within the context of peace-building. Writer, poet and artist Ms Mila D. Aguilar will share her insights on the evolution of Filipino culture, the current challenges in the Philippines and entrepreneurial mass movement as a response. Congressman Mujib Hataman, Anak Mindanao Party list representative will share his view on good governance in the light of the current situation of the Bangsa Moro people.

Oxpam

Oxpam

Other invited speakers are; Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias of Migration Policy Institute, Washington , DC, Leila Rispens-Noel Programme Officer, Popular Campaigning Oxfam Novib, The Netherlands, Mai Anonuevo Atikha, Philippines and Prof. Rolando G. Talampas University of the Philippines.

Guests includes Burgemeester Job Cohen the Mayor of Amsterdam, H.E. Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles, Philippine Embassy and Minister Bert Koenders of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the President of OFW Congress-Riyadh is representing OFWs from Middle East.

The conference is a project of Habagat Foundation in cooperation with Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, Bisayang Daku Network and core-OFW.

Habagat is a foundation put up in 1993 by Dutch citizens of Filipino origin, specifically from Mindanao. It believes in the potentials of the migrants as agents of change and development both in their countries of origin as well as in their host countries. This vision has been reflected in its lobby and advocacy efforts in synergy with various migrant and overseas Filipino networks. It has also initiated and supported development projects both in the Philippines and other developing countries, like Nepal. Its partners include migrant organizations and migrant-related institutions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. On top of this, it has closely monitored the Mindanao situation. Aside from peace-information drives for Mindanao in the past almost 20 years, it has sent a Peace Delegation to the Philippines in December 2006 in partnership with the Multicultural Women Peacemakers Network in the Netherlands.

Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland or Damayan was registered as an organization of Filipino migrants in 1986. It is committed among others, to support initiatives of people’s organizations in the Philippines as well as to facilitate exchanges between Dutch organizations and Philippine-based groups. It has conducted and supported campaigns on migrant rights, social participation and integration as well as rallied against trafficking of women and violence at home. It has participated in various migrant lobby and advocacy work like the Absentee-Voting, Ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of the Migrants and their Families. Currently, in close cooperation with the local government of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental and in partnership with community-based organizations, it has started the project Maria Goes To Town -this is establishing a market place functional to a number of neighboring villages. At the same time, it has supported a number of children to school, again in cooperation with the local governments, people’s organizations and public school officials in North Cotabato and Davao areas.

The Bisayang Daku Network or BisDak NL was established in early 1990’s among the Visayan-speaking migrant Filipinos in the Netherlands.. It has organized benefit activities to provide an occasion for the Filipino to meet and promote Filipino culture. Through these activities, BisDak raises funds for small-scale community projects in Southern Philippines.

The core-Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (Core-OFW) is a think tank of concerned individuals, migrant organizations, NGOs and other members of civil society based in Philippines, USA and Europe, each with different fields of expertise and affiliations. Its activities are facilitated by those based in the Netherlands where some of its active members come from.

Note:

For this entry and information, my heartfelt thanks to the Conference Secretariat headed by Grace Cabactulan, Habagat Foundation, Chairperson Stichting Habagat and Basco Fernandez of the Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland.

Open Letter of Appeal to Pres. GLoria M. Arroyo

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Dear Madam President:

We are writing to you today to raise our concern over the continued appreciation of the peso to a level which is now hurting each and every one of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

The following realities will help you appreciate the predicament we are in:

1) While our salaries during the last few years remained the same, our cost of living here in the Kingdom, like anywhere else, have increased.  This means less income available for remittance to our families back home;

US Dollar

US Dollar

2) The situation became worse when the peso appreciated from 55 to 45 versus US dollar during the last ten months.  The continued peso appreciation effectively reduced the value of our remittances by an average of 18%;

3) On the other hand the rising prices of commodities back home, which ironically should have decreased due to the strengthening of the peso, aggravated further the already worsening situation;

4) We estimate that with the 18% reduction in the value of our remittances plus, say a 10% increase in household expenses of families back home, an OFW who used to remit $300 monthly, will now have to send $405 to maintain his family’s current living standard. To be able to do this, he will have to work longer hours and/or tighten his belt.

5) For those of us who have planned to go back home for good within the next couple of years, will now have to reconsider our plans, and might have to extend our stay here in the Kingdom for a few more years.

