MANILA – A former overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia is now a successful recruitment agency business owner in Manila.
Lito Soriano worked as a telex operator in Riyadh for five years from 1980 to 1985. Even though the pay was not that high, Soriano made sure to plan well because he did not want to stay abroad for a very long time.
"Nagtrabaho ako sa isang Arabian company. Marami akong nakatrabaho na mga Pilipino at British at Swiss engineers. Mula sa kanila, marami akong natutunan at ngayon nakatulong sa pagpapatakbo ng aking opisina," he said.
From 1985 until 2000, he became a marketing executive for a recruitment agency. It was in 2001 when he decided to take the risk and open his own company.
Since then, his agency was able to deploy more than 7,000 OFWs to Middle East and Africa. Majority of the workers he deployed were engineers and medical professionals.
One of the business lessons that Soriano learned and wants to impart to Filipinos is the "earn and learn principle".
"So you need to earn and learn. Kung yun ang adhikain mo magiging makatuturan yung pag-aabroad, learn a new skill na pwede mong magamit sa iyong pag-uwi," he said.
He also said that it is important for OFWs to remember that working abroad is just temporary.
He likewise shared the importance of family in his success.
While abroad, Soriano's wife and their five children tried to help out the family.
"So my wife started a turon business, then nagtinda din kami ng school supplies dahil tapat lang namin yung high school sa amin, then namimili din kami ng palay noon," he said.
Financial experts also advice OFWs who do not want to work abroad for a very long time to try and start a business that they already know how to run.
But they said not all can succeed in business.
"Ang pinaka-pondasyon kasi na magbibigay sayo ng kita ay pagne-negosyo, kaya kailangang pag-aralan nyo kung kayo nga ay nababagay sa pagne-negosyo dahil hindi lahat ay cut-out para sa pagne-negosyo," said financial expert Armand Bengo.