Sunday, August 2, 2015

FACTORS WHY OFW'S IN THAILAND FAIL TO SAVE

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OUTGOING AMBASSADOR. H.E Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia, Philippine Ambassador to Thailand met with the key leaders of the Filipino Community in Phitsanulok on March 2015 where she emphasized the importance of financial literacy. 

Filipinos who have found their niche in Thailand continues to grow. Although it does not count as one of the top destinations for the 1.6 million Filipino overseas workers around the globe but still the number has grown considerably as more and more Filipino entertainers, engineers and teachers have found job opportunities in this vast land of smiles.

I'm on my sixth year of working as a Foreign Language teacher in a government school and although the salary is not as attractive as those working in other countries where teachers are in demand, I still get 4 times higher than the minimum wage I got while working in the Philippines. 

The irony is despite the big difference of the salary; I still struggle to set aside part of that income for my savings. Is the process of 'saving' too complicated that most of us working overseas can't do it? 

Here are the top reasons why my 'savings' account continues to suffer until now.

1. SHOPAHOLISM. Thailand is not only 'the land of smiles' but a land of shopping centers and all kinds of markets: Night Markets, Tuesday Markets, Wednesday Markets and Saturday Markets where you will see many different items that will surely drain that cash out of your pocket. The department stores around here are also holding frequent "sale" which are sometimes too difficult to resist. And what else is too hard to refuse? The latest iPhone and Samsung phone and iPad units, the newest model of laptop, the coolest Lacoste sling bag, the hippest Adidas and Nike shoes on display, DSLR cameras for our future trips and a lot more. 

Needless to say that with our constant battle of 'homesickness', we look for reasons to divert our attention so we go out even without the intention to spend only to be betrayed by our pair of covetous eyes and our own impulsive heart. Hence, 'spending' is our only escape.

2.  UNSTOPPABLE TRAVELING FEET. Of course, Thailand isn't tagged as 'Amazing Thailand' for no reason at all. There are a total number of 76 provinces in this country each teeming with different tourist attractions. There are majestic waterfalls all around the country waiting to be discovered. In the south, the crystal clear blue waters of the beaches are also irresistible especially during summer. In the north, the thick jungles are just waiting to be explored and so with their old-aged temples and ruins. And with the many long holidays we have, it's also very hard not to join the bandwagon of the many traveling 'Pinoys'.

We need to travel to break the monotony of our daily routines. Traveling enriches our experiences about the culture of others that no book could describe. Experience is the best teacher and sometimes too, traveling will also teach us that 'saving' will give us more opportunity to go to any place we want without limiting the experience that we might have.

3. TOO MUCH GENEROSITY. We, Filipinos, are very family-oriented. We always put our family first before our personal convenience. That's what happens to most of us here in Thailand. We send half or more than half of our salaries back home for the sake of our family; food, clothing, education, medical and other expenses that we sometimes here needed to tighten our budget so we could afford a comfortable living for our loved ones at home. 

This is not bad. But we should also realize that if we set aside part of our monthly pay, we are assured that in emergency cases we have something to withdraw instead of relying on loans and donations from our fellow overseas workers who are also struggling to make ends meet themselves. 

4. AIMLESS FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. How many of us here have a definite financial goal? I remember before coming to Thailand I gave myself 5 years then I'll go back home for good, but it seems 5 years will become 10 and I still don't know how many times do I have to reset this target because I failed to impose an ironclad objective as to how much should I be able to have saved within 5 years. Instead, I became a voracious spender thinking that money will come by at the end of every month ensuing several failed attempts to save.

Having an exact financial goal will help us avoid unnecessary expenditures brought about by 'impulsive buying' because it will pull us back every time we feel the urge to bring that cash out of our pocket. 

5. SENSELESS DEBTS. Wait, aren't all debts senseless? Financial experts say, no. Bad debts are those we incur using our credit cards, those loans we made just to finance our wants of having a new mobile phone or making that trip that may be postponed till we have the capacity to finance it. These are debts that yield interest in favor for the lenders. In short, if these are not paid, they have the tendency to grow until we drown in our own debt-related mess. Good debts? These are the ones that give us an investment that will eventually increase their value and thus will give us a financial breakthrough in the future. Real estate properties are an example of 'good debts' however, we should also take extra precaution in investing in these otherwise results may turn out the opposite of what we expected. 

***

The way to financial freedom is a tedious process. It takes a lot of guts and discipline in order for it to work. There's no secret to it because we know ourselves better than others but learning from other people's experience may help us so it's not bad to read books about saving and financial literacy.

