How to Begin the “EDSA Evolution” in North America and Fund It

by Bobby Reyes

| Photo by DaNieLooP via Creative Commons/Flickr

Part II of an “EDSA Evolution in North America” series.

I suggest we begin the “EDSA Evolution” by reviving the Pensionado Program instituted by the U.S. in the Philippines in the early 1900s. If young scions of OFWs and Overseas Filipinos do not know its history, I wrote a brief backgrounder in May 2007.

QUOTE. David Barrows, the director of education in the Philippines from 1902 to 1908, stressed academic curriculum. He also inaugurated a program for talented young Filipinos to study in the United States. The Filipino students were called pensionados, the first 100 sailing for the United States in October 1903. More and more Filipino high-school valedictorians and salutatorians were sent to the United States for college education every year. For those who managed to excel, an additional opportunity to earn masters and even doctorate degrees. UNQUOTE.

After earning their degrees, the pensionados were required to return to the Philippines and work for the American colonial authorities. And eventually, for the Philippine Commonwealth government.

We need to organize a modest Student Loan Fund (SLF) mechanism that may advance the cost of education in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico and all other expenses — from travel to board and lodging, textbooks, uniforms, etc. All the recipients will have to repay their loans — as soon as they are already gainfully employed in North America.

The SLF can be organized both as a cooperative (co-op) and a foundation, as the other entity to receive grants and donations from rich Overseas Filipino donors and more prominent foundations. The project’s accountants may discuss with the donors. Including juridical persons. The implications and details about tax-reduction or deductible benefits allowed by the federal and state laws. And incorporate them in the required feasibility studies.

“We need to organize a modest Student Loan Fund (SLF) mechanism that may advance the cost of education in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico and all other expenses — from travel to board and lodging, textbooks, uniforms, etc.”

The other step is to organize for-profit corporations or co-ops — as may be determined by an OFW/Overseas Filipino Nation’s Economic-Advisory Council (NEAC), for want of a better acronym). And approved by the co-op members or stakeholders. It will not be hard to persuade co-op members to pool their resources in establishing mutual funds — as long as the ATIC principles I coined in 2000 are followed strictly to the letter. ATIC stands for Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, and Credibility. Filipino-American financial whiz kids, lawyers, and accountants (plus the NEAC members) can easily handle the paperwork and establish all the safeguards needed to make the transactions above board, to use an oft-quoted saying.

The business operations or ventures that the co-op members can establish will require business plans and feasibility studies. But as an ideas man, I registered several domain names (as they are the fastest and inexpensive way to protect the ideas, aside from the more expensive methods of patents, trademarks, or copyrights).

This columnist has registered many domain names. And among them are www.herbalixir.com (combining herbal with the elixir of life), www.cacao0.com (cacao products with the figure “0” for zero trans-fat, zero bad cholesterol, no-added-sugar, zero preservatives, and zero other chemical additives), and www.drrizal.com (an ideal name for a health-maintenance organization named after the Filipino foremost national hero and first medical OFW).

“The other step is to organize for-profit corporations or co-ops — as may be determined by an OFW/Overseas Filipino Nation’s Economic-Advisory Council (NEAC), for want of a better acronym). And approved by the co-op members or stakeholders.”

The herbal industry is yet to reach its true potential. Not too many people know that cannabis belongs to the herb family. Cannabis is now legal as a pain killer and a recreational substance, although the U.S. federal government has not yet removed its ban on its use or distribution. But some 31 states have conferred legal status on the cultivation of cannabis and use as medicine. There are now mini-industries involved in cloning the plant (for sale to growers), the manufacture of concentrates, oils, edibles, and other products. The pharmaceutical industry is quietly lobbying the American policy and decision-makers to drop off the federal prohibitions against cannabis.

In the matter of cacao, the Philippines grows it. And Europeans first got to taste chocolate when they invaded and conquered Mexico and other Central and South American countries. West Africa is the current biggest producer of cacao beans but is mired in pandemics, civil wars, and ethnic clashes. Thanks to the group headed by Numeriano Bouffard, the Filipino Melting Pot has established a beachhead in Mexico with the coming Pueblo Filipino retirement, cultural, and sporting projects. Filipinos can help Mexicans (their historical cousin-like friends) reclaim their status as the world’s biggest supplier of cacao beans and cacao products.

“We can turn “LINUS” into a slogan. It can mean, “Let’s Invest Now in the U.S. (and then the rest of North America will follow).” And profits from the ventures in North America can provide lots of security for nearly a 100-million Filipinos in the Philippines.”

Mr. Bouffard is the president of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida. He also heads the Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) Foundation, Inc.

Last weekend, I posted a note about Linus Van Pelt in the Philippine Daily Mirror Facebook Group (and other Facebook sites). He is the fictional character in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. He is usually shown with his security blanket. Schultz, the character’s creator has said of the Linus: “Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well-informed which, I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity.”

But many OFWs and Overseas Filipinos do not “contribute to feelings of insecurity.”

On the contrary, Overseas Filipinos and OFWs provide the “security blankets” of multitudes of Filipino families that often live below the poverty line in the homeland.

And now I can post this added note: We can turn “LINUS” into a slogan. It can mean, “Let’s Invest Now in the U.S. (and then the rest of North America will follow).” And profits from the ventures in North America can provide lots of security for nearly a 100-million Filipinos in the Philippines.

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