4 Years in The Land of Smiles and Counting…

Sawadee Krap!

On this day exactly 4 years ago, I went out of my beloved country to take the opportunity of working in the Land of Smiles- Thailand. It was a gamble for myself and my would-be employer.
It was my first time working abroad in an almost 100% Thai environment and I had many questions in my mind back then as to what my future holds in Thailand.

For my employer, as in every employee that is newly hired, they are unable to judge 100%– my capabilities, my personality or even my commitment to working overseas as they’ve never met me personally before I landed in their country, but only knew me through some character references and background checking. However, since my designation is a Management post, it is definitely a gamble for them to accept me.

I would be working in the same company that I used to work for in Manila (Bangkok being another Branch office) so basically the systems and procedures are almost the same except it will be in a Thai setting and I just had to adjust my working style to adapt to Thai culture.

I had actually resigned from the company in Manila for almost a year prior to me accepting the job offer in Bangkok. I worked in a hotel group and was doing quite well if I may say so. One Sunday, I was on duty when my former boss of 7 years (which I also consider as my Mentor) Sir Nikki called me and asked where I am at that time and if he could meet me. There is a sense of urgency in his voice.

I told him I was in the hotel and just about to finish my duty. He drove all the way to the hotel on a weekend and meet up with me. He told me about the opportunity to work in Bangkok.

Naturally I was surprised by what he just told me because I really had no clue as to what his purpose is for meeting me so urgently on a weekend and I did not dare ask him earlier out of courtesy.

Besides, I am doing ok with my current employer at that time and has no plans of resigning too soon as there are a handful of projects I am heading and on the process of seeking approval from my current boss.

I would say the timing is right because at that time, I felt like the projects entrusted to me is progressing slower than I expected. I was used to having the liberty to make decisions quickly in my previous employer though I understand that the current one has to go through a long and tedious process and discussions even the very small details. I sort of felt I was not empowered.

Anyway, I still asked my Mentor what was the offer and how soon I need to fly in case I accepted the job. He told me about the position, the compensation offer and said I had to fly in about a month’s time. Once I make the decision, they have to process all the papers and stuff. It has to be decided quickly as my would-be boss will be on maternity leave for 3 months and I have to help her oversee the company during her absence.

Can u just imagine the shock on my face when I learned about it. Of course I felt flattered that my former boss still remembered me and vouched for my capabilities the reason why he recommended me for that job. I told him I cannot make the decision at that instant and I have to consult my family as it is definitely a big decision to make.

It was almost Holy Week at that time so I had time to contemplate. When I told my parents about it of course they wanted me to stay in the country. There was no member in our family who ever worked overseas so I was the first one to sort of “Explore the world”. After thinking of the big task I had to fill, I told my parents I want to take the challenge and perhaps try working abroad for a few years.

At the end, they supported me even though they still have some hesitations.

Fast forward, I accepted the job offer and  left for Bangkok.

When I saw the city, the people and surrounding it felt like I was still in Manila except that I can’t understand their language or the words written on the signs and billboards.

My mentor accompanied me in Bangkok and formally introduced me to my new boss, Khun Angie who I can say is a pleasant lady even meeting just for the first time. She only had over a week to train me and turnover some of the existing responsibilities. I must admit I was scared and worried if I can do the job well once she takes her maternity leave.

Fortunately, with the grace of God and the help of my supportive colleagues, I was able to do good (I think) until she returned. In the past 4 years I’ve been in Thailand I felt I was not an “alien” because my boss and colleagues are all kind and supportive and treated me as their own and not see me as a foreign Pinoy working in their country. They’ve also helped me grow as a person in terms of having more maturity now, gaining more confidence and having better business sense.

Over the years, I’ve also met  Filipino friends who are working and living in Bangkok like me. It is very hard to be in a foreign land by yourself but I believe my Pinoy friends helped me a lot to overcome home-sickness and in times I need some personal (or psychological?) help. LOL.

There are some who had come and go. Some are now based somewhere or back to the Philippines. Nothing is permanent in this world anyway. However the experiences we shared (whether good or bad) made our bond stronger.

Surely, tomorrow or in the longer future I would meet more new friends and I would welcome that opportunity as well.

I’ve also been to a lot of nice places in Thailand. I still have more places to go and definitely I will seize the opportunity to travel more whenever I can.

4 Years is too long for many, too short for some. As for my case, I now consider Thailand as my second home having stayed here quite long enough. I still don’t know how long I will still be working and living in Bangkok as I don’t know what will happen in the future.

But as the saying goes, Enjoy it while it lasts.

Over the years, I’ve gained some and also lost some but overall I can say I am blessed being here.

Kob Khun Krap Thailand! Looking forward to more great experiences here.

P.S. In the 4 years I’ve been here I think I only can speak the common phrases like “Sawadee Krap” and “Kob Khun Krap” which is a pity. Ha ha ha.

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Tribute to Mom


I guess many of us becomes emotional when saying something or paying tribute to our parents. It’s because of the plain and simple fact that apart from nurturing us from the day we were born, they’ve been giving us unconditional love ever since.

Since Mother’s Day is fast approaching, allow me to write a simple tribute to my Mom. I don’t know if she is able to read this post as she hardly uses internet and if she do, normally she has to be helped by my siblings since she is not so familiar with using a computer. I love my parents equally but since the occasion is for Mom’s, I will focus my blog entry about my Mother which we fondly call “Mama”.

Reasons why I should be thankful to my Mom:

1. Being the instrument for my existence- God gave me life. And He used my Mom as the person to make me be part of this world when she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy few decades ago. I actually am so advanced and I wanted to go out earlier than expected. I was a premature born baby. I’ve been enjoying my life as far as I can remember.