In my five years here in Thailand, I've realized when it comes to 'saving', one's salary grade does not matter. Whether our paychecks say, we only have 20,000 baht or as much as 50,000 baht if our lifestyle is beyond our means, saving is impossible.

So, from now on, I'll start saving...fingers crossed. 
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

THAILAND, MYANMAR FORGE DEAL ON VISA-FREE ENTRY

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GRAND PALACE. This landmark in Bangkok is one of the most visited by foreign
and local tourists alike.

BANGKOK, THAILAND. In their continued efforts to boost tourism, trade and amiable ties between the two countries, Thailand and Myanmar have signed an agreement allowing their citizens visa-free entry using ordinary passports, authorities announced on Tuesday, June 28.

Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn told Bangkok Post the agreement reflects the concrete cooperation between two countries and it will promote tourism, trade and other economic cooperation.  

The agreement was signed during the Thai-Myanmar Joint Commission Meeting in Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai by Thailand Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn and Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin. 

Starting August 11, Thailand and Myanmar citizens will be granted permission to enter both countries up to 14 days without a visa using ordinary passports.

Also in the said meeting, Thailand and Myanmar sealed a deal to increase trade to US$12 billion and build up border trade activities

Last month, Thailand and Cambodia also forged 'Two Kingdoms, One Destination' tourism campaign promoting two tourist routes from Thailand to Cambodia and vice versa that intends to boost foreign and inter-ASEAN tourist arrivals for both countries.

The said campaign allows visitors to enter both Thailand and Cambodia using a single visa.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 REASONS WHY SOME OFW'S GO HOME WITH NO SAVINGS

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Being an OFW is temporary. Whether we like it or not if our employers say it's our time to leave, all we could do is pack our bags and go back home. The worst scenario would be for us to return empty handed. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority's Survey on Overseas Filipinos, from April to September 2014, there were 2.0 million overseas workers who sent cash remittances to their families and only 35.2 percent of them were able to save from it.

Why does it seem to be too difficult for an overseas worker to save? Here are my TOP 5 reasons:

1. The traditional ' PINOY PASALUBONG'. With our occasional homecoming while still working overseas, overspending is a daunting reality. The inevitable preparation for the big return is not just exhausting. What with the 'pasalubongs' we have to think about for each of the members of our family including our friends and neighbors and almost everyone in town, it can surely be cash-draining, too. Think about those imported chocolates, branded clothing, souvenier items, entertainment showcase and the list goes indefinitely.

2. The ATM. The moment we're home, we become an instant cash machine because everybody expects us to spend for everything even from the least expenditure there is.

3. The GRAND TRAVELER aka the BIG SPENDER. Then, for the reason that we want to make the most of our time while in the country we indulge in luxurious trips, go on an endless shopping spree or dine in expensive restaurants  convincing ourselves that we deserve them because we've worked hard for years and to treat ourselves with a little ( I mean little?) luxury is not bad at all.

HOME WORKS. Building a comfortable home is not as easy as it seems to be. It takes years of savings
and some loans here and there.
4. The PROJECT. An OFW's constant aspiration is to have something authentic as a token of those hard-earned cash from abroad. We invest in our dream posh cars, spacious lots for those dream houses we've wanted. Not bad, right? However, according to 'investing' experts, these properties are part of our dead investments because they don't yield us returns. But again, if we think of comfort, then these things become just worth spending.

5. The 'CARPE DIEM' ATTITUDE. 'Seize the day!', That's what we tell ourselves when we are at the height of comfort and pleasure; we don't want it to end, so we spend without considering about tomorrow. In fact, we spend and spend without limits because we think about the salary we are going to receive by the end of the month, or the belief of 'money will come,  memories matter' and before we realize it, we ran out of cash and that's when the problem starts.

In our perspective as overseas workers, we simply can't take the blame of overspending because while it is true that earning those cash took years, we just cannot overlook the fact that when we see our loved ones happy, we forget all the hardships we endured. It doesn't matter whether our savings have just gone down the drain and eventually dried up. Sadly, upon our return overseas, we work and work again to save up for the future and the same history will repeat itself once we decided to go for another big homecoming.

Of course, it's just a matter of DISCIPLINE, right? But again...imposing 'discipline' on ourselves isn't the easiest thing to do or maybe...it's only ME. 
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION (MoE) PREPARES TO HOST ASIAN SCIENCE CAMP IN AUGUST

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Photo: Ministry of Education Thailand
BANGKOK, THAILAND. The Ministry of Education in Bangkok is gearing up to host the Asian Science Camp (ASC) in Pathumthani from August 2 to 8, 2015.

Gen. Narong Pipatanasai, Minister of Education said the activity will help develop the science and technology skills of the young people. 

