Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Decades After

Twenty years ago this week, a young man, in his mid-twenties embark on a journey that will change him and his outlook in life. Armed with knowledge in engineering and computers, he went to a country whose environment, people and culture are completely different from his own. Only one thing prompted him to go; to save enough money to buy a computer. I know, a very shallow reason compared to what motivates other OFW’s to leave their country and love ones behind. But it’s enough for this fool of a young man. Besides it’s a job, man, it’s a job.

When the aircraft touched down, the hot 41 degree wind of a typical July evening snaps him off his day dreaming and reality sets in. It’s like being shoved out a huge oven. He restrained the urge to run back inside, in the comfort of the air-conditioned plane. His no quitter. He rationalizes; it’s just a job, man, only a job.

The Satellite Earth Station site was a self-sustaining structure in the middle of nowhere. His assignment was to maintain 3 power generators that supplies electricity to a small Domestic Satellite station, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Besides that, his job includes keeping the generator shed clean and tidy. It means mopping the floor of oil sleek and washing “standby” generators to look like it was just bought yesterday. A messy job, if you ask him, but he consoles himself, thinking, his batch mate and a very good friend is up there on the base of a 35 meter diameter disk antenna doing the same thing he does but in a different manner. Five years of studies in UST to become an ECE and he scrapes pigeon shit off station roofs. But it’s part of the job, man, just part of the job.

Six months passed before he saved enough money to buy a computer. It’s the latest top of the line model. A 286x, 22MHz speed processor, a 16 color video card, a VGA monitor, 256kb of RAM and a whooping 40Mb of hard disk. After work, he spent his time tinkling his computer. He fine tunes it, searching every available upper-memory to cramped-in his drivers to save precious base memory to run programs bigger than 64kb. Enough memory to play his favorite game “Wolfenstein”, hone his typing skill to his personal best of 60 wpm and learn a new language called “C”. That computer helps him a lot. It shielded him from loneliness... homesickness, man, homesickness.

His luck changes after a year. The project’s computer programmer went home and never came back. They said he migrated to UK along with his family, leaving the Project Manager with a headache. Its end of the year and not even a single page of inventory report were printed, an important document that has to be submitted to the Ministry. At first, the German PM won’t believe what the Station Engineer told him about this Filipino guy who knows computer. Nobody blames him. Who would believe that a guy holding a mop and dressed in a dirty over-all, have knowledge of computer? Not to mention, the capability to manipulate a database in generating an inventory report of the entire project? But desperate people do desperate things. He let the “mop guy” handle the system. After one week, he got his precious report and the “mop guy” got a hefty bonus. It was fun, man, it was fun.

When the project contract ended, his boss wrote a very generous recommendation letter and delivered it personally to the head of a newly formed project. He was immediately hired as a programmer and became a pioneer of that project. For him, it’s like a game, man, just a game and his still playing.


  1. A stroke of luck, fate, destiny, fortune or whatever you want to call it, but for me it is God's will.

    God has been watching the guy in dirty over-all holding a mop who is patiently cleaning the oil slick splattered on the floor. And He just found the perfect moment to perform His divine miracle.

    Life is Beautiful. Count your blessings.

  2. I have learned one very important lesson in life, and probably i would like to bring this with me if God will allow me even I am gone.

    God's love is magnified through simple people, and simple ways.

    Who know's the guy touches the heart of many, lift other's lives, and extended the blessing he receives to others.

    Nagemail po ako sau.

  3. This reminds me of one of my favourite quotations:

    "Luck is when opportunity meets preparation."

    Great story, man!

  4. i read the story, and just rings all truth in it, mahirap ang buhay OFW, and even if i was offered a lot of opportunities going out, i don't think i can leave my kids behind, i am so attached to them that one night of absence will sure make me think twice and probably get home as soon as i can.

  5. Great! o",)

    Ito ang mga uri ng kwentong kailangan kong mabasa sa kasalukuyan.

  6. wow oh wow astig man!!!astig man!!! kwentong disyerto or ofw diaries hay walang sinabi sa post na ito....20 years ago hanep man!!!hanep man!!! dahil dyan tara halo halo tayo sa batha lol

  7. Life is full of surprises, you never know what's gonna happen next. Coming to Middle East in July is shocking. I'm glad God sent me to the Gulf in January. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  8. Salamat sa post mo, Ed. It reminded me a lot that life holds many surprising things for all people, especially those with prepared minds.

    Laging may pagbabagong maganda sa buhay kahit saan man tayo naroroon.

    Ako'y nagtatanong: Ikaw ba ito?

