Find Out Where Balikbayad Added Two More Branches

Are you an OFW who is currently in need of funds to put up your business? Do you need additional working capital for your inventory needs? Don’t worry. Balikbayad is here to help.

Balikbayad was launched with one thing in mind: YOU. 

Banks could provide you a lending hand in case you need to borrow money for your business. Apparently, this could mean sending tons of documents to prove your earning capacity and potential to pay the loan. We want to make this easier for you by providing you with options sans the hassle of coming up with a lot of documents.

Because of that need, we are happy to announce that aside from the Adriatico office, Balikbayad launched two more branches to better equip your growing needs and demands in the business.

Below are the addresses and contact details of our two more branches:

Makati Balikbayad - Makati5/F Salustiana T. Dy Tower, Paseo de Roxas Legaspi Village, Makati City (near Greenbelt 1).

You can contact us at 0977-7796594 or 0949-5777040. 

Kalaw 9/F TM Kalaw Center, 667 TM Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila

You can also contact us at 0977-7796594 or 0949-5777040. 

To our OFW friends in Cebu and nearby provinces in Visayas region, our Cebu branch is still ready to serve you. Don’t hesitate to call or visit in case you of your financial needs.

Keep in mind that Balikbayad wants to see every OFW succeed in life. We are here and more than ready to provide you and help you with your financial needs. We’ll be waiting for you.

“Penge Pamasko” – How to Handle Relatives and Friends Who Ask for Christmas

After two or so years working overseas, you were finally allowed to go home, even just for the holidays. Are you excited?

Sure you do.

Apparently, going home could take a toll on your wallet. To begin with, people think of OFWs or balikbayans as “big time.” You’re earning in dollars and surely, you are earning more than what majority of your relatives earn even if combined. Because of this, it’s not surprising when people ask you for “pamasko.” Plus, it’s a cultural thing. It is common for Filipino families to share their blessings to everyone, including friends, relatives, and inaanaks.

Don’t worry. You can avoid this. In fact, you can still share your blessings without draining everything in your wallet – and leaving debt behind. Here’s how you can do it:

Tip No. 1: Be honest about your situation. 

Yes, you earn in dollars, but you are not a millionaire – yet. There are tons of expenses you need to pay like your monthly amortization for the house and car, your kids’ or siblings’ tuition fee, Emergency Fund, and the list goes on.

That being said, be honest about your situation. Even if you earn more than what you can earn here, working overseas is not easy. Most of the time, you have to juggle two or more jobs just to make ends meet. Lower their expectations about you and make sure they know how hard your life is back there.

Tip No. 2: Buy items in bulk. 

Let’s say you have extra cash to spare and you insist on giving something to people back home, even just small items. If you prefer that, then we suggest you buy items in bulk.

Duty free stores sell items like chocolates and other food items in big portions. You can also find novelty items like ref magnets or key chains in affordable prices – and you can even try to ask for a discount when you buy in bulk. Souvenir shops that sell items like shirts or caps are also a good place to buy because it gives your relatives and friends an idea about what it’s like in the country you are working. You can portions those goods and give those items away in case someone asks for pasalubong when you get back.

These items may be cheap, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Tip No. 3: It’s okay to say no. 

Sometimes, all it takes is this two-letter word: NO.

Surely, you want to share your blessings to other people. Still, are you willing to sacrifice your financial future just to please other people? Definitely not.

Don’t give in to all their demands just because you owe them utang na loob. Again, this is why it is important that you make them understand your situation and how hard it is to earn money. Be honest about how much you’re earning and the gazillion expenses you have to say.

Consequently, don’t make promises such as buying them gadgets or sending them money when you get back overseas just to appease them. It is not your obligation and responsibility to give. Worry about your family first.

Tip No. 4: Spend time with people who matter to you most. 

