By Melanie Marian Crasta
A young man from Cebu City, Philippines, came to Oman to achieve his dreams. Originally a degree holder in the Science of Radiologic Technology, Mr. Dowel Deligos didn’t find it his calling.
Coming to Oman with the help of his father, he acquired a job in the Muscat Duty Free as a Sales Assistant, and loved it. “People always asked me, “why sales? Why not your course or higher than the position that you want?” But when I saw the glamour of the shop, it made me feel that this is the line that I want to pursue.” Not only did he pursue it, but he also grew in it. In the short span of a year, he grew from a Sales Assistant to a Marketing Executive. He learnt techniques and the real life application of management, which he states that he would’ve never learnt in school. “Muscat Duty Free is like an institution. It is not only a working place, but also a learning place. And if the person is willing to learn, he will learn.”
Soon, his love for food over powered his senses and he realized he needed to share this love, with Oman. He researched his idea in many parts of the world which included Nepal, India, Thailand, China and many others. He tried their food and assessed as to what really makes their food so famous the world over. His aim was to make Filipino food just as popular and famous. “There was always, a question in my mind. Why all our neighbouring countries like, India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, why is their food very famous? And, where is the Filipino food?” And so began his journey and determination to start a Filipino restaurant and make the food famous with not just Filipinos, but other nationalities as well. His biggest inspiration was his own childhood, “I looked back on my childhood. Even in the school, I actually had a small business in a room. I made sweets called ‘Thiemma’ and I would sell it to my classmates.” That was the beginning of his realization that maybe, science and radiology was not as much his line, as food. And so, his restaurant ‘Adobo AFC – Authentic Filipino Cuisine’ came into being. “My love was making food as a product, and so I pushed through. And I am happy that through my restaurant I can express my love and feelings and ideas.”
If you love what you are doing, you don’t need any system, you don’t need any memorization of what you would do. It will go from your heart and it will happen.”
However, no success is without problems and a little bit of starting trouble. Mr. Dowel realized the risk and the rules of starting a business in Oman while being an OFW. “It is not like in the Philippines, where you can have only this much of capital and you can go with your business. Here there are a lot of processes.” He needed a partner, and so he put forward his idea to his best friend who worked with him. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and his friend had to back out. So, he went on to another friend who seemed to be into the idea of starting a restaurant business but wasn’t pushing the idea forward. “For one year I had been waiting for this and I didn’t stop praying that ‘Give me the right person’.” Nonetheless, every cloud has a silver lining, and his miracle came with two of his best friends, Ibrahim and Salim, and he was able to make the necessary arrangements to finally make his dreams come true, “They believe in me because of the things I showed to them, and they are very open minded which is the best thing. However, the problems will always be there, it is just how you overcome it.”
Through all these problems, Mr. Dowel emerged victorious and finds happiness in the little things. He considers the smiles of his customers as the biggest reward he could attain from his hard work. He always aims to infuse his restaurant with the feeling of home so as to keep his customers comfortable and happy. “ ‘Home is where the heart is’ and having touched a person’s heart and making them feel welcome makes all the blood, sweat and tears I invested in making my dream definitely worth it.” Moreover, in spite of all his hard work and harsh work hours he makes it a point to find time for his family and friends, “There is no magic behind it all. It is all about balancing and creating a system that works. Yes, there might be times I feel the need to leave it all behind and just go on a long holiday, but the smiles and great feedback I get from my customers and employees strengthens me to move forth and continue what I do best, which is make people happy with my food.”
In regard to the future of his restaurant, he aims to make it more glamorous and more available to the public. At present his restaurant is situated a little away from the main city so he plans to someday open another restaurant closer to the people. He also plans to infuse 24-carat gold leaf into his cuisine for his more extravagant customers. “I do believe in challenges. Challenges make us stronger. I cannot just cater to Filipinos, but a varied array of palates. New food, new place, new menu, we never know. I do not want to be stuck; I would like to set up something wonderful for the world. Hopefully I can achieve that.” In 10- 20 years he hopes to leave behind a legacy that will inspire, and to still continue what he does best, which is to make people happy through his food and give them a taste and feel of home.
His advice to OFWs present in Oman who seek the success he once sought contains 3 main ingredients, “Know what you want to do, be yourself and never forget your past.” He urges Filipinos to realise their dreams. He stated that if you know what you want to do, you must put your foot down and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. He commented on how supportive the Filipino community is, albeit they are shy, but if someone takes the reigns they will follow and they will support them to the fullest. “Most importantly, ask help from the Lord, prayer.” Prayer and the Lord are very important in the life of Mr. Dowel. He stated that the Lord may not answer immediately, but it is key to be patient, your prayers will be answered. Moreover, he said that we must be passionate of what we do as life does not come easy, and it is our passion that pulls us through and helps us realise out dreams.