Sunday, September 29, 2019

Eight ALSE HK alumni receive WIMLER ALSE Entrepreneurship Award 2019

They dreamed and they pursued it.

Eight ALSE (Ateneo Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship) HK alumni will receive WIMLER ALSE HK Entrepreneurship Award on October 6, 2019 at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin, Hong Kong. The Award is conferred to ALSE alumni who show entrepreneurial spirit, commitment, vision, and capabilities to turn vision into business realities. It is also granted to those who undertake initiatives that make a positive contribution to the community and society in general. The awardees were nominated by their co-ALSE alumni.

This year’s awardees are:

MARIFE QUIDES, 38, is one of the graduates of LSE 60 (2018). She worked for seven years in Hong Kong. She started thinking of opening a Korean restaurant while she was attending ALSE course last year. No wonder her social enterprise business plan is titled Fudspot.

By November last year, she and her husband finally decided to start the construction of KRAMGYEOPSAL Korean Grill Restaurant in Sta. Cruz, Ligao City, Albay. She chose to open a Korean restaurant because she knew that Korean cuisine is very popular in the Philippines at the moment and it is something new to her place. On December 18, 2018, they opened the restaurant just in time for the peak holiday season.

KRAMGYEOPSAL is the first Korean restaurant in Ligao City. Food business is not new to Marife. She and her husband already owned two eateries in the area. It also helped that before she went to Hong Kong, they had acquired a 300 sqm prime lot. It is walking distance to major offices and buildings such as the City Hall, hospital, police station, bus terminal and LTO Office, so a restaurant business made sense.

Her contract was supposed to end in 2020. She originally planned to finish it because her employer was very kind. However, she finally decided not to return to Hong Kong when she saw that their new restaurant was doing well.

Marife and her husband hired 9 people to help their business and they still plan to hire more. Most of their staff members did not finish their college education. The only qualification they require are NC2 and Beverage certificates. In this respect, Marife has helped in creating jobs in her hometown.
Marife considers ALSE as a big help in preparing their business plan.
“Kung malapit lang kayo Mam Lalay matutuwa kayo kasi inaplay ko lahat nalalaman ko sa LSE,” Marife said enthusiastically.

Marife is just 38 years old and after working several years in HK, she is already on the road to fulfilling her migration goals. But this is because she made a good plan with the support of her husband and family.

In less than a year, on September 15, 2019, Marife and her husband opened a second Korean restaurant in Legazpi City.

ROSALIE SUMALAGUE is 45 years old from Jaro, Iloilo City. She has three children and two grandsons. Her husband is working as chef in a Thai restaurant in Dubai. While she and her husband are working abroad, her father took care of their children.

Rose is loaded with skills and talents. Her passions are in sewing and handicrafts such as assorted ribbon folding, beads crafting, fashion accessories making, macramé bag making, party balloon making, soap flower carving, vegetables and fruits carving, hair clips making, creating flowers made of stockings, and others. She is also interested in cooking different dishes, baking, meat processing, salted egg making, pickles and other preserved food making. She excels in all these endeavors.
Rose is confident to start anything because of the skills she learned. But admits she lacks knowledge on how to run her business properly and lack contact persons or partners to help her pursue her dreams.

In 2015, she attended the Ateneo Leadership and Social Enterprise (ALSE) course, Batch 30.
After working for 21 years in Hong Kong, she decided to go home for good in July 2018. While planning for her return, she bought in Hong Kong the materials she needed for her future reintegration plan.

On September 28, 2018, Rose finally opened Mayjean Abirhose Dress Shop and Boutique in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. She started with alterations and sewing costumes for different occasions like fiestas and J&S proms.

However, she also met a lot of challenges in putting up her business. One problem is lack of capital. The money she saved was not enough to meet all the expenses to set up her shop and boutique. So, she leased the piece of land she inherited from her mother.

Luckily, she receives regular orders. She started receiving wedding entourage packages. She buys the materials using the advance payment for each order. Her customer base started growing.