Christmas season is that time of the year where parties are everywhere. Sure, you missed your relatives and friends, but if they are those type who will jokingly force you to pay the bill since you’re earning in dollars, then it is best to stay away from them. It is best to spend time and make the most out of it with people who truly matter to you most – your family.

5 Christmas Gift Giving Tips to Remember for OFWs

Christmas is fast approaching. Are you done with your Christmas list? Even if you are miles away, the reality is you will always feel responsible to give something to your family (and extended family!) back home.

Unfortunately, gift giving means you need to prepare your pocket because this will surely eat up a big chunk in your salary. You always feel the urge to make up for the lost time that you should’ve spent with your family. Still, does this mean you should go bankrupt just to send something back home?

The answer is no. It will take you a lot of discipline and strict budgeting skill, but you can still make everyone happy during Christmas without compromising your financial future – or that of your family’s.

Here’s what you need to do and remember when it comes to gift giving:

Tip No. 1: Make a list. 

This is the first thing you need to do when it comes to gift-giving. OFWs are always obliged to give the entire barangay something, even if it’s just one bar of chocolates per family. Before you shop for Christmas gifts, make sure you know who to give gifts to – and the best way to do this is by making a list. This will serve as your guide during the holidays.

Tip No. 2: Set up a budget. 

Aside from making a list, you also need to set up a budget.

Christmas is a season of giving, but this doesn’t mean you need to spend every centavo you have. Set up a budget for each recipient to guide you on your spending. This way, you can check the amount of money you are willing to spend (preferably not all of your income and savings, combined) versus how much you can save.

If the gift is below your intended project, then good. Still, don’t use the extra amount of money you have to buy something that won’t last.

Tip No. 3: It’s not always about the material things. 

New shoes, clothes, perfume, and gadgets – these are the usual contents of your balikbayan boxes. Does your family really need all of them when you just bought them the same items months ago?

Keep in mind that gift-giving is not always about material things. We understand that this is your way of showing how much you love them because you cannot be physically present in their lives, but this doesn’t mean spoiling everyone with things that don’t last. Focus more on intentional gift giving.

READ: Meaningful Gift Ideas to Give this Christmas 

Tip No. 4: Stick to people who truly matters. 

Again, don’t feel obligated to give gifts to everyone. You’re not Santa Claus and you only have so much money to spend because you will need it for more important things.

Therefore, give gifts to those who truly matters to you – family, closest friends who helped you get through life overseas, relatives who genuinely helped you and your family while you’re away, and an understanding boss who knows what you’re going through. Unless you want to run for office or a position in an organization, only give gifts you are genuinely closest to.

Tip No. 5: Always start early. 

Christmas season can be overwhelming. Prices tend to be higher during the holiday because people are willing to pay regardless of the price. Before all the rush happens, make sure you start early. Plan your shopping trips ahead instead of wrestling your way with people in the malls.

Are you ready to go Christmas shopping?

6 Meaningful Gift Ideas You Can Give this Christmas

They say that in giving gifts, it’s the thought that counts. That’s true. The fact that you gave – and received – a gift from someone means you care about that person and you are willing to spend on something out of your hard-earned money.

Still, don’t you think it is best if that person will truly appreciate what you gave them?

This is where intentional gift-giving comes in. It’s about giving something meaningful to someone even if you are miles away from them. To save you from the hassle and stress and thinking what to give your loved ones back home, we listed gift ideas you might want to give them on this season of giving:

Staycation Trip 

This is ideal if you are allowed to go back home during the Christmas season. A staycation trip with the family allows you to spend time together and makeup for the time lost even just for a few days.

The staycation trip doesn’t have to be in five-star hotels. There are tons of hotels in the metro that gives you a five-star experience that still fits your budget. Make sure you book as early as now because Christmas season means most hotels are fully-booked.

Pearls

This one is for your spouse – and she deserves it. As long as budget permits, consider giving pearl jewelry to your spouse. It is more affordable than diamonds, but still provide a certain class to those who wear it.

Something Handmade

Is there anything more meaningful than something you actually made?

