One petty mistake can change everything. This happened with Wilbert Rivera Cantor, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) based in Al Ain, when he was called for a job interview by mistake. He recalled when someone messaged him on Facebook Messenger—tipping him that the ‘road is clear, and now you can join us.’ Though the message wasn’t for him, he still managed to get through the panel interview and worked at a private hospital in the capital.
Cantor now works as a marketing executive for Medeor Hospital, which allows him to interact and deal with different nationalities who are coming from high-ranking positions with their respective fields and prestigious companies.
Aside from corporate roles that he plays within the company, the highlight of his job is when he’s able to share his advocacy with the different expat communities, especially the events they’re offering to them.
“Since I am working in the healthcare industry, we are conceptualizing events that will benefit the whole community—both locals and expats. It can be physical activities, social connectivity, health, and mental awareness. I love creating events that can help, uplift the image, boost the morale of our fellow OFWs in the UAE,” he said.
Through his job, he’s as well works hand-in-hand with the Philippine missions and organizations in Abu Dhabi.
Cantor arrived in the country in 2010 and had worked as a private teacher for an elite local family for six years.
‘I worked as a bus sweeper to earn money’
Raised by his non-biological parents, Cantor said he grew up in a poor family, however, the unconditional love was pouring.
He also recalled the days when he was still studying. As early as 16 years old, he was already working from one fast-food chain to another and video rental shops in San Fernando, La Union. To earn a penny for school allowance during high school days, Cantor tried working as a bus sweeper.
With perseverance and dedication, he was able to face obstacles and finally worked as an English teacher for both elementary and secondary schools in his province.
“I had so many struggles in life, most especially in finishing my studies, I was convinced that in order for me to fight the battle called life, I need to finish my college education,” he said, noting that he had three courses during college—BS Architecture, BS Accountancy, and Bachelor in Secondary Education, Major in English.
“I was a scholar during my first step in my college years, but because of financial constraints, my parents couldn’t fully support me in providing my drawing materials. I had decided to do it on my own so I shifted to accountancy and started my job with different fast-food chains in our area,” Cantor said, adding that since he was already earning money, he had to stop studying.
He was focused on helping his family in sustaining their needs until one day, while he was working in a famous donut fast-food chain, his former high school classmates passed by wearing their college uniforms and were about to graduate. It was at that moment when he felt envious and pitied himself at the same time.
“I told myself that I need to do something in order for me to finish my college education. I will use this education to fight poverty that paved me the way to reapply my scholarship in college,” he added.
Although his parents are already gone, he Cantor still considers them as their inspiration in life. “I always devote everything to them, even until now. Since they are with our Lord already, I am paying forward the blessings to my family and relatives and even to the community,” he added.
Presently, he is enrolled for a 3-in-1 Master’s Degree programme at Bath Spa University in UAE with plans to pursue a PhD after and go back to teaching. He also plans to build a foundation that helps the underprivileged but able students to finish their studies.
“My advice to the fellow OFWs, your faith with God can move mountains no matter how hard life offers and takes us, we should not lose our trust in Him. We should stop indulging ourselves in our problems, we should start finding the best solutions,” he said.
This story has been featured on the fifth issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.