BalikBayanihan: The Global Filipino’s Journey From Diaspora To Philippine Development

Delegates of the 3rd Global Summit, diplomats and Commission on Filipinos Overseas executives (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

Delegates of the 3rd Global Summit, diplomats and Commission on Filipinos Overseas executives (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

In 2014, around 10.5 million Overseas Filipinos (OF) working or residing in more than 200 countries had remitted an astounding $28 billion or P1.2 trillion to the country, according to the World Bank. And yet, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), the primary government agency tasked to protect and uphold the rights and welfare of OFs, says there’s a much more important currency that global Filipinos are sending back. They are social remittances.

Social remittances are initiatives or a way of living of Global Filipinos that create opportunities for people other than their own families. “While we appreciate the remittances of our kababayans abroad that contribute to the country’s GDP while helping support their families, their will to share their talents and passions within the homeland is their greatest gift,” said CFO Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas.

Secretary Nicolas encourages the use of the term “Overseas Filipinos” instead of “OFWs” to include people who live abroad but not for work—unlike the OFWs or Temporary Migrants who are expected to return to the Philippines after their employment contract ends. There are also the permanent residents and naturalized citizens of other countries (Permanent Migrants), and those who are not properly documented with residence or work permits and may be overstaying in a foreign country (Irregular Migrants).

As of December 2012, of the 10.5 million Overseas Filipinos, 47 percent (or 4.9 million) are Permanent Migrants, 40 percent (or 4.2 million) are Temporary Migrants and 13 percent (or 1.36 million) are Irregular Migrants.

As an agency mandated to strengthen their economic, political and social ties with the motherland, the CFO has adopted the Diaspora to Development (D2D) as a flagship program that maximizes the involvement of OFs here through 10 major areas of development interventions: Alay Dunong or transfer of skills and technology; Arts and Culture Exchange; Balik-Turo or educational exchange; Business Advisory Circle or business linkaging and mentoring; Diaspora investments; Global Legal Assistance; Lingkod sa Kapwa Filipino or Diaspora Philanthropy; Medical Mission Coordination; Tourism Initiatives; and Return and Reintegration.

In addition to this, CFO organizes a biennial Global Summit to forge partnerships among stakeholders and ensure that Global Filipinos will find it easier and more inspiring to take part in local and internationally-linked initiatives for long-term Philippine development. The 3rd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora on February 25-27, 2015 at the historic Manila Hotel was another fruitful interaction of around 600 Filipino diaspora partners and community leaders to discuss “Vision and Action for the Filipino Diaspora for 2015 and Beyond,” this year’s theme.

“We feel that we should help the community leaders of our global Filipinos to be empowered, engaged with both their host and home countries, capable of sustaining their goals and maximizing their own strengths and opportunities for partnership with each other, other diaspora groups and multi-lateral organizations – way beyond this Administration,” said Secretary Nicolas.

Some of the speakers at the 3rd Global Summit were technology incubation expert Earl Valencia and world-renowned cancer specialist Dr. Samuel Bernal. 

Earl Valencia of Ideaspace. Inc. (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

Earl Valencia of Ideaspace. Inc. (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

A graduate of Cornell University and Stanford Graduate School of Business graduate, Valencia was the Business Incubation Manager of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group in Silicon Valley before he went back to the Philippines before he turned 30 to co-found IdeaSpace Foundation, an incubation and acceleration initiative for technology entrepreneurs which has touched over 100,000 lives in less than three years.

“Coming back to the Philippines after more than 10 years in the US is one of the most difficult yet rewarding decisions for me and my family,” said Valencia. “We did it because we hope that maybe in our lifetime, our kids will say they are from the Philippines in the US or in Europe and people will remember our country as a place where great innovators live.”

