The vision behind the institute
The founder of the institute, Gabriel John Rimando is a visionary and as such, in the heart of his aim for the establishment of the institute is a vision which he has found to be very vital to promoting the wellbeing of his people abroad. This vision of his is to provide an avenue where quality education is accessible to all. And also, to establish a collaborative vision for future professionals. What this means is that he is interested in bringing like minds together so they can make themselves better. There is a wise saying which says ‘Two heads are better than one.’ The Holy book even takes it further by saying, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ This is what forms the basis for Gabriel John Rimando’s vision for founding the institute.
Sharing his business acumen to aspiring entrepreneurs
§ Rise above the competition.
When asked what advice he can give to aspiring Filipino businessmen, Rimando jokingly said, “Know your enemy.” His comment refers to an incident where a friend copied his business idea and set up a similar academic institute in another Emirate. On a serious note, Rimando emphasized the importance of continually improving your services to keep your edge over competitors and to be the best in the industry.
§ Don’t be afraid.
Risk and losses are part and parcel of setting up a business, but this should not deter you from starting your own venture. At the start, Rimando experienced a loss of about 40,000 UAE dirhams (Php 520,000), but that only served as catalyst for him to try harder and succeed. However, he cautioned that perseverance should also have its limits. “If the business is not for you, do not force it.”
§ Know the rules.
“The rules don’t limit you. They give you the opportunity,” says Rimando. For example, in Dubai, hiring a house maid requires compliance with steep qualifications and processes, such as sponsoring the maid’s residence visa and shouldering expenses for their airfare. Rimando saw the opportunity in this – he has started a business venture that provides cleaning services to households in Dubai. The things that restrict you are the ones that will give you the (business) opportunity, says Rimando.
Further exploring other opportunities
As the Institute expands its presence in the UAE and beyond, Rimando continues to test the waters. For one, he is planning to establish FI Languages, a branch of the institute that will be dedicated to teaching various languages, including Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Korean and Mandarin. He is also working on setting up review centers, such as for certified public accountant (CPA) and nursing examinations. The Institute has also started offering short-term courses to students of other nationalities through the FI Expats Institute.
“You need to constantly change. To evolve. If you do not change, you will get left behind. There is nothing constant here but change,” says Rimando.
UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF THE INSTITUTE FROM THE STORY OF THE FOUNDER
Gabriel John Rimando was born in 1983 in the Philippines. He grew up there too in a typical Filipino setting and in a typical Filipino family. In an average Filipino family, one of the parents usually, as a matter of the necessity for survival, travels abroad in search of greener pastures for the betterment of the family. In Gabriel John Rimando’s case, it was his mother who travelled to the UAE. And so he grew up with his father and two siblings—a sister, a year older and five years younger brother. Growing up was very challenging for Gabriel because his family really struggled a lot through many hardships which included financial, environmental and the lack of very basic amenities like electricity.
Growing up as the eldest boy in the home, it was natural for all the hard tasks in the home to be carried out by him. It was really challenging for him because he had to wake up very early, fetch water, wash his father’s clothes and car and many other challenging things. Gabriel John Rimando relayed to those tasks as something he saw as unfortunate but realizes now as he looks back at them, that he was really fortunate to have been the one to do them. This, because doing those difficult tasks then afforded him the opportunity to learn how to handle difficulty and this has been priceless to the daily challenges he faces now that he is the head of a multinational social enterprise.
According to John, one of the arduous tasks he had as a boy was that of clearing the garden in front of their house. When he saw a flower he loved, he would buy the seed from a botanical garden close to their home, plant it, water them religiously, talking to them at night about the philosophies of life, giving them broken egg shells which he was told enabled plant growth. Some of the seeds usually grew and blossomed into beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. This always birthed in him unspeakable joys and fulfillment especially when the plants bloomed much more than he expected. But there were also times when despite all his efforts, the plants still did not grow as expected, some of them even dying. This, according to John made him very sad and depressed. But with the eyes of retrospect, he says he has realized that this, basically is what leadership is all about. Putting so much efforts in people, to help them grow. Although we do not really know how far our assistance will help them go, realizing that humans have infinite capacity for potentials. Sometimes, they grow more than we expect them to and other times, they fail to meet up with the expectations. The person who is elated by his triumphs and not discouraged by the setbacks is who a leader is. According to him, “A leader is like a gardener, we cannot predict if there will be storm to destroy our beloved plants, if there are animals who will eat our vegetables or there are outside forces who will destroy on what you have been building. Leadership is the result of unending cultivation. Calamity and problems will always come. A leader should always be prepared to face whatever the result and to give always the full effort.”
Gabriel John Rimando had a lot of challenges growing up. He was usually very shy but he realized soon enough that he needed to overcome that habit in order to successfully get to where he was going. Once he realized this, he began to practice on how to overcome the habit, talking to himself and practicing until he hypnotized himself to overcome the habit. This made it much easier for him to communicate with his peers, particularly the female folks. Another challenge he experienced was when he was younger and a cousin of his, one year older than him was given a bike by his father. This challenged Gabriel so much that his cousin could ride a bike and he couldn’t. And so he set out on what would prove to be an arduous task of learning to bike on two wheels. When his cousin was in school, he would borrow his bike and try to have a time of his own. In the process, he would fall down severally, scrape his knees or even his face, sustained several injuries and what not. But after a week, he was driving the bike perfectly well. Everybody was amazed, they even thought him some kind of genius who could learn biking so quickly. But nobody saw the sacrifices he made and all the numerous injuries he sustained as he tried to learn how to bike. This is one of the things which has formed the heart of many of his basic principle of leadership—being ready to make sacrifices that nobody will give him credits for.
