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Working overseas and missing your mom

Your first and truest ally

Face it: When things get really difficult at work or when the people you live with prove more challenging than usual, you will normally grab your phone to have even a short talk with your mother. It’s normally just an issue of how much money you have set aside for making calls. Thank goodness for things like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber.

When I was still an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Singapore, I was one of the musicians in my church. In one Mass for Filipinos, the priest focused on how each and every one of us there owed so much to our mothers. Hit with some inspiration, I began playing the notes of “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” on the piano. When I glanced at the congregation, hardly any person there, male or female, had dry eyes.

Why does any discussion on mothers cause such a reaction? For starters, a mother is always a person’s first supporter, the first fan. If you think about it, the mother is also the first real friend and chat mate with some mothers talking to their children as early as the pregnancy stage. Many of us have the experience of our mothers knowing something was up even before we knew about it or had the gumption to talk about it.

For example, when I was seven years old, I came home and my mom just looked at me. “May lagnat ka.” I gave this quizzical look and said, “Ha?” True enough, I was running a fever even though I didn’t feel it yet.

That’s how moms are and this is one reason why we can’t hide much from them and why our mothers are normally our first and truest allies.

This is why each OFW will always have this nagging question: How is my my mom? Is she okay?

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Remember the times when you were too tired that she carried you?

This question is made stronger every time an OFW comes home only to leave for work again. You just can’t get rid of that feeling that maybe just so you don’t worry about her, your mother is not telling you everything she actually needs.

This is one of the reasons why BeamAndGo came to be. Each OFW wants a good measure of assurance that things are okay back home. You’re like that, aren’t you?

The surprise and the usual

Giving your mother chocolates is a good thing. So is giving her a bag of groceries. Mothers love that their little baby is able to earn a living, live a life independently, and send a goody or two back home one in a while. She won’t tell you though. You just see the twinkle in her eye and perhaps the hastily-brushed-off tear.

With BeamAndGo, you can actually do this much more easily and more frequently. For example, if you send her a BeamAndGo gift certificate of Php 1,000 (approximately SGD 30 or HKD 160), she can easily get perhaps the following items:

  1. Adult milk (600g): Php 270
  2. Sugar-free Coffee (20 packs): Php 106
  3. Crackers (850g): Php 147
  4. Dried Mangoes (100g): Php 50
  5. 5 cups of instant noodles (35g): Php 79
  6. Spaghetti (450g): Php 36
  7. Sweet Spaghetti Sauce (25kg): Php 22
  8. Cooking oil (1L): Php 170
  9. High Fiber bread loaf: Php 90
  10. Cheddar cheese: Php 45
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Halina. Bili na!

What’s even better is that BeamAndGo’s partner merchants offer better value than leading supermarkets. These merchants are your “neighborhood” groceries such as Gaisano Mall of Davao (Davao), Gaisano Capital (Cebu), or Iloilo Supermart (Iloilo). Knowing these guys are also on your side can truly give a whole new and meaningful importance to your hard-earned money.

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She was your first companion and lakwatsa buddy.

When you miss your mother, maybe, instead of going out with some friends to burn that SGD 30 or HKD 160, you can just go to the BeamAndGo website and send your mom something that she appreciate.

What we have above most likely won’t last a month but think of it as something like your way of giving back to mom for all the times she didn’t have a lot of money but spent it on one slice of 3M Pizza or a Burger Machine cheeseburger and a bottle of Coke just so her little baby could have something to eat after a tiring day in school.

Yes, that’s your mom, nanay, mama, nanang, inay, ima, mudra. Why don’t you give her a call now and tell her something is on the way to make her smile?

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Barya na lang ba ang natira?

How not to keep losing your hard-earned money

Part I

Christmas is over and we’re on the first few weeks of the New Year. Many of us now find ourselves with a lot less money than we once had. Admit it: You kinda spent a bit too much and now you’re worried about the payments you have to make. This is not the best way to start the year.

We all have to plan better and start actively managing our finances. Filipinos are too used to being galante, just living for today, or both. There’s this idea that one should always share blessings and that’s true. However, you can’t feed the entire barangay. You can’t always feed your entire extended family either.

