There’s a new app in town. Compass Ph is a smart phone and web app developed by Filipino brothers Nicki and Mikhail Agcaoili, whose hearts are close to migrant justice. They said that the essence of Compass is to empower Filipino migrants before, during and after their journey. “To bring them the safety and refuge that the migrants needed [sic] and bring them safely back home”.
In the last ten years, global migrants have become tech savvy and leading users of smartphones and social media. Thus, a user-friendly migrant application like Compass which is easy to install and ready to use is a migrant’s friend, a lifesaver and a home away from home. The new application can be downloaded for free from the App Store and the Google Play Store. It has two main features. The first and most important feature of the app is the “SOS” button. The other is the “Community Service Feature”.
The SOS is an emergency response button. For migrant workers who find themselves in an emergency or precarious situation, they can press this button. It would generate a four-digit code to verify that they need help and did not accidentally press the button. Once the code is verified, the alert will immediately be sent to a partner organization where the migrant is located. According to Nicki Agcaoili, “the alert would go to our CMS or Content Management System. Through that we will be able to track kung nasaan sila. This is the same technology being used by Uber”.“We will contact the partner organizations para makapag-deploy sila ng tulong”, Agcaoili added. What’s exciting though is that all this is happening in real time.
The Community Service Feature is for non-emergency situations. Migrants can ask questions through Compass partner organizations. It can become a community chat room. Another special feature is an audio and video option which allows migrants to conduct audio and video calls. They can also send load for cellphones, and direct remittances to families or schools. The Agcaoili brothers thought it important that migrant parents have a close link with their children’s schools and be able to pay their tuition directly.
Compass Ph recognized the necessity to have a “one stop shop” for the needs of migrants, from relevant news and information, to other services and programs. It aims to unify Filipinos and uphold their quality of life wherever they may be. “We can do this by conveniently giving access to services and features that are truly relevant to migrants, their families, friends and potential employers”.
Currently there are approximately ten million Filipinos abroad living and working in 170 countries. That number translates to approximately 6000 Filipinos leaving to work abroad everyday. For some,migration from the Philippines has become a way of life, in order to find a better life and be able to survive. For the Philippine government, it is a source of income. Globally, Filipinos send approximately US$25 billion annually. For Filipinos in Canada, part of that would be US$1.2 Billion yearly. The Philippine government on the other hand, fell short in providing timely and quality services. Thus, the development of Compass is much needed. It would hopefully fill in the service provision gaps.
“We have the ability to be funded by the government, but our team decided to veer away from that. Dahil ayaw naming ma-tie up at alam naman natin ang burukra sya sa gobyerno,” Agcaoili said. “We want to stay true to our vision and we can only do that through advertising, partnerships and transactional commissions kasi madami pa kaming features nalalabas,” he added.
Migrante International, a global alliance of migrant organizations around the world is one of the many partners of Compass Ph. The organization acted in the capacity of a consultant in the formative stages of the app. Sol Pajadura, the Chairperson of Migrante Canada said “This is truly beneficial for all migrants. It would allow all Filipino migrants in all parts of the world to connect and also be mindful of one another”.
The Compass Ph app might just make its mark on how global Filipinos communicate on the Internet.