All dreams can come true if one has the courage to pursue them. This statement is true for Maria Paz Banaag; a housekeeper turned businesswoman in Dubai.
When Maria was still young and studying, she remembered taking a part-time job as a packer in a local bakery in their hometown in the Philippines. There, she was exposed to the process of baking different pastries, which eventually made her curious. The curiosity pushed her to produce her pastries and sell them to her relatives and neighbors to support her studies. Until she got married and had kids, making pastries helped her to support her family’s needs.
When she moved to the UAE in 2008 in an effort to secure the future of her children and family, she worked as a housekeeper for a French couple. She wanted to provide for her family and children a better future, including a decent house, food on the table, and education.
Fortunately, Maria Paz’s employers were every household service worker’s dream to work for.
“I guess if you are honest and give love to your employer, it will come back to you. I have treated them as my family here in the UAE; it means that I work in full honesty with them,” she said.
Her life overseas was not all about rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. She also experienced many struggles, including being homesick with her kids in the Philippines.
Because of her excellent relationship with them, her employers also treated her as a family member.
When her bosses found out she loved baking, she was provided with a small kitchen wherein she could bake separately.
“Baking is a long-time passion. It all started with baking for my bosses, to my bosses’ family, and my friends, and finally to my friends’ friends,” she said.
When her employers decided to settle back in France, Maria Paz took the leap of faith and opened a bakery shop in the UAE and continued what she loves doing: baking. The positive feedback she received with her products also impacted her decision to be a full-fledged entrepreneur.
“Even at first, I have a lot of doubts about my skills as I know there are many professionals who have formal education in baking,” she said.
With the support of her family and friends, she and her team were able to open the pilot branch of Maria Paz Pastry in Satwa.
“I am deeply grateful for the support of my family, my partner, and all who are supporting Maria Paz Pastry,” she added.
Despite the numerous struggles she faced, she maintained to be blessed and grateful, especially today that she is now a business owner.
‘Great things will happen’
Reflecting on her first year in the UAE, she admits she is still emotional as she has adjusted a lot. She remembered working all-around and even longer hours just to finish all the household chores. Maria Paz has even sacrificed her rest days to do part-time jobs, including cleaning houses.
“I needed the money for my family. As a mother, this made me stronger. The love of my family fueled me to move on. I believe that every hardship we experience, and as long as we work with honesty, great things will happen,” she said.
Maria Paz, now 56 years old, said that when she decides to retire in the near future, she wants her family to continue the business she put up in the UAE and perhaps expand the name further. Her only wish is for the bakery to be known to all Filipinos in the UAE and put a smile on them when they hear the brand.
“I trust that whatever we experience in life makes us what we are now. Struggles are part of the life process. We may have made a bad decision in the past, but it does not define us. Let’s just embrace life challenges and do not stop moving forward,” she said.
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This story has been featured in the 28th issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact Mr. Raymart Patulot at +971 56 663 4184. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.