Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life Goals: Migrants, Remittances & Sustainable Development

I am part of a core group that is planning to organize a meeting of practitioners to articulate the best practices on how migrants have made good use of their remittances for replication. PhilSmile, Wimler Foundation, Ateneo de Davao and MinCode are organizing a conference on the "Role of Migrants and their Remittances in Sustainable Development" in Davao on January 24, 2015 at Ateneo de Davao University. The following are our core messages that I helped in crafting. 

There is a need to revisit the various variables related to migration towards identifying ways to help migrants and their families achieve their migration goals. Remittances can be an accelerator in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Those new goals were set-up by the United Nation for Development Program for 2015-2030, following on the Millennium Development Goals. 

Migrant workers from Mindanao and their families, microfinance institutions, academia, local government, private sector, and other stakeholders are joining the discussions. An important output of the conference is to come up with policy recommendations and help set up strategic alliances with like-minded organizations working on migration and development. 

The Philippines has been grappling with the myriad issues of migration and of the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and yet little has been done to address this reality in the context of sustainable development and of the well being of the OFWs themselves and of their families. It will be beneficial, then, for OFWs themselves and advocates for development to revisit the link between migration, remittances and sustainable development. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas says that remittances to the Philippines have been growing at 12% a year over the past decade and expected to grow at a 6% yearly rate over the coming years. While the current economic growth has given new opportunities, there is still a level of unemployment and underemployment, resulting to an increasing flow of Filipinos leaving the Philippines.  

In 2013, the World Bank reported that with "....almost 10 million unemployed or underemployed Filipinos as of end of 2012, around 1.1 million potential are entrants to the labor market each year, and with poverty incidence that hardly declined between 2009 and 2012, the country faces the enormous challenge of providing good jobs to 14.4 million Filipinos through 2016. Sustaining high GDP growth of above 5 percent will be able to provide good jobs to around 2.2 million Filipinos between 2013 and 2016. However, by 2016, that still leaves 12.4 million Filipinos who will have no other option but to work abroad, work in the informal sector, or create jobs for themselves."

Yet, over ten million Overseas Filipinos sent 24.35 billion dollars in 2013. There is a need to study how our OFWs are managing their hard earned funds. After all, managing finances is a skill that can be learned. In understanding all these, there is a need to incorporate the reality that  9 million children under 18 grow up with one or both of their parents leaving overseas (UNICEF, 2009).  

How OFWs disburse their incomes are dictated by personal choices, not state budget allocations. This conference aims to contribute to shift the perspective from not knowing what to do with the windfall of remittances to a renewed focus on OFW and whether their behavior patterns contribute to their life goals. After all, OFWs have already determined that migration is a financial strategy. 

For the welfare of the OFWs themselves, it will be strategic to conflate the reasons why Filipinos want to work abroad in relation to what they want to achieve as life goals. Our OFWs will need skills to plan their migration and tools to measure success based on their imagined good life. 

We need to propose measures and mechanisms that will maximize the potential of their earnings in a way that will sustain the impact of their remittances for their own well being and of their families. From a macro development perspective, there is also a need to articulate what policies can be advocated in the policy arena to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015.  

Isabelita Solamo 
Women Write -

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

OFWs in Hong Kong learn how too make farming profitable

WIMLER Foundation HK and ISAFED in cooperation with Ms Rose Perido are organizing an AGRICULTURE/AGRI-LIVESTOCK SKILLS TRAINING for OFWs in Hong Kong. The training is intended for those who are planning to engage in agri-related activities when they finally decide to go home for good and even start investing in farming while still working in Hong Kong. The participants will be taught the  basic theory in agriculture and how to make farming enjoyable and profitable.  Admission is FREE.

The training will be conducted on the following dates:

March 8
March 22
April 5 (Easter Sunday)
April 19

from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm


12/F Euro Trade Centre                                                                                
21-23 Des Voeux Road, Central                                                                        
Hong Kong

We can only accommodate a limited number of participants. To register, please contact Annabelle Libao 5373 62 98. 


This training is part of the return and reintegration program of WIMLER Foundation HK.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Training Program starts on March 1 in Hong Kong

The fifth batch of the Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Training Program in Hong
Kong will start on March 1, 2015.

An empowerment program, LSE is a joint initiative of the Ateneo University School of Government (ASoG) with the Overseas Filipinos Society for the Promotion of Economic Security (OFSPES), the Social Enterprises Development Partnerships Inc. (SEDPI) and Ugat Foundation in collaboration with the Philippine Consulate, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) an with support from BNP Paribas and Prime Credit. The course is organized and coordinated in Hong Kong by WIMLER Foundation HK.