2. Undeniable skills to nurture- I can’t remember any specific subject in school training would-be mom’s the skills to care for their future families. Surely we were taught of good values in school but I believe being able to nurture their children and bringing them up as a good individual is a “Mom’s Nature”, There is simply no Master’s Degree or even PhD courses training them to do it. It just comes out naturally to most of the moms.

We were 5 children in the family and you can just imagine how hard it is for my Mom to take care of us equally as we grow up. Naturally my siblings and I have different personalities and she has to manage us so we could still feel special and not left behind. We would often tell each other that this sibling is mom’s favorite, the other is dad’s favorite but they would always tell us we are all equal. I can’t contest because I still have no children of my own so I can’t exactly know if the feeling is true.

When we were studying, my Mom has to wake up around 4:30 or 5 am every day just to cook food for us, heat water, prepare our baon and make sure our uniforms are smartly pressed. We used to have a housekeeper but when we were growing up, my mom single-handedly take care of the household.

3. A good doctor even though she has no medical degree- We would get sick occasionally. But every time we are not feeling well, we know we will be ok as long as Mom is there. She would always cook good food and cared for us until we get better. If we complained of headache, stomachache and various body pains she would always have the good solution for it. That’s why I truly missed my mom every time I get sick now that I am overseas as I have to take care of myself.

4. Best cook- I’m sure every children would consider their mom the best cook in the world. Truly, no KFC, Jollibee, Barrio Fiesta, etc. can beat our own Mom’s cooking. We are fortunate that my Mom comes from a family wherein everyone can cook. Now me and the rest of my siblings acquire the same skills and would cook good food whenever we can.

5. Thinks of her family first before herself- I am so lucky to have parents who are so selfless. They would always think of their family first rather than themselves. I would remember my Dad would always tell my Mom why she don’t want to buy something for herself and she would always say she doesn’t need any more material things so she’d rather buy something for her family.

There are more reasons why I should be thankful to my Mom that I don’t have to write and I am sure she knows it. Now that I have a stable job, I want to give her the best, let her see the world while she can.

I’m sure my Dad would appreciate it and would be glad if we could continue what he has been doing before- that is giving our Mom the best that she truly deserves.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

Bangayan sa Bora

I was very bothered and alarmed upon watching “Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho”‘s last episode about a current dispute between the local Boracay Tour Guide vs. foreign guides.

Boracay is our country’s top beach destination and has consistently been voted as one of the best beaches in the world by many travel magazines and organizations. I’ve been to Boracay many times in the past and the sheer powdery like white sand, clear waters and vibrant night life are good enough magnets to draw attention of local and foreign tourists alike.

The last time I was in Boracay was more than 5 years ago. During that time, there are already plenty of Korean tourists but in recent years more and more South Koreans visit the country which is definitely good for our tourism. I can imagine some parts of Boracay now has transformed into a Korean town of sorts.

On top of that, we have also been drawing a good share of Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and Russian tourists lately.

More tourists means more business and employment opportunities for locals right? But not in the case of Tour Guides in the island as what Jessica Soho’s program depicts in their last episode.

A lot of the licensed local tour guides are now finding themselves getting fewer share of the tour guiding works for these nationals. This is due to the fact that many of the tour groups and travel companies prefer hiring native speakers to assist the group rather than getting Filipino guide who mostly can only speak Filipino and English language.

Naturally, if I am a Korean I would prefer a Korean tour guide who speaks the same language as I am, understand a Korean tourist behavior better at the same or slightly higher price than Filipino guides.

According to the report, there are over 150 Korean guides working in the Island now many of them are tourists at the first time but decided to stay in Boracay longer. To sustain their expenses they have to work as a guide.

In the past, our local guides could earn up to PHP 30,000 per month  but with the influx of Korean guides, they are earning average of PHP 10,000 more or less whilst Korean guide could earn up to PHP 100,000 depending on the season and number of groups they assist. Big bucks right?

As a Filipino and a professional working in the travel industry I am very worried of these recent developments. Surely more tourists would mean added revenue to our country’s coffers. It would also attract more investors.

However, progress in our tourism should benefit Filipinos as a priority. There is no better host that could describe the real “Boracay” or even “Philippine” experience than a local despite the language barrier. Sadly, I don’t think our laws could regulate the number of foreign guides in the country at the moment.

I verified on the case of Tour guides in Thailand as I thought many of the tour guides serving in popular tourist attractions are locals but fluently speaking in a foreign language. I’ve been to touristy places like Royal Grand Palace, Wat Po, Pattaya or Phuket beaches and often times I would hear a Thai guide explaining to a group of tourist about the place either in French, German, Russian, Chinese, etc. I would always get amazed by how Thailand was able to maximize their tourism work force and even enhance the skills of the people in order to get the opportunities of their tourism boom. Of course once in a while some overseas companies would secretly hire the service of the guide from that country but the Government also protects the welfare of the Thai guides with regulations on foreign workers.

In our country’s case, regulating these foreign workers would also mean our tour guide must enhance their skills and learn how to speak a foreign language apart from English in order to compete. I believe it’s not hard as many Filipinos could learn a foreign language easily due to our common adaptability.

It is inevitable for our tourism to boom. I’ve been reading a lot of positive news about many hotels opening in the next few years and various efforts of public and private sector to lure overseas tourists and investors recently.

Apart from suggestions to improve the country’s infrastructure which is long overdue, we also have to consider the workforce if they are able to address the demands of the job.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be in effect by 2015. We could expect more ASEAN friends to influx our country either for leisure or employment. We have to be prepared as early as now.