The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) – National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in partnership with Coca Cola Philippines awarded a Certificate of Recognition to four (4) outstanding women-OFW entrepreneurs in Davao Region who sustained their businesses and hurdled the challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic. The awarding ceremony was held last January 20-21, 2021 in Davao City and Davao del Sur, respectively.
The awardees were Rhoda Te from Digos City, Connie Alcala and Jeverlyn Pelongo, both from Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur and Gerlyn Ogong from Buhangin, Davao City. They received a “Balik Bayani” Certificate in recognition of their ingenious contribution to the society and inspiring more OFWs towards self empowerment.
Apart from the certificate, each of them received a Php 30,000.00 livelihood package consisting of Php 20,000 worth of business-related items in support of their business and Php 10,000.00 worth of Coca Cola products.
OFW Gerlyn, 37 years old worked as a Service Coordinator at Royal Business Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2013. She decided to stop working when she noticed mismanagement and racial discrimination among the employees in the company. Upon her return to the Philippines, she availed of the Balik Pinay Balik Hanapbuhay Program of OWWA-NRCO and received a financial assistance worth Php 10,000.00 in December 2019. The assistance helped her to establish a travel and tours ticketing office and engaged in delivery of fruit seedlings and dragon fruit soap. “I am so grateful to OWWA-NRCO for the livelihood assistance granted to me because I was able to start my own business. I am most thankful of the additional livelihood package from Coca Cola Phils. The income of the fruit seedlings (lanzones, mangosteen, durian) granted will help me expand my business and I would be able to help other OFWs who will serve as retailers of my products,” said Gerlyn. Her fruit seedlings and dragon fruit soaps are transported to Manila and other parts of Mindanao.
Meanwhile, determination and hard work make the 45-year old former domestic worker in Dubai to succeed in her ‘kakanin’ business. After experiencing a distressful situation abroad, Connie decided to stop serving her employer and returned home in 2015. She availed of the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! (BPBH) Progrman of OWWA and received Php 10,000.00 livelihood assistance, which she used as starting capital for her ‘kakanin business’. With the official business name “KISSIE’S KAKANIN”, OFW Connie makes puto cheese, sapin-sapin, kutsinta, and other native delicacies which are delivered and sold in schools, offices, business establishments, and hotels. Presently, she earns a monthly net income of Php 40,000.00 which greatly helped her in sustaining the daily needs of her family. “Food and cooking have always been my passion that’s why I feel so happy that OWWA granted me the starter kit. It really helped me to start another round of my life,” she said.
Connie received sacks of flour and a 7-layer food shelf from Coca Cola Phils., which can be used as storage and display corner of her finished products for sale. With the additional livelihood assistance she received, she can now supply the growing demands of her customer. “I feel so blessed and happy to become one of the awardees of this program. I sincerely thank OWWA-NRCO for its usual support to distressed OFWs like me. I am also grateful because through the additional livelihood assistance from Coca Cola, I will be able to help my other members to earn additional income. My sad experience in working abroad has made me stronger and made me realized that there is always a rainbow after the rain,” said Connie. Aside from being busy with her business, she is also an active leader of the Balik Manggagawa OFW Family Circle, an OFW group organized by OWWA XI.
Another grantee is OFW Jeverlyn Pelongo, 29 years old from Tuban, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. She expressed her sincere gratitude to OWWA-NRCO for giving her the opportunity to be chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the program. She worked as a baby sitter in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from February 2017 to May 2019. Unfortunately, she was maltreated by her employer which pushed her to return home.
As a distressed worker, she availed of the Balik Pinay Balik Hanapbuhay Program of the NRCO and received a Php 10,000.00 livelihood assistance in December 2019. With her skills in hair and beauty care, she used the amount to purchase basic salon supplies/equipment and offered home services. “Before, I was the one who visited the home of my customers to do hair rebond and treatment as well as manicure and pedicure. When my customers felt satisfied with my services, they recommended me to their friends and relatives, which also helped me earned a higher income. Out of my income, I was able to put up a mini salon in our residence,” she said.
Jeverlyn received salon supplies worth Php 20,000.00 from Coca Cola Phils., which include hair dryer, hair styling iron, hair salon sink, and high grade nail polish and artificial colored nails. “I am very grateful to OWWA-NRCO and Coca Cola for giving me the chance to avail of the livelihood package. Now, that I already have my own salon equipment and supplies, I can serve my customers with better and quality service. With this blessing, I will no longer apply for work abroad and will focus more in this business through the support of my partner,” she said.
Rhoda Te, on the other hand, received veterinary supplies worth Php 20,000.00 also from Coca Cola Phils. According to her, the livelihood package she received will be added to her agri-vet supplies located at Tienda Aplaya, Digos City, Davao del Sur.
OFW Rhoda worked as an undocumented domestic worker in the Netherlands. As an eligible beneficiary of the NRCO program, she availed of the Balik Pinay Balik Hanapbuhay Program. She received her livelihood assistance worth Php 10,000.00 in January 2020 which she used as an additional capital to her business. “I feel honored to be awarded with this kind of recognition and be granted with the livelihood package. It is a great help for me to earn higher income. I hope that more distressed OFWs will be granted with the same livelihood assistance we received for them to recover from distressful situations,” she said.
The four outstanding OFW-Women Entrepreneurs are among the thirty-six (36) distressed/undocumented workers who attended the four-day Entrepreneurship Training Progam dubbed as Women Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home (REACH) last November 26-29, 2019 in Davao City. They successfully applied their learnings from the training to their respective businesses. They were selected because of their successful and sustainable business endeavors.