"The Ministry of Education has supported and promoted young people with talent, knowledge, and capabilities in Science and Technology for the future of Thailand, Gen. Narong said in the Press conference for Asian Science Camp (ASC) 2015 on July 23.

A total of 269 freshmen and sophomore high school (11th and 12th grade) and university (1st year and 2nd year) students from 29 Asia Pacific countries/regions will take part in the camp at the Convention Center and Sirindhorn Science Home at the Thailand Science Park, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) in Pathumthani, located 30 kilometers north of Bangkok. 

The participants will join in lectures, plenary sessions, and dialogues with their guest speakers from Taiwan, Israel, Germany, Thailand, Russia, and Japan who are Nobel Prize winners and leading Scientists in the field of Physics, Mathematics, Medicine, Anatomy and Chemistry.

HRH Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn will lead the opening ceremony on August 3 which will have a live broadcast via National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT).

The Academic Olympiad and Development of Science Education Foundation under the patronage of HRH Princess Galyani VadhanaKromluang Naradhiwas Rajanagarinda (POSN) is co-hosting this event with the Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Science museum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand and the Science Society of Thailand. 

Aside from the participants from the 10 ASEAN Member States, delegations from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Chinese Taipei, Egypt, Georgia, Guam, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Turkey are also expected to arrive:

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Monday, July 27, 2015

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION EYES TO ESTABLISH THAILAND AS ASEAN EDUCATION HUB

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BANGKOK, THAILAND. The Ministry of Education is establishing a center to develop Thailand as the education hub of ASEAN, the Deputy Government Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Sansern Kaeokamnerd announced on Sunday.

Aimed to be  the source of information and knowledge exchanges for researching and publicizing the existence of ASEAN, the center will also spearhead activities and events related to the association and administer its policies at the local level.

Maj. Gen. Kaeokamnerd told Chiangrai Times that the goal of the ministry's development of Thailand as the ASEAN education hub was to internationalize education in the junior-high and high school levels. He added that these schools must be prepared to provide training for both Thai and foreign students in ASEAN. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given his go signal for the establishment of the center as it was in line with the government's national reforms and preparations for the AEC.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PALAWAN STATE UNIVERSITY SINGERS WIN IN 33RD FESTIVAL DE INTERNACIONAL DE MUSICA DE CANTONIGROS

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PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES. The Palawan State University Singers was hailed Grand Champion in the 33rd Festival De Internacional De Musica De Cantonigros - Mixed Choir Category in Spain, TV Patrol Palawan reported. 

The university-based chorale group from Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan beat 35 formidable music groups from 19 countries who took part in the international choir competition which was held in Vic's Atlantida Theatre in Barcelona, Spain from July 16 to 19. 

Now on its 33rd year, Festival De Internacional De Musica De Cantonigros commenced its activities in 1983 and is a recognized member of the 'European Festivals Association".  The major contest categories are as follows: Mixed Choirs; Children's Choirs; Female Choirs; Mixed Choirs, Male or Female, Folk Music; Children, Folk Music; Dance Groups; and Dance Groups, Children

The Palawan State University Singers is the fourth group to win Grand Champion in this prestigious competition. The UP Madrigal Singers in 1989, Himming Singers from Davao City in 1997, UST Singers in 2010 and Palawan State University Singers this year.

The members of the Palawan State University Singers are students who came from different walks of life who are proven for excellence in the field of music for their victorious performances in various regional and national competitions in the Philippines. 

The group have regularly performed in different functions before local and international audiences inside and outside the university. 
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SCB SUSPENDS BANKING OPERATIONS FOR ENHANCEMENT

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BANGKOK, THAILAND. Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) will temporarily shut down its ATM system operation all over Thailand from 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 8, 2015 until 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 9, 2015 according to its costumer advisory dated July 21, Tuesday. 

The temporary suspension of services is due to the upgrading that is intended to support the growing number of transactions and enhance the security of the SCB ATM system, the advisory said. 

Throughout the upgrade period, the following services will be temporarily unavailable:

1. SCB ATM/ Debit/ Speedy/ MCMC Prompt Cards will be unusable in all SCB Channels and all other bank ATM machines.
2. SCB Credit Cards will be unusable for cash advances at all SCB channels and all other bank ATM machines.
3. Fund transfer to and from other banks via SCB Easy Net and Easy App will be unavailable.
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HOW TO PAY YOUR Pag-IBIG MONTHLY CONTRIBUTIONS ONLINE

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES. Savings with Pag-Ibig Fund is now made possible and easy with Pag-IBIG Fund Online Payment Facility

This is good news for OFW's like me whose families have no direct or easy  access to any Pag-IBIG Fund offices back in the Philippines. With the online payment, all you need is a VISA or a MasterCard and your transaction is finished in less than five minutes. 

