VILLANUEVA, Misamis Oriental—Why is it that despite a growing economy, majority of Filipino daily wage-earners, especially those in communities where banking institutions are absent, are still powerless to uplift their economic status?
This is the question often asked by development workers and their answers are as varied and colorful as their institutions, their programs and projects are.
But for the folks at Balay Mindanaw Group (BMG) of non-government organizations, the answer is a simple “lack of savings”, for which reason the Bangko sa Balay Foundation, Inc. (BBFI) was born in 2007.
BBFI’s definition of help is not pushing or pulling clients to do something but accompanying clients in their daily endeavor.
“Walay guyoron sa ato kay mas maayo nga abay ta pagtrabaho (No one is pulled because it’s much better that we are side-by-side),” stressed Amorelle “Amor” Rejas, BBFI Villanueva Branch manager.
Nine years after and with the establishment of another branch in this industrial and farming municipality of Misamis Oriental, BBFI still puts a premium on “savings” as a means to empower farmers, fisherfolks, housewives and daily wage-earners become nation-builders.
“Karong yugtu-a sa atong eonomiya, gatubo ang ekonomiya sa Pilipinas ug daghan unta kapaninguhaan. Apan kanang kapaninguhaan kung dili maabayan ug masagulan og pagtigum masayang lang gihapon…Bisan daghan ug klaro ang investments ug pagtubo sa ekonomiya, dili gihapon makasikad ang mga tawo kay walay tigum (At this stage of our economy, the economy of the Philippines is growing and sources of livelihood abound. But jobs, if not joined and mixed with savings, will still be a waste…Even if there are many investments and the economy is growing, people are still powerless because they have no savings),” stressed Ariel “Ayi” Hernandez, BBFI managing director.
Unlike other banks or microfinance institutions, BBFI encourages every client to open a savings account with BBFI to ensure that he/she has something for the future and not just depend on loans during emergencies.
“Ang pamaagi sa BBFI dili lang ta taman sa hulam-bayad. Sa ato, hulam-bayad-tigum (Here at BBFI, it’s not just about loan-payment. With us, its loan-payment-savings),” said Amorelle “Amor” Rejas, Villanueva Branch manager.
According to Joel “Jong” Zamayla, BBFI Carmen, CDO Branch manager, some of their clients started depositing Php10 but on a regular basis.
“Mas maayo magsugod sa ginagmay pero kanunay (It’s better to start small but regularly),” he said, adding: “Dili ta ga-focus sa atong income. Gaabay ta sa mga kliyente para makatabang ta kanila (We do not focused on our income. We accompany our clients so we can help them).”
To emphasize the importance of savings, Zamayla narrated his personal experience of being able to buy a 600 sq.m. lot in Laguindingan from the Php500 savings he set aside from his salary every month for five years.
“I bought the lot for Php100,000. Now, it is worth more than Php400,000,” said.
Hernandez also stressed that their savings was what enabled him and other Sendong victims like Rejas to bounce back after the tragedy.
“Panahon kung adunay natural disaster, masakit sa pamilya…kung walay tiniguman, pwerte jud lisura. Busa, goal sa BBFI nga matudluan ang mga tawo sa pag tigum ug pag invest (In times of disaster or sickness in the family…without savings it is very difficult. That is why our goal at BBFI is to teach people how to save and how to invest),” he said.
To encourage savings, BBFI is offering clients its Kalambuan Savings. For a minimum of Php1,000 a client can open a time deposit at an interest rate of 7% per annum.
“Kanang Php1,000 maulaw ta og deposit ana sa commercial banks. Pero diri sa ato, pwede kaayo sa time deposit (We are ashamed to deposit Php1,000 at commercial banks. But with us, that is very possible for time deposit),” said Rejas.
The Kalambuan Savings is just one of many other “savings” scheme BBFI has for its clients, such as voluntary savings, compulsory savings, progressive savings, kiddie savings, and DREAM savings (for disaster or emergencies). (Bong D. Fabe)