Prudencio Garcia, President of Mekeni Foods Corp. and Myrna Padilla, Founder of Myndtech Consulting were two of the winners of the OFW/Balikbayan Reputation Awards (OBRA), which was held last December 9 during the 8th Mega Balikbayan & OFW Expo, at the SM Megatrade Halls, SM Megamall.
Now on its third year, OBRA recognizes outstanding OFWs and Balikbayan models that our others can emulate as an inspiration to lead more meaningful lives. The awardees are categorized based on entrepreneurship, community building, positive character/deed, family building, and work ethics. Pruds and Myrna join six other awardees who are either current OFWs or balikbayans with at least two years experience working abroad.
Below are this year’s OBRA recipients:
Myrna Padilla, Outstanding Entrepreneur
Just to feed and ease their starvation, she scrabbled for some seaweeds and seashells at her early age. As she became a mother of two, their distressing situation triggered Myrna to work abroad as domestic helper. Though she’s not highly compensated, the family which she served was good to her. When they bought a computer for their son, she learned how to use the computer by herself. As soon as she got back in the country, she set up a small IT BPO Company. Her business became successful, as it paved her way out of poverty. It also became an avenue for her fellow Davaoenos to earn by working under her.
Randy Ahorro, Outstanding Entrepreneur
Sir Randy’s enthusiasm for sports leads him to start his business here in the Philippines. He was a factory worker at Taiwan, saving money for his future business. He worked for 8 years, seeking part time jobs such as selling of cellphone load and as a club bouncer. To quote, “The pay was good for the hard work you put in, but overseas work cannot be the end goal”. The company where he used to work faced a crisis which led to a massive lay-off, which lead him back to the Philippines. This opened an opportunity for him start the business he’s dreaming of – production of sports gear. He started the business in Mindoro with an initial investment of P200, 000 to produce sandals, camping bags, backpacks, and military paraphernalia. The competitors’ greater market share and other obstructions are not reasons for him to stop in pursuing his dream. Instead, his mind is determined in attaining success.
Ronaldo M. Velasco, Outstanding Community Builder
Mr. Ronaldo is a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineer graduate at MAPUA Institute of Technology and a board passer as Junior Mechanical Engineer. He worked at several companies here in the Philippines. He found his luck abroad, where he received some awards and citations. After 32 years in America and reaching his “American Dream”, he went back to the Philippines and decided to be a permanent “Balikbayan” and do mission work as his way of giving back and sharing his blessings. He founded Angel’s Mission Foundation Incorporated, which was renamed Ron Velasco’s Charity Mission with the objective of helping those indigent and needy people. His mission of helping others continues.
Gundelina Sale, Outstanding Community Builder
Ms. Gundelina is a typical mother dreaming of having a better future for her family. Being inspired by the success story of her colleagues abroad, she worked overseas as a domestic helper in Kuwait. After several years of service, Gulf War brought her back to the Philippines. She sought grants given to refugees like her that would help her start a new life. Soon, she became a part of OWWA, but found that her sentiments were not for the agency but for the OFWs. For that reason, she organized LABORDA in Benguet, which advocacy is to give continuous support to the OFWs and their family that they leave behind, as well as collaborating with other organizations with the same advocacy.
Rogelio San Andres, Outstanding in Positive Character/Deed
Mr. Rogelio is a Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science graduate at Lyceum of the Philippines. In order for him to pursue his college education, he has to sell food from house to house just to finance his necessities. After several years of working and after finishing his studies, he left the Philippines to work abroad. He served as a Land-Based, then as a Sea-Based OFW. During the time of his service, he gave extraordinary effort of bringing the best not only for him but as well for his fellow OFW and fellow Filipinos. Because of this and his other positive characteristics, he was awarded with different recognitions here and abroad. His story of success has been featured in different TV shows, and he serves as a spokesperson in different seminars.
Prudencio Garcia, Outstanding in Positive Character/Deed
Born second in a brood of five in Porac, Pampanga, Prudencio Garcia’s parents who are both teachers instilled in him and his brothers the value of hard work and valuing money wisely. He carried that trait as he grew up. Upon graduation, he began building his own life, starting as an external auditor which provided him experience. Soon after, he was able to work as a Project Monitoring / Planning Officer in Saudi Arabia in 1985, consistently rising above the ranks until he became an Audit Manager, a position which he enjoyed for six years until 1993. He was at the peak of his life as a professional in 1991 when the Mt. Pinatubo eruption occurred. Thousands of families are displaced, hunger ensued. Taking action, Pruds and the Filipino Group in Dammam established the “Tubo sa Tocino Para Sa Pinatubo Project”. The group would manufacture tocino and sell it to the Filipino community. Earnings from the project were sent to the City of San Fernando, Pampanga or directly to the Pinatubo evacuees at Balubad, Porac, where most of the evacuees are hosted.
During this time, Pruds received a letter from his father, urging him to go back and help his cabalens by expanding their family business. His Tatang’s letter moved him, as he was reminded that the reason why he was successful was because of the community. By providing employment, they are giving a chance for Kapampangans to rebuild their lives. At this point, he and his siblings heed their father’s call. He left Saudi Arabia to personally attend to his father’s request. Pooling their hard earned savings, Pruds and his brothers expanded Mekeni Meat Products into one of the biggest corporations in the country in food processing. The rest, as they say, is history.Pruds Garcia took the risk of giving up his comfortable life and losing everything he worked for in an attempt to rehabilitate the community where he grew. The strong sense of positivity in the face of calamity shows that he is beyond doubt an example worthy to be emulated by his fellow OFWs, where the spirit of bayanihan is greater than any amount of salary or comfort abroad.
Dr. Carlito Astillero, Outstanding Family Builder
Dr. Carlito spent 36 years as a Microbiology specialist at Al Mishary General Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he recently retired at the age of 73. During the time of his service abroad as an OFW he was given different citations, such as the “Most Outstanding OFW award in Saudi Arabia in 1990 and a Bagong Bayani Award in 1992. Because of his success, he found a way of sharing his blessings by helping his neighbors financially, as well as giving scholarships to his relatives and friends. Working for almost half of his life and going even beyond his retiring age is somewhat a proof of his love to his family and shows his purpose of re-assuring that there would be a great future for his family.
Engr. Francisco Aguilar, Jr., Outstanding in Work Ethics
Engr. Francisco received awards and citations from various organizations, which marks his success as an OFW. He spent more than a decade working in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His success as an OFW because of his passion and dedication at work is manifested as he was featured at different TV shows and magazine articles. Currently, he is the President of Filipino Migrant Workers Group which helps our fellow countrymen who are dreaming of working abroad. With a proven track record of leadership, commitment and dedication to public service, he is the voice of the Overseas Filipino Workers.