I have no intention of working my butt as OFW for the remainder of my life. I do look forward to getting another work in some western country (PLan B), and then emigrate with my family either to US or Canada (Plan C).

I intend to use all letters of the alphabet for plans. But i’m sure in the end, I will only have Plan XYZ left to ponder.

But what if these will not be forthcoming as my contract winds down? Is this the end of the road for me?

As a sophomore OFW, i have talked to the veteran OFWs here who have stayed for more than 10 years now, and still, not enough savings to settle back home.

So you worked overseas for ten, long years. If you are not in Western countries, then surely you are planning to retire back home. Or maybe emigrate with the family to the US.

If OFWs will only think of work while it last, there will come a time when an emergency happens to the OFW and his/her family will end up with no savings.

So as the Oplan alphabet dwindles to XYZ, what is the option to stay afloat in the Philippines as the toll of overseas work starts to affect health and the college costs has just began?

I dunno.

We OFWs will have to admit this fact — – however long you have worked, if you do not manage your money, you will end up with nothing… In other words, maging masinop tayo sa perang sinasahod.

This applies not only for the OFW but also for his family back home.

Instead of your family spending on a lavish living because you send a big remittance, maybe it is high time you will convert this remittance to long term investment in terms of business development.

Here is one article that can provide ideas how to channel our remittance into profitable  and long-term investment that not only helps the OFW and his family, but also help the community.

 http://globalnation.inquirer.net/features/features/view_article.php?article_id=103832

Where OFWs’ and coconut farmers’ needs meet

By Niña Catherine Calleja
Inquirer

Posted date: November 29, 2007

SAN PABLO CITY, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) always worry about how to save money and where to put their savings, and coconut farmers constantly complain of dropping coconut prices.One solution offered by Coco Natur Overseas Filipino Worldwide and Producers Cooperative is the establishment of a cooperative and the setting up of a community-based coconut enterprise in which OFWs could invest their money.Coco Natur built its first enterprise, with coconut as the main source of livelihood, in the “barangay” [neighborhood district] of Santo Niño in San Pablo City, southeast of Manila.

It produces and markets virgin coconut oil (VCO) and its derivative products such as soaps, massage oil, lotion, and shampoo. It also plans to produce coconut flour and coconut vinegar.

The plant processes all parts of the coconut — including its supposed waste products like coco fiber and coco shell for the products’ packaging.

Coco Natur plans to multiply its community-based enterprise in 10 neighborhood districts of San Pablo City and in other coconut communities in Laguna and nearby provinces like Quezon.

Each of the chosen communities would need an initial capital of P60,000 to start the production, says Jean Tanalega, Coco Natur assistant general manager.

In the Santo Niño plant, P74,000 was used for equipment like grater, presser, fermenting drums, and other facilities used for processing VCO.

The plant does not only increase the income of the farmers but also creates more jobs for the relatives of the farmers.

At present, the Santo Niño plant employs seven regular workers, all Santo Niño residents.

Tanalega says the operation of Coco Natur would not be possible without funds from OFWs.

Developments

Coco Natur was formed in February 2006 by Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities’ Initiatives Inc., a non-government organization for OFWs and their families, which also initiated the project with the support of an organization of coconut farmers and the local government here.

Before forming Coco Natur, Atikha launched a campaign mobilizing OFW resources to assist the development of the community-based coconut enterprises.

A “benefit dinner” organized in the United States enabled Atikha to raise P500,000. Atikha was also able to get grants and loans from the US.

For one year, Coco Natur focused on product and market development and training residents in coconut communities.

It was only last October that the Santo Niño “barangay” adopted the project, now transformed into a so-called community-based enterprise.

Community-based enterprise means members of the community manage the operations of the business from production to marketing. The whole community gets a share of the profit.

Marga Roman, Coco Natur marketing director, says this project gives both poor communities and OFWs hope and promise.

“In five years, this will be a P5-million company, supporting at least 200 farmers in each community,” she claims.

Greater income

Ruben Garcia, president of the Pederasyon ng mga Magsasaka at Magniniyog sa Lungsod ng San Pablo [Federation of Coconut Farmers and Workers in San Pablo City], believes that the income of coconut farmers from the community-based enterprise will increase significantly.

The federation is composed of over 500 active members from 10 organized barangay (village unit).

Garcia says many small coconut farmers are at the losing end because they are compelled to transact with middlemen and traders who buy and retail their nuts.

“They will buy the nuts at a P5 price while these are sold in the market usually at P12,” he explains.

Other farmers spend P400-P500 in a trucking fee to transport the nuts to factories producing coco-based products.

“The farmers here don’t really earn much. Worse, the price of coconut fluctuates from time to time, depending on the supply,” Garcia adds.

He emphasizes that it is to the farmers’ and their families’ advantage that they finally have a plant producing virgin coconut oil and other coconut-based products within the community.

“Transportation cost is no longer a problem yet the buying price is very much the same with that in the factories,” he says.

Expansion

Roman notes that fund raising was their way to get resources and capital until they came up with a scheme of getting investment through shares of stocks in the cooperative.

“An investor can have a minimum of 100 shares and maximum of 2,500 shares at P100 per share,” she explains. They’re encouraging OFWs to invest here, he says.

“When they come back here, they have earned just by investing their money, plus their investment has helped their community,” she adds.

Coco Natur also has a program of direct selling where dependents of OFWs will be trained in the marketing of the coconut-based products. They also teach sales and entrepreneurship, says Roman.

Coco Natur has also tapped the export market. Almost P500,000 worth of sample products have reached Europe. They are now trying to meet the purchase order of 16 tons of VCO.

“We are now eager to break in to North America and Japan,” says Roman, adding that some visiting overseas-based Filipinos are also buying their products.

She stresses that they are still creating awareness that Coco Natur exists. The market’s recognition and acceptability will make them sell, she adds.

But Coco Natur remains to be a social enterprise where everybody benefits. “It should always be a fair trade. We cannot lower our prices and compromise the welfare of the farmers and workers just to be competitive with other VCO products,” she says.

(For inquiries, contact Marga Roman at +63920 4677887. The office is located at Coco Natur Likha at Kabuyahan Room, OFW Center, Main Avenue, Green Valley Subdivision, San Francisco, San Pablo City, Laguna)

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