Global Filipinos are going home, giving back: CFO

Jo Anne Coruña and her family. She left the Bay Area for the simpler life of Bacolod

Are ‘balikbayans’ now returning to the Motherland for good? Whether it’s for professional growth, familial ties, or personal relations, more and more Filipinos are now buying a one-way ticket back to the Philippines, according to the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO). And they’re not just talking about Manila.

Thirty-one-year-old social innovation consultant and artist Jo Anne Coruña, returned from seven years of studies and work in the U.S. Leaving the rest of her family in the Bay Area, Jo Anne came to the Philippines to give back to the country and start a family. Now, she, her husband, Dr. Chinkin Coruña, a top orthopedic surgeon, and their toddler daughter Sofia are enjoying the simpler life in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Professionally, Jo Anne works for Ashoka Philippines, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs through which she searches for Filipino changemakers that the foundation could support. In addition, Coruña was so inspired by the beauty and life in the Philippines, she even started the art portal,

“This is a trend that continues to increase, and that’s good news,” said Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas of the CFO. “The recent economic development in the Philippines is a trend booster.”

“While we appreciate the remittances of our kababayans abroad that contribute to the country’s GDP while helping support their families, their will to share their talents and passions within the homeland is their greatest gift,” she added.

As of December 2012, of the 10.5 million overseas Filipinos, 47 percent (or 4.9 million) are Permanent Migrants, 40 percent (or 4.2 million) are Temporary Migrants and 13 percent (or 1.36 million) are Irregular Migrants.

Silicon Valley visionary Dado Banatao

Silicon Valley visionary Dado Banatao spends a significant amount of time in helping the Philippines. As the chair of Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev), he works with the Philippine government and academe in creating R&D programs that build the foundation of a technology-driven economy.

The examples of Banatao and Coruña are exactly what CFO has been working for, said Nicolas. With its Diaspora to Development (or D2D) programs such as Alay Dunong (sharing knowledge and skills), Balik Turo (coming home to teach or mentor), foreign medical coordination, arts and educational exchanges, the commission offers every Filipino overseas reasons to go back and give back.

“It seems that they have heeded our call for the past five years,” said Nicolas. “Let’s go back and work together for the country. Let’s give back to the motherland.”

In line with this call, the CFO is issuing an invitation to the 3rd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora from February 25 to 27, 2015 in Manila with the theme “Vision and Action for the Diaspora, 2015 and Beyond.” The three-day session is expected to attract hundreds of Filipino community leaders from all over the world.

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