“Dapat may sapat ka na puhunan. Ako kasi aaminin ko, kulang pa sa puhunan ng umuwi ako. Ang trabaho namin bilang DH di namin hawak and anytime mapapauwi ka sa ayaw at gusto mo. Kaya kahit hindi sapat puhunan ko, baon ko naman ang aking mga nalalaman na skills. Small but terrible daw ako pero puno ako ng pangarap na makatulong sa pamilya at sa mga walang trabaho.

Rose realized the need to save enough for capital. She also realized that skills and talents are not enough to start a business. That is why, she is thankful for what she learned from ALSE.

“Napakalaki ang naitulong sa akin ng ALSE, Ma’am Lalay. Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat sa dagdag kaalaman na aking natutunan. Ngayon ko na realize na hindi sapat na may talent ka lang. Dapat meron ka talagang sandatang kaalaman paano mo patagbihin.”

OFELIA BAQUIRIN co-founded United Migrants Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Association HK on June 22, 2008. The objective of UMELA is to provide various livelihood skills training for OFWs in Hong Kong. When Ofelia arrived in Hong Kong on December 16, 1996, she was a 28-year-old from Victoria, Mindoro Oriental.

UMELEA started with meat processing, flower making, ribbon folding, beads craft and soap making. Later, it introduced fruit and vegetable carving; and stocking flower making. Over the years, hundreds of domestic helpers have attended these courses. Later, it added Swedish Massage and Reflexology courses as well as financial literacy with support from The Bankers’ Club in Hong Kong.

Massage therapy is a free, year-round training. To graduate from the course, one must take the basic massage therapy course, then complete 72 hours of additional lessons on basic anatomy and physiology, microbiology and pathology. This is followed by a practicum or on-the-job training. The training includes preparation for TESDA’s NCII certification examination to be taken in the Philippines or at any onsite assessment in Hong Kong to be accredited by the agency as a more competitive massage therapist. So far, UMELA has already conducted 41 batches attended by 614 trainees.

Many ALSE graduates joined UMELA training courses. Learning practical skills and combining what they learned from ALSE gave them better chances to succeed once they embark on productive activities.

By attending various livelihood skills training, OFWs can start their own business with little capital when they finally decide to go home for good. Aside from providing training courses in Hong Kong, UMELA also raised funds for charity works in the Philippines.

“ALSE has helped me and my children a lot. I was able to teach them how to manage their finances like first thing first.” Not all help can be met right away. They have to wait. I learn to tighten my belt.”

“As co-founder/president/trainor of UMELA, I learned to make firm decisions for the betterment of the members of the association. I acquired self-esteem,” Ofelia said.

For her sterling accomplishments in empowering migrant workers in Hong Kong, Ofelia is being nominated as one of WIMLER ALSE Entrepreneurship Awardees for 2019 for non-profit category.

CRISTINA CAYAT registered Cristina Craft Collection (CCC) Sewing Business with the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry in 2015 but could not fully go into business because she was still working in Hong Kong and she lacked a local business partner.

This year (2019), she felt much more assured after joining a trade fair in Baguio City last April. She finally felt confident that she can actually do it even by just participating in trade fairs. Her participation in that fair sent waves of enthusiasm to her now partner in creating contemporary clothing using Cordillera ethnic weaves as accent.

Donnie Allan, a former OFW in Hong Kong accepted the job of sewing CCC’s designs in her home in Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet. While Cristina is still under contract in Hong Kong she helps in marketing their products. CCC is now accepting orders from overseas workers, particularly in Hong Kong.

As requirement of ALSE 60 (2018), ROSE MARI REGODOS together with her teammates submitted Sombria AquaFarm as their social enterprise business plan, a seafood company that specializes in the farming of marine milkfish (bangus). The fish are raised in large ocean cages close to the coast and harvested when they reach 350-500g in weight, usually at about four to five months old. Milkfish are mainly sold through wholesalers or brokers, or directly to restaurants and consumers at wholesale prices in order to benefit local communities with fair, market prices.

