Confab on OFW donations set Aug 1-2 in UST


HONG KONG-based domestic worker Thelma Unite sings self-composed songs to raise funds for public elementary schools in her hometown of Ballesteros, Cagayan. Members of the US-based network Federation of Mindanao Associations in Southern California are fancied at raffle draws that offer cars as grand prizes, and for bringing proceeds of these draws to their hometowns in southern Philippines.

And a group in Faroe Islands, named Faroese Philippine Services, has put the island in the trajectory of the Filipino global presence (Faroe Islands belongs to Europe, and is located below Iceland). FPS, unknown to many, has been supporting elementary schools in Nueva Vizcaya and Aurora provinces, two of the country’s poorest provinces.

These are examples of what is called migrant philanthropy, or donations coming from Filipinos abroad to support development projects in the homeland. The most recent data (2003 Balance of Payments data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) showed that channeled cash donations alone from Filipinos abroad have reached US$218 million.

But have these efforts by overseas Filipino “changemakers,” especially directed at their hometowns in rural Philippines, truly made a difference?

Determining how Filipino migrant philanthropy has impacted on Philippine life and Filipino social development work will be discussed in a national conference this August 1 and 2 at the University of Santo Tomas, Thomas Aquinas Research Complex in Manila.

The event, dubbed Pursuing Efficiency and Meaning by ‘Changemakers:’ The Second National Conference on Filipino Migrant Philanthropy, hopes to gather Filipino donors abroad and Philippine-based stakeholders from the non-government, government, private and academic sectors to dissect the dynamics surrounding donations from overseas Filipinos.

Resource persons who are experienced overseas migrant donors and development workers coming from various parts of the Philippines are expected to participate in the two-day conference, which is being organized by the nonprofit Institute for Migration and Development Issues (www.filipinodiasporagiving.org). The Peace and Equity Foundation and The Asia Foundation are supporting the conduct of this conference.

Conference attendees will also get a glimpse of who these overseas Filipinos are, and the economic and psycho-social issues they face. The book Good News for the Poor: Diaspora Philanthropy by Filipinos (published by the Association of Foundations) writes that if interested parties will not look at the lives and conditions of overseas Filipinos, they cannot harness the fullest potentials of migrant philanthropy and their family and collective remittances.

Filipinos abroad who will be here in Manila during the time of the conference are invited to participate, as individual donors and as representatives of Filipino groups overseas.

Participation fee to the conference costs PhP500 per person, with participants assured of caliber discussions and a wealthy package of information materials on Filipino migrant philanthropy. IMDI convened the first national conference on June 9-10, 2005, also in UST.

Interested parties here and overseas wishing to attend the conference may contact the Institute (c/o Jeremaiah Opiniano) at +639178238260, and at ofw_philanthropy[@]yahoo.com.