Ferdie had to take the roundabout route going to Spain. Having been turned down when he applied for a visa, he flew to Morocco to establish the minimum 3-month residency to be eligible for entry to Spain. For three months, he was stuck in Sheik Mohammed’s magnificent villa in Tangiers, incommunicado from his family and unable to roam around. The food and the accommodation were fit for a king but he became so bored that at one time, Ferdie found himself talking to an Arabian horse owned by the Sheik. To this day, Ferdie won't tell what he and the horse discussed.
As the apex of his career in Spain, Ferdie became General Manager of the Marbella Resort Hotel, the first time in Malaga that a Filipino had risen to such a powerful position. After working for nine years for the Sheik in Marbella, he returned to the Philippines and now operates his Our Lady of Manaoag Montessori School system (pre-school, elementary, high school and college), in Balagtas, Bulacan.
“I’m proud to say that my school’s skills assessment standards are even higher than the standards of the industry and that of TESDA,” Ferdie beams. Why a school? As far as I knew, nobody in Ferdie’s family had any experience in running a school.
“I think this is the best way to return to society the many blessings I’ve received,” Ferdie answered my thoughts. “Education is the best way for the poor to improve their lives, and through my scholarship program, I am somehow able to make it happen for them.” Ferdie reminisces about the time when he struggled to make both ends meet as a student in UP. He remembers having to sell kangkong at the market place so he could earn fare money. In addition, he sold carabao milk at the UP Canteen in exchange for snacks. He joined the UP Repertory Company, a theatre group, not only for self-improvement but to earn extra money. He joined balagtasan contests for the same reason. Ferdie has come a long way since his batang kangkungan days, but for him, his humble beginning is a source of pride and inspiration, and he never fails to tell his story to his students.