Alumni Success Stories

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Migrant worker proves improving oneself while working abroad is a must

Every successful man’s story starts from their creative imagination of who they want to become. This is the case of UAE-based Filipino Ma. Luchille when she went back to the drawing board and kept improving herself while working and living abroad to chase after her dreams.

Currently, she is working in the procurement department as a procurement associate in a luxury car dealership company, using her innate talent in negotiation, relationship and time management, and strategic thinking skills to overcome all the challenges.

While working full-time, she and her partner are already taking baby steps in stabilizing their business that offers perfect blends of personalized scents through LBE Fragrances.

Get to know her more on how she follows her dreams and how she didn’t lose the last straw:

Tell us more about yourself. 

I am working abroad for three years now since I came last 2017. UAE was my first destination and my first work here was a purchasing officer in an engineering company which led me to identify the profession I really want to pursue. I think being able to handle the procurement department after my senior and manager left pushed me to excel and show-off my capabilities. 

I have hands-on experience in marketing, operations, finance and training, and development in globally competitive companies that made me realize the importance of each steppingstone in my career and life journey. 

I recently graduated last March this year in the Philippine Business Council GenBiz entrepreneurship program, for our perfume business and I continuously seek ways on improving my skills in this industry. I was also one of the graduates of Filipino Institute Batch 11 of the procurement class last July 2019 and glad I made it with honors as well. 

What’s the reason why you opted to work abroad? 

Being the eldest among the three siblings, I found myself privileged of the responsibility to support my family, I decide to work abroad hoping that I will be able to easily achieve my dreams and long-term plans. As I wanted to have more investments for my future, I saw that time that my salary in the Philippines will never be enough, and working overseas will give me more opportunities. 

What do you enjoy about what you’re doing? 

I remember when I was still studying, I saw a university employee carefully checking the deliveries of office equipment. I visualized how interesting it is to deal with suppliers and imagined having the same job. I become what I think about: a procurement officer. I enjoy this job, communicating and meeting people, and learning about new products and its uses and benefits. 

Of all the cities in the world, why did you choose Dubai? 

Dubai became my second home and it opened a lot of opportunities for my personal and professional growth. Here is where I built more self-confidence. I learned to speak up what my heart desires and fight for what is right. 

What were the struggles you have endured before venturing your OFW journey? 

I can say that my experience of working for 10 up to 16 hours was one of the struggles I won’t forget. Wishing that all works will be done, I endure it for one year, having three to five hours of sleep like a rooster. Every day, I felt like quitting that job but I chose to stay because I have to support my family’s finances and my sibling’s allowance and tuition. 

OFW journey is not forever, what is your plan after this? 

Once my life being an expat is over, I’ll focus on managing our business. I have faith that it will also be the best time for me to fulfill my real purpose. Since childhood, I already envision myself speaking in front of the crown, and in God’s perfect time, I will serve others by sharing experiences and knowledge I gained which could help them to keep the determination on accomplishing their goals. This will be my way of giving back to the persons who became instruments on what I have achieved and could ever achieve. 

To my fellow kabayans, just continue being a HERO:

H – Have someone to mentor and guide you

E – Expand your horizons and learn new things

R – Reflect on your goals and dreams (write it or draw a vision board)

O – Overcome rejections and failures with faith 

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Former cleaner: ‘As a dreamer, I have to step up my game’

A former bakery cleaner has successfully passed the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification exam on Sunday, August 23, with 81 percent passing grade.

James Paul Reyes believes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. He recalled in 2010 when he started to work in Dubai as a cleaner and a helper in a bakery.

“As a dreamer, I told myself, I have to step up my game for me to succeed,” he said.

His hard work paid off when he got promoted to be an office coordinator then logistics assistance.

It was 2019 when he faced a series of struggles, including being jobless for almost one year.

“On the brighter side, that was when I started to take up medical coding classes at the Filipino Institute. It was a big challenge for me as I don’t have a medical background, career-wise, but that didn’t stop me. I used that weakness to be my strength and to be on top,” Reyes.

He took the medical exam on August 23 and he described it as a nerve-racking one despite coming mentally and spiritually prepared.

“That same day, I got the result, 81% passing grade, I was on cloud nine, overwhelmed, mixed emotions rushing through my veins,” he added.

He thanked the Filipino Institute, especially the trainers, for providing a high standard of training to all aspiring Filipinos.

