Filipina Harvard Grad: 'Go Abroad, Then Come Home'

'Filipinos should have the opportunity to leave, but should then come back with the skill sets and expertise they’ve acquired'


by: Danielle Limcaoco

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IVY LEAGUE. Michi Ferreols graduates from Harvard University. Photo from Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – Nowadays, many balikbayans find themselves asking: “Should we stay here, or return to the Philippines?”

Michi Ferreol focused on this common, yet perplexing, dilemma, in her 2013 TedxTalk. She discussed the Philippine Diaspora and its resulting “brain drain,” and concluded that Filipinos should have the opportunity to leave, but should then come back with the skill sets and expertise they’ve acquired.

A recent graduate from Harvard University, Michi works hard to put her words into action. To help other Filipinos have the opportunity to study abroad and become a balikbayan, she, along with two other friends, started CAMP (College Admission Mentors for Peers in the Philippines).

According to Michi, “CAMP was created to provide more resources and assistance to young Filipinos to apply to colleges abroad, no matter their socioeconomic status.”

What initially started as a simple Facebook forum, turned into a full-fledged organization that runs an internship program, a mentorship program, and a yearly conference.

In fact, in 2014, CAMP’s mentees received over 78 acceptances from 50 different colleges and universities from around the world, such as Princeton University, Dartmouth University, and Boston College. Currently, CAMP is working closely with educationUSA and to help further their goals.

Speaking from experience, Michi believes in the importance of learning overseas and honing one’s skills. By helping them achieve their dreams, Michi believes that they can help inspire the “Filipino youth to dream big about their futures by weaving together communities of students who are eager to do something of impact.”

Although she was busy in Harvard and had to learn how to manage time zones, deal with flurries of emails, and secretly do CAMP tasks in class, Michi claims it never felt like “work,” because it “gave [her] an opportunity to remain connected to the Philippines even whilst abroad.”

Michi as a balikbayan

Undeniably, Michi practices what she preaches. She studied in Harvard to acquire new skills sets and knowledge, to later apply to the Philippines once she returns home.

Michi dubbed her Harvard years as the “best 4 years" of "so far.”

"Being surrounded by intelligent, talented, and passionate people 24 hours, 7 days a week ignited a fire in my belly that I know will forever burn strong," she said.

But more than just inspiring, her years there were also practical. She used the things that she learned in class and about American culture to inform her understanding and approach to the Philippines.

"[I] really tried to create meaningful impact by using what was at my disposal to possibly lift the Philippines to greater heights," she said.

More so, she remained tethered to her Filipina identity by gravitating towards activities and projects that would help her share with the Harvard community everything she loved about the Philippines.

Michi “definitely, definitely” hopes to return to the Philippines in the future. And with her, she plans to bring back “new strategies and innovations to the way we do teaching and learning in our public schools.”

Although she plans to continue studying in the US, she aims to learn more about the different models of education and what may best apply in the Philippine context. “That way,” Michi asserts, “when I return, I’ll be in a position to be of as great help and impact as possible.”

Specifically, she wants to learn about “technology in classrooms, project-based learning, enhanced teacher training, and possibly a chain of schools similar to charter schools in the USA with high-quality education at a low cost.”

To Michi, being a balikbayan doesn’t mean living abroad. It means staying overseas and learning as much as possible to make herself become the best version of herself, so that when she comes back to the Philippines, she can make the greatest impact.

So should she stay or leave? It's a given for Ferreols. She will be home. –


by: Danielle Limcaoco


Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines (LAMP) - Manifesto

Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines (LAMP)

        We, Filipinos overseas, who have ventured to seek greener pasture abroad for our family’s survival some decades ago, and who have subsequently been blessed with success through hard work and diligence, still imbued with a great sense of attachment to our Motherland and to our fellow Filipinos, and desirous of sharing our blessings with the least among our suffering people through medical missions and helping tourism, the economic development and nation-building program of the government, do hereby proclaim our patriotic fervor and sentiment through this Manifesto.

     Challenged by the grave need for medical and surgical care of the underprivileged and marginalized Filipinos languishing in the gutter of poverty in the Philippines, and our sincere desire to assist the government fill the gap in healthcare delivery and provide access to medical/surgical care for the more than 25 million neglected indigent patients in the Philippines, we, Filipinos around the world and some in the country, have established the Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines (LAMP) with the goal and objective of providing logistical and other assistance to the Department of Health, the PRC and other pertinent agencies and associations, in whatever capacity we can, to help streamline the organization, credentialing, mechanics, logistics, peer review, and self-policing guidelines for medical/surgical missions to the Philippines to assure quality medical care and its equitable and just delivery to the poor and needy Filipinos deserving of these vital humanitarian services.

                       Basic Premises, Tenets, and Proposals

Every human being deserves accessible quality healthcare, including those who cannot afford such vital medical services. Denied of standard medical care, these poor and desperate patients seek the care of local self-proclaimed herbalists, exposing these patients to potential harm and complications of crude and unproven treatment and untested substances, which could prove worse in the long run than the illnesses they are purporting to treat.