The LSE was first conducted in Rome, Italy in 2008 and has since reached out to other overseas Filipinos (OFs) in Naples, Milan, Florence, Turin, Dubai, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and Macau. By December 2014, over 800 would have graduated from the course. The LSE 30 in Hong Kong follows the successful LSE 12, 15, 16, and 22.

The LSE 30 covers 12 sessions each, two Sundays per month over a six-month period starting on March 1, 2015. Sessions last from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. All sessions will be conducted at the Migrant Empowerment Resource Center (MERC), 12/F Euro Trade Centre 21-23 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong.  The program covers three modules: financial literacy, leadership and social entrepreneurship. The LSE aims to develop the leadership skills and potentials among overseas Filipinos and their families, provide knowledge and skills in savings and investments and other financial matters and develop and/or enhance their entrepreneurial skills.

A certificate is awarded by the ASoG and other partners to trainees who attend all the sessions at a graduation ceremony at the end of the course. Successful LSE course graduates and those who completed the practicum program, who are college graduates, will be granted LSE diplomas. So far, eight graduates qualified to receive their diploma.

The course is open to all Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong, especially those who are seriously planning for their return and reintegration. Only a limited number of participants can be accommodated.


An orientation seminar will be coducted on Sunday, February 15 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at

Migrant Empowerment Resource Center (MERC)
12/F Euro Trade Centre
21-23 Des Voeux Road, Central
Hong Kong

Interested individuals can already fill up an submit their application forms to the secreariat. Please prepare HK$ 100  reservation fee.

Course Fee:

Participation fee is HK$ 800 for the whole course for migrant domestic workers and HK$ 1,600 for non-migrant domestic workers payable on the following terms:

15 FEB – deadline for registration and payment of $100.00 non-refundable reservation fee, deductible from the tuition fee for those who will actually follow the course.

Mode of Payment:

Course fee is payable in CASH on the following terms:

a) First Payment: $200.00 on or before 01 MAR 2015

b) Balance of $600.00 on three installments:

$200.00 on or before 12 April 2015
$200.00 on or before 10 May 2015
$200.00 on or before 28 June 2015

Admission to the course is on “first come, first served basis” and those who have paid full or partial payment before March 1, 2015 and have met the admission requirements.

Application forms should be sent to not later than February 21, 2015.
Inquiries on the program can be obtained from the following:

 (LSE HK Secretariat):

Ma. Wilma Padura
Mobile: +852 9386 2514

Anna Martinez:  Mobile - +63 915 908 9476 (whatsapp or Viber ONLY)
Or per email:

Emilie Veringa-Tobias:
Mobile:  +852 5191 0902
              +852 5199 0780 (whatsapp or Viber ONLY)

Downloadable documents:

LSE 30 Brochure
LSE Application form

Monday, January 12, 2015

Twenty secondary students in Sham Shui Po attend tutorial class

Hope of the City Progress Report for WIMLER Foundation HK

Report Period: February 15, 2014 to July 2014

WIMLER Foundation HK in partnership with Hope of the City Foundation supports two tutorial classes for 20 secondary students from low-income families living in the Sham Shui PO, one of the most depressed areas in Hong Kong.

The report below is for the period February 15 – July 2014. The second group started last August and will end in January 2015.

1. Summary

a. Description of activities funded by WIMLERPartnership agreement: Two, 12-week course classes attended by an average of 6-9 students per class, for a total of four classes. Each class meets once a week for an hour.

Class 1: English Class for Shepherd Church (J-Life)
Course dates: 15 Mar, 2014 – 5 July, 2014 (12 sessions)
Target group: 10 secondary school students

Class 2: English Class for Shepherd Church (J-Life)
Course dates: 11 Feb, 2014 – 5 Aug, 2014 (24 sessions)
Target group: 10 secondary school students

WIMLER Board of Directors visiting the tutorial class
Sam Razim (2nd from left, Richard Rispens, 4th from left and Luz Tan

b. Primary students

20 secondary students from low-income families living in the Sham Shui PO. The 10 students in Class 1 were referred by teachers at Wai Kiu College as students who could benefit from additional support in English language learning. The 10 students in Class 2 were identified and screened           by J-Life community center staff members.

2. Project Status

Class 1 has been completed as of 5 July 2014 (12 sessions = 1 class section) and Class 2 is still ongoing until August 2014 (24 sessions = 2 class sections). A new summer class section will be added from 16 July -  27 August, equating to a shorter 6-week course. This summer class will be
the fourth section to launch and will target primary school aged students from low-income households in Sham Shui Po. The primary school students will likely continue with another 6 weeks of English courses when the new school term commences in September 2014.

3. Project Outcomes

The report showed that there were obvious difficulties in English language ability for the students and that the students are in need of focused help.