When Gabriel was young, his main dream was to come home as early as possible from school to play with his toys. But as he grew, he began to have other dreams like having a girlfriend and after he graduated, he wanted to achieve financial stability. And so he started working, managing his family business and establishing a career in photography. He found the field of photography very challenging. According to him, it was like a pie which everybody wanted a piece of and the pie wasn’t getting bigger. He found that in order to be different in the field of photography, he needed to be unique, to offer something that the average photographer could not offer. So he earmarked the market he was going to target. Soon, he began teaching photography because he wanted to have more leads. Never did he know that he was going to have more leads than he ever thought from his students who he thought. When the employers of those he thought were in need of a photographer in their companies, his students usually referred to him as their photography trainer. It was while working as a photographer that he noticed it was a big driving force for bringing people together. There was a catastrophe which had struck in the Philippines at the time and their group of photographers had wanted to help. They contacted each other, allied every group of photographers in the UAE, and formed a shoot for a cause. The designers and makeup artists made a photo events to entice photographers to come together to pay for the event. The proceeds was used to send money in the Philippines. The effort was a success. Everyone was happy to share and spend a Friday doing the things they love while at the same time, being able to help others who are in need.
In 2007, he left the Philippines for Dubai to join his mother who had, with good fortune established a business there too. One of the motivating factors was the fact that he longed for meaning in all what he was doing. He wanted fresh challenges, he longed for a place where he could make an impact and he believed that such a place was Dubai. In Dubai, his passion towards photography continued to grow, everyday, he woke up, filled with energy to do wonderful things with photography and inspire others to become photographers as well. This passion is what led him to inspire hundreds upon hundreds of people until his charismatic leadership grew into the stage that he wanted to inspire an institution. This was when he began thinking of The Filipino institute.
According to Gabriel John Rimando, he believes he is successful because he has made it and every day, he gives other people a chance to make it too. He once realized that he was just one tiny person out of a population of about 800,000 Filipinos in the UAE, and pursuing foolish and selfish dreams for himself was going to leave him insignificant in the large community. So he set out to dream a bigger dream that would not benefit him alone but the community at large, a dream that would make him remembered in the society where he belonged. At that time, he also began to realize that not everybody from the Filipino community found it that easy to succeed in the UAE and he wanted to make the difference. He began thinking about the ways to do it and he discovered that a lot of Filipinos would find it easier if they had some form of education and training which was needed in the society and he established The Filipino institute.
Mr. Rimando is a friendly guy who tries to get along with a lot of people. He lives by the law and is a responsible citizen. He tries to build a relationship on trust with people because that is the foundation upon which any lasting relationship is built. But then he demands that the people he works with are trustworthy in all ramifications. This is why he finds it difficult to work with some of his colleagues who have mistresses outside of their marriage. For if a man can cheat on a person who he has entered into a life contract with, how then, can he be trustworthy? He believes in giving people a second chance and a second shot after they have made mistakes. But his philosophy is that trust is like a paper, which once crumpled, can never be the way it was before. He tries his best to be as trustworthy as possible because without trust, nothing can be done. According to him, trust is like the gasoline of a car, without which the car can go nowhere, because without trust, no reasonable business can be done.
He is also very concerned about integrity. Integrity to him is like building a brick wall. It gets stronger and higher by time. Once it is broken, it is very difficult to rebuild. If I know that I’m right. If he knows that he is right, he fights for it, but if he is wrong, he humbly accepts.
He is also very accountable, whatever mistakes or shortcomings that will happen to my work, my family and to others. This is because he realizes the immense benefits of being accountable rather than looking for where to put the blames. He realizes that life will be a better place if we all took responsibilities for everything we do and do away with that inherent need of looking for short cuts and who to blame. This is why he has chosen Integrity, accountability and trust as some of his main business ethics.
While he is very happy that in less than three years, his institute has graduated about 90,000 people, he is not backing down there, he hopes that in the near future, his company will be able to inspire more people than it has done in the past.
He is happily married to a beautiful woman, named Camille Joy Franco-Rimando and their union is blessed with a beautiful son. He tries his best to be a responsible father to his family and has been succeeding at it, despite the numerous challenges. He was not always a family oriented person but he has grown through several phase in life and has matured into what he is today and keeps growing.
Gabriel Jon Rimando was earlier this year, in recognition of his efforts, nominated as the Filipino Photographer of the year. He is a household name in the UAE when he comes to young entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their society. He is very active in community service, currently he is a volunteer in our Philippine Independence Day Celebration as the Committee Head in Photography and Videography. He is very much active in the FILCOM here in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar. Last Year he was in Qatar for their Independence as one of the photographers to volunteer on their Kalayaan Festivities. He has founded a non-profit camera club where we teach for free to new lovers of photography. Filipino Camera Club which has branches in Qatar, Bahrain and across UAE. He has collaborated with other organizations in having a mission in our POLO OWWA and this Aug 3 Filipino Institute – Sharjah trainers will be spearheading the efforts together with our students in Polo OWWA to have a mission with the distress OFWs thereof. He is also very much active in the spread of Federalism on our fellow OFWS together with our group Alliance in Federalism. He is also a very active member of Samahang Ilocano and Cordilleras as he volunteers my time and effort
He is a great admirer of the boxing legend Manny Pacquiao because of his resilience and ability to come back from a game he is expected to lose and win. This is because he admires the spirit of resilience so much and he tries fervently to inculcate this in himself.
HIS LIFE MISSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOALS OF THE FILIPINO INSTITUTE
Gabriel John Rimando, as we have learnt is a purpose driven man with a mission to inspire the Filipinos overseas. He burns with a lot of passion for his job and wakes up every morning looking for ways through which he can help many other people find their bearings too. This and his experience as a first rate photography teacher is what has inspired him to open the Filipino institute through which he is carrying out this wonderful mission of inspiring Filipinos abroad.