If you want to give gifts to your closest friends who helped you get through life abroad or your boss who is nothing but understanding of your situation, then give them something you personally made. It could be painting, personalized card, woodwork, or anything you are good at. You will only spend on the materials and more importantly, you won’t go over your designated budget.

Savings Account 

This is an ideal gift to give to your kids or younger siblings. 

Working overseas means you get to earn in dollars – and more. Take advantage of that opportunity by opening a savings account for them. The good thing about giving this gift is that it helps start build a better financial future for your kids. You can open a bank account with as little as P500.00 and get to earn interest as you make deposits.

Savings account with ATM is more convenient, but if you want to make saving work, opt for the one with passbook. You can also check out this post for banks with savings account specifically for OFWs.

Investment

If you prefer something that earns more than the savings account, then getting an investment for your family is a good idea. There are variety of options to choose from – mutual fund, UITF, government or corporate bonds, or stocks. Choose an investment option that suits your family most to start growing your money.

Don’t worry. Investment is not only for the rich. In fact, you can start your investment portfolio with as little as P5,000.

Startup Business

Even if you are the one earning more, this doesn’t mean expenses back home should solely be your responsibility.  In fact, it should be a collective effort of the family.

To ensure that, why not give your family a business they can manage? Franchising is a good start, but if you don’t have enough funds to cover for the fee, then there are affordable business ideas your family can try. Talk about this with your family and make sure that everyone will take part to ensure the business’ success.

Still, don’t force yourself to give gifts if your wallet can’t afford it. What’s the point of gift-giving if you’ll end up with nothing by the end of the year, right? More than anything else, set up a budget and give gifts to those who truly matter. 

Negotiate Your Salary with the Help of These 7 Tips

Salary or Compensation.

Admit it. This is your biggest consideration on why you want to work overseas. Although your job here in the Philippines is “sufficient” to cover for your daily needs, working overseas means you get to earn in dollars; hence bigger.

Let me tell you a secret: you can negotiate for a higher salary. 

In fact, this is among the things you need to do especially during job interview. This will allow you to earn more and get more benefits – provided that you have experience and skills to back up your request for higher pay.

Before you sign the contract, here’s what you need to do to get a better salary package:

1. Know the company first. 

They say never face your battles unprepared. Before you negotiate for better salary, make sure you know who you’re talking to first. Learn everything about the company so you know what you’re getting yourself into and whether or not you are a perfect fit to join them. Don’t forget to research about employee benefits as well the company’s owners or officers.

2. Don’t agree right away. 

$1,000 every month might be enough for your family, but are you willing to settle for that amount? What if your employer could offer more but because you agreed on the initial offer, you also lost your negotiating power?

The point is don’t settle right away. Always negotiate for a better salary amount or package. If you can’t get a raise, then at least bargain for allowances or employee benefits such as insurance, flight tickets, or overtime pay. Believe it or not, this will help you a lot in the future.

3. Highlight your strengths and skills. 

An increase in salary or the grant of additional benefits doesn’t come easy. You need to justify this by highlighting your strengths and skills that will be useful for the job. Inform your potential employer about additional trainings you went to in order to improve your skills. This would make it easier for your employer to give in because he is able to set you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Be careful. You might over-sell yourself or sound too arrogant, so learn to hit the brakes when needed.

4. Do not convert right away. 

This is a common mistake among Filipinos, especially first-time OFWs. When negotiating for a better salary package, do not convert the salary into peso right away. Conversion rate changes regularly, plus you might not receive your salary in US dollars.

Once you agreed on the amount and salary package, make an estimate as to how much your expenses will be to give you an idea on how to budget your money.

5. Be flexible when negotiating. 

Yes, you want to earn as much as you can, but at the end of the interview, the employer still has the last say. Listen to your employer’s salary offer and employee benefits provided. Make sure you look like you are seriously considering the offer, but leave them hanging. Don’t immediately inform him that you want this much because you will only give away your bargaining power.