We, Filipinos overseas, salute His Excellency, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, and Secretary of Health Enrique T. Ona, for their signature Universal Healthcare Program, PhilHealth, a lasting legacy of their administration that will benefit tens of millions of Filipinos today and the future generations, especially our poor fellowmen.

The medical manpower, expertise, and resources we, overseas volunteer physicians, nurses, and allied medical professionals have, could be harnessed, under the leadership and directive of the Department of Health, to be a part of PhilHealth’s year-round healthcare delivery to the indigents unserved or underserved around the country. The reimbursement from PhilHealth for these medical missionary services shall be paid and shared by the local health officer, the local clinic/hospital for their improvements, and a portion of the fund to be reserved as Post-Medical Mission Fund to cover expenses for needed continuing care or possible complications following the medical missions. In essence, the medical missionaries who are providing medical services for free will help boost the meager income of the local health officer or local physicians.

The logistics and details of this grand scale sustained year-round medical missions shall be developed by the DOH at its discretion, and LAMP hereby pledges its assistance and support for this proposed program.

          On behalf of our marginalized fellow Filipinos who are in dire need of medical/surgical care and of the medical mission volunteers who consider it their obligation and privilege to come to the Philippines to provide such needed compassion and care, the undersigned officers and members of the Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines (LAMP), based in the United States, hereby beg President Benigno S. C. Aquino III of the Republic of the Philippines to issue an Executive Order to facilitate the fulfillment of this Foreign Medical Mission Program to the Philippines as an official and integral part of the universal healthcare program (thru PhilHealth) as proposed by the Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines (LAMP).

      As overseas Filipinos, we are also keenly interested in the national development programs of his Excellency’s administration and request for guidance for safe investments in the Philippines.

Lastly, we, Filipinos oversees, proudly proclaim our full support for, and highly commend, President Aquino’s vision of “Daang Matuwid” in his war against graft and corruption in the Philippines, which is beginning to have very positive effects on the image of the Philippines and its national economy.

      We, officers and members of the Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions to the Philippines, representing our respective associations, hereby affix our signature on this Manifesto, on this, the 30th day of September, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS
Filipino United Network - USA and the Loyal Alliance for Medical Mission to the Philippines (LAMP)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Daniel C. Fabito, MD, FACS, FPCS
Co-Chairman (LAMP)
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Manual Aims To Streamline Gov't Services For OFWs

The Joint Manual of Operations highlights roles and responsibilities of government agencies in serving overseas Filipinos



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SIGNED. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz (left) and Foreign affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario (right) sign the operations manual which consolidates and streamlines services for OFWs. Photo courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs

MANILA, Philippines – A common complaint among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families is that government services they require are spread across too many agencies. This can be inconvenient and confusing for workers needing information.

The government hopes to end this confusion soon, after heads of government agencies serving OFWs signed a document that aims to streamline these various services.

The Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Overseas, signed Tuesday, August 18, outlines the roles and responsibilities of their respective agencies and overseas offices to “effect a cohesive, seamless, efficient, and effective delivery of government services to overseas Filipinos, particulary those who are in distress,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The document was 2 years in the making, under the directive of President Benigno Aquino III to transform Philippine diplomatic missions abroad into Centers of Care and Excellence for Overseas Filipinos.

The Joint Manual, which has obtained the endorsement and approval of the House of Representatives through the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, is comprehensive in its breadth and depth, and covers almost every conceivable situation migrant Filipinos may find themselves in while abroad.

It provides clear and concise step-by-step processes, lines of accountabilities, modes of reporting and coordination, and even specific timelines and sharing of resources and obligations.

“We are glad that we are part of this initiative showcasing convergence of government services and resources for the protection of migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas. Ensuring the psycho-social well-being of our countrymen abroad is vital to ensure that they are capable of meeting the challenges of working or living in a foreign land,” DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman said.

The agencies involved in this initiative include the DFA; the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); Department of Helath (DOH); Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA); and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The ceremonial signing was held at the Labor Governance and Learning Center of the Blas F. Ople Hall at the DOLE Executive Building in Intramuros.

“The challenge that lies before us now is to implement this Joint Manual with utmost consistency, efficiency, and professionalism. I am confident of the success of this Joint Manual as everyone here has the interests of our overseas Filipinos at heart. It will enhance the Philippines’ reputation as a model for migration governance. It is proof-positive of our collective commitment for our overseas Filipinos,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

“The issuance of this Joint Manual is another important milestone in our continuing pursuit of program and service improvement for our overseas Filipinos,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

"We expect that this Joint manual would lead us toward this direction and bring about a higher caliber of government service and program delivery to those Filipino migrants in need of government assistance,” she explained.

On the DOH’s part, Health Secretary Jeanette Garin said: “We, in the Department of Health, believe that there can be no 'Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (universal health),' if migrant workers and other Filipino overseas are excluded or left behind.