Philippine Peso

Philippine Peso

We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s balance of payments, and allow the government to service the country’s debts at a lower cost.  However, we also believe that the gains the government will earn from its debt servicing agreements must not be at the expense of those providing those benefits.  It must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

We therefore respectfully request your good Office to look into ways and means to mitigate the negative impact of the continuing dollar decline on our remittances. Please ask the appropriate officials in your cabinet to study how the following alternatives may be implemented:

A.    Special exchange rate for OFW remittances:

B.     Peg the Peso - Dollar exchange rate at P50 to $1;

C.    Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund, like the one proposed for the export sector;

D.    Provision of incentives or rewards based on the amount of OFW remittance, in order to encourage OFWs to continue remitting the same amount to their families.

We believe that with enough political will, your good Offices will be able to find a solution to this problem which is most equitable to all affected parties.

Thank you for your time, and may God bless you and your family.

Respectfully Yours,

 

THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY LEADERS IN RIYADH

OFW Families in local governance

Every visit in my province when I’m home, I noticed newly constructed big houses in the countryside like in barrios or barangay that caught my attention whenever I had the chance to traveled Cagayan and Butuan. My beloved hometown in particular, I haven’t seen such nice houses in those areas way back in my younger years.

In every inquiries I made, who are the owners of these big houses? Only one common reply I’ve heard, “owned by seaman” or “owned by an ofw” or an “overseas Filipino”.

Thinking aloud lately how important the Overseas Filipinos contribution in nation building more importantly in our local economy. It’s just a simple logic, when the beneficiary receive the remittances from an OFW/Overseas Filipino, they will buy their basic necessities in the area, the local businesses benefited from it, the local government revenue goes up from the taxes derived from those acquired items, materials or properties by the OF/OFWs.

But not all OFWs (sea or land based) are lucky, some goes home empty handed and no savings at all and therefore needs help from the community or local government that once her/his remittances shared an important part in uplifting its local economic condition.

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

How can our local government or WE be of help to our not so lucky OFW returnees dubbed by our Government “Bagong Bayani”? As what I’ve said our Government Reintegration Program for our returning OFWs is just a drop in a bucket. Only very few had succeeded, not to mention that there are still requirements needed in exchange to avail such livelihood program.

What we need is a political mandate, OFW families should have a say in our local government structure or governance. We should be given a voice in determining the exact needs of our fellow OFWs and their families. There a lot of avenues we can contribute if we have the political mandate to get involve and have our views be heard for the purpose of crafting policies beneficial for our sector and social change in general.

It is about time, please join with us in our long quest for OFW/OF political empowerment.

****

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Davao Councilor Peter Lavina an OFW advocate for having been re-elected as Davao City Councilor along with newly elected Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and come backing councilors Tomas Monteverde III, Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz and Tessie Mata-Maranon, and first-termers Edgar Ibuyan, John Louie Bonguyan, Samuel Bangoy, Karlo Bello and Rachel Zozobrado.

Councilor Peter Lavina in his privilege speech during the farewell session at the City Council on the rising value of the Peso which hurts Davao’s export sector, tourism and OFW families, he said “The government has embarked on a relief plan for the exports industry with an initial $1 Million Dollar hedge fund by the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. I asked, what about the lowly OFW families?”

Daghang Salamat! Konsehal sa walang sawang suporta sa aming hanay. Mabuhay Ka!

OFW Livelihood Scam

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh issued a press release to warn all OFWs in the Kingdom to be extra cautious regarding entities engaged in livelihood scam and confirm the legality of any existence of a corporation or association at the SEC before entering into transaction.

In the mentioned press release dated 24 June 2007, the embassy as per information received from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila that “PGMA Unity Philcharity Fund Inc.,” an alleged Pangkabuhayan Program, is not registered with the SEC as corporation or partnership.

The said entity is alledgely engaged in a scam whereby it sends letters and certificates to OFWs stating that the latter won in a raffle drawn from roaming cellphone numbers. The OFW is then asked to remit by Western Union money transfer a certain amount in US dollar to the Philippines, for purposes of processing their prize. Likewise, the address of the said entity located in Ayala, Makati is fictitious.

TY Congen Lomondot & Consulate Staff

Today’s Arab News online “Number of Filipinos Seeking Deportation in Jeddah Swells.”

Our heartfelt gratitude to ConGen for a job well done. It is just a matter of diplomatic initiative that contributes a lot in the on going deportation process for our overstaying compatriots in the Kingdom.

