How The Balikabayanihan Program Is Helping Returning OFWs

March 19, 2021

Here are some important information on how the Balikabayanihan Program is helping OFWs and their families find success in their respective homes.

The Balikabayanihan Program is an undertaking that aims to foster volunteerism among Filipinos to help Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are returning back home.

Balikabayanihan Program for repatriated OFWs

How The Balikabayanihan Program Is Helping Returning OFWs


    The Balikabayanihan Program is spearheaded by NEDA-Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and Atikha, a non-government organization working with OFWs and their families to help them make sound financial decisions in addition to social services.

    The Balikabayanihan Program is a call for partnership by the Overseas Filipino organizations with government agencies, local government units, and the private sector to help repatriated OFWs by providing the needed resources, such as manpower, funds, or calling forth their network of volunteers to mentor those OFWs.

    The plight of OFWs


    Many of us are familiar with the challenges faced by OFWs. For many years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic happened, unfortunate stories of returning OFWs abound.

    On many occasions, these OFWs work abroad for high-paying jobs to save and send money to their families back home. However, their stories aren’t always guaranteed a happy ending. In fact, many of them need help, especially when they are forced to return home.

    They dreamt big, but it wasn’t an easy journey.

    Dahil ang pagkakaakala ko ay ang pagiging OFW ang sagot sa lahat ng naging problemang financial namin at gusto kong maiahon ang aking pamilya at mapagtapos ang aking anak,” said returning OFW Marites Coronado. The journey, however, wasn’t simple.

    Others were just not as lucky.

    Take the case of another former OFW, Alma Palafox. She recounted: “Hindi po ako sini-suwerte sa napupuntahan na bansa. Laging may masamang nangyayari po sa akin. At minsan na rin muntik na akong hindi nakabalik ng Pinas ng buhay. Kaya hindi ko po natatapos kontrata ko.

    Gerlie Austria shares a similar experience but remains grateful despite the hardships she endured abroad. “Hindi man po ako naging maswerte sa ibang bansa, pero nagpapasalamat po ako sa Panginoong Diyos at ako po ay nakauwi nang buhay.

    They worked hard and ended up with nothing.

    Myrna Peñosa Corporal recalled the gloom she felt when she decided to go back to her family. “Noong nagsabi ako sa amo ko na ibalik na ako sa agency, dinala po nila ako sa Labor. Ang unang pumasok sa isip ko at naiyak ako, ‘Paano na ang pamilya ko? Uuwi ako na walang pera at naipon,” said Corporal.

    Coronado, Palafox, Austria, and Corporal are just a few of the many OFWs who were forced to go back home even if they haven’t achieved yet the financial goals they set for themselves.

    Then the pandemic happened.

    Melanie Labera, a returning OFW whose plan to resume her work abroad was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, benefitted from the program. “Nang umuwi ako ng Pilipinas, nagkataon naman na pandemic. Gusto ko sana bumalik [abroad], pero di na ako makabalik. Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa programang ito, pati sa BPI. May konting puhunan naman ako sa aking tindahan, pero konti lang. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako na nadagdagan dahil sa inyo.

    For her part, Austria, also a program beneficiary, said, “Nang makabalik po ako sa Pilipinas, isa po ako sa maswerteng napili ng Atikha na mabigyan ng tulong upang ako’y makapagsimula ulit sa aking buhay. Naging masaya po ako at nagkaroon ng pag-asa sa buhay. Ngayon po ay natupad ang isa kong pangarap na makabili ng makina.”

    What the Balikabayanihan Program has in store for OFWs


    The Balikabayanihan Program offers a well-rounded approach to help OFWs who are back home, especially those who are unsuccessful abroad, pick up the pieces and find livelihood opportunities.

    Returning OFWs can take advantage of the following:

    • Psychosocial services, including legal assistance, orientation to laws regarding migration, guidance and counseling services, reintegration program, mentoring, and case management.
    • Training programs, such as entrepreneurial training, enterprise development, livelihood training for women, financial literacy, food and farm production, youth empowerment and development, marketing assistance, tourism training, and even free online courses.
    • Business opportunities, like livelihood development grants, support services, poultry and piggery opportunities, financial forums, entrepreneurial coaching, and digital marketing.
    • Financial services, like loans for small businesses, financial, medical, and burial assistance; livelihood assistance, seminars, guidance, and counseling, check-ups, and investment opportunities.
    • Mentoring services, such as psychosocial services, crisis assistance, career coaching, and referral programs.

