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Phl launches ‘Balik Bayani sa Turismo’ Program

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Recognizing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) as indispensable contributors to the Philippine economy, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Thursday (Jan. 18) formally launched the Balik Bayani sa Turismo program to boost opportunities for the modern-day heroes and their families.

The Balik Bayani sa Turismo is a program of the DOT, in partnership with DMW in support of the National Government’s Reintegration Program for OFWs.

The MOU institutionalizes the commitments of both agencies to creating, instituting and establishing livelihood, entrepreneurship, savings, investments, and financial literacy opportunities for OFWs and their families through various tourism training programs of the DOT and reintegration programs of the DMW, through its National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers (NRCO).

“We, at the Department of Tourism, are committed to ensuring that the growth of this sector is inclusive, especially recognizing the transformative power of tourism as a means to foster unity and national pride in keeping with the role that tourism has always played to help us remember, appreciate, preserve and promote our Filipino culture, take pride in our Filipino identity, and cognizant of tourism’s enormous role as an engine for economic growth, providing livelihood and employment to our fellow Filipinos,” said Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco in her address.

“Our President has said time and again, that our OFWs are the best tourism ambassadors for the Philippines, not just by way of words to promote the country, but more importantly, by way of their work through their dedication to duty, always putting forth the best foot forward for the Philippines. Recognizing the invaluable contribution of our overseas Filipino workers and their families, we emphasize their vital role in our economy, underscoring the significant impact of their remittances to our country’s overall economic and social development,” Secretary Frasco said.

The Tourism Chief stressed that the DOT’s focus on human capital development is also fueled by the Department’s desire to enhance the overall tourism experience in the country. This, as returning OFWs add so much value across the tourism value chain.

“As we look forward to furthering our collaborative efforts, the Department of Tourism joins the Department of Migrant Workers’ commitment to work together to realize President Marcos, Jr.’s vision–Bagong Pilipinas, leveraging on the immense beauty of our nation, while always aiming to enhance the Philippine travel experience, through quality tourism services offered by a highly skilled world-class tourism workforce,” she stressed.

The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was graced by DMW OIC-Secretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac.

Meanwhile, DOT Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, Assistant Secretary Maria Rica C. Bueno, DMW Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan, and Assistant Secretary Venecio V. Legaspi served as witnesses.

“Thank you to all of you for joining us here today and I join in the hope and optimism that this partnership can bring in providing economic opportunities and empowering our returning Overseas Filipino Workers and their families [by] fostering a joint effort towards declaring to the world how much there is to love about the Philippines,” Secretary Frasco said.

For his part, DMW OIC-Secretary Cacdac gave his commitment to the DOT for this second partnership with the Department.

“The institutional partnership with the DOT and DMW will be beneficial, we are sure, to all returning OFWs. And by becoming part of the tourism value chain, they will have an alternate sustainable source of income upon their return,” he said.

“The DMW is committed to promote and strengthen, as we promise Secretary [Frasco] to promote and strengthen the development and implementation of our partnership agreement, both in the near term and long term through our migrant workers offices worldwide, our regional offices and central office here, and through education and information campaigns that are effective and efficient,” he added.

Training Program for OFWs

The program also aims to strengthen the skills, aptitudes and competencies of OFWs and their families through the various tourism-related training opportunities in culinary tourism, retail business, farm tourism, homestay operations, and tour guiding, among others, and simultaneously allowing them to appreciate the value and instill the culture of tourism.

According to the DOT, this is also a way of reciprocating the contribution of the modern-day heroes to the country’s local economy by bringing in foreign currencies through their remittances that contribute big time to the country’s economic advancement.

Further, through the program, OFWs with senior positions and wide experience are also bringing back with them a range of knowledge and experience that can be tapped to be engaged as resource persons or trainers in the industry through the “Teach-It-Forward” Program.

It likewise aims to provide the returning OFWs with an alternative source of livelihood if they choose to stay in the Philippines to work or venture in tourism-related activities or businesses; equip them with proper information, and skills that will be useful in fulfilling their career in tourism in the country; and tap their skills acquired from many years of experience overseas and transfer it to enhance the skills of the local tourism workers.

Among the functions of the DMW under the partnership include the endorsement of the list of OFWs and their families to DOT qualified for the training sessions; allow the inclusion of graduates of the DOT training programs for livelihood, educational, entrepreneurial and other existing programs and services and/or financial assistance, subject to compliance with eligibility requirements.

The DMW is also expected to incorporate the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) module or core concepts in the Pre-Migration Orientation Seminar (PMOS) and other similar pre-deployment training or learning platforms/initiatives.

Together, both Departments shall jointly designate representatives for a Technical Working Group (TWG) to oversee the tasks, which will likewise include the conduct of strategic planning and regular meetings; monitoring and evaluation of the program; and promotion and strengthening of the implementation and expansion of this program through their offices, local and overseas, in coordination with local government units (LGUs), partner government agencies, and other stakeholders from the private sector.

The program will formally roll out in May.

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