A Story About Patience, Courage and Optimism

How far would you go to realise your dream? How much would you sacrifice? Can you handle the consequences? Can you win against the obstacles along way? Who would you call when you need help? What would you do when they refused to help?

This story is about patience, courage and optimism.
I'd been working for a language school in Manila for more than 2 years and it started getting boring. The routine, the class, I taught the same thing everyday. I heard the same stories. I was stuck 8 hours in a room a bit larger than your toilet. (I am not complaining.) What made it worse was the pay. The pay was 2 months delayed. It wasn't funny. We (my colleagues and I) decided it was time to look for a 'green' pasture. (What took us long to decide?)

January 17, 2009. 
Richie, Harbe, April and I went to a placement agency in Manila. We applied for teaching positions in the US and the UK. The agent, Miss Lovelyn, interviewed us. She asked about our experience and we said we had more than two years. 'Was it real classroom setting?' she asked. We said no, and she was laughing for our confidence to apply without the required experience. She said she would put us instead to a kindergarten school in China but we'll have to wait for the employers to come for the interview.

Until March, we went to other placement agencies. We applied for Qatar, U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and a lot more. We applied for teaching positions as we are all certified teachers. We applied for customer service jobs; waiter, flight attendant, etc. We took the exams the agencies gave us.

We weren't expecting much but we had fun doing it.

April 2009
It happened. We lost our job.
But later that month, we got a message from Miss Lovelyn saying that we're gonna be interviewed by the employer in 2 days. We were very happy.

Interview day.
There were more than 40 applicants and only 10 would be hired so we had to showcase everything we got, show-off our teaching styles, impress the employers. We had to sell ourselves. It took 1 day. The agency said that they would message us if we were being considered. That night, we, including Jean, who applied later that day, got a message from the agency telling us to go back for the second demo and interview. We had to show-off again. The decision was announced in the afternoon. The first 12 names were called, including Richie and Jean. They were already hired. Then the next 10 names were called, including Harbe, April and I. We were wild cards, we would take the place of those who would back out or have problems later.

May 2009.
Few days later since that interview, we were called again and were told to have our medical exam. Half of the  hired applicants including Richie and Harbe backed out for different reasons. We were thankful.

We stayed at our friends' apartment. We cleaned their apartment and cooked for them for free.

July 2009.
After months of waiting for the visa, we were called again for the orientation. We had to pay for the placement fee and other fees. The agency didn't have the 'Fly Now Pay Later' policy as some of the applicants ran away when they get to their destinations. Our struggle had started. Jean had borrowed from her aunt and had already paid for everything. April and I were running here and there for help. We ran to our well-off friends and relatives for financial support but we failed. (We were even told to give up.) We had earned a meagre amount from our classes. April did online tutorial and winter camp, while I worked for a Korean home school. We used that amount to pay for the visa processing, we had to pay at least 3,000PhP each but we paid 3,000PhP for both of us. The agency was laughing but accepted it as they knew our situation. (They earn more from that anyway. Hehe.)

Time was running out. It was already the 27th (Monday) and we'd fly on the 2nd of August (Sunday), but we still hadn't cleared our accounts. That Monday, we went to lending agencies but the requirements were ridiculous. Tuesday came with still no luck. We asked the relatives again but with the same result. We understood them as they have their families to support, and I think they were also skeptic about that job and the agency. Or maybe they were scared that we wouldn't pay them. We didn't blame them. (And who are we to blame them? Haha.) We didn't push our luck and told ourselves, 'This is it. This is our journey, so this is our problem. We shouldn't be bothering others.'

Wednesday, we got a message from one of the applicants, Mitch, that she was going to a lending company and if we still needed it, we should go with them. We went to meet her at the agency with only 100PhP each on us, just enough for the return trip. When we were at the lending company, they told us the requirements, just bring a co-maker with you, ID's and the flight schedule. We were relieved, I asked my friends who could be the co-maker, but everybody refused or weren't available that day. I still had hopes. We left the lending office at about 1pm feeling very famished and knackered. We only had 50PhP, if we bought lunch, we wouldn't be able to go home. So I messaged my friend Steve if he could lend us some money to which he immediately wired a thousand peso. (He always helps me though. But he can't with the amount needed) So we used our 50PhP for lunch.

April had asked her ever willing friend and was glad to help her even for just the appearance. I had asked my cousin, and she too was glad to do it. It was such a relief after those worries and meals skipped.

Thursday, we woke up rather early to prepare and get to the lending office and finish soon. But my co-maker messaged me that she couldn't, I couldn't remember what the reason was and I don't want to remember. I gave up. I told April that it wasn't for me. April tried to convince me that we could do it. I had already decided to give up. I just stayed at the apartment trying to pack my things and thought of my next step. But my ever so helpful friends Chris and Andrei were lifesavers. Chris volunteered to be my co-maker and Andrei lent us money for the expenses. We prepared all the needed documents for Chris.

Friday, we went to the lending company and after the long wait, the loan was approved. The cheque was released at 5:30pm but the bank closes at 6:00pm. We went to the agency 8:30pm that night to report that we already had the cheque with us but we couldn't have it encashed. We promised to do so the next day. We got home 9pm hungry and tired.

Saturday, we left early as the banks were working half-day. When we had the cash in our hands, we reported immediately to the agency to pay and for the Pre-departure Orientation Seminar. We got home late again, and we still had to pack. Aile was kind enough to lend us some money for allowance. We stayed up to pack everything we needed and at 5pm we bid goodbye to our housemates.

I learned a lot from this experience from being patient to never losing hope to . Those who want to work abroad, learn something from this.


  1. Wow... Terrible experiences you had! But, what important is you passed all those trials for being patient and positive attitude.. This is great! Congratulations! You did it!.:)