Her Excellency Grace Princesa, Philippine Envoy to the United Arab Emirates introduced yesterday to Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait (OFWs) a new movement encompassing OFWs, their families and in cooperation with Non Government Organizations (NGOs) that provides financial literacy and education on savings and investments. The event was attended by different representatives from Filipino organizations, officials and officers of the Philippine Embassy and Labor Office.
The Worldwide Initiative for Investment Saving and Entrepreneur (WISE) was initially launched in Italy and in UAE in 2010 and 2011 under the patronage of Ambassador Princesa, who herself is an advocate of financial literacy for OFWs and their families. In a brief interview, Philippine Envoy stated that WISE was initiated based on the observation that over the past forty years of the fourth migration of OFWs, thirty percent of OFWs save and seventy were left without any savings. She added that over the past thirty years while working for the Department of Foreign Affairs noticed that OFWs brain game and money gain were not maximized thus wasting the time sacrificed working overseas.
“Loved ones in the Philippines simply wait for money and boxes sent to them on monthly basis making the OFWs like Automated Teller Machines for such reasons dreams to better life quality simply do not happen. Families back home, government, clergies and media must stand together in this movement,” commented Ambassador Princesa.
OFWs families lack discussions with local government that includes a mayors, governors down to the level of Barangays in implementing the movement. Ambassador Princesa further added that such movement must embrace the multi sectional approach and in the spirit of “Bayanihan” (Help one another).
“You are so blessed by working abroad, we can work together to become rich and return home affluent. I am a strong advocate of women not being allowed to work overseas away from their families in return of US 400. Let us work abroad by choice and not out of desperation. Philippines is rich not only in resources but products which we can sell and tap financial resources from,” commented Princesa. She urged also the implementation of Pre-Migration or Pre-Employment from the Barangay level where those intending to go work overseas can better understand migration.”I sincerely hope that you join me back home in time, where we can be active in our country and practice collective heroism for a common cause,” ended Ambassador Princesa.
On the question of the current situations of many OFWs in the Middle East who finds themselves in the midst of severe financial crisis caused by excessive debts, Jay Ar Ignacio a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and one of the guest speakers in the panel said that OFWs in the Middle East find borrowing accessible thus due to needs of families back home, they are forced to borrow beyond their salaries capacity to pay leaving them wallowing in debts.
“Owing can be good and bad, but we can avoid such crisis if we know how to budget and know the limit of how much we can borrow based on our salaries. It is a must for every OFWs to make their families understand their financial situation in the country. Failure to settle amounts, OFWs must take the initiative negotiate with banks or with financial institutions in order to avoid repercussions,” said Ignacio, He also stressed that OFWs must focus on good debts such as borrowing for business purposes or investments yet warns them that it will not be good to borrow if they are not capable of paying. To add, Ria Lagman Ignacio, a CPA and one of the speakers in the forum added that OFWs must take into consideration their goals and time frame prior to investments. She added that sufficient information and education on each of the systems in forms of investments or businesses is imperative. “Its like building an edifice with a strong foundation. Be wise with investment and learning the investment vehicle purpose and time frame are equally important,” stated Ignacio.
Among the speakers that completed the forum include Vivien Napenas, the Chairperson of Pinoy WISE International, Evangeline Junio and Vice Chairperson for Internal Affairs. Among those present in the event were the Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait His Excellency Renato Villa, Consul General Atty. Raul Dado, Vice Consul Atty. Shiena Tesorero and Labor Attaché Atty. Cesar Chavez.
By Ricky Laxa