Like every one of you reading, I have a big dream for myself. My dream is to change the world someday. Ambitious—I know! I have a dream too crazy for my own good probably, but in 2017, I finally had the opportunity to start making that dream a reality.
But before all that, I’d like to share the journey I went through to get there.
One night, I told my parents that I want to go to Singapore. I told them I want to follow the footsteps of my two best friends who had already found work there. I had everything figured out. My friends would help me. It would be easy. I would be fine.
I traveled to Singapore in February 2008— two weeks before my birthday — with a college schoolmate. The plan was to live in a hostel for a few days until I could live with my best friends. However, that plan didn’t happen. My best friends’ landlord did not want to accept another tenant. With no permanent place to go, I did not panic — not yet. I had a new plan, and it was to find an apartment and share the rent with my schoolmate. But that, too, didn’t happen. My schoolmate found a bedspace apartment for one. Then, I panicked.
Thankfully, by God’s grace, I was able to find a room for myself. The very next day, I started looking for work. I gave myself one month to land work. I did everything I could possibly think of. For a whole month, I emailed my resume to companies, faxed them out, went to walk-in interviews, hand-carried my resume, bought newspapers every day for the classified ads, and applied to all online job sites I could find in the Internet. But nothing was happening.
One month became two, and my tourist visa in Singapore expired. I needed to exit the country and go back to the Philippines. But I didn’t do that; instead, I went to Malaysia. After spending three days and two nights in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, I was ready to enter Singapore again.
When I travelled back and tried to pass through immigration, my passport sent a flag to the immigration’s system. I was stopped at the immigration gate and was led to a room wherein two officers were waiting for me. Both of them didn’t look too thrilled to see me. I was asked to sit down and the questioning began.
They asked me why do I have to go back to Singapore when the government already gave me two months. I remembered suddenly what my friends and acquaintances told me — never to reveal that you are looking for work. But that’s what I said anyway in the end. I told the officers that I was looking for work. Perhaps out of pity or out of shock from my honesty, they gave me one more month to stay in Singapore.
This time, I was driven by a sense of purpose. I mean, there’s a reason why I was given another chance. I knew I was going to find work. When the third month came and passed, and I was still without work, all reasons went flying out of the door. I knew that the time to go home had come. I had done everything that I could do — legally.
When I was given yet another month (my fourth month), I felt at peace and was ready to let go. I already accepted my fate. Toward the end of the fourth and final month, I found myself staring at the Sent message folder in my email. I had sent out 101 applications. That 101st email lead me to a job offer.
I lived in Singapore for a total of eight years, and I owed a great deal of who I am today because of that country. I became a man there.
However, like any other journey, it has an end. In 2016, I decided to go back home to the Philippines. It felt right. It was an answer to a question I’d been constantly asking myself — “What’s next?”
Before settling back to the Philippines, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to start my own company and travel the world and experience everything. I had two million pesos in savings. I felt like I could do anything! But that amount of comfort was the beginning of the end.
After a year, my entire savings was gone. There was no business, and I hadn’t traveled the world. I had nothing to show for. So I tried to become a new person. Why not? That’s what you do, right? All those years in the publishing industry was all in the past. I reinvented myself and was working in social media marketing. I enjoyed myself — in the early part. But the more I attempted to reinvent my image and my career, the more I felt lost, and I fell into depression in November 2017.
When all seems lost, and everything you worked really hard for just disappears — all by your own doing — you will shut the world down around you, and eventually you will be presented with a dilemma: to stay alive or to just end it. I chose the former.
I prayed — really prayed like my life depended on it because it kind of was. After several days of prayer and meditation, I found the courage to slowly pick my self up and dream again.
With the help of my supportive family and friends, I was able to start my own publishing house — DCO Publishing — in January 2018. My mission is to provide a platform for local authors to get their works published. I always believe that the next J.K. Rowling or the next Kevin Kwan is here in Cebu, but we won’t know unless there’s a platform. I envision an international bestselling author coming from Cebu or the Visayas region.
I started speaking about my vision to people who wanted to hear, and I was able to find those who believed in me and wanted to join my cause. And on September 1, at Parkmall, we are proud to announce that we are launching our very first book — Brandy Pooh’s Time-Traveling Adventures, Book 1: The Legend of the Fourteen Shih Tzus by Janice Y. Perez.
Looking back, November 2017 was a birthing process — a seed in the ground pushing itself up to sprout, a butterfly getting ready to leave its cocoon. It’s funny how when everything seems lost, our dreams can be our saving grace. We often travel to far away places, yet we forget sometimes to travel within ourselves to dreams we have forgotten and buried because life got in the way.
I once read that every dream in our hearts has a purpose, and we already have within ourselves everything to make those dreams come to pass. So let’s hold on to our dreams and to the people who were always with us from the start. Who knows, we might just change the world or, at least, our world.
Donald Villamero is the founder of DCO Publishing, a start-up publishing house in Cebu City, Philippines. His mission is to provide a platform for local authors to get their works published and to get their voice out to the world. Learn more about DCO by visiting www.dcopublishing.com.
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