The ALSE course was timely for Rose since she was about to start a seafood company in 2017.  One year later, Rose is actually implementing the project at full speed. Her company made its first harvest in March 2019 and expect to have second harvest late January next year. Instead of harvesting them young, the fish are harvested every six months when the fish weigh about a kilo, a size that’s in demand in wet markets.

She started the business with Php250,000 in savings. Originally, she saved the money to build a house, but she postponed her plans when she learned about this business opportunity.
Rose started with 5,000 fish. As of now, her business grown to 21,000 fish in three marine cages obtained with subsidy from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), through a two-year contract.

Her parents manage the business while she is in Hong Kong and they receive salaries. She has one full-time staff who does the day-to-day maintenance and 12 harvesters (casual/seasonal).
At harvest time, buyers purchase the fish direct from the farm and distribute them to the large wholesale wet markets in Bacolod City. They also time the harvest when most fishermen do not go out fishing during full moon so there is demand for their milkfish. It is a common belief that when the full moon is out, fish are harder to catch.

As a start-up, Rose encountered several problems. During the first harvest, they expected to harvest two tons of milkfish, but they actually only harvested 800 kilos. They found out that some workers were stealing fish. The main task of her parents now is to prevent such practices. She also tries to go home during harvest season to supervise and manage the financial proceeds.

Another problem the business encountered is delay in delivering feeds because of typhoons. To minimize the risk, Rose sees to it that they always have a two-month supply on hand.
Rose still wants to add more value. If she gets a chance, she wants to undergo training on how to marinate milkfish, another potential business line.

When Rose came to Hong Kong as a domestic helper in 2008, she considered it as a steppingstone to eventually work in Canada. She was the main bread winner in her family.  While in Hong Kong, she tried to apply for a job in Canada but she was unsuccessful. In the meantime, she received good offers from employers in Hong Kong, which allowed her to stay for over 10 years now.

I asked her if she still plans to go to Canada. “If the business does well, Ma’am Leila, I plan to go home for good and forget about Canada,” Rose answered.

IRENE BUENAVISTA, 38 years old, has been working abroad for 14 years: a two-year stint in Singapore followed by 12 years in Hong Kong. As the eldest of five children, her main reason for working abroad is to help her family and send her siblings to school.

Irene decided to go home for good this year; but while still in Hong Kong, she made concrete plans for her reintegration.

She opened a shop in a school campus in Escalante City and aims to add another one in Sagay City selling cooked and take-away food. She also entered into a franchise agreement with Sisig, Frappe and Milk Tea.

DONA BARRERA SERRANO, 41 years old, has worked in Hong Kong for more than five years. Her job is an all-around helper and nanny of kids. She left the country in 2006 the country and I worked in the United Arab Emirates for three years as a caregiver. Then she went back to the Philippines in 2007 and returned again in 2008 and stayed until 2010 with the same employer. She her life in UAE was not easy. She worked seven days a week without rest even at night. So after she finished her contract there she did not hesitate to leave.

When she reintegrates in 2010, she thought that would be for good but she was wrong. Living in the Philippines without stable income was so difficult. She decided too try her luck in Hong Kong for her children’s sake in 2013.

When Dona attended the ALSE Batch 60 last year, she already had a plan not to extend her contract.
Dona wrote in her My ALSE Journey:

“My personal goal is to go back home next year (2019) for good to be with my family again. My sister in Dubai will reintegrate too, so we are planning to put up a business together not only for us but also for the community as well. Our business will be called Ladolei Cafeteria and Bakeshop.”
In fact, her team presented a business plan titled Dos Mujeres House of Pastries.

When she arrived in Porac, together with her sister and with support from their parents, Dona right away started making plans for her bakery. As a starter her biggest problems is buying tools and equipment for the bakery but she persisted.

