CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, La Union – The Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH) Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) culminated its Phase 1 in a virtual concluding ceremony via Zoom last September 9, 2022.

Two (2) OFWs from Region I, along with other ten (10) from Regions II, IX and XI from this year’s Batch 3-Malikhain were conferred with Certificate of Completion having successfully completed and attended the 14 capacity-building sessions from June 5, 2022 to August 5, 2022 conducted through the collaboration of the aforementioned DOST regional offices and the Entrepinoy Volunteers Foundation, Incorporated (EVFI).

            Among the OFW completers from Region 1 are Mr. Dennis S. Monterola of Infanta, Pangasinan and Ms. Adorlyn T. Galace from Candon City, Ilocos Sur. Mr. Monterola was previously employed in Saudi Arabia as a safety officer. He was also a local salt trader prior to his employment abroad. Meanwhile, Ms. Galace worked for 14 years as a nursing aide in the same country as the former. She intends to put up a salt production facility in their area having realized the necessity of the product in their locality.

During the initial phase, the OFWs and their representatives were taught of business management principles to guide them in the conceptualization of their proposed technology-based enterprise which will then be funded through the Program’s Phase 2. To cap off the sessions, a final business pitching activity was conducted where all the OFWs presented their proposed technology-based venture to a panel, comprised of the consultants and lecturers from the EVFI.

The graduating batch was welcomed by Mr. Decth-1180 P. Libunao, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) for Field Operations of DOST-1 who lauded the dedication and perseverance of the OFWs in commitment to the Program. “As we have now come to the conclusion of the Program’s Phase 1, may all the learnings serve as your guiding principles as you will now start working on your aspirations of being iFWD entrepreneurs,” OIC Libunao said in his message. As the Phase 1 has already been completed, DOST Regional Offices anticipate that these OFW-completers will eventually continue with Phase 2 or the Innovation-funding of their chosen technology-based business. “We hope that your iFWD journey does not stop here, as this only the first big step towards the opportunity that awaits you.” he added. Moreover, Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Operations and the OIC-ARD for Field Operations Services Dr. Teresita A. Tabaog of DOST-Region 2 also extended her warm welcome remarks to the Ceremony. 

In his keynote speech, Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, Undersecretary for Regional Operations of the DOST commended the efforts of the OFWs who enrolled to the Program. “To the OFWs who took a chance in us and entrusted us to help you reach your technology-based enterprise, we recognize your hard work and perseverance. Indeed, your labor is not in vain. Now that you are home to stay, allow us to help you. Move forward in life as you embrace a fact that you will establish a technology-based enterprise,” he said.

DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. delivered his words of inspiration to the graduating batch as he praised the significance of the iFWD PH Program being the flagship program for OFWs especially during the height of the pandemic. “We believe and I bet anyone will agree, that the birth of the iFWD Philippines Program has served as an essential purpose especially during the height of the pandemic. In two years’ time, from the pioneer batch of 2020 to this year’s batch 2022, we have witnessed all your perseverance and dedication towards establishing your own technology-based enterprises. What you planted has just began growing.” Sec. Solidum remarked. He also thanked the DOST regional offices for their continuing initiative and unwavering efforts in conducting the capacity-building sessions for the OFWs and getting them ready in their entrepreneurial prospects.

Following the recognition of the Batch Malikhain was the sharing of testimonials and messages of gratitude from the completers. Mr. Monterola, who plans to venture into oyster mushroom production and processing through the iFWD PH Program, regarded that the capacity-building sessions have helped him not only in the conceptualization of his proposed technology-based enterprise but also in understanding the necessary values and traits that embodies an entrepreneur. “Napakalaki ng naitulong at naituro ng mga instructors sa training na ito. Itong training na ito, hindi lang siya basta-basta na training na ipinagkaloob ng DOST, kundi talagang bago ka nila bibitawan, sinisiguro nilang na mayroong kang natutunan, ” (The instructors helped and taught [us] a lot in this training. This is not just a mere training given by the DOST, but they make sure that you have learned something before they let you go on your own.) Mr. Monterola added.

As the DOST’s partner in the implementation of support programs to OFWs, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) through their Regional Directors, also extended their congratulatory greetings to the completers.

The iFWD PH Program is an initiative of the DOST implemented since 2020 to help repatriated OFWs establish their own technology-based enterprises in hopes to encourage them to settle in the Philippines for good, and in response to the increasing number of OFWs returning to the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.