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No bed of roses for OFWs and their families

Written by Jovic Yee / Contributor

OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) sacrifice the comforts of home and brave the challenges of working and living in other countries to give their families a better life.

For consolation, the government calls them living heroes for their big contribution to the economy. As the country’s biggest dollar earners, they provide the biggest boost to the Philippines’ foreign exchange.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development and various nongovernment organizations on Saturday recognized the impact of migration on families around the world as part of the 15th celebration of the International Day of Families.

Social Welfare Acting Secretary Celia Capadocia-Yangco said families in the country have a different situation than those in other countries.

“Not all families who go abroad are strongly bonded. There are a lot of problems. Here, the support system you get is much wider than they can get abroad,” Capadocia-Yangco said.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency showed that one in every 10 Filipinos is working or living abroad. An estimated 40 percent of these are OFWs,  which translates to at least 11 million in nearly 200 countries. The report said 2 million of them are illegal migrant workers.

Fe Nicodemus, Kapisanan ng Kamag-anak ng mga Migranteng Mamamayang Pilipino Inc. chairman, said these statistics are alarming.

“Although the export of labor was originally meant as a temporary solution to ease the country’s unemployment woes, it has become a major pillar of the Philippine government-development strategy,” Nicodemus said.

She said that OFWs’ major reason or “push factor” for going abroad is the lack of employment opportunity and compensation in the country, which hamper their ability to give their children a better life and education and provide for their families’ needs.

“Filipinos are in high demand overseas because we are known to be of high-rate skills, highly educated, proficient in the English language, adaptable to other cultures and environments, warm and caring and easy to get along with,” Nicodemus said.

The overseas deployment of Filipino workers in the last three decades had been a mixed blessing for the country. Millions of ordinary families have benefited with homes built, children graduated from school and businesses started.

Unfortunately, there were unseen social costs to the waves of labor migration, especially to the integrity of the Filipino family.

“OFWs have often voiced regret about missing out their children’s growing years, and being absent during periods of family crisis,” Nicodemus said
Encar Abella of PRO-Life Philippines and a mother of six related how hard it was to rear children single-handedly while her husband was abroad.

“He went abroad in 2000 in order for our six children to continue their education. The first years were hard, every night I cry. To ease the pain, I go to church with my six children every day,” a teary Abella said.

Nicodemus said the separation from family members is probably the most difficult part of being an OFW.

“Families had turned to prayer to ease the pain of being separated,” Nicodemus said.
Dr. Ma. Paz Manaligod of the Department of Psychology of Miriam College said children left behind are most vulnerable to social risks.

“It’s the family that can make or break the child. The extended family can be a strong support system for the child as many children who had experienced separation from their parents developed into healthy, mature adults, provided the children had a loving caregiver,” Manaligod said

She added that parents should not spoil their children too much when they return just so to make up for the lost time. Spoiling them, she said, jeopardizes the values taught by the substitute caregiver.

“If you see that your child is quite spoiled, correct him/her because you’re there already. Don’t think that your child will feel bad, because that’s the moment you can discipline and teach him/her the lessons you want him/her to learn. There should always be an open line of communication,” Manaligod said.

In Abella’s case, she said she made her children realize that every centavo they get from their father is hard-earned money.

“I make sure that we follow a strict budget because we want their father to return to us after fulfilling our goal of giving our children the education they need,” Abella said.

Manaligod pointed out that there had been instances when the migrant worker returns home after several years without any savings, frustrating the family’s efforts to finance their children’s schooling.

“That is the saddest part because they had been working so hard, left the country and their family and yet when they return home, they haven’t fulfilled their goal,” Manaligod said.


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates,

Ban on foreign illegal recruiter sought


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently recommended to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to ban a foreigner allegedly engaged in illegal recruitment and deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to Hong Kong without the necessary clearance from the government, it was learned Wednesday.

In his letter to BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, DFA Assistant Secretary Jaime Ledda sought the bureau’s assistance in putting the foreigner’s name in the blacklist after receiving reports from the Philippine embassy in Guangzhou, China.

Libanan immediately issued an order placing the foreigner in its blacklist, thus preventing the alien from entering the Philippines and from victimizing prospective OFWs.

