The Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) has always worked to secure and protect the well-being of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). To this end, they have created and implemented numerous programs that will help OFWs and their families live better lives. It is to this same effect they offer the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, one of the many OWWA Reintegration Programs (ORP), to help rebuild the lives and livelihood of female OFWs whose life abroad failed, whether due to conflict, political crisis, wars, or some other problems.
Also Read: Complete List of OWWA Scholarship Programs
Though they sound highly similar in objective and name, the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is different from the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program in so many ways. One, the Baik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is a livelihood assistance project created by OWWA exclusively for distressed or displaced female OFWs.
Two, it was designed to help these women start and operate their own livelihood ventures using a fixed starting capital of Php 10,000.00. Lastly, the program is meant to offer interventions other than cash assistance so the displaced and distressed Pinay OFWs who return to their home provinces would find it easier to reintegrate into the society and start anew.
What is OWWA Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program?
The Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is an OWWA-initiated training and employment project intended for Filipina household service workers. It was created under the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in 2011, before it was expanded in 2013 to include women OFWs in the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers (MWOFRC) in Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs).
Under the program, the eligible beneficiaries are provided with a business enterprise start-up kit based on the training they attended. They also undergo mandatory skills training of their preferred choice so they will get the necessary livelihood skills to improve their socio-economic well-being as they reintegrate into the society. This is also meant to help reduce or remove their socio-economic vulnerability and prepare them in establishing their small planned business enterprise.
Some of the specific practices covered by the program include:
- Providing access to remedy and to recover lost property and assets, unpaid outstanding wages, pensions, and other benefits not mentioned earlier.
- Providing assistance to female OFWs so they may engage in their host-State’s reconstruction efforts.
- Providing provisions for flexible immigration procedures so female migrant workers who were distressed and displaced may retain or reinstate regular immigration status.
- Assistance in the recognition, registration, and assessment of repatriated female migrants’ needs and skills.
- Provision of immediate support for reintegration purposes, which includes cash, livelihood, and medical assistance.
- Provision for Income and employment regeneration assistance to distressed and displaced female OFWs, including assistance with remigration and reinsertion to the society.
- Provision for certification mechanisms to recognize all the skills, education, and training the repatriated OFWs have previously acquired abroad.
With Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, DOLE via NRCO, in partnership with POLO, hopes to help women, particularly the domestic helpers abroad who have been abused or did not get their salaries or finish their contracts to gain the skills and abilities to reintegrate back into society at home with as little pain as possible.
They also hope to equip the women with livelihood skills via training and assistance to help them improve their socio-economic well-being and either reduce or totally remove their vulnerabilities.
The eligible beneficiaries are also provided with the means to plan, set-up, start, and operate their choice of business with ready-to-go self-employment packages consisting of training kits, business counseling, technical and marketing assistance, and start-up business kits so they may find better opportunities upon their return.
The program awards the eligible women with a livelihood grant amounting to up to Php 10,000.00 divided as follows:
- Php 2,500.00 Training Cost, covering for the honoraria, supplies, materials,and a demo kit
- Php 7,500.00 Starter Kit Cost which includes equipment, tools and jigs, raw materials, and small start-up capital.
The eligible beneficiaries can use the grant to start any livelihood project, though the NRCO offers a list of priority hanapbuhay business projects which are considered as home-based income-generating occupations at the same time.
