Daily Archives: May 13, 2008

Overseas Filipinos Come Home

by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com

MAKATI CITY – Overseas Filipinos from around the world gathered at the First Global Filipino Nation International Conference, which opened at the University of Makati on Thursday, May 8. The three-day event was touted as the biggest gathering of overseas Filipinos.

Convenors said that one of their goals is to get migrants to join the campaign for effective governance in the Philippines. They also hope that the conference participants would be able to review, refine and adopt detailed action agenda called logical frameworks (logframes) which can be implemented and actualized.

“We have been working on this for the past six years and in my travels here and abroad, I have found out that there is a convergence of thought among Filipinos wherever they are. We are hoping that through this conference, we will be able to come up with ideas on how to empower the global Filipino,” Victor Barrios, lead convenor of the conference said, as he welcomed the participants.

Barrios also explained that the theme, “Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance,” is anchored on three aspirations: grassroots economic empowerment, resolution of issues facing migrant workers and their families, and raised consciousness of a nation ready to march as one.

Makati City 2nd District Rep. Marlen Abigail Binay led the ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the art exhibit which featured works of upcoming Filipino artists.  The first day of activities also included a job and trade fair.

Different sessions and workshops that tackled issues concerning the global Filipino were held on the second and third day of the conference.

The three main modules focused on the economic, social and political aspects of migrant life, and the media as a tool to empower global Filipinos.

The social module focused on the most urgent problems encountered by migrant workers and their families and what the Global Filipino Nation as a group can do about them.

The economic module highlighted the possibility of converting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to become world-class players and encouraging entrepreneurship on a nation-wide scale, while the political module focused on the goal of empowering global Filipinos, their families and onshore Filipinos with a global mindset as a force for governance change.

Greg Macabenta, publisher of Filipinas Magazine led the discussion on “Media as a Change Agent” as he presented those who joined the group with copies of various Filipino publications from the US to Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

The group agreed that there should be a Global Filipino Media Organization, and as such, a framework was prepared to establish a Philippine-based coordinative body to pursue this objective.

On a much larger scale, Barrios said that the convenors are in the process of coordinating with the University of Makati for the creation of a Global Filipino Institute for Policy Research.

If this comes to fruition, the almost 10 million global Filipinos will be more empowered as they will have an infrastructure which can document the situation of migrants from all over the world, specially Overseas Filipino workers who are abused by their employers, and create policies that will help the migrant workers.

Another way is through the internet and the convenors believe that they can leverage Information Technology and Communications (ITC) as a tool through the creation of a dynamic web portal.

The portal dubbed “The Filipino Global Village” will help organize, educate and connect Filipinos in all parts of the world was introduced during one of the workshops.

The aim is to leverage the efficient use of technology to connect overseas Filipinos. The portal will encourage members to facilitate communication and interaction among members and increase computer literacy to those who are not too tech-savvy. It will include social networking services to interact with fellow members. It will also provide a platform to unify and present a single voice and raised awareness of various social, political and economic issues across the world.


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Immigrant Group Reaches Deal with Remittance Company

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA), an immigrant advocacy group protesting the high transaction fees placed on migrant workers’ remittances has made an agreement with a money transfer company and asking for others to follow suit.

TIGRA has set forth a deal with Texas-based Virtual Money Inc. whose leaders hope, will lead to new business standards for the billion dollar remittance industry.

Among the agreements arrived at were that Virtual Money and its authorized Master Agents ICE Holdings Limited (IHL) would provide fair prices of at least 20 percent lower than the industry standard; commit to socially-responsible investing; abide by customer service standards based on transparency and non-discrimination; and adhere to a community reinvestment strategy which allocates up to 10 percent of revenues to projects that assist transnational communities, according to details of the deal announced last Tuesday in Los Angeles,

“This is the standard we want for the whole [remittance] industry,” said Francis Calpotura, executive director of TIGRA. “It has to have a community redevelopment standard that says, ‘we are committed to the communities that we benefit from and that part of our profit has to go back to those communities.’ Virtual Money is the first one to step up.”

Virtual Money uses the digital infrastructure to transact money. Rather than building branches in strategic locations, the company uses their own ATM cards for clients to access, transfer or check their funds. The low overhead costs can afford the company to lower its transaction fee.

“Because of the new technology, there is no reason why people have to pay such outrageous prices. We can do it cheaper, get it to the hands of people faster, and let the consumer know every cost involved in the process,” said Virtual Money Founder, President and CEO Robert Hodgins,

Remittance Market

Many foreign countries’ economies like Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines rely heavily on the amount of money remitted by overseas workers.

The World Bank estimated that overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) sent home more than $12.4 billion in 2006. There are more than three million OFW’s working in countries like the US, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Europe.

The Philippines ranks fifth globally in terms of remittances received from its overseas workers,” said Amando M Tetangco, Jr, Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) in a statement at the 13th Meeting of the World Savings Bank Institute Asia-Pacific Regional Group.

The World Bank revealed that migrant worker remittances reached $260 billion globally in 2006.

Remittance companies’ transaction price ranges from $2.95 up to $12  depending on the amount of money being sent. With billions of dollars being sent home, remittance companies have been cashing in.


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UK Men Charged with Racist Abuse

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – In a report by The WhiteHaven News, Michael Korwin-Granford and his Filipina wife of 20 years, Lilia, were on their way home on Cambridge Road, Hensingham, England when two men and a woman  began to shout, calling Lilia a “Chinese Bitch” and making lewd remarks about their personal lives. As soon as they got home, the Korwin-Granfords reported the matter to the police.

A few days ago, the two men responsible for the attack – Victor Davidson, 19, of Ehen Road, Cleator Moor, and Renwick Nathan Dockwray, 20, of The Oval, Mirehouse  – were found guilty of making insulting and racially-aggravated comments following a trial at Whitehaven Magistrates Court. They will be sentenced by a judge at Carlisle Crown Court on May 30.

Lilia broke down in tears at the witness stand when she recalled the incident. She added that the type of racial abuse she and her family had to endure was common in the Hensingham area, according to Whitehaven News.

In an article which appeared at a local newspaper in Cumbria, News and Star, Mr. Korwin-Granford says it is time to take a stand against society’s decline.

“I feel my case is not a one-off – there are many elderly people living in fear in this area, but also in the UK. It’s a yob society. (Yob is an English slang referring to the uncouth and thugs- AJ) Why should people have to live in fear? I’m hoping I can give people courage to stand up to these people. Teenagers – and even kids as young at nine – are out until 2am, but where are their parents? What’s happened to the responsibility of parents and where are the traditional family values?” added Korwin-Granford.

Lilia, who works for Cumbria Care, has been married to Korwin-Granford for more than two decades and yet still suffers from racial discrimination. Her husband admitted that he had his third heart attack last week as a result of the anxiety over the court case.

“Believe it or not a mixed marriage in this day and age is considered unacceptable. I’m an outcast. Some people don’t seem to comprehend that we don’t look at nationality. We look at people. We’ve been married 20 years and I don’t think of my wife as anything other than my wife,” said Lilia’s 62-year old husband.

Korwin-Granford revealed that Davidson and Dockwray were given the chance to apologize so that the case would not have to go to court but they denied the offence.

“When it came to being genuinely sorry they couldn’t find it in themselves. Sorry is not part of their make-up,” he told the News and Star.


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