In Hong Kong, prematurely terminated domestic workers have to leave Hong Kong within 14 days after their contracts end. Although by law the employers need to give one-month notice to allow the employees to find new employers, in practice it is not always easy for domestic workers to do so. If unsuccessful, the last recourse is to go home, but how prepared they are in their reintegration?

MYLENE UBALDO OLIVA was terminated by her employer last January 29, 2019. She was not able to find a new employer because Hong Kong was celebrating Chinese New Year at that time. Using what little savings she had, she started a small business. She also pawned some of her jewelries to add to her capital. She renovated a space in her house and is selling pastries, ukay-ukay, vegetables and some dry goods.

The knowledge she learned from attending ALSE became handy, she said. She already has an idea how to run a business. She did not wait too long to start something. For her courage, resilience and determination, Mylene has been nominated as one of the awardees of WIMLER ALSE Entrepreneurship Award.

86 Filipino Migrant Workers Graduate from Ateneo de Manila University Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program in Hong Kong

Only certificate course of its kind by a leading Philippine university conducted locally in Hong Kong; focuses on building life-long skills in leadership, innovation, financial literacy and social entrepreneurship

September 30, 2019— Eighty-six Filipinos working in Hong Kong will receive their certificates from the prestigious ALSE OF-LIFE (Ateneo de Manila University Overseas Filipinos Leadership, Innovation,  Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship) program at The Chinese University of Hong Kong on 6 October 2019. The ceremony marks their completion of a six-month course uniquely tailored for migrant workers and delivered by one of the Philippines’ top universities. Philippine Consul Leo Tito L. Ausan, Jr. will deliver the keynote speech at the event. Mr. Rene San Andres, former Associate Dean of Student Affairs of Ateneo de Manila University will give out the certificates to the successful graduates.

“We sincerely congratulate this year’s graduates and celebrate their achievements over the last six months,” says Leila Rispens-Noel, director and co-founder of WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong, which organises the program in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General, Overseas Labor Office (POLO HK), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA HK), and ALSE OF-LIFE Alumni Association HK.

 “Apart from completing the course requirements, this year’s participants faced extra odds amid the protests, which had prevented some of them from attending classes and meetings because of safety concerns. Despite that, our graduates overcame those challenges with the determination and the legendary indefatigable Filipino spirit.”


As part of the course requirement, the graduates developed and presented social enterprise business plans, which ranged from the agriculture-oriented, such as ube (purple yam) farming and duck egg production, to plastic recycling and upcycling. During the ceremony, special awards will be given to graduates with the most outstanding business plans.

ALSE OF-LIFE (formerly called ALSE) is part of the Executive Education Program of the Ateneo School of Government and is aimed at empowering migrant workers with the knowledge and skills needed to help in their eventual reintegration back home. The participants, which were divided into two batches (Saturday and Sunday), attended 12 sessions (10 face-to face and two online sessions) covering three modules. All ALSE OF-LIFE graduates will be recognized as alumni of Ateneo.


Since its introduction in Hong Kong in 2012, 892 migrant workers have graduated from the program, which also receives support from Prime Credit, SWIFT, Philippine National Bank HK, and  the Anthropology Department of the The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

This year’s graduates come from 41 provinces in the Philippines, and range in age from 25 to 58 years old. Many participants talk about the personal transformation in their and their family’s mindsets and outlook in life after completing the course:

“After all these learnings in this wonderful program of Ateneo School of Government, I was able to see a new perspective of life…Knowing how to be a servant leader, that everyone can do with or without a title, cultivating ourselves to make a difference in the society. As an overseas Filipino worker, we are already leaders in our family and a representative of our nation who makes a big impact globally,” says graduate Dio H. Malaque, of Batangas City, a father of two who has been working in Hong Kong for nine years.

