Distressed worker from UAE owns beauty salon

Agnes Luna, 42 years old from Sasa, Davao City is one of the successful beneficiaries of Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! (BPBH) Program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). She was deployed in March 2016 and worked as a hairdresser in one of the wellness centers of the United Arab Emirates. However, due to a serious medical illness, she was unable to finish her employment contract.

Upon her vacation sometime in 2016, she had her medical check-up due to pain in her right breast. After a series of tests, she found out that she already has stage 3 breast cancer which needs proper medical attention. Due to her condition, she was advised not to go back to her employer. She underwent chemotherapy and other procedures.  With constant medication, support from her family, and strong prayers, Agnes survived her illness and is now managing her own beauty salon.

As an active member of OWWA and eligible for the program, Agnes availed the BPBH Program and received the livelihood assistance worth Php 20,000.00 on July 20, 2018. The program is a package of livelihood support/assistance intended to provide immediate relief to returning member-OFWs (distressed/displaced) amounting to a maximum Php 20,000.00 as a start-up or additional capital for a livelihood project. 

The financial assistance she received was utilized to purchase makeup materials, salon products and supplies including equipment like ring light and the rest were used for the renovation of the salon. 

Colors of Beauty by Agnes Salon

Despite her illness, she never lost hope and instead made herself busy by availing OWWA’s Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP) in 2017 for the enhancement of her skills. She enrolled in a 6-month Beauty Care Course at one of the TESDA accredited training centers in Davao City. Aside from the Hairdressing NC II and Beauty Care NC II Certificates that she acquired, she was also granted with a Trainers Methodology Certificate I where she became one of the Beauty Care Trainers of Arlyn L. Basquez Academy of Beauty and Assessment Center, Inc. from 2018 up to the present.

Her salon named ‘Colors of Beauty by Agnes’ is located just beside their house where customers have easy access. Apart from her services at the salon, she also accepts home services, especially during weddings, birthdays, and other occasions. She likewise serves as the personal makeup artist of her younger sister who was crowned as Mrs. Grand Universe 2019 in Manila. “Every time my sister has an event, I personally do her makeup,” she said. The salon has an estimated gross income of Php 30,000.00 per month. 

Agnes Luna delivered her inspirational message during their graduation. She completed the Beauty Care NC II at the Alyn L. Basquez
Academy of Beauty and Assessment Center, Inc.

For Agnes, having an ailment is never a hindrance to reaching one’s dreams. “Just believe that you can surpass all the trials given to you and never stop praying. At first, I was down because this kind of health condition is not easy. I felt all the pain during the procedures I underwent. But, because of my faith and strong will to survive, here I am now, active and pursuing my passion ” said Agnes who always thinks the future of her only child. “I fight against my illness because of my family, especially my child who is now in Grade 10. I am the only one taking care of him. My parents and my siblings also need me. So, I have to remain strong and fight until the end,” she added. Agnes is the eldest among her seven siblings. She was once a working student until she finished her Accountancy course.

Aside from rendering services at her salon and as one of the Certified Trainers of Arlyn Basquez Academy, Agnes also participates in the community outreach and activities organized by OWWA, TESDA, and other government agencies. They rendered free haircut, manicure/pedicure and actual demonstration on proper hairdressing and application of makeup. Recently, she represented the academy to render actual demonstration on proper makeup application during the OWWA  Reintegration Caravan and OFW Family Day last December 19, 2019 in Montevista, Davao de Oro.

Actual demonstration of make up application to one of the particpants of OWWA Reintegration Caravan in Montevista, Davao del Oro

OFW Agnes Luna considered OWWA as part of her success. The scholarship and the livelihood assistance she acquired have helped her to earn an income without leaving her family. “Beauty care is my passion and I am grateful to OWWA that I was given the chance to earn an NC II Certificate through the scholarship. This helped me become more confident to render my services. The livelihood assistance, on the other hand, has given me the courage to continue my passion. With my own salon, I can be more effective and can serve my clients with quality service. I hope that OWWA will continue its program to help the other distressed workers for them to recover and start a livelihood of their own,” she said. She likewise encouraged other distressed workers like her to never give up. “For those who availed of the BPBH Program of OWWA, the livelihood assistance you received might be the way for you to become successful. So, manage your business well because not everyone has given the privilege to receive the blessings that we received,” said Agnes, who encouraged other OFWs to renew their OWWA membership once expired so they can avail of the programs and services.