The BI chief also ordered immigration supervisors and officers in all international airports to strictly enforce the blacklist order to put a stop on the illegal activities of the foreigner.

Quoting a report from the DFA, Libanan said the foreigner has been illegally recruiting Filipinos to work in Hong Kong without the proper documentation.

The recruits, who are all women, are allegedly sent to the former British colony without the required processing and permits from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

According to the DFA, the foreiner’s activities were discovered by Chinese authorities when members of the Fujian police raided his recruitment agency.

Filed under: OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

PhilHealth to open regional office in Riyadh


RIYADH: The first Middle East office of the Philippine health insurance agency PhilHealth is to be opened at the Philippine Embassy on June 4.

According to Philippine Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor, the opening of the office will coincide with the celebration of the country’s 112th Independence Day celebration.

Philippine Independence Day is on June 12 but celebrated by the Filipino community in the Kingdom for weeks.

“Riyadh is where the largest number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can be found in the Kingdom. It is just right that they be given,” PhilHealth President and CEO Rey B. Aquino told Arab News. In an earlier interview, Villamor said there were some 600,000 OFWs working in the capital alone.

PhilHealth’s service desk will address members’ needs and provide forms and information about the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

It will also accept benefit claims, applications for member data amendment and annual premium contributions from OFW members of up to 900 pesos. “If they pay their premium contributions regularly and on time, our OFW members will not encounter any problems in claiming PhilHealth benefits,” Aquino said.

PhilHealth also covers costs arising from hospital room and board, operating room fees, the provision of drugs and medicines, X-ray and laboratory tests, examinations and doctors’ fees.
These should be automatically deducted from the hospital bill before the beneficiary is discharged.

PhilHealth will also reimburse medical costs for members who need to be treated abroad.
Aquino said this is one of the reasons why PhilHealth provided more collecting agents for OFWs to pay their premiums regularly so they do not lose out.

Presently, PhilHealth has collection agreements with iRemit, Development Bank of the Philippines and Philippine Veterans Bank, among others.

“I will also authorize the assigned PhilHealth marketing officer in Riyadh to attend and participate in the meetings and dialogue of OFW organizations to provide free reintegration seminars for our compatriots in the region,” Aquino added.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

Demand for goat products draws more farmers into goat farming

By Danny O. Calleja

Sorsogon City (20 May) — Farmers here and other parts of Sorsogon province have recognized goat raising as environment friendly and profitable farming venture.

City councilor Roberto Dollison, head of the three-year old Sorsogon Goat Raisers Association (SGRA), on Tuesday said “from backyard raisers, our group is mulling on converting into a cooperative and turn bigtime entrepreneur to take advantage of the demand for goat products like breeders, meat and milk.”

Each of the 25 members of  SGRA had an average of 10 heads of goat stocks of various breeds and raising them is already a quite good number to start for bigtime farming, Dollison said.

The country had still a meager number of goats even with the shift in diet preferences and the growing demand and interest for goat meat in the local market. The goat population is presently estimated at 3.3 million and rising continuously, Dollison ,quoting a recent report of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), said.

One big problem, he said was the cost of breeder goats that as of the present, a six-month old native female at 10-12 kilograms already commands a price of P2,500. A four-month old meztizo weanling costs P4,000 and bucks for breeding are now at P11,000 to P20,000 per head.

But a recent report of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) said that this problem does not stop raisers and breeders from dipping their hands into this low-risk profitable livelihood.

Goats adapt well to any existing farming system and feed on forages and other farm products although raisers also use concentrates, it said.

“Goats are very popular among Filipinos because they require low initial capital investment, fit the small hold farm conditions, and multiply fast,” PCARRD explained in its investment briefer.
“Culturally, goats are integral to every special occasion such as birthdays, baptisms, weddings, and fiestas. Hence, they command a higher price compared with other meats in the market.”

These ruminants require low maintenance because they eat tree leaves, grasses, weeds and agricultural by-products. “Goats require less feed than cows and carabaos as about 10 native goats can be fed on the feedstuffs sufficient for one cattle and about seven purebred dairy goats can be fed on the feedstuffs adequate for one dairy cow.

