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.