Dr. Samuel Bernal (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

Dr. Samuel Bernal (Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas)

Another Global Filipino who is making a name for the country is Dr. Samuel D. Bernal, world-renowned cancer specialist and regenerative medicine pioneer, who is also a lawyer specializing in Regulatory Law and Medical Malpractice, a PhD and MBA degree holder, the head of the Institute of Personalized Molecular Medicine and consultant adviser for Regenerative Medicine Program of The Medical City, Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the author of various books on oncology and cancer research, and a director of various business organizations and foundations. He is also a cancer survivor.

Dr. Bernal is a devoted advocate of personalized, customized diagnosis and care of patients. He won a landmark case in 2008 representing a patient who died in the hands of doctors who used standard-of-care procedures and population-based statistics instead of looking at the unique case of the patient.

“The enduring feature of the Global Summit has always been the sharing of stories among overseas Filipinos themselves – about their experiences, their successes and their dreams for the future,” said Secretary Nicolas. “These stories create the bridge towards stronger networking and diaspora engagement. This makes the Global Summit something to watch out for because it is not a mere traditional gathering of overseas Filipinos. It is much more than that. It is a celebration of the vibrant and ever-renewing Filipino spirit.”

The Third Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora is co-presented by The Filipino Channel (TFC). Major and minor sponsors are: The Medical City, Department of Tourism – Tourism Promotions Board, Vibal Group of Companies, Western Union, Philhealth, PAG-IBIG, Philippine Retirement Authority, Meralco/PLDT Foundation and Megaworld. Partner agencies are Metro Manila Development Authority and Skyway O&M Corporation. Media partners include ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Business World, Philippine Starweek Magazine, Panorama Magazine, Balikbayan Magazine, DZMM and RMN. 

About the Commission on Filipinos Overseas

Established in June 1980 through Batas Pambansa 79, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is an agency of the Philippine Government under the Office of the President tasked to promote and uphold the interests, rights and welfare of Overseas Filipinos, and strengthen their ties with the Motherland.

The CFO registers and provides pre-departure orientation seminars to emigrants. It also promotes the transfer of technology as well as material and financial contributions from overseas for development projects in underserved communities all over the Philippines. It also provides younger generations of Filipinos overseas with opportunities to learn Philippine history and culture.

About the 3rd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora

Considered as one of the largest and most significant gatherings of overseas Filipino community leaders, the Third Global Summit will bear witness to the homecoming of hundreds of Filipinos from all over the world.

On February 25-27, 2015 at the historic Manila Hotel, hundreds of Overseas Filipinos; local and international experts; and government, non-government and private sector partners share and exchange inspiring insights, experiences, achievements and innovations and come up with a collective vision and action plan for the Filipino diaspora to achieve its full potential.

Through workshops and exercises, the Global Summit aims to produce a clear vision and strategic action plan for Filipino diaspora communities for 2015 and beyond, and how the government, civil society organizations, academe and private sector can maximize its partnerships with the overseas Filipinos towards common objectives, and vice versa: Diaspora to Development (D2D).

About Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas

Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas was appointed in 2010 as Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), a cabinet-level Secretary position under the Office of the President of the Philippines. Since 1980, the CFO has been mandated to maintain strong and mutually beneficial ties between the country and Filipino communities throughout the world and to promote and protect the welfare, the interests and well-being of Filipinos overseas.

Prior to her appointment to the CFO, she was former Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), former Chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), and Presidential Assistant helping cabinet secretaries in monitoring implementation of major government-funded infrastructures.

She is currently chair of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines. She is a member of the Board of the following institutions: ASA Foundation, the fastest growing-microfinance institution (MFI) in the Philippines; Tanghalan Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and The Lewis College, a family-owned school in Sorsogon City. Last December 2014, she was recently appointed as a part of the Migration Advocacy Board of the International Organization for Migration (Geneva) by the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing himself.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Carissa Villacorta / Pauline Mangosing / Rocel Ann Junio
Mobile: +63917-595-5480 / +63922-817-1293 / +63923-369-6398
E-mail: / /