PH Freelancers Unite Once More for oDesk Contractors Appreciation Day

Filipino contractors all over the country gathered at Ang Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman yesterday, November 6, for this year’s oDesk meet-up dubbed as “oDesk Contractors Appreciation Day.”

This event was especially exciting for us here at the Gonzaga residence. It’s the first time my husband and I attended together for he was recognized as one of the top oDesk contractors in the Philippines. That alone hinted at a much more exciting conference prepared for the oDesk community this year.

The event started at 2PM and ended around 6PM. As expected, the conference was a huge success in that many of us were able to share in the joy of online work. As we met new and old faces and introduced ourselves to fellow contractors and members of the oDesk team, the Filipino freelancing community became stronger and more empowered than ever before.

Here’s the scoop of what transpired at the oDesk Contractor Appreciation Day, 2012:

oDesk’s Vision: The Future of Online Work

odesk mollie matt cooper

Matt and Mollie of oDesk

The first half of the event began with a fun ice breaker: 2 Truths, 1 Lie. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that we got to know Matt Cooper, oDesk VP for Operations, as the guy who got beaten by a golden glove boxer in high school and Mollie Carter, oDesk Director of Customer Marketing, as the professional gymnast who went to Stanford on a full scholarship.

We then got to see a testimony video from oDesk users, both clients and contractors. It felt great to see familiar faces and last year’s oDesk Manila Meet and Greet banner in the video.

Right after, Matt delivered the event’s keynote speech—standing on behalf of Gary Swart, CEO of, who wasn’t available to meet the Philippine oDesk community himself. He talked about the country’s global standing on oDesk, pointing out how we’ve outnumbered countries like India, America, and Russia. He ruled out the factors as well: English skills, great personality and work ethics, low internet penetration rates, and our ability to adjust and find ways to take our work with us wherever we go.

odesk keynote matt cooper

Matt then shared with the audience oDesk’s vision of the future of online work in that companies around the world will and are now realizing the benefits and potentiality of online work. They now have access to a global market of knowledge and skill while cutting down costs on contractor acquisition.

On the other side of the fence, people are now making the jump from employee to independent contractor because of the flexibility and the income potential of working wherever and whenever. An independent contractor can work with clients around the world without the hassle of commuting to an office. There are no caps to income potential as well, so s/he can earn thrice as much being a freelancer as compared to being a traditional employee.

Finally, Matt shared advice on what you, the freelancer/independent contractor, should do now. Here are a couple of takeaway tips:

  • Start small, then grow.
  • Build trust with the people you work with. This goes both ways for the work relationship to flourish.
  • Have a project management system that works for you.
  • Strive to be an expert consultant. Clients want feedback, new ideas, and solutions to their problems.
  • Invest and protect your online credentials. In oDesk layman’s terms, invest and protect your oDesk contractor profile.

Great advice that all Pinoy freelancers should think about if they want to grow their freelancing careers.

What’s In Store for oDesk PH Contractors

Mollie took over the stage to share some of the things oDesk has invested in to make online work efficient and easy. 

mollie product overview odesk

I was particularly excited about this because it means more investments are being made to make online work on oDesk easier and more beneficial for contractors. Here’s a recap of the kind of work that’s being done:

  • More jobs by boosting client acquisition – quoting from Mollie, “We’re on oDesk because we want more jobs.” To make this happen, they’ve taken steps towards exclusive partnerships with big companies (e.g. Google), increasing team sizes by 4x, and investing more on SEM efforts.
  • More media exposure - big names like Forbes and Reuters have taken notice of oDesk and how the company’s impact has “changed the way the world works.”
  • Better search for better jobs - better advance search options, a Jobs feed, and a new feature called Recommended Jobs and Similar jobs, wherein oDesk pulls up jobs that are recommended based on your skills categories, or similar jobs to what you’ve applied for and worked on in the past.
  • Making online work easier and more efficient – steps have been taken to push out new features, such as changing teams offline and a better Message Center to further improve communication between clients and contractors on oDesk.
  • Improvements to online payments – as this is one of the most important aspects of online work, PH contractors can look forward to waived remittance fees for BDO account holders, refunds to those whose funds were deducted by BPI due to a glitch in the system, and fixes to improve and eradicate these issues.

I’m especially looking forward to the new job search features and the fixes to the current online payment system. There have been quite a few complaints these days regarding delays and the P150 deductions that shouldn’t have been taken out of funds withdrawn to BPI accounts. It’s good to know that oDesk is listening and are taking action.

Top Contractors of 2012 Recognized

The best part of the event was the awarding of certificates of recognition to the top contractors of 2012. Chosen awardees received their certificates from Matt and Mollie on stage, plus their names, titles, and best client feedback were featured on screen for the entire audience to see.

odesk jayson gonzaga

“For Outstanding Professional Achievements”

From freelance writers to PHP developers, contractors from around the country got to go up on stage and received their awards by Matt himself. My husband, a Silverlight and .NET developer, was one of the awardees and it brings me much joy to see him and many other great freelancers receive the recognition and appreciation they deserve.

Of course, the fact that we’ve all reached great heights makes us worthy of being recognized and appreciated by the very company that made online work possible.

Networking Galore

mollie and stef odesk

Mollie Carter and I.

The rest of the event was spent networking with fellow oDesk contractors. Snacks and photo shoots were also being served and taken during this time, giving everyone plenty of opportunity to meet new and old friends/teammates/oDesk enthusiasts.