“CPC exam, you’re definitely God’s gift to all aspiring medical coders. To all OFWs, remember to never stop believing, don’t be afraid to take that single step to start your journey. Life is too short, learn new things, challenge yourself, and never doubt God’s plan for you. This is just a beginning,” the CPC passer said.

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‘Miracles happen every day’

Filipino Institute student Marie Joy Walker has recently passed the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam and garnered 81 percent score.

Walker, an overseas Filipino worker based in the UAE, took the medical coding exam yesterday, August 28. She was scheduled to take the exam last April but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was moved to another date.

It was 2019 when he stumbled upon the medical coding course at the Filipino Institute and graduated with flying colors.

Early days

Walker has arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2011 and worked in a building construction company. Despite being a licensed nurse in the Philippines and in the US, she was not able to work as a nurse in the UAE mainly because she didn’t have work experience from her home country.

Prior to nursing, she graduated Bachelor of Science in Accounting and worked as an accountant for four years. However, with the lowball job offer as an accountant in the host country, she opted to work as a sales coordinator for a few years.

“I had to quit my job because of pregnancy complications. Ultimately, I chose to be a stay-at-home parent which is a worthwhile experience for me and my kids as well as my husband,” she said.

Walker added that life is not that predictable as she experienced a major life-changing event from 2018 until 2019.

“During those times, it was difficult to think about anything other than what’s going on. “This will pass”, is my mantra in life. No event in our life lasts forever. But most of the time, I became so consumed in my own misery that It overshadowed any glimmer of hope,” she further added.

Comparing CPC with the Philippine’s nursing board examination and California’s board of registered nursing, admittedly, she was not that confident to take the certification for medical coding after graduation.

“I was still in an emotional turmoil and could hardly focus,” Walker said.

She also thanked the founder and president of the Filipino Institute, Mr. Gabriel John Rimando, for giving hopes to all the Filipino dreamers.

“Re-entering the workforce after the long break may be hard but I will never give up faith and will never stop believing in hope because miracles happen every day. No matter how dire the situation is, if you have faith in yourself and in God, nothing will be impossible,” she further added.

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‘I always believe that if they can do it, so can you’

“I always believe that if they can do it, so can you.”

This has become Maria Charisma Celino’s mantra after learning that she got the highest average among the Caregiver students in the Filipino Institute-Abu Dhabi campus.

The Abu Dhabi-based Filipino worker got a 97.7 grade and was hailed top one in Caregiver 1.2 course.

“Dati pangarap ko lang ito, dati wala akon bilib sa sarili ko pag dating sa aral aral na yan. Ngayon daig ko pa ang pumasa sa board exams sa tuwa,” she quipped.

“I got the highest average (97.7) among CG students in Filipino Institute-Ab Dhabi UAE, pang international pala ang IQ ko, char!” she added.

As she was starting, she thought she couldn’t make it. “Then days, weeks passed by heto na yung akala ko hindi ko kaya, nagawa ko na,” Celino further added.

The Caregiver student also revealed that after finishing college, it was already her dream to enroll in any medical-related course but due to financial constraints, she had to let it go.

“Alam naman nating mahal at magastos at sabi ko mahina ang utak ko baka hindi ko din mapanindigan but now here I am, kayang kaya ko pa pala!” she said.

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‘Poverty is not a hindrance to continue your dreams’

Everyone can admit that life is a never-ending fight between you and the uncontrollable force that creates pain. We live with baggage on our backs and we don’t have any options but to carry no matter how heavy it is.

Merthyle Sioco Falle, 27, like many ordinary overseas Filipino workers, is living and working in Dubai with a bitter past that made her stronger and a fighter in life. She mastered forgetting the bitterness of the past to make her life better.

A private therapist, the OFW started working in the emirate in 2018 to ‘restart’. “Kaunting-kaunti na lang, mawawala na ako noon sa aking sarili. Kaya hiniling ko sa Panginoon na bigyan niya ako ng pagkakataon na makapagsimula dahil maraming umaasa sa akin,” she revealed.

“Before I work here in Dubai, there was a drastic change in order for me to adapt to my current job. Hindi madali pero sa bandang huli nag-eenjoy na rin ako,” she said.

Currently, she is looking after a 95-year-old Arabic woman. Falle, who can’t speak Arabic fluently, said that she already treated the woman as her family.

