The overseas Filipino frontliners braving the coronavirus to serve OFWs
MANILA, Philippines – While schools and offices worldwide are closed, delivery services limited to essentials, and restaurants restricted to takeouts, banks continue to stay open.
It’s especially important for OFWs who rely on remittance services to support their families in the Philippines who are under the enhanced community quarantine. Although it has become harder to send money overseas, some banks offer online options to ensure safe and quick transactions from anywhere around the world.
One of those banks that quickly adjusted to provide a new process of sending remittances is BDO. Get to know BDO’s Remittance Services frontliners who are tirelessly working to serve their fellow Filipinos.
Roldan Dela Fuente
Roldan Dela Fuente is one of the many overseas Filipinos who still needs to report for work despite the dangers of COVID-19. But he doesn’t mind. He is, after all, no stranger to hard work despite difficult working conditions. He grew up helping his family’s business in Tondo, Manila as a pedicab driver and a delivery boy. He also worked as a counter attendant for 7 years before deciding to leave the country for a better life.
“Lahat tayo may purpose so ang purpose ko is makadating nang safe sa family nila yung perang padala nila. Sa trabaho kasi namin dapat matibay ka din emotionally and napaka importante ng empathy for you to perform your job properly (We all have a purpose. And my purpose is to ensure that the remittances will safely get to their families. Our job entails being emotionally strong and having empathy to perform well),” he said.
Banking personnel are important frontliners. They support households and provide assistance to businesses – many of whom are facing hardships because of coronavirus.
Dela Fuente feels happy serving his fellow Filipinos despite the outbreak. He knows that his efforts to assist them is appreciated whenever his clients start sharing their situation in UAE. “That’s the time I tell myself na ‘Good job, Dan! Dahil sa ginawa mo, they started trusting you na to the point that they’re sharing their life.’ Mas lalo ko silang naiintindihan and lalo ako nagiging humble and thankful sa kung ano ang meron ako ngayon (‘Good Job, Dan! They’re starting to share their life story with you because they trust you.’ I begin to understand them better and be more humble and thankful for whatever I have),” he said.
Jose Leonidas Almeda
Despite scaling back on operations to contain the spread of coronavirus, BDO Unibank remains steadfast in its commitment to serve OFWs around the world.
“What motivates me to work harder during this crisis is my commitment to serve the needs of our clients, some even are already my friends since I’ve been serving them for more than 16 years already. Now is the time to show them that despite the crisis, we, as BDO frontliners, will always assure them of our continued service and we are determined to overcome the challenges,” said Jose “Joel” Leonidas Almeda, Head of Asia Chinese Market and concurrent Head of BDO Remit Limited HK and BDO Remit Macau Office.
As an expat living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years and seeing how the city was able to overcome crisis after crisis (6 months of violent protests in 2019 and SARS epidemic in 2003), he’s confident that they’ll also survive this pandemic.
Almeda is also proactive in protecting his mental health. What helps him cope with all the bad news about coronavirus is constant communication with his family and friends. As long as there are OFWs in Hong Kong continuously sending remittances, he vows to stay right where he is to protect their hard-earned money.
For parents like Rogelio Leaño, it’s important to stay healthy not just to continue assisting his clients and remittance partners but also to protect his youngest child who’s staying with him in Oman.
He makes sure to use a face mask, sanitizer, and alcohol. He also strengthens his immune system by drinking vitamins and exercising. Working from home doesn't stop him from providing support especially to clients having a difficult time adjusting to the new process of sending remittances. “I explain through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp the remittance process using Bank Muscat's speed transfer facility during this outbreak especially to those clients who are used to sending money through cash pick-up services from our Exchange House partners,” he said.
Genie Gloria, SVP and Head of BDO Remittance said that she’s overwhelmed with the bravery and passion their employees are showing. Though their goal is to always be there for their clients, they also balance it out. They implement a skeletal workforce and provide their employees with face masks and disinfectants.
“This situation is unprecedented. Both areas are affected simultaneously, their place of work abroad and here in the Philippines. We’re all in the same boat,” said Gloria. “I’m sure they’re worried not only of their own safety but also the safety of their families here. But they don’t show it. They remain on their toes, they continue to report to us. They’re dedicated and professional.” – Rappler.com