Filipina’s mission is to help others
ABU DHABI // Cherry Pye Zablan-Torres takes pride in helping thousands of less-privileged Filipinos master computer skills and get better, high-paying jobs in the emirates.
“So far we’ve trained more than 33,000 Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates,” said the 43-year-old president of the Filipino Computer Club, which has provided free courses since 1996.
“A housemaid is now working as a personal assistant to a managing director, while a former petrol station attendant is a systems engineer at a reputable company.”
The club offers training in Microsoft Office, web design, graphics, multimedia, PC assembly and networking, as well as classes in English and communication.
“Our volunteer trainers are certified Microsoft Office specialists and members of Toastmasters International,” she said.
Mrs Zablan-Torres, who has lived and worked in the UAE since 1995, is a licensed electronics and communication engineer who did not have job experience in the Philippines.
“I took it upon myself to get certification courses,” she said.
“I believe learning is a continuous process. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Don’t stay stuck. Do better.”
She first worked as a personal assistant to the managing director of a Dubai-based firm and moved on to become an administration manager, deputy manager, training manager, and a training and communication specialist. She has been with Toastmasters – a non-profit that helps people develop public speaking and communications skills – for more than a decade and is the organisation’s ambassador for revitalised education programme.
In addition to being the president of a computer club, she has led major Filipino community events, including fund-raisers to assist needy Filipinos in the UAE and at home.
“Juggling work, community services and family is not easy,” she said. “However, knowing that, in my own little ways, I can make a difference in the lives of other people gives me a sense of joy.”
Despite her busy schedule, Mrs Zablan-Torres is a hands-on mother to son Collin Dayle, 10, a tenth grader at the Westminster School in Dubai.
“He is doing great at school and excelling in major subjects,” she said. “He’s involved in performing arts and is a household leader in church activities.”
Mrs Zablan-Torres believes she inherited her drive and devotion to education from her mother Monica.
“She was a former schoolteacher, legionary, ballroom dancer and a competent toastmaster,” said Mrs Zablan-Torres, tears welling up.
“My mum instilled in me good values of love, kindness, strong faith in God and selfless service to humanity.”
Her mother died in February at the age of 79.
“I will always remember the quote she once shared with me: ‘We don’t need tremendous strengths and extreme capabilities to be of service to others, we just need to have a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love to make a difference.
“Each one of us has great powers and we can do remarkable things.’”
While still struggling to come into terms with her mother’s death, she accepted the challenge to head the Philippine Independence Day celebrations in Dubai.
“I was a bit hesitant but Filipino community leaders and our adviser, consul Ferdie Flores, said I needed it to help me cope with my sadness,” she said.
“The event, in June, was a resounding success and the biggest so far, with nearly 10,000 Filipinos in attendance.”
Updated: August 8, 2015 04:00 AM