Angel Timbol has moved over three dozen family members from the Philippines and launched two businesses since arriving in Dubai three decades ago.
Angel is his family's guiding light
DUBAI // When Angel Timbol arrived in the Emirates in 1981, his plan was to work for two years and return to the Philippines to start a business with his earnings.
"I realised that it was not that easy to save a sizeable amount," he said. "So I stayed on for many years, until today."
In the past three decades, the 58-year-old Filipino father of five and grandfather of five has accomplished more than most expatriates. He started out working as an accounts clerk before moving to a project accountant position at an engineering and construction firm in Dubai, where he worked for 11 years. In 1991 he set up a car repair shop. He launched his own marine supply business, Jetty Oilfield & Marine Supply, in 1997 after suffering a mild heart attack that required a year of sick leave.
It was in 1991 that he moved three dozen members of his family to Dubai. "Instead of sending money, I decided to bring them here to work," he said.
Mr Timbol paid for their visas and air tickets, provided them food and accommodation and gave them jobs.
He wanted to prevent a situation he had seen all too often, when families of overseas Filipino workers became dependent on the remittances their relatives send from abroad. The relatives sending the money then work pay cheque after pay cheque to shoulder the burden, or acquire substantial debt just to meet their familial commitments.
"It's very common among Filipinos," Mr Timbol said. "But it's our fault; we keep on sending money every month. Many of us even take huge loans to support our families back home."
More than two dozen of his relatives, mostly without work experience, landed jobs as trainees at his car repair shop. They worked there until 2003, when he shut down the shop to concentrate on his marine supply business and asked them to look for new jobs.
"I knew they were ready to take on new jobs, having lived here for many years," Mr Timbol said. "They found work in other automotive workshops."
Liza Espinosa, 56, an owner of a garment trading company in Ajman, has known Mr Timbol since 1990. She, too, brought her relatives - 20 of them - to the UAE to live and work.
"We both decided to become entrepreneurs instead of being mere employees," she said.
"Angel is an astute businessman and is also well known for his charity work. He's always willing to help people who want to set up businesses here in the UAE."
Mr Timbol's success did not come easily. He came from a very poor family in Angeles City, Pampanga, about 80km north of Manila. His parents were farmers and had 12 children to support.
"They did not know any other job, being poorly educated," he said.
Though they had little schooling, they instilled the value of education in Angel.
In 1974, when Mr Timbol was 22, his father died. Being the eldest, he was responsible for helping his mother raise his three brothers and eight sisters. He also had to work to pay for his university education.
Poverty pushed him to invest in property to prepare for his family's future. Since 1983, he would buy small plots of land during his annual holiday to the Philippines.
"At that time, a 250-sq-metre lot in Pampanga would cost about 30,000 pesos (Dh2,500)," Mr Timbol said. "Years later, it can be sold for one million pesos."
He sold these plots of land in 2000 and used the money to build Jettyville Park Resorts and Subdivisions, a community at Capas, Tarlac, 90km north of Manila, which overseas Filipinos can invest or live in. There will be 250 plots of land on offer, augmented by three swimming pools, a clubhouse, a one-hectare mango orchard and a playground.
Mr Timbol's three children, who grew up in Dubai, have successful careers. His eldest son, Michael, 34, is an engineer at a power supply company in Dubai, and Oliver, 30, manages the family's marine supply business. Mr Timbol's 31-year-old daughter, Princess, works as an accountant in Ireland.
Mr Timbol plans to retire and return to the Philippines in three to four years, or after his two other children complete their studies.
His daughter Myrangeli, 23, is a first-year law student, while his son Francisco, 16, is a grade 12 student at the American International School in Dubai and will pursue an aeronautics engineering degree in Dubai next year.
"My dad has always been a go-getter," his son Oliver said. "And he made sure we lead comfortable lives before he retires. He was very strict and wanted to give us the best education. We would not have succeeded without his guidance."