The recommended priority business projects mostly focus on Health and Wellness and the list includes:
- Home Spa
- Foot Spa
- Hair Cutting
- Beauty Care
- Manicure and Pedicure
- Dress Making
- Food Processing
- Native Snack Preparation
- Production of Bath Soap, Scented Oils, Herbal Medicine, Skin and Health Care Products
- Personal Accessories Repairs and Maintenance
- Bag Repairs
- Phone Repair
- Souvenir Items
- Fashion Jewelry
- Native Slippers
- Flower Arrangements
Though the program hopes to provide assistance to all returning female OFWs who never got to finish their contracts or leave their jobs abroad peacefully, the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program prioritizes some women. These priority eligible beneficiaries are divided into several categories, as follows:
- Distressed female migrant workers housed and sheltered by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) at the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC);
- Displaced female migrant workers or OFWs affected by wars, political conflicts, hostilities, and some other forms of conflicts in their host country;
- Women migrant workers who were victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking
- Exploited (unpaid and underpaid) female OFWs
- Female migrant workers who were forced to leave their jobs abroad due to sexual and physical abused
- Migrant female workers whose contract was pre-terminated for whatever reason other than by personal choice;
- Other distressed and displaced women workers and household service workers abroad
Satisfying these basic qualifications does not automatically entitle them to the benefits of the program though. These qualified beneficiaries must submit their requirements to the DOLE Regional Office in the place where they intend to put up the livelihood project they have in mind. Plus, they have to complete some training before they can even get their hands on the assistance offered by the grant.
As mentioned early on in this guide, female OFWs must prepare and submit their requirements and undergo training – skills and business-related ones – before they can even hope to enjoy the benefits afforded by the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program.
These requirements include:
- Repatriation or return to the Philippines documentation
- Copy of Passport Picture Page
- Arrival Stamp – Date of the Last Arrival in the Philippines
- Accomplished National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) Form
- Application Form (with Undertaking that the cash assistance will be used solely for self-employment or for starting or expansion of livelihood project or business)
- Simple business plan or proposal reflecting the sustainability or feasibility of the chosen livelihood project approved by the director of the Regional Welfare Office (RWO)
- Entrepreneurial Development Training Certificate
- Financial Literacy;
- Entrepreneurial Development Training; and
- Livelihood Skills Training
Note that all requests will be handled by the DOLE Regional Office closest to the location where the livelihood project will operate later on. Upon completion of the training, the program beneficiaries will receive a commercial enterprise start-up kit which may vary depending upon the training they attended.
Do note that all the aspiring availees of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Livelihood Assistance Program are required to undergo skills training related to their preferred livelihood project in order to help them prepare for the establishment of their small business enterprise.
How to Apply for Balik Pinay! Program by OWWA
Once all the qualifying and documentary requirements are in order, then the aspiring availees of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Livelihood Assistance Program may proceed with the actual request to apply and avail of the program benefits.
In order to do so, all aspiring female availee of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program may follow the following procedural guidelines:
- For displaced or distressed Filipina migrant workers, especially those housed at POLOs in the MWOFRC, a POLO staff will prepare them for reintegration into the society upon their return.
- Both the POLO and the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program applicants must secure and prepare all the required documents, along with the selection of livelihood training that they will have to complete during the process while the repatriation is being processed.
- With the assistance of POLO, the female applicant will go through and complete the training on the basics of Business Entrepreneurship so they may have all the help they need to start working on their business plans.
- Once the applicant completes the training, they will receive a certificate to prove their completion of the training. This certificate will later be required when they apply for the livelihood assistance grant.
- Wait for the notification to find out whether your application for the BalikPinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program was accepted or not. Because the project is a joint venture between DOLE, NRCO, and OWWA, each of these three agencies involved in this program will have the application subjected to their own internal process which can last for several days.
- Once approved, a POLO staff will then provide the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program aspirant with a selection of livelihood courses that would be helpful and available to her.
- The female applicant will then undergo and complete these trainings before they can get endorsement to NRCO for the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Livelihood Assistance Program.
- Upon endorsement to NRCO, the applicant will be subjected to NRCO’s assessment and evaluation before they process the funding required for the applicant’s Livelihood Starter Kits.
- The applicant will then be endorsed to the DOLE Regional Office closest to where they intend to put up the livelihood project or to the OWWA Regional Welfare Office (RWO), whichever applies.
- A staff at the OWWA Regional Welfare Office will then deliver the rest of the inclusions of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program kits, including the starter kit, to the displaced OFWs registered home address so they may start putting up their desired livelihood project.
The Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is implemented primarily as a livelihood assistance initiative collaboration between the POLO, DOLE, and OWWA. The process starts with POLO initiating the training and assistance before the distressed and displaced female applicants are handed over to DOLE via NRCO. While at POLO, the staff will ensure that the necessary training will be available for female applicants at the MWOFRC.
