The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) celebrated Migrant Workers’ Day while offering overseas Filipino workers with easy access to financial services.
It remains unclear when the world will find a cure against the coronavirus, but what appears to be clear these days is the new-found respect for frontline Overseas Filipino workers who are bravely helping other countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Migrant Workers’ Day, it’s not enough to honor Overseas Filipino healthcare workers by calling them noble frontliners. They are modern-day heroes.
Take the case of Jessica Lamela, a Filipino caregiver who is currently in Israel. Other than being a caregiver, she is also looking for ways to help other Filipinos who lost their jobs due to the global health crisis.
“Because I am a nurse by profession, I am called to serve during this pandemic. But I am also helping other Filipinos in times of need. Daming workers nanawalan ng work. Ayaw na kasing employer nila na may magdadala ng virus. I help them because member ako ng Filipino organization, called NAFILCO, by giving them support and food in times like this,” Lamela said.
According to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), the number of Overseas Filipinos who worked abroad was estimated at 10.2 million. But on May 6, the COVID-19 National Task Force informed the Filipino public that close to 70,000 OFs are to be brought home due to the global economic effects of the pandemic. These heroes are hurting, to say the least.
“Since 2009 po, wala akong uwian, nung una for two years. Dati po akong construction worker and now sa factory naman ako nagta-trabaho. At dahil po sa COVID-19, wala na kaming overtime. Kaya nagbebenta-benta na rin po akong ulam dito,” said Dennis Pascual Maala, an OF in South Korea.
For his part, Cesar Cosep, who is working as a project manager of a high-speed railway system with scope for telecommunications in Jeddah, was fortunate that we have continuous operations, but other OFs in Jeddahwere not as lucky as him.
“There are workers who experienced reductions of working hours and eventually their salaries reduced as well. Nag-stop yung project nila because of the lockdown. Their company was forced to shut down,” Cosep said. But the Filipino community in other countries remains solid and strong for their families back home. They continue to work for them while contributing to the country’s slowing economy by keeping remittances coming.
Although economists expect the country’s remittances will suffer due to the pandemic, OFs like Lamela, Maala, and Cosep still continue to send money from abroad through the remittance tie-ups of BPI with online remittance services.
“Kahit anong oras po at gusto kong magpadala sa mommy ko or sa mga kapatid ko or sa tita ko, through mobile banking, nakakapagpadala ako. May BPI Representative na pumunta sa Korea to introduce the ‘PamanaPadala’ offering, ora mismo natatanggap,” explained Maala.
Cosep agrees. “I’ve been using online remittance because I don’t have the time to fall in line and go to the physical branch. This is to be safe also. I send money to my family for their necessity. Ang importante is they have food, medicine, and face masks this time,” he said.
Cosep agrees. “I’ve been using online remittance because it’s not really worth it to fall in line and spend hours in the branch. This is to be safe also. For convenience, I send money using online bank systems, using the local bank and BPI online facilities to my family for their necessities. I told them to spend money only on important things. Importante is that they have enough food, medicine, and face masks or PPEs this time,” he said.
BPI continues to initiate opportunities to drive digital services for the benefit of OFs and their families back home. This is also the Bank’s way to show recognition for their valuable contributions to the country.
“Even in the face of this global pandemic, and even when our OFs are far from home, they can still take a hands-on approach to provide for their families in the Philippines. They can still manage their accounts online and take full control of their finances, despite the threat of an economic downturn,” said Aileen Lamasuta, head of BPI Retail Segments.
“But as we recognize the fact that there may be challenges in remittances due to COVID-19, BPI is still committed to strengthen our offerings for our brave OFs. We have a strong network of remittance partners worldwide and a remittance solution, BPI PamanaPadala, to give OFs peace of mind while away from their loved ones. These will allow them to sustain the support they are sending their families back home,” explained Reggie Cariaso, Head of BPI Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Support.
Lamela, the caregiver, attests to this. “BPI played a big help for us at this time, because very safe and secure ang transaction and alam kong makakarating sa family ko ‘yung remittance. Big help ang digital services nila.”
Through digital banking, BPI continues to provide easy access to relevant financial services for the modern-day heroes—the OFs who remain selfless even in the face of a global pandemic. And every year, on June 7, the Philippines marks “Migrants Workers’ Day” to celebrate the signing of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995.
While he doesn’t regard himself as a hero, Cosep has an apt description of one. “A hero is a person who does something out of his way and does brave things. During these trying times, these are the people who go out at their own capacity to extend help to the people in need, I consider them as heroes too. You don’t have to be killed to become a hero. Gone were the days when we define heroes as someone who dies for the country,” he said.
“Sila ‘yung may takot sa Diyos. Iniisip ‘yung makabubuti para sa nakararami,” Maala added.
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