I got to meet people I’ve connected with online as well as close friends who I’ve met previously at the first oDesk meet-up. There’s Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer, Bernard Vukas (a.k.a. @MrSpreadsheet), Glenn Santos of Memo Kitchen, Gerson Lacdao (@gsld13th),  Tristan Khalil (@tristankhalil), and Grace Manalili, who is also one of the top oDesk contractors.

There are of course many other contractors I would have loved to meet in person. Hopefully, if oDesk comes back to the Philippines for another get-together, there will be much more time to network.

Wrapping It All Up

Looking back, Contractor Appreciation Day proved to be the conference Filipino oDesk contractors looked forward to since they announced it many months back.

odesk group photo contractors

I’ve learned quite a lot from Matt and Mollie, who brought sound advice and insights on the revolution of work and technology that oDesk and the Philippines are taking part of today. I hope and will look forward to another great event in the years to come, and one that will continue to bring talented people together to celebrate the amazing opportunities brought about by freelancing and online work.

Hats off to oDesk and the entire team for making this event a possibility.

[box type="note"]Stay tuned for the next post, which will feature an exclusive interview between Matt Cooper himself and I on working with Filipino contractors. It’s definitely one to look forward to! :) [/box]

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  • Nica Mandigma | Virtual Assistant

    You look awesome Stef!! Congratulations to your husband! — You must be so proud of him!

    • Stef G.

      Thanks Nica! I sure am. All his hard work has paid off that day. :)

  • Aleah |

    Nice wrap-up, Stef. I guess I missed out on a lot when I arrived an hour late! Looking forward to read your interview with Matt, and congrats again to Jayson!

    • Stef G.

      Thanks Aleah! Hopefully I’ll be able to get it out on the blog earlier tomorrow. The background noise is just insane haha!

  • Lianne @ The Wise Living

    Wonderful post, Stef! The event sounded fun and informative. Too bad I was not able to make it, though!

    • Stef G.

      Thanks Lianne! Let’s cross our fingers that another conference will be held to bring Pinoy freelancers together again.

  • Grace Manalili

    Thanks again Stef! Congratulations to Jayson! I do hope we’ll see each other again soon. Maybe next time we (you, Jayson, Aleah, other oDesk contractors and I) can really sit down and talk. Looking forward to your next post!

    • Stef G.

      Hi, Grace! Thanks for visiting The Freelance Pinoy. I’m definitely up for an opportunity to meet up w/ you and other oDesk contractors in the future.

      Keep up the great work!

  • Tristan Khalil

    Hello Stef,

    Glad to see you again last Sunday! It was a great day for us Pinoy Freelancer Ako Group (the group at the stage LOL). It was an unforgettable experience for all of us. (

    While some of us might feel happy and contented, yet, we can’t hide our dismay, especially after knowing the Cebu event. Some of the PFA members were from Vizayas because they don’t know that there was an event in Cebu. Anyway, what’s done is done.

    I just hope that oDesk can make the event more organized and in a much better setup (venue, food, seating arrangement, etc.).

    By the way, congratulations to your husband!

    • Stef G.

      Hi Tristan! Yes, it’s good to see you again at the event. I’m sure everyone who attended had a great time.

      I did hear about a Cebu-based oDesk event on Twitter. Was it an official one hosted by Matt and the team?

      Thanks again and more power to us Pinoy freelancers!

      • Tristan Khalil

        Upon looking closely on the photos, Cebu meetup is not initiated by oDesk, but rather the oDesk Contractors based on Cebu.

        I looked closely on their photos and on the event venue, it says,
        “Welcome Guests, Odesk Meeting”

        Sadly, we can’t help but compare the event. LOL! Anyway, our group is planning for another meetup/Chirstmas party on December. We are already on the process of planning for some activities.

    • Elaine

      Hi Tristan.
      Just want to comment on this: “Upon looking closely on the photos, Cebu meetup is not initiated by oDesk, but rather the oDesk Contractors based on Cebu.”

      The event was initiated by Odesk and not Cebu-based contractors. I participated in the event. I received an invitation from Odesk just like the invitation for the Manila event., which I was not able not attend. There were almost 70 participants.

      Great day Ahead.

  • Karissa

    Hi Steph. Thanks for dropping by my site. Great to connect with you. Loved reading your article as well!
    Hopefully, we’ll have Gary Swart at the next oDesk event. I wasn’t able to meet you personally at the event but maybe next time! It’s been fun catching up with other oDesk freelancers. I have met quite a few not just in oDesk but also in some of my travels!

    • Stef G.

      Hi Karissa and thanks for visiting TFP! It’s a shame Gary Swart wasn’t able to join us. I bet many of the attendees would have loved to take his pictures. :) And yes, it certainly was fun meeting and catching up with other oDesk freelancers. I sure hope to meet you and your friends in person next time.

  • Pingback: Working with Filipino Contractors: An Interview with Matt Cooper, oDesk VP for Marketplace Operations

  • Alvin

    I hope someday Odesk can also visit us here in Davao. We are Filipinos too. :-)

  • Precy Pante

    Have heard of oDesk before, now I want to join the group and start working on-line. How can I join?

  • elizaphan

    I am a new on oDesk and i am following your work with big interest. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps one day I shall organize such an event in Nairobi, Kenya.

    • Stef G.

      Awesome idea elizaphan. Many freelancers from Kenya will surely benefit from it.