Self-fulfillment and sharing of abundant blessings are two relying factors that make the volunteers alive in this multi-awarded Filipino organization.
The Filipino Digerati Association or better known as Digerati was founded by Engr. Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi, Justino A. Arciga, Sr., Arnel G. Ramos, Rizalina Abuel, Lani B. Braga-Reyes, Willy Aguilar, Lilian Bautista, Granel Juanay and Arlene Pulido.
Its legal existence in UAE started after the oath taking ceremony of the founding Executive Committee held at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai on December 28, 2007. Its founders were bounded with one thought in mind – to fill the gap between Filipinos and technology in Dubai and Northern Emirates and create an impact to Filipino community through sharing and volunteerism works in the field of technology, personal and personal development.
As a non-profit organization, it operates under the auspices of Philippine Consulate General (PCG), Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Dubai. In its fold are volunteer trainers who have come from various backgrounds such as Department Heads of universities and colleges, Dean of AMA University, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Business Woman Award 2008 awardee, professional trainers, Microsoft Certified Professionals, Microsoft Office Specialists – Expert Level, Microsoft Certified Trainers and Company Managers and Telecom Senior Engineers.
The association is purely volunteering in nature and all serve during their off days from respective jobs. All activities are done in no relation to professional work or careers of volunteers.
FDA chairperson Lilian Bautista said they seek to recruit and retain highly qualified volunteer-trainers who do premium research that benefit students, and members. “We shall establish and maintain close community involvement through Digerati, UAE and Philippine government and other community clubs rigid interactions to address various issues within the community as a whole.”
For six years, the group made remarkable strides – the graduates grew to about 17,000; from the original one branch to five branches in UAE; from 8 courses to more than 30 courses currently offered; from original 18 volunteers to about 100 circa active volunteers in the current year.
Since 2005, it issued more than 2500 certificates on various computer disciplines.
The sacrifices of all volunteers were recognized when FDA garnered the “Banaag Award” at The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. By winning, FDA now holds the title as the first and only Filipino organization in the UAE to receive such prestigious award and even more when personally awarded by His Excellency President Benigno Aquino at the Malacanang Palace last December 2012.
Excellence Among Filipinos
The motto that brings Digerati to greater heights is “Connecting Filipinos through Technologies.” Digerati members are keen to the goals of the organization and all volunteers are genuine to go for the objective. Hence, the club continues to strive and reach out to all Filipinos in UAE and provides free services through sharing knowledge about digital technologies, personal and professional developments.
True to its mission, it offers high-quality computing, office procedural, speaking and personal development programs that help students and members to further promote and advance careers in all professions.
“We are also being invited by professional and non-professional organizations to conduct a free training workshops to their organizations, we are doing fund raising to help distressed Filipinos in Dubai, Outreach Program, participate in the yearly Independence Day and Bayanihan Festival.”
Digerati is determined to strive and uphold its mission of excellence for a common goal among Filipinos through proficient development in computer literacy, foster solidarity among Filipino communities, and Philippine Government though continuous support to any project initiated by the latter, and advocate with the escalation of unity and help to supplement the development of the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.
FDA expects that the group will prosper and grow even more in no time. Qualified and technically inclined trainers are growing, too. Hence, scouting of additional venues would be necessary in the near future. Good option is to bring FDA trainings to a Filipino-dominated area, rather than the Filipinos to go to FDA venues which might be considered ‘far’ for them.
Currently, FDA is strategically situated in different emirates to reach out more of Filipinos and with five (5) operational branches:
Crystal Hotel (Near Megamall) Sharjah, UAE
Pastry Chef Café and Restaurant Ajman, UAE
Al Ain Mavens
Al Barjeel Restaurant Town Square, Al Ain, UAE
2nd Floor, Business Village Deira, Dubai, UAE
Ras Al Khaimah Stars
Zein Hotel, Nakheel Road, Road, RAK, UAE
However, being a non-profit, non-political organization, FDA is surviving only with a very limited resource. Despite of this, officers will not compromise the quality of trainings and services offered to members. With the help of few sponsors, Digerati aims to purchase new training equipments (projectors and laptops), add more training venues and/or shift to better locations. This will indeed cater to the fast-growing population of FDA.
Focus on courses in-demand, is as important as the locations. Digerati leaders always seek for improvements and add new courses for learning advancement. Technically-inclined trainers opted to focus on technologies, and administrative/relationship/recruitment experts focus on personality development and improvements.
“For this year 2014, new courses are in line. For some, course manuals are in preparation; others are under discussion. Whenever ready, these will be implemented and be offered to all members, volunteers included. Additional and continuous assistance by the trainers to members are also provided even outside training sessions and workshops. The catch is to provide quality training to all members,” Bautista said.
Nonetheless, an extended program focused on livelihood courses is also offered due to the global economic crises that hit most of Overseas Filipino Workers since the last few years. Purpose is to help and support those who are greatly affected by the recession, and somehow help their respective families back home indirectly. It is absolutely rewarding to see members elevate themselves into a higher position and acquire better status in life.
Digerati is not only for members alone, but also spares time for external affairs. There are exchange programs, inter-organization support to causes and advocacies. Volunteers help the needy in cash or in kind, and organize community services such as Clean-Up Drives, Walk-For-A-Cause, and many more. Digerati also continues the “Lapis at Papel” project by sending of few boxes of school supplies to the Philippine schools through Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO).
Dissemination of information, through any form of advertisement or simply word of mouth, is indeed a big help. As long as the organization is doing and showing its best, volunteers and members will walk hand-in-hand to success.
Engr. Mary Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi
Engr. Justino Arciga, Sr.
Arnel G. Ramos
Rizalina R. Abuel
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Chairman – Engr. Lilian Bautista
Vice Chairman – Mr. Wilfredo Aguilar
Member of the Board
Ms. Maria Lani Braga-Reyes
Ms. Arlene Pulido
Mr. Granel Juanay