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Leading the Leaders

Presented by: Minda C. Teves, PinoyWISE North Coordinator

In every flock of migration, everyone has his own story to tell, it might be big or small but then still it’s a story.

In my 25 years of journey, I must consider myself a person who had come almost to his final end as a migrant, though weary of the thought that,   …once I’ll end up my journey……  & I have questioned, what have I accomplished for myself, done for others and contributed to the community? And I have come to realize that our situation as a migrant is just like a….. “bird in a cage… with the head outside.”

The bars imprisoning us were the work conditions that we have to follow like the working hours or the rules set for us migrants, the responsibilities towards our family back home and to the family here with us, the cultural shock, language barriers, low self esteem, fears, inability to accept  the type of work situations, frustrations and etc.

The head outside the cage symbolizes our desire to know the world, to be part of the bigger space, to participate in community life, our curiosity, observing, waiting and willing to LIVE.

I am a free-spirited    person, who, after months of hibernation…  was unable to resist anymore…                            I wanted to fly… to see the new world… so I started discovering, exploring the surroundings and the people….. both very different.

Then… a bigger curiosity arises, what am I doing here in a foreign land?  Isolation and depression attack a lonely person, so, I have decided to let my other family come & join me… but how can I guarantee our protection?

We established an association, ACFIL and there began our turning point…..  some Italian employers & friends  tried to be of help…. explaining, encouraging, supporting and opening the cage for us, BUT rarely, for only a few  wanted to be free, most of us preferred to stay inside the cage.

But it is up to us how, when & where we want to make our destiny work. We all have the body to manipulate the activities we have to do. And we have the ability to choose and gain peers, and how to make ourselves enthusiastic to others, and how to apply the roles for ourselves..from there, others can view clearly our intentions & desires.

One day in February 2010, in Padova, I was persuaded by my co FC’s & was chosen to act as North coordinator of a project of ATIKHA funded by IFAD “ Mobilizing migrants remittances towards agri-based cooperatives in the Philippines.”through a FINANCIAL LITERACY SEMINAR.

I was startled by the choice of the group , though we have met only a few times but then they have selected me to become the coordinator of North Italy.

Me? Leading the Leaders? Challenge motivated me to accept the role even if I can’t interpret well what lies ahead of the project. I have accepted even without understanding clearly my talents to lead, besides, I have proven already the impact what FINLIT has done to us and mostly I accepted because I don’t want the project to explode immaturely because if we allow it to explode “WHAT WILL BECOME OF OUR COMMUNITY IN TURIN WHO WERE CONVINCED & TRULY BELIEVED THAT SOMETHING WILL CHANGE THEIR FUTURE?

On second thought, I know  that I won’t be working alone to get what’s important in the project done. So, right after I got home here in Turin…I  created a group page  in FB called Northern Italy Financial counselors. The page serves as our meeting point. It gives us the opportunity to design our plans to be able to achieve more and be more productive with the tasks we were assigned.

Everybody can decide and respect everyone’s opinion. We do our evaluation and rotate roles or shift assignments so that we can guarantee the excellent outcome: that is to educate our co OF’s to save for their future. There came a time that some of our co FC’s wanted to withdraw from the group but then, in the end the group members remained intact.

WE AIM HIGH TO GET HIGH! Because we have created a larger NORTHERN ITALY FAMILY! Believe it or our family, you can’t find intrigues nor envy…the €200.00 allowance that I received monthly was used to augment the expenses for the seminars we have been doing in & out of Turin and I even told my peers of the situation ,so that they will realize that I don’t do it for money, fame or whatever.

I know for sure that inside me, I feel a higher calling that demands commitment, patience & sacrifice.

My task as a coordinator may not be financially rewarding but there are beautiful non monetary remunerations that go along with it, like meeting friends like you my co FC’s .

I have also to empathize the struggles and  the difficulties of my co FC’s because pure altruistic concerns always begets genuine affection to those who benefitted from it.

I  am not sure whether I had done my part as a it’s up to my co FC’s to evaluate my performance…for me our experiences will remain in my heart forever.

What affected our performances were the different schedules at the back of our own community in the place where we live in, but then, we MEET half way.  As North coordinator I have to connect initiatives, encourage & appreciate.

There was even a period that in Milan the other FC’s were not able to connect their time so I have to approach gradually the situation until  we were able to produce result that were acceptable to everybody. It is not easy to lead especially when the cage calls for my time and I have to go back for emergency reasons.

