Chef Pablo "Boy" Logro is shown here in a file publicity photo for his TV show.
MANILA - The room livened up when he began to talk. And just like in a cooking show, the audience paid attention to the ingredients the chef shared at the start of the demo.
But this time, Chef Pablo "Boy" Logro wasn't cooking, and the ingredients he shared were the ones that brought flavor and success into his life as an overseas Filipino worker and eventually, as a celebrity chef.
"Ako din po ay nag-abroad ng 10 years sa the Sultanate of Oman," he said during his inspirational speech at the recent awarding ceremony of the Model OFW Family of the Year Award organized by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
It may seem like a stroke of luck for him to land an overseas job in Oman even though he lacked the background and reference to back his application.
But his luck, he said, didn't just end with him getting hired. He couldn't believe that he would be serving His Majesty, the King of Oman. And not just as one of the members of his staff, but as his personal chef.
"Kung saan siya naroon ako po ay kasama niya. The personal chef of His Majesty. Di ko akalain na naging chef ako ng His Majesty. Parang panagip," he said.
It was hard to believe at first, he said. After all, he started out as a houseboy in Quiapo in the 70s he said.
"Nag apply ako sa Oman di ko akalain na ang kumuha sa akin ay palasyo. Nag start ako as houseboy sa Quiapo until nag apply ako sa isang restaurant na hindi ko akalaing isang Spanish restaurant sa Makati. With that tinanggap naman ako kaya lang sabi galing ka ng Quiapo, dishwasher ka muli," he said.
But he was determined. He used the opportunity to broaden his horizon by learning the ropes in the culinary business.
When he thought he was ready, he applied for an overseas job as a "Sous Chef".
"Hindi ko pa po alam ang sous chef noon. Ang akala ko taga-gawa ng sauce. Sabi ko kaya ko ito, taga gawa lang ng sauce," he said to the laughter of the audience.
"Hindi ko akalain na ang sous chef pala ay managerial position na pala yun," he said.
Soon after, he was flying to Oman, to a job position that was knew to him. But the determined Logro didn't allowed that to dampen his spirits. He was prepared to succeed.
"So lumipad ako. Pagdating ko po nagulat ako. Para akong nanaginip, totoo ba ito? Yung chandelier, crystal at puno ng gold yung Muscat palace," he recalled.
The king, he said, was so kind. When he prepared a meal for him, that sealed his good fate in Oman.
"Nagustuhan po niya yung ginawa ko yung stuffed avocado with shrimps. Nung kumain siya sabi, 'Bablo', akala ko sabi Diablo kasi wala palang 'P' doon sa Arab kaya Bablo. Natuwa. Sabi niya magmula ngayon, araw-araw nyang gagawin ito. Kaya 10 years po ako sa Oman, 10 years ko po ginawa yung stuffed avocado with shrimps," he said that elicited more laughter from the audience.
His luck continued to pour in while there. As personal chef, he said he was given a car with the number 2 plate of His Majesty, that made him "untouchable". "Hindi ako pwedeng sitahin ng pulis sa sapagkat ang dala kong pagkain for His Majesty only".
"At binigyan po ako ng bahay. Katabi ko po yung Consulate. Akala ng Consulate natin ay doctor ako dahil nakaputi po ako, kapitbahay ko po siya. 'Hindi po. Kusinero po ako' sabi kong ganun," he said.
Everyday, he would bring fresh lobsters, shrimps and avocado, to cook for the king wherever he goes.
"Kaya natuwa po ako. Yung tiwala ng hari ay sa Pilipino. Very proud as a Filipino sapagkat magaling tayong magtrabaho," he said.
The king was able to bring him to London, to the Buckingham Palace, where he also had the honor of serving food to Queen Elizabeth. He was able to see the world because of his job.
"Ang buhay ng isang OFW ay hindi natin alam kung anong destinasyon,"said Logro.
He added, "Ipinagmamalaki po ng His Majesty na yung chef, in Arabic, is Filipino. His name is Bablo. Binibigyan po ako ng tip napakarami $5,000 to $6,000. Hindi ko po binibilang sa harapan, pupunta po ako sa CR doon ko po binibilang. Totoo po yan. Sa dami po nagulat ako," he shared.
He said, things would not turn out the way it did for him if he hadn't exerted efforts to be good at what he does.
"Mapalad po tayong mga Pilipino OFW kung tayo po ay mabait din sa ating ginagawa. May prize po yun."
"Kayo po tayong mga Pilipino kung tayo ay binibigyan ng titulo ng King o kahit sinomang amo, ang ginagawa ko po I have to come early, then I have to come home late para ma-recognize ako ng boss ko na mabait ako at masipag,"Logro said.
He said rewards such as tips and promotions come to those who really persevere.
"Hanggang sa isanama na pamilya ko. You want to bring your family? Sino bang ayaw? isinama ko pamilya. Libre lahat mula sa pagkain, sasakyan, gasolina, electricity etc, etc. libre lahat.
When he came home, he brought with him great reference, the experience of working for the King of Oman.
He applied with Diamond Hotel then, and although the pay was a far cry from what he earned as personal chef, he stuck to it for years in order to save money.
"Kapag marami kang pera, puro labas walang dumarating kahit mababang pwesto tinanggap ko dahil ayaw kong mabawasan. Then, after 5 years na promote ako, the first Filipino executive chef in a five star hotel that is Diamond Hotel, ako po yun,"he said.
From the salary and tips he saved abroad, he was able to buy a 50 hectares of land in Davao where his own culinary school called CLICKS or Chef Logro's Institute of Culinary and Kitchen Services, a TESDA accredited institution, is located. He is now in the process of building a resort on a five hectare land in Compostela Valley.
"If you want to be a successful chef, forget your ego. Kung anuman yung trabaho natin sa larangan ng pagiging OFW, forget your ego. If you want to be a good manager someday, good teachers or leaders forget your ego. Dahil pag may ego ka hindi mo marating ang gusto," he advised.
He added that to achieve ones goal, one must be determined, passionate, and hardworking.
"Lakas ng loob. Kahit di po ako graduate, I'm only an elementary graduate, UE ako graduate kung baga sa university: University of Experience. Hindi hadlang and kahirapan, hindi hadlang ang homesickness. if you want to be somebody, gusto mong maging entrepreneur, mag business ka sa Pilipnas, this is the place. Napakaganda ng ating bansa, nandyan lahat. Paano natin gagawin? Sipag, dasal at magpakumbaba.
And how he ended up as a celebrity chef?
"Yun lang. Pakapalan ng mukha. Di ka dapat mahiya. Ito'y chance mo," he said.
As recap to his ingredients to success:
"Hardwork and dedication yun lang ang kailangan natin. Believe. Maniwala ka sa sarili mo. Ako maliit, maitim pero akala mo pag naglakad ako mabilis dahil hindi ko iniinda ang pagod."
"Confidence, attitude, learning , motivation, attitude, skills, knowledge dapat meron tayo niyan," he said.
"Success is a journey not a destination," he said.
While at it, might as well enjoy the ride.