“Although a goat is small, it can produce as much as four liters of milk a day if it is purebred and is given a ration to meet all of its nutritional requirements,” the PCARRD added.

A PCARRD study conducted found out that goats are multi-purpose ruminants producing 58.4 percent milk, 35.6 percent meat, 4.3 percent hide and 1.7 percent fiber. It said that these small ruminants could provide the answer to improve nutritional requirements of the predominantly rural farm families scattered all over the archipelago.

As goat production requires low initial investment and small risks compared to other livestock, it is therefore an attractive undertaking among resource-poor families. In addition, women and children can raise the animals, making it a sound option to augment the country’s programs on livelihood. Goats provide livelihood to about 15 million Filipinos across the country, according to PCARRD.

Despite this, goat farming is still not very popular among Filipinos and no one exactly knows how many goats are there in the country.

PCARRD claims that the total goat inventory is “steadily increasing” at 2 percent per year. This supply is still not enough to meet the current demands. “We expect that the increased demand will last to 2020 when the project supply can meet the demand of the consumers,” PCARRD said.

The optimum potential of goat as one of the main sources of milk and meat has not been fully tapped in the country.

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that the total number of goats in the country is about 3,355,574. Most of the goat farms are concentrated in Southern Luzon and various parts of Mindanao.

In Mindanao, Dollison said, goat farming was considered a “sunshine industry.” The country’s second largest island has a large Muslim population and goat meat is considered Halal food. There is also a big demand in the international market, particularly the Middle East.

In Sorsogon, Dollison said more and more people were raising goats in their farms that aside from providing them a steady income from the milk and sales of breeding stocks, they have discovered one thing about the animals.

“Their manure is a good source of fertilizer,” he said. SGRA’s combined stock of about 250 goats provides organic fertilizer for our farms planted to rice, rootcrops, vegetables, coconuts and fruit trees that since fertilizer costs have gone up, more and more farmers are turning to goatraising, Dollison said.

There are at least 12 known goat species in the world but only a relatively small number of breeds are economically useable. The Philippine’s native goat is small but hardy. It weighs about 25 kilograms at maturity and produces only about 350 grams of milk with butterfat content of around 4.6 percent daily.

The Dadiangas goat is common in General Santos City is a mixture of native, Nubian and Jamnapari goats and some animals may even have some Alpine or Saanen blood. The milk production and butterfat content are marginally higher than native goats and they do best in the drier areas of the country.

Of the introduced breeds in the country, Anglo Nubian performs the best along with the newer introduced Boer goats. The dairy breeds such as the Saanen, Toggenburg and French Alpine perform relatively poorly.

For those who cannot afford a purebred stock, starting with the best female goats available in the locality is the best idea and bred them with purebreds or upgraded stock and by selecting th desirable offspring and discarding the undesirable ones, a good stock will emerge later, Dollison said.

For commercial or large-scale operation, the production inputs are aplenty. Fixed investment includes land, goat house, fences, pasture area, water pump, feeding trough, spade, wheelbarrow, and ropes.

“You have to buy breeding does and breeding bucks. Operating expenses include veterinary medicines, drugs, and vaccines; feed supplements and goat rations; and repair and maintenance of goat house, fences, equipment, and pasture. Fixed and seasonal labor is also required,” he said.

PCARRD said, with minimal initial capital investment of about P67,000 for 25-doe level, P174,500 for 60-doe level, or P349,000 for 100-doe level, positive net income and return-on-investment (ROI) are realized, even as early as the first year.

The ROI for five years is 67 percent from a 25-doe level operation under semi-confinement scheme and 60 percent from 50- and 100-doe level operations under pure confinement system. Payback period is two years, the PCARRD added.

Goats have gone a long way from being just poor man’s cows. These animals have proven to be more than just four-legged mammals that generate milk and meat. They survive in almost any kind of environment that is dry and where feed resources are available, making their potential as one of the main sources of farm income.

Given all those advantages, PCARRD said it has picked up on this renewed interest on goats and is now laying various science and technology (S&T) initiatives to continue coming up with better quality stocks, promote goat reproduction techniques and encourage new and fresh approaches to manage goats and the business of raising them.

