San Francisco Host Lions Club, California Age 55 | Entrepreneur I was one of those kids in the Philippines who was not able to go to school. I came from a big family of nine. I had to work at age 7 or 8; I would find used bottles and sell them to a junk shop. I would tell myself then, “I’m not going to grow up to be a poor person.” Even as a kid, I knew that I had the power to change myself, to change my life. I immigrated to the U.S. in 2007. It was so difficult. That was when the economy was going down. I was going around presenting myself to every single person who could possibly give me a job. I worked as a caregiver for seven months, and then I applied to Pizza Hut. I applied to be a busboy, where you clean the tables and things like that. They said, “I’m sorry, but you’re not qualified.” I said, “But I know how to sweep the floor, clean the toilet, everything.” They said, “No, because we’re taking you on as a manager.” I was just so fortunate. I was seeing a lot of people crying about how they couldn’t pay their debts anymore, and I saw an opportunity. I said, “My goodness, if I can just help them with their finances, then I can probably have a new career here.” I saved $5,000, and I decided to open my financial services business. I started the business in a very small room with two telephones. And I have employees now, a lot of employees. All the hardship that I encountered in life, I used to make more possibilities. I mentor youth now, and I tell them, “Look, this is all temporary, and difficulty will shape your character. Don’t look at this as a burden.” It was difficult for me to decide whether I wanted to be a Lion, because when you come to a new country, you’re concentrating on your career. A friend of mine said, “Come on, give them a chance. You were already doing community service back in Manila.” So I went, and that’s when I realized, “Oh, this is it. I really love this.” That was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. And now I’m the second vice district governor. You will probably not believe it, but I know exactly what I want my district to do in the next few years. I’m a relatively new Lion, but I’m a fast learner. *As told to a LION Magazine writer (Anne Ford), as with the others profiled in this issue.
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