 

To make it clear, the consulate issued statement that “this is not for workers who have yet to finish their contracts,” they added “those being called are Filipinos who have overstayed their visas while in the Kingdom for Umrah or Haj or for those who contracts have been finished.” It means those OFW runaways who have pending cases with their employers for abandoning their job are not yet off the hook. Their plight depends on the employers’ coordination to provide them Exit Visas as prescribed by the host country.  And it depends on how our diplomatic initiative effort works in this particular issue. Reliable sources from the Consulate inform me that they’re working on it. Thank you…

 

Though the main issue here is not the Government-to-Government negotiations to let our OFW in distressed leave the Kingdom but on how to accommodate those OFW runaways that keeps on flooding at our Embassy/Consulate every hours of the day.

 

OWWA Board of Trustees

 

The news item a week ago in which our Consulate personally asking Filipino community, individuals and good Samaritans to contribute something for the needs of our unfortunate OFWs are understandable enough that our Government are short of resources for their needs. This is the question that we keep on asking for many long years now, WHERE are the funds from various Government entities intended for this purpose? Why our Government cannot provide a better place for their stay, enough food to eat and things to use?

 

A million dollar question that keeps on reverberating in my ears as an Overseas Filipino Worker for a quite a time now…

Amend R.A. 8042

Filipino Migrant Workers Day

Filipino Migrant Workers Day

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Antonio Villamor is currently in Manila attending the 1st Policy Consultation of Heads of Posts. That is the reason why Kakampi-Ksa moved our “Reaching A Hand Forum” to a later date and wait for the arrival of the Ambassador back in the Kingdom. 

Reading online news I found one significant outcome of the envoys consultation. The moved to amend The Migrant Workers and Overseas Employment Act of 1995 (R.A.8042) otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers is a very welcome idea. Present provisions of the law are not well defined that needs fine-tuning or amended a long time ago. Our envoys must focus on recommendations that add more teeth to the existing law in relation to the issue of the bilateral agreements to host nations for concrete protection of the migrant workers rights.

As we all knew that R.A. 8042 was an overnight bill of the then Pres. Fidel Ramos for the purpose of covering the worsening diplomatic relations of the country as a result of the campaign to save the life of OFW Flor Contemplacion. The making of the law was without proper consultations to the OFWs  thus the export of Filipino labor force is now deregulated, meaning in the hands of private agencies or recruitment agencies with the POEA role as a mere monitoring agency.

Reengineering the said law might give more specific answers to our grievances. Resource Center and its monetary budget should be made available and not be subject to long frustrating procedure prior approval to funds availability. Male runaways in Saudi Arabia must have a permanent shelter or safehouse and be represented with competent local lawyers in their employment related labor cases. Likewise a monetary budget should be on hand in time needed to avail immediate legal services to those OFWs with criminal cases more particularly those OFWs in death rows.    

Looking back in Year 2000,  during the OFW Summit initiated by OFW Congress-Riyadh made the following proposals amending R.A. 8042:

1)     Inclusion of the word “education” in Section 2 - Declaration of Policies, paragraph  9g ) which shall read as follows:

 (g)The State recognizes the importance of the possession of skills and adequate education and information on overseas employment. Pursuant to this, the government shall intensify its skills training, education and information dissemination programs and shall establish linkages with the sectors concerned.

2)     Redefinition of  the term “Illegal Recruitment” to include illegal practices by licensed recruiters. 

3)     Adding specific prohibited recruitment-related practices.

4)     Increasing penalties for illegal recruitment practices.

5)     Amended  Role of Government Agencies par. b.2

“The OWWA shall, in addition to its present functions, provide the OFWs and their dependents, medical and health care services, social security-type benefits and reintegration package as may be deemed appropriate. The OWWA shall likewise established, under existing laws, manage the welfare fund and utilize the same to provide social, educational and welfare services to the OFWs”.

Sad to say that we don’t need to beg for all of these to happen if political and socio-economic aspect of the OFW scenario have empowered political leadership through OFW representation in Congress - that could formulate laws and related OFW policies and programs. 

