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OFWs take a big step toward getting into business

06 November 2017

Graduates pose for posterity.

A total of 51 overseas Filipino workers received certificates of completion in this year’s Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship program of the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government in a ceremony held at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Oct 22.

Awarding their certificates was guest speaker Dr Philip Arnold Tuano, assistant professor and vice chair of the school of economics of Ateneo U.

Tuano urged the new graduates to use what they learned to better themselves.

Outgoing Consul General Bernardita Catalla advised the graduates to pick the best lessons from the LSE program and apply the best practices they learned so they will have a  prosperous life, “not in ten years but starting today.”

Congen Catalla also said that she would be bringing the good experiences she had in Hong Kong to Lebanon, her next assignment, so she could continue helping Filipinos there.

Another guest speaker, Hong Kong solicitor and author Jason Ng told the graduates that when they start a business in the future they should remember to apply all the lessons they learned from LSE and to keep in mind the Hongkongers’ spirit of never giving up easily.

He told them that they should keep trying hard even if they don’t succeed at first because “nothing is impossible.”

Ng also reminded the graduates to “pay it forward”, or to help others in turn.

As in previous years, this seventh batch of graduates had to undergo a six-month training that focused on leadership, financial literacy and on encouraging participants to become entrepreneurs. The highlight of the program is the requirement for students to draw up a business plan for the enterprise they plan to set up in the future.

One of the winners in the various business plan competitions, Alona Famatigan, touched the hearts of many in the audience when she said she wants to help the farmers in her hometown to improve their lives so they can send their children to school.

She also related that she has been working abroad for 30 years because of the many natural disasters that have hit her farm. In the face of such misfortune, she said all that one can do is pray, and try to rise again.

Among those who witnessed Famatigan’s big moment was her employer, who gave an emotional testimony about the good relationship that she has with the helper. The employer said Famatigan is like family to her because of the support she gives, which is more than what her own mother gave her.

Many of the graduating helpers came along with their employers and wards, who appeared to be as happy and excited as the family and friends of the graduates.

One of the children even told her mother that she also wants to be a graduate someday and be like her nanny, Rubylyn Barlaan.

The LSE is a collaborative effort between the private sectors including the ASoG, the Philippine government and the NGO, Wimler Foundation. – Ellen Almacin

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