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BSK HK holds livelihood festival to mark 24th year

22 November 2018

One of the booths features the handcrafted output of members.

By Daisy CL Mandap

Rare are the Filipino community organizations in Hong Kong which can lay claim to having survived for more than two decades without losing focus on their objectives, and with most key officers remaining on board.
BSK HK leader Chuing Baltazar bades goodbye.

But rarer are those that can lay claim to having helped their fellow Filipinos in a big but quiet way, without asking for anything in return.

To this latter category belongs Balikatan sa Kaunlaran (BSK) Hong Kong Council, which celebrated its 24th year anniversary with a show on Chater Road on Nov. 11, and on the side, held the first ever OFW Livelihood Festival.

Spearheaded by one of its founders, Ching Baltzar, BSK has over the years, resolutely stuck to its goal of providing free livelihood training to overseas Filipino workers, despite not having any budget, nor space for its programs.

With only a narrow pedestrian overpass in Admiralty as its base, BSK has provided crafts training such as ribbon folding, macramé weaving, balloon design and beadwork to hundreds, if not thousands, of Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong.

Many of these graduates have moved back to the Philippines to start their own businesses, or formed their own groups in Hong Kong through which they have started their own skills training for fellow migrant workers.

This year, Baltazar decided to celebrate its anniversary in a big way, with Consul General Tony Morales and Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre leading its list of guests. Senator JV Ejercito, whose mother Guia Gomez, founded BSK in Manila, also flew in to join the celebration, as well as Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles.

All the guests extolled Baltazar and BSK for focusing on the mission of getting Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong prepare for their eventual return home by providing them with skills that they could use in starting their own businesses.

ConGen Morales urged migrant workers to spend a few hours of their precious day-off in the week to learn a new skill which could help provide them with a source of livelihood when they return home.

“Hindi naman masamang tumambay dahil isang lingo naman tayong nagtatrabaho, pero kung sa buong araw na iyan, maaari naman nating bigyan ng ilang oras…ang makakuha tayo ng bagong kaalaman sa ikabubuti din ng ating kinabukasan,” he said.

Labatt dela Torre also asked migrants to look after their health, and take advantage of the free medical check-ups that is being offered to them by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office through its HealthWise program.

After a Catholic mass that kicked off the celebration, the event was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by Baltazar and the VIP guests.

In between the speeches, various groups provided dance numbers, before about 100 graduates of BSK’s livelihood programs were called to the stage to accept their certificates of completion from Congen Morales, Labatt dela Torre and Rep. Nograles.

To wrap up the celebration, BSK awarded prizes to the winners in its livelihood contests.

Here is the complete set of winners:
Group Entries:
Ribbon Folding: Kailangan ang Kabuhayan para sa ating Kinabukasan (KKK)
Beads & Accessories: Overseas Kapuso Livelihood Association (Kapuso)
Macrame: United Migrants Entrepreneurship & Livelihood Association (Umela)
Stocking Flower Making: Filipino Workers Livelihood Association (Fiwla)

Individual Entries:
Cross Stitch: Delia A. Palma
Fruit & Vegetable Carving: Elpie Leba
Upcycling: Meriam C. Asiong
Painting: Noemi Manguerra

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