“I cannot picture myself of how and where will I start if I go back home for good. I want to become an educated and an empowered woman to empower others especially the underprivileged mothers in our barangay in Marinduque. Those were dreams before but it became a goal now. My goal for our family is security in terms of shelter, education for my children and finances. Last is to set up a social enterprise in our hometown that will give us a decent income,” says Lovely Erezo of Marinduque, who has been working in Hong Kong for five years.

Some ALSE alumni have since returned to the Philippines for good and started their own businesses and applied what they learned from the course back home.

The ALSE OF-LIFE/ALSE has been offered in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands in Europe; in the Middle East in Doha, Qatar and in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). In Asia, it has been offered in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, as well as in the Philippines. In 2019, Egypt and South Korea have been added. Over 3,000 overseas Filipinos have completed this program in its decade of existence. The program is being managed by Migration and Development Consortium composed of ASoG, OFSPES, SEDPI and Ugat Foundation.

About WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong

WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong Ltd. was officially registered in 2011 as a non-profit and charitable organization whose primary objective is to support the capacity building and empowerment of migrant communities regardless of nationalities and to promote cultural diversity in Hong Kong based on mutual respect, solidarity, and shared empowerment among peoples. In 2018, WIMLER HK was awarded the Banaag Award of the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. The awards honor distinguished individuals and foreign-based organisations dedicated to advancing the interests of Filipino communities around the world.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Say it in Poetry: Reflection of one of our ALSE 74 HK students


Pakiramdam ko' y naisalang
Sa isang bagay na diko ninais kailanman
Pakiramdam ko'y naitulak, sa pusod ng aking kahinaan
Na di ko alam ang paroroonan.

Dahil sa pagpasok sa isang aspeto
Na mailap ang salitang interesado
Ay batid ko'y kay hirap dahil labag sa kalooban ko
Lalo na balot ang utak kong sarado.

Dumating yong punto na, naiinis ako sa inyo
Dahil ayaw ko na nga, pinipilit niyo pa rin ako
Kinukumbinsi para babalik lang ako
Hinahatak para matuto.

Sapagkat naniniwala kayo sa aking kakayahan
Dahil sabi niyo ay kung kaya ng iba kaya ko din yan
Hindi para sa inyo kundi para sa aking kapakanan
Sigurado kayo di ko pagsisihan.

Biglang nagising ang gunita ko at tumatak ang mga katagang ito:
"Kung anong inumpisahan mo, tatapusin mo
Kung anong pinasukan mo, alam mo ang lulusutan mo
Dahil talunan lang ang sumusuko."

Ngayon, walang bahid na pagsisisi
Nadarama kong galak di na maikubli
Napagtanto ko rin sa huli
Mga payo niyo'y malaking naiambag sa aking sarili.

Salamat sa pagtulak niyo sa bangin na sagana sa karunungan
Minsan inakala kong bangin na para bang di ko kayang akyatin
Inakala kong tagumpay di ko kayang abutin
Na parang di na sisilay ang sikat ng araw na nagniningning.

Salamat! Salamat sa mga pangaral
Dahil sainyo'y nakasalok ako nang magandang aral
Aral na magiging taglay at gabay
At salamin sa paglalakbay sa buhay.

Bambee Pacnis Abadilla
ALSE Batch 74
September 24,2019

Photo credit: Sarah Rollorata Sumaylo

ALSE OF LIFE (formerly called ALSE) is part of the Executive Education Program of the Ateneo School of Government and is aimed at empowering migrant workers with the knowledge and skills needed to help in their eventual reintegration back home. It is a six-month course uniquely tailored for migrant workers and delivered by one of the Philippines’ top universities. 

The participants, which were divided into two batches (Saturday and Sunday), attended
12 sessions (10 face-to face and two online sessions) covering three modules. All ALSE of LIFE graduates will be recognized as alumni of Ateneo. The program is run and managed by Migration and Development Consortium composed of OFSPES, SEDPI, Ugat Foundation and ASOG.

WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong organises the program in Hong Kong in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO HK), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA HK), and ALSE OF-LIFE Alumni Association HK.