31 August 2012 - The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur reported that the Embassy, through its Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), and in coordination with the Filipino Community associations in Sabah under the Federation of Filipino Associations of Malaysia (FFAM), held the first-ever Pag-IBIG Housing Fair for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on August 26 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu.
The event attracted more than 500 Filipinos from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kiningau, and Tawau.
The housing fair was part of POLO-KL Reintegration Program for OFWs in Malaysia in cooperation with the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), more popularly known as the Pag-IBIG Fund. It is in line with its continuing effort to reach out to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over Malaysia and, in the process, promote better understanding and cooperation between and among the Philippine Embassy and OFWs.
In his welcome remarks, Sabah Filipino community group organizing committee chairperson Levi Bation acknowledged the role and contributions of each organization to the success of the event, and expressed his great appreciation to the Embassy, particularly to Labor Attache Dr. Alicia D. Santos for organizing the event and for her effort in uniting all the Filipino associations in Malaysia under FFAM.
"Through the effort of Ambassador Eduardo Malaya and Labor Attache Santos, FFAM is now legal and officially recognized by the Malaysian government," Bation said.
In her message, Dr. Santos expressed appreciation to the OFWs who were present and to all FFAM member organizations in Sabah who helped in organizing the event, and said that the housing exhibition is the first event of its kind to be organized for OFWs in North Borneo. She also encouraged Filipinos there to become member and invest with the Pag-IBIG Fund as part of their savings and reintegration plan in preparation for their eventual return to the Philippines for good
Dr. Santos commended the leadership of the Filipino communities in Sabah, headed by Ms. Marilou Chin, in establishing a learning center called Stairway to Hope Learning Centre. The Center provides free education to the underprivileged Filipino children in Kota Kinabalu, and it operates only through generous contributions from the Filipino community. Currently there are 140 children studying at the Center.
Pag-Ibig Fund Vice-President for International Operations Amado I. Dizon headed the Pag-big team to Sabah and brought along with them accredited real estate property developers from the Philippines to market their various middle- and low-cost housing projects in Quezon City, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan.
"Any Philippine citizens in Sabah can join the Pag-IBIG overseas program by first applying for membership and paying the required monthly contributions," Mr. Dizon said. He also focused on the Philippine Republic Act 9679, requiring all OFWs to join the Pag-IBIG and enjoy its benefits such as savings that earn tax-free dividends, low-interest housing loans, salary loans, and calamity loans for eligible members.
The full-day event registered over 300 new Pag-IBIG members. Some members have inquired on and purchased housing units from participating property developers. To maximize the services for Filipinos that day, the POLO team rendered full-day welfare and labor-related services which benefitted especially those Filipinos who live outside Kota Kinabalu.
The Sabah Filcom Organizing Committee is composed of the following: Levi Bation, Marilou S. Chin, Vic Moran, Verna Grace Liaw, Mohd Bin Ijin Johari, Andrea Sulit, Ma. Luisas Yong, Jacquiline Minoza, Nenita Ong, Rizafe Remitera, Gelyn Orbe, Irene Manalo and Alfred Hernandez.
Certificates of appreciation were distributed among the participating Filipino community organizations in recognition of their active contributions to the overall success of the event.