The teacher’s comments from the post-course assessment reflect improvements made by the students in the areas of comprehension, vocabulary, and basic English grammar. Some students are also gaining more confidence especially in speaking English. However, there are still challenges with grammar and more work and time is required before the students’ English levels show any significant improvement.

Class 2’s Course Progress Report will be presented in the next report after all 24 sessions are completed.

4 Project Impact

Shepherd Church (J-Life) and the students are very grateful for the opportunities presented to
them through the English classes sponsored by WIMLER Foundation HK. The story below
describes two of the students enrolled in one of the courses funded by WIMLER and the impact that the course has on their learning.

Kit and CY – English Class Beneficiaries

Growing up in single parent homes, CY and Kit spent their early high school years playing computer games and working part-time jobs.

They did not realise their English ability would be so important in determining future opportunities. By the time this reality set in, their English foundations were weak and when they tried asking their school teachers for help, no answers were given.

 Kit shared,“I grew up in China where I only learned my ABC’s in second
grade. I was so far behind.

 The look of appreciation on their faces after the first English tutoring class said it all

 “At school, there are 40 students. Here, we only have 10 and I can actually ask questions. The tutor will explain to me word by word what I don’t understand. At least now I understand what the teacher
is saying. I was able to feel the difference even after one lesson!”
Kit dreams to be a fireman but will need to pass in all his core subjects, including English. He hopes it is not too late for him to catch up and pursue his dream.


WIMLER Foundation HK starts tutorial class for non-Chinese primary students

WIMLER has two main programs in Hong Kong: capacity and empowerment program for migrant workers and raise funds to support education for less privileged children. WIMLER has been supporting the education of poor children in the Philippines since 2011 with the help of its donors and sponsors.  

Being a charity organization registered in Hong Kong, it is also part of WIMLER’s mandate to initiate programs in Hong Kong. It is for this reason that since last year WIMLER HK in partnership with the Hope of the City Foundation supported English two tutorial classes for Chinese migrant children (see related story). Since November last year, WIMLER also supports tutorial class for non-Chinese primary students this but in Chinese language and eventually, other relevant subjects too.

The Hong Kong Government through the Education Bureau (EDB) has launched several support services for newly arrived or non-Chinese speaking (NCS) children with the aim to integrate them smoothly into the local education system. 

EDB provided funding for schools like the School-based Support Scheme Grant, funding for Professional Support, After-school Extended Chinese Learning Project, among others. They also provide grants to non-governmental organizations that provide tutorial services for ethnic minorities/NCS like International Social Services HK – HOPE Center, Christian Action, HK Christian Service-CHER Centre, to name a few.

However, the schools and NGOs that provided support to NCS are concentrated in schools around Wan Chai and in selected areas in Kowloon and Tuen Mun that WIMLER decided to pilot tutorial classes to accommodate other children from the Quarry Bay area.

The first WIMLER HK’s Chinese tutorial project for Filipino migrant children was conducted last November 22, 2014 with three kids. Since WIMLER does not have a permanent venue for the tutorial activities, the tutor and the kids met at the Pacific Coffee shop in Tai Yau Plaza in Wan Chai. So far, ten hours of tutorial sessions were conducted in the month of November.  (Nov 22, Nov 28 and two sessions in Nov 29). The Quarry Bay tutorial session started last November 28. 

In late November 2014, Joy Tadios-Arenas, WIMLER director and project manager, approached the Filipino-Chinese of Taverna Spanish Restaurant in Quarry Bay if she would allow the tutorial to be conducted before the restaurant’s time of operation.  However, conducting classes at the Pacific Coffee in Quarry Bay is not practical. There were times that two sessions are conducted: one in the morning and one in the afternoon or an extended one when four kids showed up instead of the confirmed three. Moreover, the coffee shop gets crowded around lunch time and it was challenging to do tutorials with the noise and crowd. Taverna’s owner agreed to provide the venue for the tutorial on December 13, 2014. With a bigger venue, we were able to sign up eight students and hired three tutors on the same date. 

Currently, the established sessions are held every Saturday morning/afternoon in Wan Chai and Quarry Bay. While other schedules - for instance Wednesday or Friday with additional session in North Point – are added when tutors are available or when kids needed additional ones during exam period. Confirmed sessions depend on the number of kids available as some have activities in their school on a Saturday. 

It was challenging to do the logistics – arrangement with individual parents as well as the tutors. Schedules are adjusted weekly. But it is worth all the effort and time. WIMLER is able to help Filipino kids studying in local Chinese schools and bilingual schools. Some of them are kids of friends of WIMLER.

Tutorials held in Taverna Spanish Restaurant