    And why does this story ring a bell? Dahil marami na rin akong nakilalang Pinoy sa Saudi na ganyan ang naging kapalaran. Dating tea boy na naging secretary, dating hairdresser na naging visual merchandizer, dating secretary na naging Administration Manager, dating driver na naging General Manager.

    Thanks, Inspareng, I mean Inspiring Ed!

  9. ayos na ayos tong storya mo pards. kumbaga, pabalik ka na, papunta pa lang ako. sobra kasi akong nakakarelate dito. unang una na doon sa paglabas ng eroplano at mainit na simoy ang sumalubong sakin (dumating kasi ako ng May at mas humid daw dito sa qatar), gusto ko na agad bumalik sa eroplano. pati sa lagi ko iniisip kung kumusta na ang mga batchmate ko, kung tama lang ba ang career na ginagawa ko dito, lagi ko din naiisip yun.

    nakakainspire ang story mo. sana ganyan din ang matisod ko. hehehe.

  10. it pays to wait...
    it pays to be hardworking and honest...

    God gives to those who ask and wait patiently...

  11. Pope, thanks, I always count my blessings. I also believe in the saying "Opportunity favors a prepared and patient man".

    Kenjie, salamat.

    Mimi, I always read Confucian phylosophy and Sun Tzu's sayings as my guide in life.

    sheng, mabigat talagang maging OFW lalo na kung may pamilyang iiwanan.

  12. RJ, thank you. Hindi tumitigil ang gulong ng kapalaran. Kung nasa baba ka man ngayon, bukas o sa makalawa, aangat ka rin. Patience and perseverance are the key.

    dacz, salamat. mas masarap ang halo-halo sa krotai.

    Ms.Jo, true, we may not know the future at hand, but its good to be a "boy scout".

  13. Nebz, tama ka dyan. re: "Ikaw ba ito?" - sino ba sa palagay mo?

    ardyey, tiyaga lang pards. Pasasa-an ba yan at matatagpuan mo rin ang "dream job" mo.

    Azel, tama ka, pag may tiyaga, siguradong may nilaga. Bantayan mo lang at baka kainin ng iba.

  14. sa kawayan kaharap ko, bubuwit pako.pinaghalong sipag at tyaga.iba iba man ang gustong marating na nagsisimula sa simpleng pangarap.di mapapansin ang laki at ginhawang mararating.saludo ako.

  15. perseverance is what I call it. no matter what one's motivation is, as long as it works and it indeed worked. congrats.

  16. Ang galing naman ng story mo! It's really ano na ang position mo ngayon, Station Engineer na ba? o higit pa dun? hmmm malamang mas mataas pa ang position mo. Teka mga nasa 41+ ka na kung ganun? hahaha....bilis utak ko basta computation ng edad eh hehehe

  17. It is good to hear stories like yours. I know a lot of Pinoys here who started the same way. Sabi nga, "kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga."

  18. What a success story! Keep it up! I hope you'd become the big boss in your department or even company soon.

  19. ECE? you tinker with UHF TV transmitters?

  20. Congrats, Pards. 20 years ka na pala diyan. Mabilis din ang paglipas ng panahon. More power to you!

  21. parang kuwento ko iyan ah. hindi nila akalain puwede pala akong magsulat.

    ganda ng kuwento mo. alam mo, naniniwala talaga ako na mas maganda lagi kaysa sa naiisip natin ang plano ni Big Boss Up There para sa atin. we just have to listen.

    more blessings to come, as you mark your 20th year in your (and your family's) sandbox.

  22. ever, salamat. katulad mo, pards, alam kong marami ka pang mararating.

    Ka Rolly, thanks!

    Sardz, yung naglilinis ng epot naging Station Engineer. Although I'm a licensed engineer, I don't practice anymore. Nag concentrate ako on my other degree, in computers.

  23. bertN, thanks. I know there's plenty of similar story of pinoys in the states.

    theo, salamat!

    Abaniko, wow, that's too high an ambition. Only Saudis could hold such position. Kami yung nag bubulong sa nakaupo. : )

  24. TK, no, I develop softwares that controls equipment that tinkers with those frequencies. Thanks for dropping by.

    Panaderos, thank a lot. Ang bilis nga ng panahon.

    atticus, salamat. hehe, nalihis ka rin ba ng propesyon?

    Aline, thank you!

  25. Good for you bro that your resourcefulness paid off and even good for them too to realize that you are one heck of a resource they could benefit from !

  26. bw, thanks, bro. Masyado mo namang pinapalaki ang tenga ko eh. : )

  27. ang galing ng accomplishments mo parekoy. mabuti at naitaguyod mo diyan ang bandilang pinoy.

  28. madbong, salamat. parang pakiramdam ko, ang tanda ko na.