Widely known and accepted fact: Filipinos have invaded the world and have captured every nation’s admiration and respect due to their warm disposition, innate adaptability, and full dedication to their chosen occupation.
I have been quite fortunate to cross paths with three Filipinos who have been living and working in Bangkok for the past ten years or so. A hotelier, a teacher, and a corporate manager – Tess, David, and Nate. Tess is the guest services manager of the hotel we consider our home in this city. David’s a friend from the swinging decade of the 1990s. And I met Nate thru David a little over a fortnight ago.
Though I’ve wondered how they lead their lives in an enchanted foreign city, I honestly did not plan on writing about it. When I inquired if they’re happy calling Bangkok home for years, the instantaneous sparkle in their eyes and the wide grin on their faces were to me, a revelation! That’s when it dawned on me that these friends were totally content with their jobs. And that Thailand must be treating them well!
Following are the questions I prepared for them:
- What is your occupation in Thailand and how long have you been in Bangkok? Circumstances why you ended up working here?
- Describe how a usual working day’s like. Is it stressful but rewarding? Or simply rewarding?
- How is it working with Thais as compared to Filipinos? What are their work ethics? How do you incorporate your Filipino values into your job?
- How often do you see your family and friends from the Philippines? Do they come to visit? Or is it the other way around? Frequency of your visits to our home country?
- How do you foresee yourself in 5 years time?
Marites Gonzaga – Sereesawad – Guest Services Manager, Lohas Suites Sukhumvit by Superhotels Japan, fluent in Thai and Japanese, plus of course English and Filipino
- I’ve been living in Bangkok for almost 5 years. My Thai husband and I met while we were working together in Dubai at the Dusit Hotel. He decided to come home to Thailand due the high cost of living in Dubai. Our only daughter was raised back home in the Philippines by my parents and we saved up for her to join us here. She’s been with us for four years now and am proud to tell you that she’s already quite fluent in Thai!
- As you might have observed, I’m a people-oriented person. This is the foremost quality one’s gotta have to excel in the hotel industry. Stress? Of course it’s always there! It’s simply how you deal with irate guests, meet their demands. Afterwhich the smile I see on them’s reward enough.
- Truth be told, the hardship’s present due to our differing cultures. Learning how to be adaptable’s the key. The Thais are easy to get along with. We have the same South East Asian sense of humour, I guess. Thais and Filipinos are both hardworking. But the Filipinos will go the extra mile to make her co-workers happy. I suppose Filipinos are basically people-pleasers also.
- We have not visited the Philippines for almost 3 years now. We saved up for my parents to come visit us instead. They were here for over 3 months and the whole family had a grand time!
- I see myself further growing with our hotel. Hopefully be assigned to our hotel chain’s other branches in Japan and Vietnam for professional growth. But Bangkok will always be home for me, my hubby, and our baby girl!
David Catarroja – English Teacher, Ramkhamhaeng University
- I have been here in Thailand for the last ten years as an English teacher. My working here was accidental. I had just broken up with someone and was trying to heal myself. Long story.
- Every single day is different from the previous. Most of the times stressful and strenuous. As you go through days, it becomes a challenge to better my techniques getting your point understood. At the end of the term you can see the reward of your hard work.
- As like any other establishment, there’s too much politics in school. What made me stay as long is that I was able to be non committal. There are many cultural sensitivities that need to be observed and learned. One thing that one must always keep in mind is that Thai’s are non confrontational and they never want to lose face. As per Pnoy values….the pakikisama thing brings wonders and of course our work ethic.
- I make sure to visit the Philippines every year to recharge and connect with friends and family. In Thailand, if we’re free my friends and I often see each other every weekend otherwise it takes months or even years to reconnect with friends.
- In 5 years, either I am with my family in the US or still here teaching and saving for my impending retirement and tend our property in the Philippines.
Edward Jonathan Caiga – ASEAN Purchasing Manager, Ford Customer Service Division
- Currently, im the Purchasing Manager handling Ford service parts across ASEAN. I just moved in recently to this new role from my previous ones – Regional Purchasing, and Engineering both of which were also under Ford Asia Pacific. Starting off 2007 (here in Thailand) – I was sent by Ford Phils on an international service assignment to launch the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus, and got extended further for the Ford Eco Sport program. Things went well with my career growth here so am now pushing for my 8th year (5 yrs in Rayong, and 2.5 years in Bangkok). I’ve made a decision to get permanently based here as a local employee since 2013 – no regrets so far.
- Meetings and more Meetings. Stressful yes – especially in the corporate world where Profitable Growth and Politics are not the best of friends quite often. It challenges me to make better decisions everyday (quite often I say, make better “Today than Yesterday”). Rewarding – very.
- The culture is unique in a way where people’s mindset and learning needs guidance from time to time to get optimal results (especially on daily re-connects on urgency). In addition, the approach to talk to them is quite “social” in a way — ‘commanding’ or ‘you need to do this because it’s your job’ attitude is not always the preferred route (at least with the teams I’ve handled/currently handling). Communication is also quite a daily challenge since English is not their native language – there might be instances when some expression so normal for us Filipinos would be so “new” to Thais. Normally, most of the values I’ve had since growing up comes out naturally even here in the regional and global work arena – perseverance and can-do attitude. I don’t normally succumb to surrender/defeat – this one I learned specifically from home.
- Not too often. They would come here to visit, either once or twice a year with the least instance of being complete because of everyone’s availability. Both my dad and sister are in the corporate arena too – so it’s quite a challenge to find a suitable free time to meet. My mom’s a full-time housewife so she also needs to cater to my sister and dad in their daily grinds. I would always prefer them coming here in case there is an oppurtunity so they can also get some R&R – as working in the Phils have become more challenging through the years. There were times before when I met up with them individually – like when my dad was here on a business trip, or when I met with my sister in HK during her uni convention. Quite not the ideal scenario – but reality bites à time and location don’t always conveniently go together, need to compromise in most cases.
- I see myself growing more here because of the career path oppurtunities within my organization – so many things have opened up since I’ve started.I’ve experienced a lot of learnings because of regional and global visibility – not to mention, socal relationships I’ve developed with all sorts of people in my field.I find that these key experiences I’ve had here continues to be essential in moulding myself better – not only as a corporate leader but as an individual too.Right now, everything seems to be rolling in the right direction and I feel very positive in things to come in the not-so-distant future.