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Financial independence given focus in workshop

07 April 2019

Learning is fun when there is some physical activity.

You work and save not just for your family and other dependents, but also for yourself.

This was the message learned by many of the migrant workers who attended the latest financial literacy seminar held by Card Hong Kong Foundation on Mar 24 at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Wanchai.

One of the main topics in the workshop was debt management, or how to control your spending so you don’t spend much of your time working to pay off loans.

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From the sharing with participants, it appeared that many Filipino migrant workers are still trapped in the debt cycle. The seminar helped them realize that they have to get out of that trap so that they can prepare for a better future not just for their future, but also for themselves.

They were taught not to leave their own future at the mercy of other people, including their own children. Saving up for retirement was one of the key lessons they learned from the workshop.

Among those who felt they benefited from the workshop was Ruth Bautista, a 58-year-old mother who raised her three children all by herself. She shared how devastated she was when her husband left her so that she was forced to provide for their children, alone.

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Through sheer hard work she managed to send two of her children through college, while the third is working with her in Hong Kong.

“I learned a lot from this seminar, now I can prepare for my retirement,” Bautista said.

It was not easy sailing for her back then, when she was tricked by someone she thought was a friend. After giving her full attention on their days off, this friend asked Bautista to act as guarantor for a $10,000 loan from a financing company. But shortly after that, this person disappeared, leaving her saddled with debt and with three children to feed.

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“I was nearly terminated because the financing company would always call me at home (when I could not pay the monthly amortization on time) so my boss learned about it. I ended up paying for it all because I was the guarantor.”

Looking back, she said one of the lessons she learned was not to trust too quickly, especially people who are overly nice to you. “Kaya pala ang bait sa akin, may balak palang utangan at takbuhan ako,” she said.

Another participant who was happy to have joined the Card seminar was Vilma Fabricante, 42, a single mother who raised all of her four children by herself. Three of them have already graduated from college, while the youngest is still at school, taking up aeronautical engineering.

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Though adept at managing her income, Fabricante was set back once by the failure of an agri-business she funded partly with money borrowed from her employer.

With what she learned from Card, she said she is more confident now about saving enough to secure her future.

“I’ve learned a lot from my failures. After joining this workshop, I know I will now have to spend my money wisely and set priorities to achieve my goals. I hope to be able to go home for good by the end of this year after 15 years of working here.”

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Fabricante said that although she was previously a Card member, the workshop helped refreshed her memory about how to achieve her goals. “I will recommend this workshop to my friends,” she said.

Another participant was Genie Sacla, leader of the Suyo, Ilocos Sur Association in Hong Kong. She joined the workshop to comply with her group’s rule requiring members to undergo a workshop on financial literacy before they can join an internal micro-lending program.

All the 52 participants in the latest workshop formed batch 54, and will be receiving certificates of completion on May 19, along with the members of the previous batches this year.

To join Card’s next fin-lit seminar, please call 5600 2526, 68481641, 54238196 or like the FB page, Card Hong Kong Foundation, and register. – George Manalansan

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