Then and if negotiation is allowed, make a counter-proposal. You might want a higher pay or additional benefits based on your experience and skills. Inform your potential employer that this is what you offer on the table but you are still willing to compromise to ensure that both parties are happy.

6. Always ask nicely. 

This is a must. Some foreign employers are not willing to bend but because you asked nicely and negotiated while showing respect, you could get the last laugh after the interview.

Therefore, ask nicely and politely whether the salary is negotiable or if there are any add-ons. If the employer is firm about sticking to only what was advertised, then don’t immediately look so disappointed or start being disrespectful. This will only ruin your chances of getting hired.

7. Never bluff about other job offers. 

This is a big no-no.

Sure, you want the employer to go after you because you feel you deserve the job based on what you can do. If things didn’t go your way, then don’t lie about job offers from other employers just to get a higher salary. This could backfire and you might end up not getting the job.

Are you ready to start the negotiation process?

Red Ribbon: Authenticating Documents at the Department of Foreign Affairs

Working overseas means earning in dollars, which also means bigger earning. This will allow you to secure a better life and future for your family because you get to earn more than usual. Apparently, the path towards greener pastures is not easy.

To begin with, applying for a job does not automatically equate to employment. You have to go through a rigid screening process to ensure that you are qualified for the job. Also, you need to submit tons of documents that will show not just who you are but also your capabilities.

Don’t take this lightly. There are employers who prefer documents that are authenticated by the country’s Foreign Affairs department, also known as red ribbon. This is to ensure that the documents submitted are authentic and zgenuine.

The question now is how does this work? 

Documents that can be Authenticated

1. Birth, Marriage, Death certificate, or Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) and/or Negative Records

– Take note that the document/s must be printed in the security paper issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority, (PSA, formerly NSO). In case the document on hand is registered with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) within six months from date of registration, it must be authenticated by the PSA.

2. Transcript of Records (TOR) or Diploma

– If from state college or university, submit Certified True Copy from the school AND Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the school and signed by School / University Registrar and/or the school’s authorized signatory

– If from private school, college, or university, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from Commission on Higher Education (CHED) where the school is located

– If for technical or vocational course, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from TESDS where the school is located.

– Form 137 and Diploma for Elementary and High School Level, Certified True Copy from the school AND CAV from DepEd Regional Office where the school is located

3. Medical / AIDS-Free Certificate

– Document must be certified / authenticated by the Department of Health

4. Driver’s License

– Must come with accompanying certification from LTO (Main branch only)

5. Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued licenses

– Must be certified / authenticated by CAAP

6. Professional License / Board Certificate or Ratings / Certifications

– Document must be certified / authenticated by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC)

7. NBI Clearance

– The clearance issued must be in green and issued by the NBI

8. Certificate of Employment, Seminar, Training / Baptismal Certificate / Other documents issued by a private entity

– Notarized affidavit, which states factual circumstances and that the documents are considered as attachment/s

– Certificate of Authority for a Notarial Act (CANA) signed by Executive / Vice Executive Judge from the Regional Trial Court that issued the commission of the Notary Public

We only listed documents that are relevant when applying for a job overseas. For a complete list of documents that can be authenticated, please check this link

How to Process Authentication of Documents

1. Go to Authentication Services at the DFA Main Consular Services between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Aside from the Main Branch, the following DFA Consular Services can also process authentication:

  • DFA NCR-Northeast (Alimall, Cubao, Quezon City)
  • DFA NCR-East (SM Megamall)
  • DFA NCR-West (SM Manila)
  • DFA NCR-South (Alabang Town Center)

2. Fill out the application form from sections A to C. You can get a copy of the application here.

3. Proceed to the Processing Window and submit your application form and the document/s that need/s to be authenticated.

4. Pay for the corresponding fees at the cashier. Authentication fee is P100 per document, which will be released after four working days. If you want it expedited, pay P200 per document and you can get it the next working day.

