MANILA, Philippines – The off-road adventure of a former tricycle driver started way before he learned how to endure the twists and turns of the Desert Safari in Dubai.
Godi Olis, the tour operator of Off Road Adventures, is one of the estimated 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) trying to make a living in Dubai.
Like most OFWs, Olis was forced to leave home to seek a better financial opportunity elsewhere.
“Sa Pilipinas, malaki kaming pamilya. Mahirap lang ang buhay and then halos hindi kami mapag-aral ng pamilya namin, ng mga magulang ko,” he told “My Puhunan.”
Olis said tried his hand at boxing and driving tricycles to support himself in the Philippines.
“Nag-tricycle driver ako, sa pagmamaneho ko, kumbaga tama lang may pangkain ka sa araw-araw,” he said.
In 1991, Olis flew to the Middle East and worked at a tedious and demanding job in landscaping and irrigation.
“Napakahirap dahil nasa gitna po kami ng disyerto. Kapag inabot kayo ng break sa trabaho halos dumudugo na po ang ilong namin kung hindi mo kakayanin ang init. But then, ‘yan ang trabaho namin eh,” said Olis.
Many days spent in the sand and under the scorching sun gave Olis the idea to enter the tourism industry.
Desert King Godi Olis in Dubai. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
He soon became the driver of a well-known tour company in Dubai.
But in 2001, Olis lost his job due to retrenchment.
The setback did not discourage Olis, and instead he used it as an opportunity to start his own business.
Through a loan from a friend, Olis bought a 4x4 vehicle to set up a Desert Safari tour.
From that one vehicle, Olis now has 15 units for his Off Road Adventures tour. He remains to be the only Filipino in Dubai to operate a Desert Safari tour.