“Ganito pala yung pakiramdam na kapag nag-value ka sa isang tao, yung genuine love yung ibibigay mo kahit hindi naman kayo nagkakaintindihan mamahalin ka pa rin at rerespetuhin dahil alam kong ramdam niya yung pagmamahal na ibinibigya sa kanya,” she added.

Early-life experience

Falle was born to a poor family. Her father had no formal job and her mother was just taking care of her four other siblings. At 11, she started working while studying—selling plastic bags, cleaning empty water bottles, and sold it per dozen. At the age of 17, she worked various jobs, including sales staff, sales lady, sales associate, cashier, waitress, supervisor, massage therapist, and a brand promoter for a mobile phone in the Philippines.

During her day off, she provided massage therapy to her clients, resell mobile phone accessories, garments, and cosmetics.

While growing up, the private therapist experienced discrimination, oppression, slapped with hurtful words, and was also judged because of their status in life.

She recalled selling plastic bags in a wet market barefooted because her family can’t afford a pair. “Grade 5 ako noon, ang ginawa ko nanghiram ako ng pera sa aming kapitbahay ng P3 para ibili ng plastic bag at ibenta sa palengke. Mula bahay hanggang palengke nilalakad ko yun ng nakapaa, tapos talon ako ng talon minsan kasi maiinit yung daan, wala akong tsinelas. Buong maghapon akong paikot-ikot sa loob ng palengke para lang makabenta ng plastic bag at makabili ng kalahating kilong bigas para maipakain sa bunso kong kapatid na iyak ng iyak,” she said.

Falle also collected empty Tanduay and Emperador bottles to sell it per sack. “Sa isang sako or 72 pieces ng Tanduay, P5 yun. 45 pieces naman ng long neck ay P5,” she added.

She earned her money so she can buy food for their family.

“Minsan pumapasok ako sa paaralan ng walang kain, minsan isang araw, isang beses lang. Minsan tubo lang ang kinakain,” she said.

Rising up

Falle made sure that she will rise up gracefully and show to those people who underestimated them that she can succeed in life.

She is currently enrolled at the Filipino Institute to further develop her talents. She revealed that after working as a private therapist, she is planning to join another company that can help her skills cultivated.

“Gusto ko lang sabihin sa mga kababayan ko na patuloy kayong mangarap, huwag kayong mawawalan ng pag-asa. Huwag niyo gawing dahilan ang kahirapan para huwag ipagpatuloy ang inyong mga pangarap,” Falle said.

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‘Never live with what-ifs’

Sherylene Dela Cruz, a registered pharmacist, has three mantras in life: never stop learning, never be afraid of stepping outside the comfort zone, and never live with what-ifs. Following these motivations in life, Dela Cruz is now a professional coder (apprentice) after passing the American Academy of Professional Coder’s (AAPC) Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam with an 86 percent score.

“These are my simple beliefs, as life is a wonderful journey of discovering your limits, learning despite your ups and downs, and conquering each challenge. And every time you have that moment of seeing what’s beyond your box, take that step and never let your mind wander while wondering what could have been,” she wrote in her testimonial statement.

The journey to her success started in 2018 when she took the courage and enroll herself in a six-month medical coding course at the Filipino Institute. “It was indeed a very tedious task–juggling my personal and professional demands while studying after work and going to class every Friday, my sole rest day,” she said.

Currently, Dela Cruz is working as a pharmacist for a privately-owned company.

She admitted that ‘a lot of people’ didn’t believe what she was doing. “Some are even asking why do I have to waste my time on such things where I am already doing good on my profession,” she added.

Admittedly, Dela Cruz has almost quitted but thought she didn’t want to regret it in the end.

“Every time I’m seeing my fellow passed the exam, I am a bit envious,” she admitted further.

The CPC passer said that this chapter in her life will not be possible without the help of her mentors and her family members for their unconditional love and support.

“To Filipino Institute, a huge than you for making the belief of learning achievable for almost every expat, and by instilling ‘’kaya natin to,” she added.

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‘Medical Coding is easy if you push yourself to learn it’

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who studies Medical Coding in the Filipino Institute, has successfully passed the certified professional coding test on the first attempt.

Zakira M. Sumndad took the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam recently in an effort to challenge herself.

“I am really grateful for becoming an enrollee of the Filipino Institute and taking the medical coding program. I give thanks every day for how they changed my way of pursuing this career,” she said.

