ME, DESCRIBED IN BRIEF:
One of the most challenging articles to write is probably about myself… Maybe because I am a bit of everything, like most people would say, I am a jack of all trades but a master of none. Not sure if it is positive or negative -but that’s just me… 🙂
When someone asks me how I describe myself, only one word comes to my mind… Complexity – in a positive way… Before I continue, let me introduce myself. My name is Benlito Hobayan… My friends call me Maosi.. I am bit of everything, I love writing, interested in street photography and politics.
WHO I WAS GROWING UP:
Ever since I was young, though I grew up in the remote countryside in the Philippines, my interests as a child was different from my peers. Most kids in the community dreams of being a soldier, policeman or a teacher. Being isolated from the outside world back in the 80’s with no media reaching our place, and with the current political status during that time wherein the Philippines was in the middle of civil unrest, being in the military or a teacher was the only profession that kids knew.
But for me, it was rather different… I learned how to read even before I went to the kindergarten with the help of my Mother. I was pretty much inquisitive, I read all kinds of books, magazines and anything printed paper at home. I still remember on our first day of school, our teacher asked us what our dreams was. I proudly stood in front of the class and said… “I want to be an astronaut like Neil Armstrong” – my teacher was surprised and asked me if I understand what an astronaut is… Then I started explaining that I want to go to the moon just like Neil Armstrong… Then my classmates started laughing out loud, they thought that no one can go to the moon…
I was too ashamed that I cried in front of the class… I was 5 years old then and the youngest in the class, but the trauma for being ridiculed at that moment made me remember every detail until now. What happened that day made me develop a fighter kind of personality, like when I know I am right I make sure that I prove to them and make them understand my point of view.
As I grew up, I become more curious. That’s when I started writing. I write about anything, stories about my emotions, fictional stories about monsters from grandma’s tales of monsters and fairies, etc… During my primary to secondary school days my mother would always get upset with me coz my notebooks were almost consumed halfway thru the semester. I used to have manuscripts of fictional stories that I wrote but was lost when I came to Saudi Arabia.
CHASING MY DREAMS:
I was 14 when I finished high school, I was young ambitious and driven. Realizing that my dreams were bigger than what the universities in my hometown can offer; I decided to leave for Manila and chase my dreams even without the consent of my father. I went to the big city with nothing but my dreams.
I can still remember the last conversation with my father before I left. He was insisting that I stay in Samar and tend to the family’s property and be a farmer, since I was the youngest son –(both my brothers were already in Manila with their own family). The words that I told him was… “My body is too weak to carry a sack of rice on my back, but my brain is far stronger than a hundred bulls. I know I can plow 100 acres of riceland with just a pen in my hand, but to do that I need to get a good education…”
The mid of 90’s was the start of Information Technology to flourish in the Philippines. At that time, I was a 14-year-old kid, not yet allowed to work so I must rethink my strategy. With the help of my eldest brother who was working as a welder with salary that can barely sustain his needs, I enrolled at STI College -took up Computer Programming Course. That was the quickest way to land a job by then. Then worked my way to finish my course by haggling with my classmates, selling to them term papers, research and program designs. At 16 I finished college and started working. During this time my focus was completely diverted to making ends meet, set aside my dreams and worked like a horse in developing my career.
Two years into my working career, at 18 years old I become the youngest Station Head of CALTEX Philippines. Unfortunately, young as I was back then. I was easily swayed by new opportunities. My boss in Caltex ventured into the food business. She tugged me along with her and we started a 160-seater restaurant with catering services. In return, she gave me scholarship, so I went back to college and took up Information Technology Management specializing in Web Development and Design in Informatics Colleges.
At the break of the millennium, the exodus of Filipinos looking for opportunities outside of the Philippines became the norm. I was lured to the idea of earning more bucks and new opportunity to see the world. So I decided to take the plunge.
LIFE IN SAUDI ARABIA:
In 2004, I travelled to Saudi Arabia with another set of dreams on my pocket. I left behind the privileges I had in the Philippines, wherein I have the liberty to wake up anytime I want and report to work as I please.
When I arrived in KSA, it was a total contrast of what I have left behind in the Philippines. On my first day in Riyadh, I had to sleep in a room with eight people stuck together like prisoners in one place. The sound of snoring of my room mates was my music during the night, a far cry from jazz music that play on the radio in my room back in Philippines and the smell of food and cheap Jovan perfumes filled the air in the early morning rush.
A week later, I was instructed to travel to Dammam. In the morning, I woke up to a knee-deep flood on the floor an overflow from the sewage nearby. Then I was sent to Jubail for a job interview. My first night in Jubail was again a little bit traumatic. After the job interview, I was made to wait in worker’s camp, outside on a bench with my luggage in tow like a refugee in the middle of the desert without a clue on what’s going to happen next.
Looking back at my experiences when I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I could have easily given up and packed my things and head back to the Philippines. But, I am a very determined person, if the world throws lemons on me, I don’t cry.. Instead I make lemonade…
Eventually, after six months of trials in Saudi, I found a way to make the situation work to my advantage and the rest is history.
HUMANITARIAN WORK, PUBLIC SERVICE, PUBLISHING& SPORTS:
In 2004, I managed to have my career in Saudi Arabia stabilized. This was the time that I was able to put a little more focus on my writing.
Sometime in 2004 to 2007, I used to be contribute lifestyle articles to Arab News featuring Filipino Community Events, also at the same period I used to contribute articles to ABANTE Tonite – Middle East Edition.
In the same period, I was greatly involved in public service, mostly focusing on Filipino Community Services. Together with my friends we founded Filipino Community Jubail and at the same time I was also a member of the Board of Directors for SANGKAY Saudi Arabia -an organization of Filipinos coming from the Easter Visayas Region of the Philippines. I used to be a volunteer worker for the Philippines Embassy, I was awarded three consecutive years with outstanding service awards from 2006, 2007 and 2008.
In Fashion, I used to write feature articles for an online Beauty Pageant Site, doing pageant reviews. Beauty Queen critiques, and other opinion articles.
Sometime in 2008, my interest shifted to sports. In August, I joined my first tournament and emerged as the Champion for Jubail Bowling Club’s monthly tournament, this achievement was followed with numerous awards in the local bowling community. To date, I have won Singles 5 championship trophies, 2 doubles champions, 1 trio champion, 3 Team Championship crowns and multiple Runner-up finishes both in team and singles competition.
2011 was the best turning point in my life. This was the year that I got introduced to Humanitarian and Charity Works. I started doing volunteer works for Project Pearls in Manila, which eventually to led to the formation of Kalinga ng Kabataan saNayon Foundation (Youth Care of the Country Foundation). Aside from my work, my focus is in the foundation. Our activities include educational support for poor kids in the Philippines, Information Literacy, Calamity Victims assistance, etc.
At present, my writing focuses more on Opinion writing mostly on politics and some are feature articles being published in Magazines with the help of my friend Barbie Felix and Uno Singco.
A GLANCE AT THE FUTURE:
At the moment, I really don’t look forward too far into the future. I am already a middle-aged man, basically I have lived a life full of adventure. Every part of my adventure had been full of colors, had some regrets along the way but have more reasons to celebrate my adventure.
Given the chance to start over in life… I think I will choose to live the same adventure… Because I believe that the beauty of life does not depend on the roads which you traveled, but what footprints you left behind on your journey….