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9 October 2005, Hong Kong - Microsoft Philippines and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), today honor the first batch of graduates of their Tulay: an Unlimited Potential program for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong.

Seventy-four students were recognized in a graduation ceremony conducted at the Empire Hotel in Wan Chai, Hong Kong where they had Honorable Corazon Belmonte-Jover, Philippine Consul-General for Hong Kong, OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque and Labor Attache Bernardino Julve as guests of honor.

The participants, mostly domestic helpers, were taught basic information technology (IT) skills. They were given lectures and hands-on training on basic computer fundamentals, applications such as Word, Excel and Internet fundamentals. The program aims to give OFWs access to both technology and technology training in the hope that this will give them the skills to find better employment opportunities as well as help bridge the physical divide between the workers and their families in the Philippines.

"Microsoft recognizes the sacrifices our overseas Filipino workers do when they decide to leave their families and lives behind to find a better jobs abroad. Their experiences and stories served as our inspiration for coming up with Tulay. We want our OFWs to be able to feel home even when they are away through the technology that we can provide," said Edwin Boon, Microsoft Philippines marketing director.

"Today, with the advent of technology, one could be communicating real-time oblivious to the thousands of miles that separate them. This, we believe, is what makes technology a tool that spurs the essence of relationships," Boon added.
The Tulay program benefited departing and on-site Filipino migrants as well as to the family members of the migrants who are in the Philippines. They were are the opportunity to communicate via email and web camera which are more economical than phone calls or SMS communication.

According to OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque, "Microsoft understands the needs of our "kababayans" abroad and we are thankful that they have partnered with us in order to further meet their needs. With the technology grant they've provided, more and more OFWs were able to connect to their families. Aside from that, they were also able to gain additional knowledge on IT which will open opportunities of finding better employment."

Tulay is part of Microsoft Unlimited Potential, a global initiative focused on providing technology skills for underserved individuals. Recipients of UP grants are public centers where people can gain IT skills and training to help themselves and their communities.

Named after the Filipino word "bridge", Tulay aims to provide virtual bridges which is not only a connection between families and friends located in different continents but assurance of the continuing relationships and strengthening of bonds. There are currently six Tulay centers in different Asian countries including Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines.
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