Things to Remember when Claiming Authenticated Documents

  • Keep the Official Receipt. Said OR will be surrendered at the Releasing Drop Box. 
  • Present a valid ID at the Releasing Window. Check out this list of acceptable IDs by the DFA.
  • Check the document/s released to ensure that you got the right one.

What if you cannot personally process and/or claim the authentication of documents? 

That’s fine. Below is the procedure on how to process / claim authentication of documents on someone else’s behalf:

1. Present the original copy of the Special Power of Attorney from the owner of the document/s clearly indicating the name of the representative. If the owner is out the country, the SPA must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate.

2. Present a photocopy of the applicant’s valid ID with signature.

3. Submit a photocopy of the representative’s valid ID with signature.

4 Things to Negotiate Before You Say Yes to a Job Overseas

Do you want to earn a bigger salary? If you answered yes, then surely, working overseas came across your mind. After all, you’ll be earning in dollars and be able to juggle more than one job for bigger savings. Plus, you get to “travel” and finally see places you only see on TV.

Apparently, it’s not easy. When you work overseas, you need to consider various factors and negotiate your one-way ticket overseas to your advantage without compromising that of your employer.

What are these things you need to negotiate first? Check this list:

1. Compensation

Admit it. The primary reason why you want to work overseas is because of the salary. In fact, you wouldn’t even bother going abroad if you could earn your desired amount in the Philippines.

Before you say “Yes,” ask about the compensation package – how much is your take-home pay, any deductions to your salary, and taxes, if any. This way, you can check whether or not working abroad is worth the sacrifice.

At this point, you need to make an estimate as to how much your expenses will be. Research as much as you can about your job site to help you prepare for the expenses and find out how much is left for savings and investment.

2. Work Contract

This is important. Your work contract is considered the Bible between you and your employer because it contains the most important information and clauses surrounding your employment. The Overseas Employment Contract will act as a guide pertaining to your employment.

Don’t hesitate to ask about the following:

  • Location or Job Site – Is it safe? What is the crime rate? Will you be assigned in places other than what was stated in your work contract?
  • Accommodation – Free living quarters versus finding a house on your own versus rented place paid by employer
  • Transportation – Will your employer provide free shuttle services to and from work or will you avail of the public transport?
  • Duration of the contract
  • Job description
  • Leave benefits – How many vacation leaves per year? Are you entitled to Sick and Emergency Leaves? Will your employer pay your ticket back home? How much can you encash for unused leave credits?
  • Insurance benefits – Will you be given adequate protection abroad such as life, health, travel, or accident insurance? If yes, who will pay for the insurance premium? Will the payment be via salary deduction?

In other words, your work contract contains essential provisions that ensure you are safe and well taken cared for while abroad. Read the fine print and don’t hesitate to ask questions and make clarifications. Once you and your employer signed the contract, it’s a done deal and you lose you right to negotiate.

You can learn more about Overseas Employment Contract by reading this post.

3. Work Permit / Visa

This is another essential requirement. When you work overseas, the recruitment agency must provide you with a work visa and NOT a tourist visa. If you were given a tourist visa, it means your stay in that particular country is not legitimate and there is a higher chance of getting deported, which you surely don’t want to happen.

Therefore, check whether or not you will be issued a work visa or permit. Employer usually handles this, especially when the country of destination requires specific permits, while there are others who will simply assist you.

Consequently, inquire about the validity and coverage of the work permit visa. Some countries are employer-specific, which means you need to get another work visa in case you will transfer to a new employer.

4. Legal Remedies

You heard about Filipino workers getting maltreated, abused, and worse, killed. There are also many instances where Filipinos are unpaid, underpaid, or not paid at all. In other words, it’s not an ideal world and if the odds are not in your favor, then you might seek legal remedies to assert your rights.

Learn about the legal remedies available to Filipino workers working abroad. You’ll never know what will happen, so it is best to be prepared.