Having  accepted the task, I have not thought of the cost benefit heart always tells me that the most important thing is that my KABABAYANS will benefit from this or at least  we can contribute something for them to realize the essentiality of freedom from obligations back home, to think for themselves and to feel lighter.

In the course of the project, in one of our evaluations, it was not only the way we deliver the topic to our listeners that we have to be very keen of, but we were able to courageously call the attention of everybody how to dress accordingly to the occasion also..Kaya nga, (That’s why) I started dressing up like I used to… which I have totally forgotten a long time I am slowly recovering myself , which living behind cage made me forget everything, even myself… that I existed.

It’s not effective to teach if what you teach, you can’t apply for since our advocacy is to educate OF’s to save and invest for a brighter order to encourage them do what we are doing..I was forced to show my certificates in every FINLIT seminar that sometimes I was misinterpreted as bragging, but who cares?

Being a Leader to lead other Leaders is like being a  bird who finds & gives, receives & shares, protects & depends & is strong . For me LEADING is CHALLENGE and I become more CONFIDENT.

Being an FC for me was just the beginning, having conducted FINLIT seminars were like a stream that goes to the ocean. My role became immense that it is not only diagnosing one’s financial health but our services towards our co OFW’S become popular that even though it is out of context they ask us questions that need a body & head outside, to give them a solution or an answer.

Here’s some report of the impact of this project related to the subject or not but believe me my life become more complex , added to the responsibilities we have been doing as ACFIL:

Program Action-impact
Padova 1. Working with ADF IN PADOVA is a new experience for me.. I had to travel on weekends and I gain friends and met other leaders and above all I have seen the results how women works. One dialytic participants doesn’t know her right & privilege to have a free transportation ticket ( tram, bus & train), she was instructed where to go and after 2 weeks she told me that she have acquired the ticket. Thanks Cecil & Laarni for having meet you!
Milan Finlit 1.  FILAMICI were fantastic, imagine Lily the President got the highest recruite among us? And’re so sweet. Actually in Milan i work with HTA’S ( Rosario & Mabini)And the more we see each other the more we long for each other. Rodel, Ging & Margie you’re such wondrful persons.
Brescia The UP ( Ugnayang Pinoy) headed by Darlito Bueno posed another challenge for me, he was the driver, cleaner, speaker, organizer. He’s an efficient leader and I trust him…whenever there’s no enough room for everybody we end up in the same room and become my partner ever.
Modena Sherylyn Diaz is a born leader..she fights against all odds and a figther  and the youngest among the area coordinators.

Marjorie Dinamling, Nerissa Antaran. Jocelyn Beltran, Roda Parala, Kristine Bautista, Gina dela Cruz & Sally Bajade..thanks for being there always..

1. 2 OF’s were accompanied to the union labor to solve their work related contract problem under the work emersion law. Finally, they received their permit to stay.

2. Receives request from OF’s to consult the site ( to see if a notice to present in the Questura is ready.

3. Discovered that human trafficking existed between the co-nationals.

Facilitated for 25 OF’s to acquire the estratto conto thru CGIL.

5. Referred 1 OF  to the Notary Public for the translation of an inheritance declaration.

6. Helped 32 OF’s  to take the Italian test, for evaluation to get the certificates.

7. Lobbying for OF’s to be informed regarding the work related contract, paga busta, liquidation, INPS contribution & number of working hours to be declared

8.  Promotes SSS

9. Directed 3 pre OSS students to collaborate with ASAI for the recognition of their experience as badante

10. Directed OF’s for the recognition of their diploma.

11. Encourage OF’s to write an article to be heard as “ OFW’S VOICE” to be published in “ANG TAMBULI”

At this point, please allow me to thank Miss Chato Basa, the foundress of FWC who after 16 long years of friendship, whenever she thinks that she needs the strength of Turin community…     she calls me…! Sorry of not having you here..

The ATIKHA for allowing us to create a bigger community, its reason for being and the prime mover and shaker, as well as dedicated advocate, Mai Anonuevo, my supportive mentor Cherry Girado; Aileen Constantino- Penas, whom I consider a little sister, a friend and a teacher, and of course, IFAD for funding this project!

And to the CONCERNS, please continue in helping us…. to open the CAGES for the other birds to go out, for them to be able to use their wings to fly, to soar high and touch the sky and come back to safe nests, free and fulfilled…

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