Sumndad said that during the orientation at the training institute, she realized that the profession is for everyone and for those who have the determination and drive to dig deeper.

“At first, I couldn’t understand it, but then I have realized that coding is easy if you push yourself to learn it. It’s understanding and the appliance of the coding guidelines and the use of modifiers, that can be a headache in the beginning,” she added.

She advised those currently taking the course and those who wish to embark on a medical coding journey to remove all the doubts ‘and the most important is not to give up.’

“Just go to the Filipino Institute with your issues as I did and they will help you with their professional coding journey and before you know it, the light will go on,” she said.

“Filipino Institute instructors Ms. Ellie, Ms. Jernie and Sir Yuri and all the teachers, I am very grateful that you have been great instructors during all our class sessions,” she added.

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‘High quality education helps me achieve another goal’

A registered nurse in the Philippines and here in Dubai, Filipina expat Ashleen Diane L. Almodovar passed and completed the medical coding exams recently with 86 percentage.

“Thank you to the Filipino Institute for being an instrument to achieve this another goal,” she said.

“I was hesitant to take the course for so many years as the cost of it is not cheap at all in other learning centres, and yet one of my friends from my company introduced the Filipino Institute,” she added.

Almodovar admitted that she researched the training centre and asked some of her friends about it.

“As the saying goes, sometimes if it’s cheap, the quality could be cheap too. However, the Filipino Institute proved me wrong,” she said noting that when she met her instructors she was relieved because they’re all capable of giving the highest quality of education.

She personally thanked Mr. Yuri and Miss Jernie for guiding her all the way.

“If you want to be a medical coder or if you want to learn new things, or if you’re feeling stagnant, you may want to try medical coding in the Filipino Institute–an affordable and high-quality standard of education that can help you achieve another goal,” Almodovar said.

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‘The path isn’t easy but all the sleepless nights paid off’

Changing thousands of Filipino migrants’ lives for five years now, the Filipino Institute has recently held its first in-person graduation ceremonies since March. More than 100 students have joined the ceremonies from different batches and classes.

One of the students who finished the Caregiver ladderized course is Roman Duenas. Hailing from the province of Batangas, Duenas, 32, has been living in the UAE for seven years now and had spent most of his time in the F&B sector.

Currently, he is working as an administrative staff at a multi-national company based in the UAE with remote offices in other Middle Eastern and African countries.

Duenas, despite having a full-time and demanding daywork, was able to finish studying Caregiver classes from 1.1 until 2.2 from the Filipino Institute and graduated with flying colors. “The path wasn’t easy but through the help of my family members and friends, I did it! All sleepless nights paid off,” he said. The overseas Filipino worker (OFW) received the ‘Most Outstanding Student’ award and ranked fifth in the class.

A scholar of the training institute from the first module, Duenas, during his free time, runs errands for the employees and other trainers.

“I am very grateful to the Filipino Institute–to Boss G and Mam Camille–I can’t achieve this milestone if it weren’t for them. Whenever I feel down especially during this pandemic period, I always think of my course to be my weapon to secure a greener pasture in Dubai or in any place,” he added.

He also revealed that in the Philippines, he didn’t finish his college degree but fulfill his dream to finish studying in Dubai through the Filipino Institute.

“The Filipino Institute has been an avenue for people whose dreams have been put on pause and wanted to pursue it abroad,” he further added.

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‘Success is no accident, it’s hard work, perseverance, and learning’

A Dubai-based overseas Filipino worker has recently become a Certified Professional Coder which was facilitated by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

“Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you’re doing or learning to do,” John Paul Pascual, a registered nurse, said in a testimony sent to the Filipino Institute.

He has passed the online examination with 83 percent score.

Pascual said that he is thankful for all the people who become part of his success story to become a Certified Professional Coder, including the Filipino Institute as his training ground.

“Being anxious to take the first-ever online exam facilitated by AAPC makes me think if I can do it or should gamble my faith to take the exam, but it all boils down to a positive result. Thank you Lord for all your blessings,” he added.

The Filipino registered nurse added that people should always remember an old adage ‘never stop learning because life never stops teaching.’

AAPC was founded in 1988 to provide education and professional certification to physician-based medical coders and to elevate the standards of medical coding by providing training, certification, networking, and job opportunities.

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