x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bankers relaunch debt help and advice group for UAE Filipinos

Organisations puts workshops together to help Filipinos ease the financial burdens of borrowing and debt.

DUBAI // Expert help is available to Filipinos facing problems with loans and credit-card debt.

The Pinoy Bankers Organisation offers advice and teaches those in trouble how to ease their financial burdens and clear debt.

"Many Filipinos are in deep financial trouble for not paying their debts," said Ronald Hullana, 30, the founder and president of the organisation. "Banks offered large loans but the money was not used wisely. Some obtained loans which they could not repay and interest simply piled up."

Mr Hullana was keen to revive the group, which had been inactive for two years.

"In 2011, the group became idle due to a lack of projects and activities to make the members active," he said. "We failed to generate funds and our planned activities did not come to fruition."

He stressed that "a debt is a debt that must be paid. It is a responsibility that you cannot escape from".

But he added: "We can make some arrangements or a system that is doable to all."

Mr Hullana formed the group in December 2008 to forge links with colleagues in the banking industry and advise indebted Filipinos on how better to manage their money.

In 2009 and 2010, the group held financial literacy workshops for Filipinos, along with job fairs to help members who were victims of the banking and finance sectors.

But the early enthusiasm and commitment among the members of the group waned, said Norman Rafanan, 47, a mid-level manager at a bank in Abu Dhabi and one of the group's founders.

"There was some sort of herd mentality," he said. "Everyone wanted to join the group."

Mr Hullana agreed: "We just had too many members. At one point, we had 600 members from across the country but later the number dropped to 480 because of redundancies within the banking sector."

There are between 1,200 and 1,500 Filipinos in the UAE employed in the banking industry, Mr Hullana said.

The group will now focus on "quality instead of quantity" of membership, Mr Rafanan said.

"We would like our group to become more cohesive," said Jeffrey Magno Rano, 28, a senior collections officer at a Dubai bank. "Ronald is so passionate and committed and deserves our full support."

rruiz@thenational.ae