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Kailangan na bang basagin ang alkansiya mo?

Many Filipinos deal with “maraming umaasa sa akin.” Fact check: No, it doesn’t have to be like that. The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency tells new overseas Filipino workers something like this: You are not your family’s savior and you don’t have to send all your nieces and nephews to school. (Yes, I heard this myself and if you didn’t, maybe you should have.) It seems like a selfish way to think but the reality is that you did go abroad to give yourself a better life and help your family. However, that does not mean you should bleed yourself dry.

Think of it this way: If you always allow yourself to be the family’s milking cow, you may just end up with nothing and when there’s a serious situation with a real need for help, you may not have anything to help with.

What is crucial here is being able to manage your finances, planning your budget, and allocating your funds this early. In fact, no time is really early enough when emergencies strike. The time to start managing finances is obviously NOW.

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Hindi naman utang lang parati sa sagot. Hindi talaga.

For this purpose, we need to assume that you are at least not in debt. Debt complicates things. Sobra. You can more effectively plan a budget for the year if you don’t have the extra burden of a looming debt payment.

The first few steps of managing your finances involve doing a budget and this is deceptively simple:

  • How much do you earn? (Monthly and the bonuses separately)
  • List down the non-negotiable expenses: Food, school, clothing, rent or mortgage, gas, water, medicine for parents, etc.
  • How much is for leisure? (You know – dinners, movies, the occasional shopping spree, etc. You can’t be all serious.)
  • How much do you set aside for savings? (You do, right? Save for the future and not so you can just spend it later.)
  • Is there anything you expect to be left?

That’s just the first stage because all plans are inadequate and they are proven or disproved by the realities of life. You have to test your plan for one whole month. Nothing beats a good plan than testing it against what it’s supposed to prepare for. This way you see what else you should have planned for – maybe you forgot to allocate money for the repair of your house’s roofing or you actually wanted to do some repairs to the house since summer is around the corner and you forgot to set aside money for that. Or (who knows?) maybe you just kept spending on those unplanned getaways or shopping binges that you actually have much less than what you had expected to have at the end of the month.

What about all those things you still have to send to the family back home? Surely there’s a better way to do that. And there is. You can start doing the smarter thing by signing up now at www.beamandgo.com/member/signup. Registration is free and you also get Php 50 worth of credits you can use on your first transaction.

This and other issues are dealt with in our LearnAndGo Workshop Series. We have them in January, April, and May of this year and do have more planned. It is here you can learn not only about taking better care of your finances but also how to invest, making good investments and even taking care of your kids.LearnAndGo Workshop Series

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Iriga City Mayor Ronald Felix “Gang-Gang” Alfelor addresses his constituents on personal finance and saving.

Meanwhile, stay glued to these pages for the next parts of this blog post. Money is important. Let’s all learn to manage it better together.

 

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Reaching out across the seas: A family’s celebration

Cookai is a 26-year old Print Producer who hails from Bulacan, a province north of Manila in the Philippines. Coming from a tight-knit family with only one sister as a sibling, she’s used to having a complete family around her most of the time. But like many Filipinos, her sister Kei chose to pursue better work opportunities overseas. A lucrative offer came from a company in South Korea and after months of prayers, she decided to take it.

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Cookai and Kei enjoying some Korean street food

Cookai and her parents have visited Kei in Korea, but nothing beats having her sister beside her at all times. When Kei decided to work overseas, everything changed. Instead of all four of them together in the family – her mom, dad, Kei, and Cookai – now, it was just her parents and Cookai on every important holiday. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months until it was already three years that her sister was in Korea, but the family never really got used to Kei not being around. Not many people would know that extreme loneliness plagues both the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and the families who are left behind.

“It’s really hard. Especially pag Christmas. S’yempre sanay kami talaga na complete kami sa bahay. Pero ganun talaga, eh.”

[It’s really hard especially during Christmas. We’re used to having the family all together at home but that’s the way it is now.”]

This Christmas though, they got a simple but meaningful surprise from Kei. She couldn’t celebrate with them, but that didn’t mean she didn’t show her love. She sent groceries that her family in Manila could use for their Christmas celebration!

