Social remittance as a concept is not something new in the Filipino diaspora. In the 1800’s, considering the novels of Dr. Jose Rizal and the writings from the La Solidaridad by Filipino heroes, we see that their ideas paved the way for a revolution. In the 21st century, blogging is the new form of social remittance of Filipinos working and living abroad. Through their blogs they are publishing their stories online to inspire others. They also advocate causes, help others and muster support from their readers to help effect change in their own little ways.
For more than 30 years Filipinos has been in constant motion for greener pastures due to poverty and limited job opportunities in the country. Today the unemployment rate is still high at 7.2%, not to dismiss that among those employed many considered themselves underemployed. Diaspora is more than a phenomenon; it is a necessity when Filipinos migrate to work or reside permanently in the West and other developed countries.
Social remittance was a term coined by sociologist Peggy Levitt in her book The Transnational Villagers, published in 2001. She describes it as the ideas, practices, identities and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities. She describes social remittances being transferred by migrants and refugees that are exchanged by letters or other forms of communication that includes phone, fax, the internet or video. She suggests that social remittance affects family relations, gender roles, class and race identity, and it has a substantial impact on political, economic and religious participation.
Levitt and Lamba Nieves in their work on Social Remittances Revisited criticize the failure of on-going researches on diaspora to recognize, “How social remittances are deployed collectively in organizational settings, and their impact on institution building and governance are not well understood. Moreover, much of the research on idea and skill transfers focuses on professional rather than labor migrant.”
With globalization, Filipino migrants are beginning to realize the power of harnessing the potential of social remittance. They are the students pursuing a higher education, professionals in white collar jobs or common and ordinary migrant workers doing blue collar jobs. Most of them are out of the country for some economic goals and aspirations. But they continue to think of contributing and giving back not only to their families but of making their motherland a better place to live.
This year the Pinoy Expat/OFW Blog Awards or PEBA 2011 is geared to recognize these plans and contributions of Filipino bloggers abroad. This year’s theme is dubbed as "Ako'y Magbabalik, Hatid Ko'y Pagbabago." (I Will Return; I Will Bring Change.) As Balikbayan, not only their monetary remittances are invested, but also their social remittance are put to use.
This year’s blog contest will look into narratives about how returning Expats/OFW will make use and share their social remittance or their talents, skills and fortunes to bring change to their families, communities and country. Expats/OFW bloggers who will be joining the contest will be required to write a blog entry on the said theme. There is also an ongoing blog contest for OFW supporters to blog about their memorable experiences gained from the homecoming or return of a Balik-bayan family member, relative or friend.
For this year, PEBA opens a new blog search called “PEBA’s Any Blogger, Anywhere” for all Filipinos who blogs on different topics in recognition of their global contribution for social change and phenomenal presence in blogosphere, be it on the field of advocacy and politics, health and well-being, finance, or travel among others.
Ayala Malls VIPinoy, a service and perks for overseas Filipinos and OFWs is the biggest sponsor of PEBA for 2011. Ayala Malls is providing Trinoma Activity Center as the venue for the awards nights on December 9, 2011. PEBA will exclusively invite some 200 guests. RSVP for invited guests can be made through VIPinoy Lounges in the different Ayala Malls.
PEBA is equally supported by one of its long time partners NOKIA and communication giant, Globe, through the auspices of its new product line, Globe Kababayan TipIDD Card.
The Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards 2011 believes that expats and OFWS should not only be recognized with the economic potential of their dollar remittances, PEBA also values the undervalued if not unvalued worth of their social remittances. This blog event is dedicated as a fitting tribute and appreciation of all expats and Filipino migrant workers of their social remittance through their blogs and photos.