CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, La Union – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH) Program recognized the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)-graduates during the virtual concluding ceremony on August 31, 2021 via Zoom platform.

Dubbed as the “Batch Malikhain,” 9 OFWs from Region I, along with other 33 OFWs from Regions VII, VIII and MIMAROPA, completed the program’s first phase focused on the capability building for the development and management of technology-based enterprise from June 2, 2021 to July 16, 2021. Through virtual learning sessions, the OFWs were able to conceptualize their proposed technology-based enterprises which will be funded through the program’s Phase 2.

During the opening remarks, Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, Regional Director of DOST-MIMAROPA, described the OFWs as the Philippines’ modern-day heroes, as they are responsible on the surge of remittances that have contributed to the country’s economic status. She applauded the perseverance of the OFWs for their determination in learning the importance technopreneurship amidst the pandemic. “This ceremony is only just the beginning of your story as a technopreneurs. There will be hardships and shortcomings along the way, but as all heroes do, you will rise and work your way through your goals. The DOST will be with you along the way,” Dr. Abilay said.

Dr. Armando Q. Ganal, Regional Director of DOST-I also gave his welcome remarks, commending that the Program is very timely in this time of pandemic where thousands of OFWs were repatriated and opted to join their families in the Philippines. With the implementation of the iFWD PH Program, Dr. Ganal adds that OFWs are assured of the hope that awaits them in their home country through the support and assistance of the DOST especially if they are aspiring to put up a techno-based business to sustain their living.

Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations of the DOST, extended his congratulations to the OFW-graduates in his inspirational message. He lauded the efforts of the OFWs in their participation in the core development learning sessions of the iFWD PH Program. “Truly, it is never too late to delve into something new and create innovative ideas given the opportunity to do so. We have witnessed your efforts on your training in the past 3 months and I commend your commitment towards your goals and as recognition to your hard-earned work. This day is dedicated to you, Batch Malikhain,” he said. He also included in his message that the DOST’s services will always continue amidst the adversities we are facing now.

In his keynote speech, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña thanked the OFWs for choosing to be part of the iFWD PH Program. He commended the sacrifices of the OFWs that they are finding ways to sustain the needs of their family. “Your sacrifices and efforts greatly contributed to the sustenance of your family and our country. The hard work and competence that you had really gave pride to the Philippines. That is why we, at the Department of Science and Technology would like to extend our appreciation and congratulations to all of you.”

The OFW-graduates were acknowledged through the awarding of the Certificate of Completion. One of the OFWs from Region 1, Mr. Edgardo A. Alcantara of Rosario, La Union and is currently employed in Qatar, shared his insights on his iFWD journey. With his completion of the Phase 1, he is looking forward to the success of his proposed business. For him, it was indeed dedication and sacrifice that led him to successfully finish the Program’s Phase 1, as he has to attend the virtual learning sessions from a different time zone.

The DOST’s partner agency in the implementation of the iFWD PH Program, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) through Regional Director Jose C. Capa of OWWA Regional Welfare Office (RWO) IV-B, together with OIC Gerardo C. Rimorin of OWWA-RWO Region I, gave their congratulatory greetings to the OFWs. The OWWA, working hand-in-hand with the DOST, will continue to support the OFWs in their entrepreneurial undertakings anchored on science, technology and innovation.

With the completion of Phase 1, the OFWs will then be ushered by their respective shepherd staff from the different DOST Regional Offices to push through with iFWD PH’s Phase 2, which entails the provision of Innovation-enabling Fund (iFund) intended for their chosen technology-based business ventures, specifically for the following: a) Entrepreneurship and technical training; b) Product development and market testing; c) Operational consultancy services; d) Initial laboratory testing; e) Packaging and labeling design and execution for market testing; and f) Equipment acquisition.

(Katrina F. Ronquillo, DOST-RO1)