1000Final (resized to 1024)“Naexcite kami sobra. Minsan naman kasi hindi lang pera yung kailangan, eh. Alam ko na si Ate, gusto niya iparamdam sa amin na she may be far, but she is thinking of us this Christmas. More than anything, yung goodies na pinadala niya, hindi lang tulad ng pinadalang pera – may effort attached to it; pinag-isipan and I find it more thoughtful.”

[We were really excited. Sometimes, it’s not really money that’s needed. I know my elder sister wanted us to feel that though she may be far away, she was thinking of us during Christmas. More than anything, it was the goodies she sent us, unlike money that is sent, that showed some effort attached to it. Knowing that there was some thought involved in it made the gesture more thoughtful.]

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Food: Always a bonding experience

The fact that a loved one actually took the time to choose and buy something makes the act of giving much more personal. Yes, money is important, but a goody basket sends the very tangible message that the loved one working abroad is reaching out in the most concrete way possible. It conveys the message that each and every item sent was chosen carefully knowing what the family back home needs and will appreciate. For Cookai, it’s almost as if Ate Kei herself handed her family the groceries herself.

This is the Pinoy way of doing things, right? You reach out as much as you can and embrace your loved ones in a virtual hug that they can feel as soon as they get their package. Yes, Kei is still in another land, far away from her loved ones, but that doesn’t mean she can’t break bread with them especially during the season closest perhaps to Filipinos’ hearts. Christmas is special to all Filipinos and all it takes is a tiny reminder – a gift pack, a balikbayan box, a gift certificate – to tell those back home that all is well, that the miles apart cannot overcome the closeness of hearts.

If you want to reach out to your own family and make them feel your caring presence regardless of where you are, head on to BeamAndGo and get them a digital gift certificate for use with your chosen merchant. If you have any questions on how to get started, feel free to email us at support@beamandgo.com or send us a message using Viber or WhatsApp at +63 949 839 3322. We are getting more and more merchants to serve your family back home and this will serve to keep you closer to them.

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Cookai and Kei enjoying South Korea

Startups team up to provide OFWs modern, safe remittance service

 

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Hong Kong – Two fast-growing social startups dedicated to improving the breadth of services available to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Asia, have teamed up in a bid to maximize opportunities for mutual growth.

BeamAndGo, the Singapore-based alternative remittance service provider, and HelperChoice, the leading online platform for connecting domestic helpers with employers, are committed to empowering OFWs globally by enabling them to access basic services without the need to pay unnecessary fees and charges.

“The two companies have lots in common,” says Laurence Fauchon, founder of HelperChoice. “We have both – in a short period of time – established solid reputations with OFWs around the world. Our helper members know we are working to disrupt the industry and make illegal fees and charges obsolete.”

“Our partnership with BeamAndGo complements our helper empowerment strategy perfectly. We help domestic workers save illegal agency fees so they can provide for their families, not to waste their earnings. Sending cash home is inefficient, expensive and open to misuse. Now our members have access to a modern, safe remittance service where they can choose how and where the funds are distributed.”

BeamAndGo CEO Jonathan E. Chua adds, “HelperChoice and BeamAndGo share the same commitment to ethical business. The main purpose of the partnership is to improve the welfare of OFWs and their families back home. From a business perspective, we estimate that the partnership alone will provide BeamAndGo with an initial revenue growth of 8% month-on-month within the first 2 quarters. And with HelperChoice, we can grow in countries where we do not have a large presence yet. We believe that our membership numbers will grow from 78,000 to over 100,000 within the same period.”

The partnership will present both companies with cross-marketing opportunities. BeamAndGo will propose their remittance services to over 50,000 HelperChoice members currently registered on the platform, and HelperChoice will be a member of BeamAndGo’s sales channel. The partnership is particularly suitable for domestic workers who do not have credit cards or access to online banking.

For further details on HelperChoice visit the website at www.HelperChoice.com or email at contact@helperchoice.com.

For further details on BeamAndGo visit www.beamandgo.com or email at marketing@beamandgo.com.

Press Release Helper Choice