Along with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFDA), PCARRD has initiated trainings on effective goat management to further promote its competence.

After analyzing the cost and returns of raising goats, they proved that it is a low-risk profitable livelihood. Assuming a goat raiser has five does at P2,500 each, an initial investment of P32,000 can mean extra income of at least P14,800 in sales of goat stock after two business years.

PCARRD has also initiated its 1,000-goat farms program that aims to launch 1,000 smallholder farmers into full-time commercial goat raisers to continue the wave of effect that goat raising has started.

In the end, even with problems on seasonality of demand, fluctuating prices of goats and breeders, high costs of feed, wavering veterinary services and high taxes and business permits to start with, raising goats will continue to flourish and find its optimum potential in the future, it said.

That is because 63 percent of the world’s total meat consumption can be credited to goat meat. According to, people-from Mideasterners and African to Latin American and Arabs prefer goat meat than any other veal-like meat around the world. (PNA Bicol) [top]

Filed under: Livelihood, Negosyo Tips, Sorsogon News Updates,

BFP intensifies inspection on boarding houses, dorms

Sorsogon City (20 May) — All dormitories and boarding houses in this city will be subjected to a thorough inspection by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) office here in preparation for the upcoming school opening in June.

Chief Inspector Renato Marcial, BFP Sorsogon City fire marshal, said the inspection intends to ensure the safety of the students, especially that we expect students from distant areas from this city will occupy rented rooms.

Marcial bared that the inspection has since started last May 13, 2010.
Marcial has already directed the agency’s fire safety inspectors to all the dormitories and boarding houses to abate fire hazards and other related emergencies.
BFP has also requested the support and cooperation of barangay officials in the implementation of the Fire Code of the Philippines, also appealing to the owners to secure business permits before they operate their own businesses.

“They must comply with fire safety standards as required by law, including provision of fire exits, emergency lights, fire extinguishers and installation of alarm system,” he elaborated.
Marcial appealed to the community to report to their office at 421-6320 that if in case they found out some boarding houses who operate without the necessary permits and do not follow the fire safety standards required by law. (FO1MBDollente/FO1LFuntanares, BFP Sorsogon City/PIA)

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates, ,

Facebook adds new security tools amid criticisms over privacy

WASHINGTON: Facebook has added new security tools to prevent hacking and held a staff meeting at its California headquarters amid a growing storm over privacy at the social network.

The new security features, unveiled Thursday, include giving members the ability to approve which devices they commonly use to log on to Facebook — a home computer or a mobile phone, for example — through an “Account Settings” page.
“Once you’ve done this, whenever someone logs in to your account from a device not on this list, we’ll ask the person to name the device,” Facebook software engineer Lev Popov said in a blog post.

Facebook members would receive an email notification or a text message if someone tries to access their account from a device that has not been approved.
“This notification will provide steps on how to reset your password and remove the device, so you can quickly secure your account if it’s being accessed from a device you don’t recognize,” Popov said.

He said Facebook had also built in controls to “block suspicious logins before they happen” by asking for proof of identity, such as a birth date.
The new security tools were unveiled as Facebook comes under fire from US privacy and consumer groups, lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.
Amid the criticism, Facebook held a staff meeting at its Palo Alto offices to discuss its privacy strategy.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the meeting in a statement to several technology blogs but said details of the internal discussions would not be released.
“We have an open culture and it should come as no surprise that we’re providing a forum for employees to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest,” the spokesperson said.

The new features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the Internet.

A European Union group slammed the recent changes this week, saying “it is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user.”

The EU group, known as the Article 29 Working Party, said user profile information “is limited to self-selected contacts” and any further access “should be an explicit choice of the user.”
Last week, over a dozen US privacy and consumer protection groups filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission accusing Facebook of “unfair and deceptive” practices.
“Facebook continues to manipulate the privacy settings of users and its own privacy policy so that it can take personal information provided by users for a limited purpose and make it widely available for commercial purposes,” they said.

Four US senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg last month, said they worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators expressed concerns about privacy ramifications saying “Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private.”
Sharing personal information should be an “opt-in” procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, they said.

– AFP/jy

Source: Channel News Asia

Filed under: Computer Matters, Social Network,

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