In the mentioned consultation we welcome the move of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas urging the head of posts to push for financial literacy of some 10 million Filipino overseas. end – BongA

BSP pushes sale of $1-B bonds to OFWs

BSP pushes sale of $1-B bonds to OFWs

Move can shift focus from spending to investing

THE BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas has urged the national government to offer this year as much as $1 billion in retail treasury bonds (RTBs) to overseas Filipino workers and their beneficiaries.

body_tpl_02In a report to Malacanang on initiatives to improve the environment for offshore workers, the BSP said it had taken steps together with the Department of Finance and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) “to finalize the proposed issuance of RTBs for OFWs.”

“This is aimed at encouraging them and their beneficiaries to channel their remittances to investment instruments,” the BSP reported.

The proposed issuance, targeted within the year but not necessarily in one single sale, aims to divert more OFW inflows for economic development while giving OFW households lucrative investment outlets.

“These savings and investments will help prepare OFWs for future reintegration into the Philippine economy and help provide additional funding for government requirements, including for infrastructure development,” the report said.

The offering size proposed by the BSP was based on the assumption that OFWs could set aside about 10 percent of their earnings for investments.

The issuance of RTBs also helps the BSP’s monetary policy as a way of siphoning off strong inflows from OFWs.

“For their part, commercial banks have offered OFWs specialized investment products and services related to insurance, pension and real estate,” the BSP said. “Direct payment schemes of banks are also available for the added convenience of the OFWs’ beneficiaries.”

In line with its major advocacy programs, the BSP is conducting financial literacy campaigns (FLCs) for OFWs and their beneficiaries together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“The FLCs emphasize the importance of saving and inform the participants of alternative opportunities for their remittances such as placements in financial instruments and investments in business ventures,” the BSP reported.

Based on a survey of four rural banks and one cooperative bank in the three regions where the BSP conducted FLCs, microfinance loans attributed to OFWs have risen in their areas, particularly in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.

Microfinance is the provision of small, unsecured loans to the poor to help them start their own businesses.

OFW remittances coursed through the banking system surged to $11.4 billion in the first 11 months of 2006 from $6.1 billion in 2000. These remittances boosted the supply of foreign exchange, helping stabilize the exchange rate and provided valuable support to economic growth, particularly through strong personal consumption expenditures.

A dream come true

Last January 4, I posted a news item in my blogspot about an OFW who became a successful entrepreneur after 25 years of working in Saudi Arabia. Today, Mr. Mike Bolos is busy again for a new business venture. But this one is not only for his own but it is also open to those who wants to join him in the realization of his dream.

 

He is going to develop a property, a three-storey, expandable to five-storey  mixed use commercial building in the town center of Guagua, Pampanga. Armed with a financing agreement with BPI Family Savings Bank, the target completion date of the said project will be by mid or late December 2006.  Once completed, spaces from it will be rented out to some major fast food chains as well as business and professional entities in the community.

 

As an active board member of the Center for Migrant advocacy (CMA), an office space will be allocated to CMA (Pampanga) for community service.

 

In his email to his friends in Saudi Arabia, he wrote;  I will manage and operate it until it reaches a certain stage of stability and profitability.  Then I will make it available for interested overseas Filipinos to buy from a minimum of one share at PHP 5,000 up to a maximum of ten shares at PHP 50,000 per person.  The reason for the maximum number of shares one can buy is to maximize the number of overseas Filipinos who can participate and to spread out the benefits as much as possible.  To make it even more palatable, a program will be made available for the purchase of any share that any investor finds a need to dispose of at any time for whatever reasons thereby making the investment as good as money in the bank that can be readily withdrawn if needed.

 

On July 2, 2006, at 4:00 pm, a ground  breaking ceremony will be held at the project site in the town center of Guagua, Pampanga.

 

Congrats Ka Mike and God Bless!

 

For more information about the project, please contact Mr. Mike Bolos at  mikebolos@yahoo.com, CP# 0917-8075660 / 0921-7517124. Landline # 8328421/8329209.

Made (Maid) to become a Millionaire

Happier Maids, Happier Homes (click photo)

Happier Maids, Happier Homes (click photo)

Sad tales of our Domestic Helpers in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are very common to us. Though a few of them were lucky to have an employer who treated them well. But this reason cant stop our stand to pursue our (group) fight for a total ban of sending FDH in Middle Eastern countries where there is a probable risk to our Filipina household helpers.
As what Ive said, a few of them are fortunate. Heres a short story that you may not probably be missed to watch in TFC Balitang Middle East and newspapers in the coming days to come.