Here's how you do it. 

Step 1: Go to Pag-IBIG Online Services at https:www.pagibigfundservices.com. Scroll it down to OTHER SERVICES, click Online Payment Facility.

Step 2: Once you're on the page, all you need to do is to fill-out the information needed. 


PROGRAM TYPE - If your program is 'Monthly Mandatory Savings', you need not change what automatically appears in this box. 

MEMBERSHIP CATEGORY - You have two options, click on 'overseas".

Pag-IBIG MID No./RTN - Key in your 12-digit Pag-IBIG Fund membership number. Then click 'verify'.

MEMBER'S NAME - If your number is typed in correctly, your name will automatically appear in the 'Member's Name' box so you don't need to key it  in.

MONTHLY MANDATORY SAVINGS - You may select your saving scheme according to programs offered by Pag-IBIG fund. 

Aside from the MP 1 wherein a Self-Employed Member has to pay PhP1,200 per year, Pag-IBIG is also providing members with another option that would grant savers with a yield higher than those under the Pag-IBIG 1 membership program. 

The MP 2 program that took its effect on February 3, 2010 has a minimum contribution of PhP 500 per month and is under a renewable term of five years. It has a flexible dividend rates but always higher than MP1 and more importantly, its contributions and earnings are government guaranteed. 

Aside from PhP 500, contributors have the following options and its target dividends after 5 years and 10 years. 


AMOUNT DUE - This will automatically show once you have selected your 'Monthly Mandatory Savings'.

PERIOD COVERED - Now, you have to select which months would you like to pay. One can pay from the present month up to preferred incoming months. 

CONVENIENCE FEE - This will automatically appear and will also be automatically added to the 'Total Amount Due' to be deducted for your credit card.

Next step is to select the 'payment confirmation'. Two options: via SMS or e-mail address. Choose one. 

Then, key in the computer generated codes that appear in bold and finally click the box to confirm that you agree with the company's terms and conditions to proceed to the PAYMENT SUMMARY. 


When all entries are correctly encoded, you are now ready to proceed to payment details where you have to provide your 'Credit Card' details in order to finalize your payment transaction. 

Once you're done, you will receive a confirmation via text message or e-mail confirming your payment. 



When you do,you're one step closer to assuring your monthly benefits upon your retirement from Pag-IBIG. 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN BANGKOK RELEASES SCHEDULE FOR AUGUST

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BANGKOK, THAILAND. The Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Bangkok released last week, July 13, its public advisory on the consular activities and non-working holidays for the month of August. 

The announcement stated August 1, Saturday, from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m is the schedule for the monthly Saturday Service while on Tuesday, August 11 and  Thursday, August 13 will be the solemnization for weddings.

Meanwhile, the Embassy also advised the Filipino Community in Thailand that the office is closed on August 12, Wednesday, as an observance of Queen Sirikit's birthday. However, although August 31, Monday, is an official holiday in the Philippines, the embassy is declaring it a working holiday.

Issued by the Office of the President on July 17, 2014, the Official Holidays in the Philippines for 2015 is based on the Proclamation No. 831, Declaring the Regular Holidays, Special (Non-Working) Days, and Special Holiday for the Year 2015. 

In Thailand, the official holidays are based on MFA No. 0402/C20962 dated 27 October 2014.

Read the full text below:

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

JASON DY NAILED A CLASSIC OPM, THE CROWD:WILD!

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BUTUAN CITY, PHILIPPINES. When Jason Dy came home on April 30 for his home coming concert, he was met with an overwhelming reception by the Butuanons who have been waiting for his return after his grand victory in The Voice Philippines Season 2

The venue,  Father Saturnino Urios University Gymnasium, which can accommodate up 6,000 persons was jam packed with Jason's supporters from all over Caraga region and even from the nearby cities and provinces who started queuing for the free entrance as early as 1 o'clock in the afternoon.  

The Butuan home-grown talent, who brought with him three of his friends from The Voice Season 2 - Monique Lualhati, Mackie Cao, and Leah Patricio, did not disappoint his fans and treated the 'Dyfenders' with two hours of solid entertainment.

Jason Dy's homecoming concert featured his long journey towards his victory in the singing competition. It also gave a glimpse about his career before joining and winning the Kapamilya network's franchise of The Voice. 

Watch how Jason made the crowd run wild in his rendition of 'Kahit Kailan' a song which he sang in one of the show's live shows. 

Watch here: 


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