    These programs are implemented through local government units as well as partner and volunteer organizations and are designed to help get OFWs and their families back on their feet.

    Financial empowerment


    One of the staunch supporters of the Balikabayanihan campaign is the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).

    BPI supports Balikabayanihan Program for OFWs

    As a financial institution, BPI aims to empower repatriated OFWs by helping them manage their finances through learning webinars and by mobilizing volunteers and sponsors. BPI implements its programs through its different business units: BPI Foundation, BPI-Philam, and Remittance and Fund Transfers.

    Reggie Cariaso, BPI Head of Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Support remarked, “This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but repatriated OFWs and their families have been particularly affected. OFWs have done so much to uplift our entire nation’s economy over the decades. It’s only right that we stand by them now and help them get back on their feet and establish a financially secure life for themselves and their families.”

    Napakaganda po ng aking karanasan dahil nagkaroon po ako ng pag-asa sa buhay at talagang ipinangako ko po sa aking sarili na pagbubutihin ko po itong tulong na ibinigay sa akin ng Atikha at BPI Pamana Padala. At ang nagustuhan ko po dito ay ang mga taong kasapi dito na maaayos ang pakikitungo at napakamapagkumbaba at napakababait upang matulungan kaming lahat,” said Coronado.

    BPI Foundation conducts mentoring sessions for OFWs with BPI Unibankers serving as volunteer advisors. For its part, BPI Philam provides free COVID-19 insurance coverage worth P200,000. BPI’s Remittance and Fund Transfers offers financial grants and monthly mentoring sessions for chosen OFWs and instills the value of saving using their BPI Pamana Padala account.

    With opportunities such as the Balikabayanihan Program, returning OFWs are more empowered than ever to try their luck in their home country.

    Palafox said, “Dito nalang po ako sa Pinas. Kahit mahirap po basta’t sama-sama kami ng mga anak ko. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami sa Balikabayanihan at sa BPI. Ang tanging hinahangad ko po sa aking sarili ay mapaunlad ko ang munting negosyo at magkaroon ng maraming kaalaman."

    Corporal shared another insight: "Natutunan ko po sa Balikbayanihan na kailangan po tayung magtulungan para makabangon ulit sa hamon ng buhay."

    Epilogue


    OFWs sacrifice so much for their families and for our country. While many of those OFWs have found success abroad, some of them were met with unfortunate circumstances forcing them to abandon their dreams and go back home empty-handed. 

    It’s saddening to hear those unsuccessful stories, however, it’s also good that there is a Balikabayanihan Program.

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    Balikabayanihan Program for OFWs
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    6 comments

    1. This is such a great initiative! OFWs will be provided with much-needed financial assistance for them to get started.

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    2. The struggles and sacrifice that OFW’s go through should be recognized and im super grateful that programs like this that help them exists!

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    3. Working abroad is really not a pleasant experience for many of them. My brother was an engineer in Japan for 4 years but he decided he wasn't going to go back. My husband's dad was a computer programmer in Saudi and he did the same. the Mental and emotional challenge can be too much for many of our kababayans, not to mention, the pysical abuses some of them experience, I'm glad they have programs like this to look after these people.

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    4. Glad that there are services and support available for many returning OFWs. Families back home must also find ways to work and not depend on a single income of an OFW. It is not sustainable.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Yung ganitong deeds ang lalong makakapamahal ka sa isang company ano? kahit nakakainis na merong fees same bank transfer etc. pero isipin ko na lang na sa gantong advocacy yun napupunta.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Being an OFW is hard work. The distance and separation from family is what makes it extra tough. I'm glad that there are programs such as Balikabayanihan Program that help and empower returning OFW's who, unfortunately didn't get to stay at their jobs.

      ReplyDelete

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