I talked to her personally yesterday and due to obvious reason I decide not to divulge her name, at least in this writing. 

Hard life in our country forced her to find her luck as a household help in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She landed an employer who treated her well and  considered her as a member of the family. But her luck does not end up there.

Gold Bars

Gold Bars

A few days ago, she received a call from a soft drink company informing her that she won a 2 KILOS of GOLD. A call that she never expected and even ignored it 6 times, until she decided to seek an advise from a Filipina community leader and our Philippine Embassy that helps her in the process to confirm her fortune. She won a 2 Kilos of gold worth more than P 1 Million by a mere chance of participating a soft drink promo contest by texting a number written in the soft drink can. A chance that made (Maid) her to become an instant millionaire.

Today, she saved her fortune in a dollar account, invest part of it in Treasury Bills and shared a few for her fellow stranded Filipina Domestic Helpers by providing them an air tickets back home and presently involved in other charitable deeds.

Lucky enough! And a wise moved too.

Make It Right

OFWs Longing for Home. We want to go home to be with our loved ones, to avoid broken families and many reasons why, but when we go home, it could mean fighting over the few jobs to be had in our country. We, OFWs is jobless again, having no income, we will be forced to seek employment overseas again and again, and this is our life, in visayan dialect maniguwang sa abroad.  
 

Certificate of Appreciation re: 1st OFW Reintegration Conference in Riyadh

Certificate of Appreciation re: 1st OFW Reintegration Conference in Riyadh

My friend and OFW returnee Tony Ranque who is presently connected with OFW Resource Center enlighten me on the above realities, I remember when I asked him some pointers for our Position Paper on OFW Reintegration where i was one of the Resource Speaker during the First OFW Reintegration Conference in Riyadh in which he said that;
OFWs should be encouraged to do forced savings (min. 5-10%of their income). Low-level salaried OFWs may be enjoined to form cooperatives to harness group power. High-level salaried OFWs should be given orientation on various investment opportunities to be identified based on existing requirements like bonds, etc.

Unlad Kabayan

Unlad Kabayan

However, there are many ways to make reintegration program responsive to the respective needs of the migrant workers and to improve the life of their families. A lot of Non-Government Organization could help us, like UNLAD KABAYAN, who have just recently launced an income generating project for ex-OFWs families in Davao particularly   Kalagan Muslim farming community in barangay Lizada, Toril. UNLAD Kabayan is visible in some part of the country like Metro Manila, Bohol, Iligan and Davao.

This re-integration scheme was seen as a means to prepare us for our eventual return to our country. But we should think first of savings like many of us who havent yet started. It cant be denied that the money we sent back home usually ends up for our needs of shelter, education for our kids and other basic necessities but if we have set aside a little savings, NGOs could provide us a means to have this reintegration plan a reality.

There are many of them namely: ATIKHA, BALIK BAYANI, UNLAD KABAYAN, OFWNet/Holdings.

  

Senate Bill 639

The issue of the transfer of 1 Billion OWWA Fund to Phil. Postal Savings Bank was opposed by many OFWs. The Overseas Filipino Workers Congress-Riyadh is one of the many groups who believe that the transfer is not in the best interest of the OFWs in general.

One of the several solutions that we proposed is that – if there is really a transfer of fund as what PGMA recently announced, it must be in a form of a legislative measure where we can see the implementing guidelines, rules and its mechanisms.

Last April 16, 2006, the OFWC wrote a letter to Senator Manuel Villar, Jr. on the proposed Senate Bill 639 he authored re: creation of Phil. Overseas Workers Bank for us to evaluate the said bill and in order to determine whether it is for the best interest of the Migrant Filipinos.

Below is his reply through the office of his Legislative Officer Reesa Novella and kindly see attached link for the full text of SB 639.

***

villar

28 April 2006

Mr. Manuel Amora
Secretary General
Overseas Filipino Workers Congress
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dear Sec. Gen. Amora:

We would like to extend our warm greetings to the Overseas Filipino Workers Congress in Riyadh and the entire Saudi Arabia.

We are in receipt of your letter dated 16 April 2006 requesting for a copy of Senate Bill No. 639 or the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank. Attached is a soft copy of the bill which seeks to address the Filipino overseas workers various financial needs and concerns and further enhance their investment potential.

Thank you very much for your interest in the bill. We will appreciate if you could send us your comments about it.

Our office is always more than willing to help our OFWs.

