QUEZON CITY, April 8 (PIA) — Amid the pandemic, through the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST’s) iFWD PH: Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines program, DOST-NCR under the leadership of DOST-NCR Jose B. Patalinjug III, provides innovation funding support to Bermudez Software Development Services, managed by former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Mr. Ruel Bermudez, to enhance and market the eBarangayPH.
The project aims to upgrade cloud infrastructure, ensure data privacy, guarantee access reliability, and develop an accompanying mobile application.
Having completed the capability building phase of the iFWD PH Program, Mr. Bermudez, who worked as an IT expert for 20 years and was an OFW in Cambodia, will be staying in the country to manage his own web-based enterprise.
It can be remembered that on 29 May 2020, Science Department launched the said project on a live virtual presser through the DOST-Philippines Facebook page. iFWD PH was conceptualized and implemented by the DOST-NCR and supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OPA-OFW).
According to the Undersecretary for Regional Operations of the DOST, Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano, this project “will provide them with opportunities to continue what they have started in their journey to building a good and progressive future for themselves and their families.” This initiative was also coined in anticipation of the number of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The undersecretary also referred to the OFWs as the “modern-day heroes” or “MAKABAGONG BAYANI” because of their contribution to the Philippine economy. She also stated that “we at the DOST will be our OFWs’ big sisters and brothers, ready to lend helping hands so that they will be able to realize their dreams here in our country.”
DOST-NCR Regional Director Jose B. Patalinjug III explains that the general objective of the DOST’s iFWD PH project is to provide support and opportunities for OFWs and their families to establish technology-based enterprises in the country.
On a virtual presser conducted last year, the Regional Director also laid the program framework such that phase 1 will be comprised of capability building and phase 2 will consist of funding support for the establishment of technology-based enterprises.
He also emphasized that part of the program is the provision of technology-based entrepreneurship advisors, technical assistance, use of DOST facilities, and network and linkages with established SETUP beneficiaries.
According to Dir. Patalinjug, OFWs may also form groups of 5 members to form a partnership or corporation, or 15 members to form a cooperative. He also pointed out that the DOST’s goal is to provide opportunities for OFWs to establish technology-based enterprises so they can literally move forward from being quarantined to returning home and building their own livelihood.
Holistic Support for the Filipino Family
iFWD started within NCR on 2020 and was eventually rolled out nationwide. “Considering that the Filipino ‘family’ is part of the iFWD PH program, the OFWs’ family members can be vital in putting up a technology-based enterprises for them. Subsequently, entrepreneurial activities will materialize for the OFWs and their families,” DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” Dela Pena said on his remark.
The Science Secretary, on the same virtual presser, also enumerated some important components of the said project such as the provision of technology training, technology assistance and the likes. In addition, he emphasized that it can help the OFWs understand how the program works, when to use it and what benefits they can actually get from it by saying, “Other OFWs kailangan lang ng briefing. ‘Yong iba may naipon ‘di na kailangan ng financial but technical. ‘Di sapat ang financial. Walang ipon,” setting a mark to those who do not have enough savings yet.
Secretary Dela Pena also highlighted other initiatives of the DOST during the ongoing health crisis which includes developmental kits, natural products, participation of DOST, DOH and UP-NIH together with NUHRA with the WHO’s SOLIDARITY TRIAL: therapeutic regimen to beat COVID-19, and preventive equipment for healthcare workers such as the SBCs and personal protective equipment (PPE); Order including RapidPass.PH and Check Pass; Livelihood such as the iFWD PH program; Posterity that involves new institutes and centers like pharmaceutical development centers as well as the education for the youth.
Usec. Edwin Bael of the OPA-OFW who was also present during the online presser said “Kapag sinabi mong ikaw ay matatag at matapat, ikaw ay susulong at uunlad,” just like how our kababayans were described by their employers and co-workmates abroad – determined and dedicated – they will do anything with all might to live their dreams.
Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding
During the live virtual presser, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between DOST and the OPA-OFW, in agreement to provide support and opportunities to OFWs and their family to own or manage technology-based enterprises as well as assist and protect their interest and welfare.
Meanwhile, during the question and answer portion, when asked about the difference of this program from other livelihood programs being offered by the other agencies and private companies, Sec. Dela Pena answered, “Ang pwede lang dito ay technology-based na negosyo, -technology ng DOST or other government-funded research output.”
Moreover, another question was raised about the role and contribution of the OPA-OFW, and if there is any counterpart funding. With this, Usec. Bael said, “Our role is to help DOST network with other agencies and with OFW groups all over the Philippines and even abroad. As to the counterpart funds, pu-pwede naming umpisahan na makipag-negotiate sa ibang mga bansa, especially sa Middle East na bigyan nila ng parang development assistance to provide for the counterparty sa ating mga approved programs, approved projects dun sa iFWD para matulungan ang mga returned OFWs.”
On the query about the network linkages being offered by the DOST, Dir. Patalinjug disclosed, “Isa sa mga ipapakita natin sa programang ito, ipapakilala natin at magse-setup tayo ng mga advisor, mga technology-based entrepreneurship advisors and entrepreneurial advisors kung saan ito’y kinabibilangan ng mga (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program) SETUP Clients natin. Kukuha tayo sa kanila na tututok, tutulong, maga-advise sa mga newbee OFW entrepreneurs.” He also added that the Entrepinoy Volunteers Foundation, Inc. (EVFI) will also help the OFWs by conducting seminars and trainings and that through the latest products and technologies that will be produced, “pwede silang i-pasok sa supply chain ng SETUP projects (natin),” Dir. Patalinjug said.
On the query about the network linkages being offered by the DOST, Dir. Patalinjug disclosed, “Isa sa ipapakita sa programa na ito ay ang pagpapakilala natin at pag-setup ng advisors and entrepreneurial advisors kung saan nakabibilangan ng (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program) SETUP clients natin. Kukuha tayo sa kanila ng tutulong at mag a-advise sa mga OFWs.” He also added that the Entrepinoy Volunteers Foundation, Inc. (EVFI) will also help the OFWs by conducting seminars and trainings and that through the latest products and technologies that will be produced, “pwede silang i-pasok sa supply chain ng SETUP projects (natin),” Dir. Patalinjug said.
Help On the Way
On a final note, RD Patalinjug excitedly exclaimed, “Parating na ang iFWD para sa ating mga OFW… Abangan!” which Usec. Nazareth seconded by saying, “We’re ready to FORWARD our assistance.”
iFWD will start in the National Capital Region for the meantime but this will eventually be rolled out to the other regions in the country. Those who are in the provinces can still be able to avail of iFWD PH.
Usec. Bael also that the DOST and the OPA-OFW look forward to the participation of the returning and even the retired OFWs because this technology-based projects are going to be multipliers. He said, “Para ito sa ating pagsulong at pag-unlad, upang makatulong nang husto ang ating bumabalik na manggagawa ay maka-reintegrate sa ating bayan.”
Sec. Dela Pena also echoed, “Ang umunlad ang lahat ng ating rehiyon ang susi sa pagunlad ng ating bayan.”
For more information, you may send your inquiries via e-mail addressed to DOST-NCR Regional Director Jose B. Patalinjug III through email@example.com, and copy furnish firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or call 09666344790. (PIA NCR)