The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) recently concluded the 2023 BaLinkBayan Stakeholders Conference at Hotel Casiana in Tagaytay, Cavite, from November 23-24, 2023. The event brought together 58 representatives from 25 local government units (LGUs) and four Filipino associations overseas (FAOs).

Against the picturesque backdrop of Tagaytay, Secretary Romulo V. Arugay, CFO Chairperson, expressed warm gratitude to BaLinkBayan project partners for their unwavering commitment to recognizing Filipino migrants as essential allies in the different facets of national development. He stressed, “kayo pong lahat na aming partner-stakeholders ay mahalagang bahagi ng tagumpay, hindi lamang sa pagpapatupad ng BaLinkBayan Project, ngunit lalong-lalo na po sa pagpapanatili at pagpapalakas ng ating ugnayan sa ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa at sa pag-unlad ng kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino sa ating bansa.”

This year’s conference featured a diverse array of speakers, including government officials and industry experts, who explored topics such as digital innovations, technology trends, project monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and content creation to enhance partner capacities.

On the first day of the program, Asec. Venecio V. Legaspi, Assistant Secretary for Reintegration from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), presented the Philippine government’s full-cycle reintegration efforts to capacitate returning Filipino migrants. Mr. Tirso Raymond Gutierrez, Chief of Staff of Undersecretary David Almirol of the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Office of the E-Government, outlined DICT’s pursuit of system interoperability among government agencies, aligning with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s priority bill, House Bill No. 7327, or the E-Governance Act.

Addressing the feminization of Philippine international migration, Mr. Michael Apattad of the CFO Gender Focal Point System-Technical Working Group (GFPS-TWG) emphasized the importance of incorporating gender mainstreaming advocacies into local government programs. Meanwhile, Ms. Patricia Marie Salvador, BaLinkBayan Project Officer, introduced PESO Sense, a CFO initiative aimed at enhancing financial literacy among Overseas Filipinos (OFs). She also discussed the Overseas Filipino Centenarian Program, which provides incentives for OFs reaching the age of 100 or older.

On the second day of the conference, Ms. Joie Cruz, founder and CEO of Limitless Labs, offered two innovative solutions to address common challenges in the government: the GreatGov GPT Policy Drafter and Resilient LGUs. Mr. Cleve Arguelles, President and CEO of WR Numero Research, delved into the importance of project monitoring and evaluation for impactful outcomes.

Ms. Nory Jame Tiñana, Head of SME Channels for Tonik Digital Bank, showcased the advantages of digital banking through Tonik, the first all-digital bank in the Philippines licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Lastly, Ms. Katherine Joy Villas, Creative Director from Canva Creatives Philippines, demonstrated the benefits of using Canva for content creation, including its simple drag-and-drop interface, a vast array of ready-made templates, an option for real-time collaboration, and various AI tools.

The event concluded with a moderated open forum, a raffle draw, and closing remarks from Dir. Marita del Rosario-Apattad, BaLinkBayan Project Manager. Dir. Del Rosario-Apattad expressed appreciation to speakers, partners, and Secretary Arugay, concluding with hope for the continued flourishing of the shared journey toward a connected and empowered Filipino diaspora.

The 2023 BaLinkBayan Stakeholders Conference was attended by LGUs in Aklan Province, Bacoor City, Bataan Province, Batangas Province, Bayambang, Pangasinan, Cabanatuan City, Camarines Norte Province, Carmona City, Cordova, Cebu, Cuenca, Batangas, Guinobatan Municipality, Ilocos Norte Province, Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Lapu Lapu, Legazpi City, Ligao City, Los Baños Municipality, Quezon City, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Tagbilaran City, Tarlac City, Tarlac Province, and Tayug City; Filipino associations overseas Association of Fil-Am Teachers in America (AFTA), Kalayaan Cultural Community Center (KCCC), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) – Qatar, and United Architects of the Philippines – Singapore Chapter (UAPS); Philippine government agency Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA); experts on project management, financial strategies, and content creation representing Canva, Limitless Lab, Tonik Digital Bank, Inc., and WR Numero Research; focal persons from CFO Project Management Division (PMD), Management Information Systems Division (MISD), Policy Planning and Research Division (PPRD), and Office of the Secretary (OSEC).

The CFO conducts a stakeholders’ conference annually since the inception of the BaLinkBayan Web Portal Project in 2013 to touch base with its project partners, ensuring the effective implementation of the program. It also aims to furnish them with valuable knowledge resources for optimizing their localized websites and serve as a platform for LGUs and FAOs to exchange best practices for promoting migrant engagement in their respective localities.

The BaLinkBayan is an initiative of the agency to strengthen partnerships between the Filipino diaspora and local communities and fuel Philippine economic development. For more information on the BaLinkBayan Web Portal Project, visit

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