They will also ensure that the beneficiaries are well-equipped to prepare a business plan by subjecting the applicant to training that will help them do so. The training will be facilitated by TESDA and other training institutions, depending upon the applicants’ identified livelihood project.
The POLO will also make sure that the female worker would have their business plans ready and submitted for assessment of the director and as one of the requirements for graduating from training. The submission of the business plan will also guarantee that the women trainees will receive the POLO Certificate of Training on Livelihood Skills and Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship and Business Planning. Then they will be handed over to DOLE.
Once they are handed over to DOLE, the applicants will receive even more training, though this time, they are more tailor-made to the livelihood project they intend to venture at and start a business with. All completed training comes with certificates that the female OFWs can use later on, be it in their desired ventures or for future work.
The training expenses will be shared between DOLE and OWWA, as stated in the POLO Work and Financial plan for the program. It is also the DOLE and the OWWA who will issue the repatriated women migrant workers with a Claim Voucher for the program benefits. POLO, on the other hand, will submit a report to the Labor Attache who will then sign it off to the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) and International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) after the applicants complete the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program activities.
Video: Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay Program Beneficiaries Talk About What the Program did for them
If you find the guidelines above just a teensy bit overwhelming or a bit hard to understand, then you’d probably find these actual stories of success about how the DOLE-NRCO program, Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Livelihood Assistance Program helped change their lives upon their return to the Philippines.
In this video, you’ll get to meet Marisol Baquiran, a former OFW from Singapore, whose life changed after learning Bread and Pastry Making with the help of DOLE-NRCO Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. There’s also the story of the former nurse, Levita Calabines. who took the same training course as Baquiran, as well as that of Mary Joy Javier, a former domestic helper from HongKong, who now aspires to share what she learned while studying Massage Therapy under the same DOLE-NRCO program.
Watch their story as told by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in this video here:
Frequently Asked Questions
To ensure that you are not wasting time going back and forth with questions that can otherwise be addressed in this guide, we rounded up the most common ones about the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program especially for you.
Here are some of the common questions you’d probably want answered regarding the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program:
1. What is Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program and what does it entail?
The Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is a collaborative livelihood initiative between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA). It was especially designed for distressed or displaced female OFWs and is intended to help them reintegrate into the society with a living, especially if they do not intend on going back to work abroad again in the future.
Under the program, priority is given to the eligible female OFWs who were victims of hostilities and conflicts, sexual and physical abuse, exploitation, illegal recruitment, and other circumstances that madeit difficult for them to continue working in their host countries. This also includes the female migrant workers housed and sheltered by the POLO via the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers (MWOFRC).
2. What are the major benefits of availing the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program?
Some of the benefits that eligible female OFW beneficiaries can avail of under the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program include:
- Assistance to remedy and to recover lost property and assets, unpaid outstanding wages, pensions, and regular immigration status.
- Providing assistance to female OFWs so they may either go home to the Philippines or continue engaging in their host-State’s reconstruction efforts.
- Assistance in the recognition, records, registration, and assessment of repatriated female migrants’ needs and skills.
- Provision of immediate support for reintegration and employment or income regeneration purposes, which includes cash, livelihood, and medical assistance.
- Provision for certification and recognition of all skills, education, and training the repatriated OFWs have previously acquired abroad.
- Skills development and livelihood assistance amounting to Php 10,000.00, and divided between training costs (Php 2,500.00) and business starter kits (Php 7,500.00).
- Non revocable skills and business development training and certificates that the displaced or distressed OFWs may eventually use should they fail at their chosen livelihood venture and decide to work again.
3. Can OFW men avail the Balik Pinay! program?
No, since the program is exclusively designed and awarded only to female displaced or distressed OFWs. For men or those women who do not like the provisions of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, a separate yet similar program called the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is also available with highly similar benefits and provisions, albeit the total amount of the grant can be a bit higher, ranging from Php 5,000.00 to Php 20,000.00 depending on the type of applicant.
