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Ex Labor chief: MOFYA, a fitting recognition of the success of Filipino migrant workers

Former Labor Sec. Marianito “Nitoy” Roque (right) shares a light moment with BDO Unibank assistant vice president and Overseas Filipino Programs head Rene Abadilla in a recent event.

Former Labor Secretary Marianito “Nitoy” Roque lauded the partnership of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and BDO Unibank in recognizing the familial success and financial milestones achieved by overseas Filipino workers and their families through the 2023 Model OFW Family of the Year Awards (MOFYA).

According to Roque, the Filipino migration program bears a “99 percent” success rate, as evidenced by children of OFWs who were able to finish their schooling because of their parents’ sacrifices abroad.

“A person will leave to work abroad to provide for the family’s needs. Nobody would want to part with the family, not for any reason, but because of the children’s future, to provide shelter and savings, and to know how they will end up. That’s why you must sacrifice and go abroad to find good employment,” he said. “Everything starts and ends with the family, so it’s only fitting that we recognize the success of Filipino migrant workers.”

In partnership with BDO, OWWA holds MOFYA annually to showcase the best practices for nurturing an OFW family amid challenges and how their success—in terms of enterprise development and generation of employment opportunities for others—resonates in their community and the rest of society.

Roque also cited the Bank for guiding OFWs and their families in their financial journey from when they first leave for abroad to when they return home upon retirement.

“Filipinos sometimes lack the discipline to manage their money. That’s why you always need someone like BDO to provide guidance and advice while abroad and even when they come back. Our workers may not be illiterate, but they do not have the experience of a finance manager in managing the money that they have. So it would help if you had

guidance from someone who will be there. That’s the role of BDO, to be there for the overseas Filipinos,” he said.

Roque, also a former administrator of OWWA, added that by opening a BDO Kabayan Savings account, OFWs cannot only seamlessly send their remittances to their beneficiaries through that account but also automatically generate savings for themselves since the method of remittance is anchored on a banking platform. 

“When you remit through BDO, you open a bank account. Unlike before, when it’s hand-to-hand or the padala system, the liquidity is so fast that you don’t have any savings for your family. Sometimes you work for so many years, but when you return home, there’s nothing. Right now, you have a system wherein you can automatically have savings that you can return to. That’s very important because if you have nothing, your separation (from the family) will have gone to waste. What do you have to accomplish? The education, the shelter, and the savings. It would help if you had all of those elements. That is what this (migration) program is all about,” he pointed out.

OWWA earlier named families from Region 9 and Region 6 as land- and sea-based national winners of the 2023 MOFYA, respectively. The winning family from Zamboanga (Region 9) was headed by Amir Hawari, whose career overseas spanned over four decades as a purchasing officer at Saudi Aramco in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 1994 and as a stock analyst for inventory at Qatar Petroleum in Qatar from 1994 to 2015. 
Meanwhile, the sea-based MOFYA winner was headed by the late Capt. Jessie Lorenzo of Antique (Region 6). He was represented by his widow, Dr. Amelia Lorenzo, daughter Jessica, who is a doctor in the barrio, Uand son, Mark, who is an engineer. Upon graduating from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, Capt. Lorenzo eventually became the youngest captain in his batch and also a naval reservist.