Just like many other success stories we read time and again, what really brings success to anyone is hard work. But unlike most stories of overcoming poverty because of perseverance, Rebecca Bustamante, an ex-OFW, valued her education.
In her feature story from the Manila Times in 2014, she said that she wanted to become rich for herself and for her family, simply put. She wanted to be rich because she had 10 siblings and she wanted to help her parents.
Fast forward to the present, Ms. Bustamante met President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang.
GROWING UP IN POVERTY
Money was hard to come by. At a young age, Rebecca helped with anything and everything she could to help bring income to the family. In grade school she helped her mother to sell iced candy and iced buko as well as pan de sal. She also helped her sell fish in the market so they can earn some money for her younger siblings.
She said that she was never ashamed to do any of those jobs because she wanted to become rich. She worked hard so she can become wealthy and she had that mindset even when she was still very young.
She continued to sell snack items in Dasol, Pangasinan, and an opportunity came knocking as she was given the job as sari-sari store sales lady. Even as she had to work hard, she made it a point that she continued with her schooling. She told her mother that she wanted to be able to go to college, around the time they moved to Mariveles, Bataan. Her mother told her that they could not afford her education.
That did not stop her, because she ended up with a job in a Bataan factory as a sewer or mananahi. She worked in the daytime and went to school at night.
I realized that the only way to succeed is to have a good education so I became a working student through and through, and enrolled at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines to pursue Accountancy.” Bustamanted said
But, life sometimes will put you through very hard times just to see how much more you can go. Her mother died on short notice and that unforeseen death in the family left her with not much choice but to stop school. She had a bigger responsibility to look after and that was to fend for her younger siblings. Their father could not hold up a job, so she needed to step in. She was 18 when their mother passed away.
She took on a janitorial job at the Rural Bank of Dasol. That was where she summed up the courage to ask her bank manager to help her with her plans to work out of the country as domestic helper. She worked as a janitor at the rural bank for a year.
In 1968, she worked as a dh and nanny to a Singaporean family in Singapore. She worked hard and good because she wanted to make sure they will keep her in the job. Rebecca believed that the reward for being good at your job is that you’ll get to keep it.
She only had one day off from her work every month, and even with that she continued to study.
” I used that one day off to pursue my education in Accountancy.”
She enrolled in Open University of the Singapore Institute of Management. To make it work, whenever she showed up at school, she would already ask her professor for her entire month’s assignments so that she can turn them in.
“I studied at night when my employers are asleep from 11 o’clock until 1 a.m. Then I would start my job as early as five in the morning,” she recounted.
Domestic Helper – Nanny in Singapore then in Canada
She later got the opportunity to get on another job as domestic helper in Canada. She was given an employment recommendation from the previous employers with an initial refusal because they did not want to let her go. They eventually did because she was very good to them.
A lot of opportunities opened up for her in Canada. She worked as a nanny once again but this time she got to attend a nearby school every Monday and Wednesday evenings. Also, she got into selling pots and pans, the sales commissions she earned she promptly send to her family in the Philippines, who are dependent on her remittance. The money she got from her job as a nanny she had them all saved up for her application to Canadian Citizenship.
She succeeded in finishing her degree in Accounting and Marketing at the Ryerson University in Ontario. Rebecca says with conviction,
“Education is very important to me. If you want to be successful, it’s important to continue learning and to continue developing your skills. So that’s exactly what I did, I never stopped studying.”
She further shared,
“I wrote all my goals on a piece of cartolina and placed it beside my bed so every morning, I am reminded of the work I had to do in order to achieve them.”
She finished her undergraduate degree and got her Canadian citizenship. She was able to work then for several companies there including cosmetic giant Mary Kay, where she became Senior Sales Director.
Rebecca Bustamante’s life story got featured in major news shows and publications.
From everything that she had learned in life, the education that she pursued despite the many sacrifices along the way, the knowledge she gained from working different jobs, she was able to set up her own company in Canada called High-Q Personnel, a recruitment agency.
Rebecca was already a success BEFORE she met her husband. She did not have time for love life when she put up her employment and recruitment agency to help fellow Filipinos find domestic work in Canada at the same time help Canadian employers find good nannies and helpers.
“My focus that time was to help my brothers and sisters. So I study, run the business, save money.”
When she turned 27, knowing that her family in the Philippines is now okay and well taken cared of, she started to look for the man that is meant for her. She then started dating her now husband Richard Mills and they married when she was 31. They have two sons.
This is the reason why her husband is in awe of her determination, hard work, and accomplishments especially considering the struggles she underwent.
It was an offer from Mary Kay Cosmetics to set up business as a counterpart in the Philippines that brought her back home. She also became president of the Canadian Club in the Philippines at one time, and in 2005, her husband joined her in the Philippines as they set up their business called Chalré Associates, a multinational recruitment firm. She handled the operations of the recruitment company while her husband sat as the Chairman.
She says of the company they established:
“When I was working in Singapore, I used to hear a lot of negative things about Filipinos so I dreamt that someday I would do something to tell the world about the positive side of the Philippines and the Filipinos. This is where the inspiration of putting up Chalré Associates came from.”
The couple launched the Asia CEO Forum in 2009, recognized not only in the country but also in the entire Asia Pacific, which was followed by Asia CEO Awards the year that followed.
“Our events are organized by an alliance of Filipino and international business people with a mission to promote the Philippines as a premier business destination to global decision makers. Filipinos are achievers but they are very humble. So the Asia CEO Awards is about making noise that Filipino businessmen excel not only in the Philippines but also abroad, especially in Asia.” Bustamante added.
In an interview with Powerhouse from GMA Public Affairs, she said on “luck”, that you can believe it so long as you do something about it. WATCH the interview.
In the article she was featured on in Manila Times, she was quoted to have said:
“Everyone can be a CEO. Go ahead and dream but work for it. Because it doesn’t matter where you came from; the important thing is where you want to go.”
Watch this longer feature by CNN Philippines Profiles TV Show where Rebecca shared her story in depth:
Rebecca Bustamante, ex-OFW, from maid to made!
Be inspired by her never-give-up-never-surrender attitude on her journey to rise out of poverty. May we have more successful people helping our country and its people in their own way.
Check out other features here in iSensey for inspiring stories of ordinary men and women who found amazing success in life. May they inspire you too! LIKE and SHARE!!!