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PinoyWISE Public Meeting successfully held in Turin

By Ms. Aileen Penas

A very successful public meeting was held at Casa del Quarteri in Turin, Italy last March 11, 2012 organized by Atikha and ACFIL. The said gathering also marked as the kick-off activity of PinoyWISE International, an association of Financial Counselors worldwide.

The recently held assembly was part of the culminating activities of the two-year project of Atikha in partnership with the Filipino Women’s Council “Mobilizing Migrants’ Resources Towards Agricultural Cooperative in the Philippines” funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  implemented in the Philippines and in different parts of Italy.

The project provided financial education through Training on Financial Literacy and Addressing Barriers to Reintegration to OFWs and families left behind. It also offered skills, livelihood and business opportunity seminar. Furthermore, the project facilitated coop membership and encouraged savings and investment to Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC), the largest agri-based coop in the Philippines.   Atikha trained migrant leaders in Italy to conduct the Financial Literacy and Counseling Seminars for OFWs and families. ACFIL is one of the organizations tapped by Atikha to reach out to more and more Overseas Filipinos in Italy.

Present in this significant event were:  Mr. Robert Meins, Remittance Specialist of IFAD, Ms. Aileen Constantino-Peñas from Atikha Inc. and the Pinoywise Financial Counselors from Modena, Padova, Brescia, Milan and Turin.

Ms. Aileen Constantino-Peñas, Pinoywise Overall Project Coordinator and Deputy Executive Director of Atikha thru an AVP presentation updated the group with the developments and accomplishments of the project.   She was very pleased to share that the almost 10 Million Peso Mobilization was achieved in just 15 months and the campaign target membership also doubled.

Beyond the usual public meetings, highlighting this event was the testimonials of the Financial Counselors on the impact and influences of the project to the migrant leaders and to other overseas Filipino workers.

The first heart-warming talk was delivered by Ms. Nerissa Antaran-Tejada, the most tapped Financial Literacy Trainer and a Financial Counselor from Turin. She shared about her experiences in conducting the Financial Literacy training for OFWs in Italy and even with family members in the Philippines.  She mentioned that the seminar was intended to instill the idea of saving, investing and becoming entrepreneurs.  There were times that the seminars turned into a drama as most migrants became emotional as they came to realize, how many years they have wasted before understanding that they can achieve their family and financial goals only with the cooperation of the families left behind in the Philippines; by not giving in to their every demands and by helping one another.

Ms. Lilia Cabaces- Mallari, Milan Coordinator and Financial Counselor who educated the most number of migrants.  She articulated about her enrollment strategies in encouraging migrants to SIDC investment.  She lively conversed that in conducting orientation, she is not looking after the number of attendees nor conscious with the ages of the participants for she believes that everyone, young and old must understand the value of saving.

A very creative and innovative way of inculcating the value of regular savings was imparted by Turin Coordinator, Ms. Rosalie Bajade-Cuballes.  Being the Financial Counselor who influenced and enrolled a big number of saver-investors, she remarked that she started everything with herself, for others to see that “she practices what she preaches”. She employed a “paluwagan system”, compassionately and regularly follow-up and remind the members of their savings.  To secure their monthly investment remittance, she was the one collecting their savings and took care of remitting the amounts in the bank as a group remittance to avail of lower bank charges. She then advised the members to check their accounts online to confirm the deposits.


Mr. Darlito Bueno, Brescia Coordinator, talked about his philanthropic initiative, the “Sulong Mayantoc Movement: Mobilizing Savings and Investment for a Coop Replication – A Way of Giving Back in a Hometown”. He enthusiastically shared the challenges he confronted as he mobilized the 1 Million counterpart capital for his aspiration of bringing a development to the country of origin, his hometown, Mayantoc, a 4th class municipality in Tarlac.

The wonderful and stupendous series of testimonials was more enhanced by the presentation of the Northern Italy Coordinator, Ms. Minda Teves.  In her “Leading the Leaders”, she artistically referred the migrants as the birds in the cage that hopes to be free and fulfilled. She further pointed out how interventions like Training on Financial Literacy and Addressing Barriers to Reintegration and savings and investment mobilization bring high hopes to the OFWs. She also shared how grateful she is to the shakers and movers of the projects who brought so many realizations not only to her life but to the migrant communities as well.

All these testimonials were heard and the activity was observed by the special guest of the event, Mr. Robert Meins, IFAD Remittance Specialist, who was closely monitoring the implementation and development of the project.   In his message, Mr. Meins stated that he was too overwhelmed with the results and conveyed his admiration to Atikha and the migrant leaders in carrying out the campaign.  He also assured the crowd that he would transmit to IFAD everything that he heard, observed and learned.  He also added that he is looking forward for this initiative to be replicated at the global level.

The Pinoywise campaign was indeed a success and it was well reflected in the Public Meetings. Ms. Aileen Constantino-Peñas concluded the program by introducing and explaining how the campaign turned to an organization.  The PinoyWISE International was then launched.  Ms. Penas made an appeal to all Pinoywise FIN LIT graduates to join PinoyWISE International Closed Group Page.  Furthermore, she also talked about the replication of PinoyWISE initiative at the national level which is spearheaded by Task Force Migration and Development in the Philippines.  She imparted the objectives, plans and activities of the newly formed organization and reaffirmed that it was inspired by the brilliant and shared efforts of migrant leaders in Italy who nourished the project.

Finally, in behalf of Atikha, Ms. Peñas expressed warmest gratitude to International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC), Filipino Women’s Council  (FWC),  PinoyWISE Financial Counselors, member-investors, participants of Pinoywise training, attendees of orientations and to ACFILIANs who extended valuable support in this meaningful endeavor.


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