“Addressing migrant health needs a collective effort, not just from the DOH, but from sectors involved in migration. Thus, this Joint Manual is an affirmation of the DOH’s position on taking the whole of government and whole of society approach in promoting the health of our migrants and overseas Filipinos, including their families,” she concluded.

Civil society organizations and non-government organizations, like the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, Center for Migrants Advocacy, Global Filipino Movement Foundation Inc., and the OFW Family Club of the HCOWA, also gave inputs of the manual’s draft.

The Joint Manual immediately takes effect upon its signing. The DFA said that it should be jointly reviewed and revised every 3 years. –





Can OFWs Invest Even When They're Abroad?


Randell Tiongson
Philippine Daily Inquirer

QUESTION: I’ve been reading your investing articles and want to try it myself. However, I’m an OFW. Is there any way for me to invest in the Philippines while I’m abroad? —Bea via e-mail

Answer: It’s heartening that OFWs respond to financial education positively and quickly. While it’s unfortunate that our banks still require mountains of forms, signatures and personal appearances, it’s not impossible for OFWs abroad to open accounts and start investing. It just initially requires some amount of time and effort to secure your financial future.

Below, I’m going to show you how you can invest in the Philippines even while you’re abroad.

Mutual funds

You can open a mutual fund from overseas. Once you’ve selected the mutual fund you want to participate in, contact an agent who can assist you with opening an account. You can submit forms via DHL or FedEx, and deposit your funds via wire transfer to specific accounts for the mutual fund.

Or, because a lot of mutual fund companies accept deposits from major Philippine banks, if there’s a branch or remittance/representative office near you, you can make your deposit there. You can then view the performance of your mutual fund online. Companies like Sun Life, First Metro, and Philam have online facilities that OFWs can use to monitor their investments.

Also, COL Financial, an online stockbroker, launched in May the COL Fund Source, which is basically a mutual fund supermarket. I’ll tell you more about opening an account with them later.


Many banks require a personal appearance for you to open a UITF account with them but some banks can help you open an account overseas. If you already have a PNB account, you can open a UITF account online. They also have the “Global Filipino Funds” UITF, specifically for OFWs and available as a peso money market fund or a dollar money market fund.

If you already have a BDO, BPI or Metrobank account, you can contact your Philippine branch via e-mail or telephone and they can facilitate your application for UITFs by sending you the required forms, which you can fill out, sign and then send via courier.

If your bank was not mentioned, get in touch with it to ask about opening a UITF from abroad. If it’s not possible, set aside a day or two to open an account the next time you’re here and monitor your investments’ performance online.


Many online stockbrokers will allow you to open an account from overseas. Once you’ve chosen an online stockbroker, send them an e-mail and they will assist you in your application. Usually, you will need to fill out some forms and send scanned copies of a government-issued ID. Funding your account will involve wire transfers or remittances. COL Financial, for example, will accept two forms of overseas remittance: through or by sending a remittance to COL’s BDO account. If you do the latter, you’ll have to e-mail them your receipt to ensure your funds are properly credited. Check with your online stockbroker for options.


The Bureau of the Treasury (BTR), through accredited banks, offers Multicurrency Retail Treasury Bonds, available in US dollars or Euros. OFWs can participate for as low as US$100 or €100. OFWs have a tax advantage with bonds, too: for investments of up to $100,000, the BTR will assume the payment of the 20 percent final withholding tax for the Target Retail Investors (which include OFWs and migrants with Filipino citizenship, their parents, children, spouses).

These 3- and 5-year bonds are sold by the following agents: BDO, BPI, DBP, First Metro, Landbank, ING Bank, Metrobank, and PNB. Nominate your settlement account, fill out some forms, submit an ID and your OFW contract to avail yourself of the tax exemption. Consult your bank for more details.

Real estate

According to a article about the best investments for OFWs, “Most OFWs prefer to invest in real estate rather than other vehicles. One reason is because owning a home is tangible and concrete compared to stocks and mutual funds.” But buying property from abroad isn’t as straightforward as the other methods of investing. You need to entrust the process to someone physically present in the Philippines, such as a relative. You will have to give them Special Power of Attorney (SPA) to act on your behalf, a form that needs to be notarized by the Philippine consulate.

They can also apply for housing loans on your behalf, but you will need to provide supporting documents, which vary from bank to bank. The property developer will assist you in the process of purchasing from them as well, but it’s your representative that will be handling everything so it’s very important that you pick someone you trust.

Investing in the Philippines for OFWs is not as easy as it could be, but it’s definitely doable. Hopefully, this article can help OFWs and their families take the first step in providing for their future via investing.

I will conduct finance seminars at Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Singapore in September and October 2015. For details, please visit my website,, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@randelltiongson).

Randell Tiongson is registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about personal financial planning, attend the 49th batch of RFP Program on Aug. 22- Oct 10. For details, inquire at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or text at 0917-3464126.


Randell Tiongson
Philippine Daily Inquirer


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