By: Halyn Lunel A. Gamboa

With the aim to create opportunities for repatriated OFWs in this pandemic and recognize their hard work for the last 12 days of rigorous training, DOST-CALABARZON, together with Atikha and other partner agencies, conducted the “Balikabayanihan: Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Training and Closing Program” last 27 May 2021 via Zoom platform.

About 75 participants attended this culminating activity including enrollees of DOST-CALABARZON’s Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH) who have just completed the first phase of the said program. They are also joined by SIYB trainees within and outside CALABARZON, as well as agencies from the government and private sectors.

To grace the program, key officials from various regional agencies extended their support by giving their inspiring messages to the participants. Distinguished guests include Dir. Luis Banua, Regional Director of NEDA IV-A and Chairperson of Committee on Migration and Development (CMD); Ms. Estrella Mai Dizon-Anonuevo, Chairperson of ATIKHA and Board of Trustee member of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); Ms. Emelita P. Bagsit, OIC-Regional Director of DOST-CALABARZON; Ms. Marissa C. Argente, Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI Region IV-A); Ms. Vilma Dimaculangan, OIC-Regional Executive Director of Department of Agriculture (DA Region IV-A); and Ms. Coratec Jimenez, Vice Chair of the Alumni Association of the Asian Institute of Management, Inc.

Dir. Banua shared what he learned from a recent dialogue he attended. In the said dialogue, he learned that the concerns of migrant workers are intertwined with concerns on the environment or what he called “life support systems”.

“We always believe that if you are able to improve yourself, improve your family, your community will be improved—because [then], you might provide employment to the community,” he remarked, “With that, magagawa natin itong unlad na kasama ang lahat at walang maiiwanan…

Meanwhile, Ms. Anonuevo thanked each partner agency for their support and said that what sets this SIYB training apart from the previous ones is the passion and dedication of the mentors. She also echoed Dir. Banua’s sentiments on ‘going green’. “We have to take care of the environment. We need to create green jobs—we need to create green enterprises. I’m glad na nakikita ninyo na this is your unique value proposition,” Ms. Anonuevo said to the participants.

As one of the partner mentor agencies, DOST-CALABARZON OIC-Regional Director Emelita P. Bagsit, also delivered her warmest address to the region’s repatriated OFWs. She also went over DOST-CALABARZON’s programs that may help them in establishing their own technology-based enterprises such as the iFWD PH and DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).

Hangad po namin sa lahat ng matagumpay na magsisipagtapos na gawing motibasyon ang programang ito sa pagpursue ng inyong mga business pitches,” she said, “Sana po ay makita natin ito bilang oportunidad para sa isa na namang panibagong simula—ang pagsasakatuparan ng inyong mga nais pasimulang business enterprise.”

On behalf of DTI IV-A Regional Director Marilou Toledo, Ms. Argente further encouraged the participants to pursue their business, given the backing and support of various agencies. She also reminded the participants to be responsible entrepreneurs at all times because a lot of families will also be relying on them once their businesses have been actualized.

Lastly, Ms. Jimenez of AIM shared the positive stories and experiences of AIM alumni or mentors from the conducted trainings. She assured the participants, “Huwag po kayong mawawalan ng loob dahil sa sipag at tiyaga ay makukuha natin ang lahat.

Highlights of selected participants’ business ideas from each province were also presented. Afterwards, concerned agencies also discussed their programs and policies which can help OFWs kickstart their business enterprises. Among these are Agriculture Credit Policy Council on their DA-ANYO Program as well as Landbank of the Philippines’ (LBP) Requirements for Government Loan Programs.

On the latter part of the program, participating OFWs and their selected mentors shared their heartfelt insights and learnings on the SIYB.

Sobrang nakakatuwa dahil nahanap po namin ang courage dahil po sa program na ito. Nagkaroon po kami ng hope para matupad po ‘yung mga pangarap namin na medyo mataas,” said Gladys Aniel from the province of Cavite, “Maliban po sa mga natutunan po namin, naggrow po talaga kami hindi lamang po as a person pero as an entrepreneur.

Ms. Aileen Constantino Penas, Executive Director of Atikha, closed the program by reminding the participants to continue with what they have strived for the last few weeks, until they finally craft and polish their own business plans.


Are you an OFW who wants to establish your own technology-based enterprise? We are now accepting applications! You may like and follow our Facebook page at for updates or visit  for more information.