4. I’m a distressed Pinay OFW, and I already received my benefits from Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. Can I still avail the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program?
No. Unfortunately, like most other OWWA grants and livelihood assistance programs, the requirements and benefits are typically similar and the qualifications are almost the same so it is not allowed. These two – the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program and the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Programs – in particular, are almost exactly the same in terms of provisions and qualifications, with the exception that the Balik Pinay! Program is exclusively designed for women so you can only choose to apply for and avail of one of these programs.
5. Can I still avail and apply for this program even if I’m already in the Philippines?
Yes, you may still try to inquire and avail of the benefits of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. Simply visit the nearest OWWA Regional Welfare Office or the DOLE Regional Office nearest to you to learn about the requirements and qualifications. Just make sure to check if your length of stay in the Philippines is also still covered by the program before doing anything else.
6. Is the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program the same as the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program?
No. The two are both livelihood programs intended to help repatriated distressed or displaced OFWs, yes. Both programs even run with almost the same name, qualifications, and even requirements. Both are not loans either. But, no, these are two very different programs. Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is exclusively for female OFWs whereas the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program can be availed by both active and inactive OWWA members as well as undocumented OFWs who were repatriated and unable to continue working abroad or finish their contract for various reasons.
7. My contract as an OFW ended completely and I’m now back in the Philippines. Can I avail of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program benefits?
No. Though it is okay for female OFWs in the Philippines who have been repatriated, distressed,or displaced to apply for the benefits and livelihood assistance offered under the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, the same doesn’t apply to female OFWs who successfully finished their contracts.
8. Is the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program a loan program?
No. The Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program is not a loan. Just like the benefits from the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, there is no need to pay OWWA back for the cash aid received under this program.
9. I still have more questions about the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. To whom should I reach out for more information?
For concerns or inquiries regarding the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, the female OFW applicants wishing to avail the benefits of the program may visit the NRCO website or reach out to them via phone or by sending an email. They may also visit the DOLE-NRCO offices or the nearest OWWA RWO or DOLE Regional Offices nationwide. For those who are still abroad, they may reach out to the designated Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) near them so they may find options about how to keep their lives better even after they return to the country.
For four years now, the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program has continuously helped repatriated female OFWs who have been distressed or displaced from their jobs abroad for various reasons. There are over 4,000 beneficiaries who have successfully availed of the help that the DOLE-NRCO continues to give via the program.
It seems to be a success, given that it is indeed very important that these Filipinas get the assistance and knowledge through training so they can start living back home and continue their lives with as little socio-economic vulnerability as possible, especially since they’re already unfortunate victims of circumstances or situations during their stints abroad.
It is especially important as the program benefits help these Filipina OFWs keep their passion and interest burning, allowing them to keep dreaming and achieving by investing and growing themselves in the process of training provided specifically for them. After all, life is expected to continue despite the situation or circumstances that made them return to the Philippines. With the provisions of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! program, these female migrant workers can have a shot at restarting their lives back home with a chance of self-employment in the community.
Sure, they have lost the chance to a clearly bright future that working abroad promises both for the OFW and their families, but coming home to the benefits of the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program means they can restart and this time, somewhere closer to home with the very family they intend to support.
The payback may not be as huge as when they are working abroad but at the very least, it is their own livelihood project to nurture and grow in whatever direction they see fit. Plus, it’s free startup capital that you can invest and reinvest to your heart’s content. You also no longer need to worry about being mistreated, getting underpaid, getting sexually, physically, or verbally abused, or even exploited at your own home so there’s nothing that could be better than that.
NRCO Contact Information
In case you need to learn more about the program or any of the other programs that they have for repatriated OFWs, then here’s their complete contact information:
National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)
Address: Ground Floor Blas F. Ople Development Center (Old OWWA Building), Corner Solana and Victoria Streets, Intramuros, Manila
Contact Person: Gerald “Dindi” M. Tan -Director IV
Tel. No.: 8527-6184 8526-2633 (Telefax) ; 8526-2392
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dole.nrco