Sincerely:

Manny Villar

Cooperativism & OFW Reintegration

In today’s global scenario, the race for survival is widely perceived as an inevitable crisis each man has to wrestle. And the common denominator behind this sorry reality is more likely economic in nature. Stability has become a proverbial question not only among those countries who struggle for a stalwart economic order, but also those who have ever since been known as “Giants in Economy”. As population grows leaps and bounds every minute just as the world also gets smaller and older, so does economic trend fluctuate incomprehensibly daily. This marching of events breaking from the community of nations everyday poses us with no escape a dreary future on how to be able to cope with the demands of time.

Bohol Leyte OFW Cooperative-Founding Members with former Welfof Iriles Ladjabasal and Former Consul Garibay now ConGen in Australia

Bohol Leyte OFW Cooperative-Founding Members with former Welof Iriles Ladjabasal, the late Labor Attache Abraham Malli and Former Consul Garibay now Consul in Australia ( Bong Amora-Center and Peter Polestico - 2nd from left)

As part of this web of uncertainties wherein we figure as the end targets of impact, we need to buckle down seriously in attacking issues that concern human subsistence particularly ourselves, our families, our children and their future. Something that could ensure us promising prospects for sustainability which would not reduce us to sub-human level. Naturally, the how-to-do-it and what-to-do questions pop out from everyone’s mind. And subsequently, each one needs a plausible answer.

The most sober response to this is the emerging viability of effort collectivism. The Philippines in the past several years in line with the Overseas Filipinos Re-integration program of both the government and the Non-Government Organizations has openly extended its approval and assistance to other NGO’s as part of its strategy in solving the surmounting economic anxieties nationwide. Under this NGO umbrella branches out the phenomenal co-operativism concept of promoting sustainable development programs in the countryside.

Cooperativism effectively has helped ease the barriers of unemployment, inflation and market stagnation. It also inspired the grassroots to involve themselves in many a productive endeavor other than being individualistic and partial. Like the “Bayanihan” concept, co-operativism has securely tightened the bonds of helping each other through aggregated virtues of self-respect, industry, self reliance, diligence, etc. towards attaining a common goal.

The unprecedented success of co-operativism can never be discredited vis-à-vis to its role in nation building. It has worked potentially and prospered lives among many of its adherents. Owing to its substantial effects, there is no way it can work in a group if the bottom line is to serve the interest of the few if not individual. It has to be functioned for a greater number of beneficiaries who will received its services.

What are the Aims & Objectives:

To foster r friendship, service, co-operation, and mutual benefit among its members in the conduct of its operation. Also, the objectives and purposes for which this co-operative is to be formed are to:

1) Encourage thrift and savings mobilization among its members for capital formation.

2) Create funds in order to grant loans for productive and providential purposes to its members.

3) Provide goods, services, welfare and other requirements of the members and its beneficiaries.

4) Engage in conduct, and carry on the business of investments and deals with the money’s and properties of the co-operative in such manner as may from time to time be considered wise or expedient for the advancement of its interests.

5)To work with the co-operative movement, non-government and government organizations/entities in the promotion of countryside development in line with the OFW Re-integration Program by both Government of Non-Government Organizations in the Philippines.

In furtherance of and not in limitation of the general powers conferred by the laws of the Philippines particularly the Cooperative Development Authority and the objectives and purposes set forth, this cooperative shall have the powers:

a)To draw, make, accept, endorse, guarantee, execute and issue promissory notes, mortgages, bills of exchange, drafts, warrants, certificates and all kinds of obligations and instruments in connection with and in advancement of its business operations;

b) To issue bonds, debentures and other obligations of the cooperative, to contract indebtedness and to secure the same with mortgage or deed of trust, or pledge or lien on any or all of the real and personal properties of the cooperative;

c) And to acquire facilities, either by or through construction, purchase, lease, bequest or donation, grants from local or foreign sources.

If co-operativism has worked out in many areas in the Philippines, then it is also workable anywhere irrespective of its geographical location, creed, religion and what not. It simply means it can be done anywhere as its inceptive location to build its databases. Although, in the long term, its main objective is to coarsely attacked the feasible market in the Philippines. **end

COOPERATIVISM and OFW Reintegration
By: Peter Polestico and Bong Amora
Founding Members
Former Board of Director
Bohol Leyte OFW Cooperative (BLOC)