If there’s one truth that the world has collectively accepted as we tackle this pandemic, it’s this: life will never be the same again. We live in such unprecedented times, and it takes a deliberate force of hope to get us through. Thankfully, inspiration exists in various places — and we need not look too far from hearing people’s lived experiences to tide us over. In an attempt to make hope go viral, here is one of the county’s top bankers Jose “Jobi” Dimayuga to let you in on some pieces of advice from his extraordinary story of resilience, hope, and perseverance. Drawing from his accounts of his career life and his great passion for development — here are some of his life tips to hopefully give you the push you need to tread on and conquer the new normal.
How he ever wound up in his profession will always remain a mystery for Jobi Dimayuga. Becoming a banker has never been part of his plans. Growing up, Jobi admitted to spending a great deal of his childhood daydreaming about becoming a pilot. It was when he was a young boy, spending most of his days sharing his space with his brothers in their humble home in Quezon City, playing and creating their own boyish troubles, that he developed a growing fascination with the freedom of flying.“I like what I’m doing but my first love is flying,” he confessed, “that’s why I travel a lot because I like flying. I suppose it’s still different, once in a while I’ll always think na “What if I didn’t have that problem, would I have been a pilot?”
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, this childhood dream had to be parked. Jobi, who had been wearing glasses since he was 10, learned by the time that his peers were making decisions for their college applications, that he can’t meet the visual requirements in getting into the pilot program. Disheartened but not discouraged, young Jobi took this turn to explore and welcome other possible options for his career. “I just took it as a challenge. Basically, if I can’t do it, what else can I do?”
In college, Jobi took what he thought would be the next best thing: earning a business degree. After graduating from the Ateneo de Manila University, he did what any gritty and determined fresh grad would do — send out as many applications to employers as he can. After all, the more applications he sends out, the greater chances he has of landing a good job, he thought. Fortunately, this strategy nabbed him a spot to work as a management trainee for a government office. The first job that would usher him into his decades-long career in public service.
For his early stint as a government employee, Jobi was only earning Php 800 a month, a salary that was barely enough to even cover his transport expenses. While grateful for the chance and learning, he got to a point of weighing the value of the opportunity vis-a-vis its practicality and eventually decided to scout for other opportunities. After a few months, he got called in and was offered a spot in the then Office of the Prime Minister, a role he immediately accepted.
Two months into his new job, the People Power Revolution broke out. This led to the reinstatement of the President of the Philippines as the head of government and head of state and consequently, the abolishment of the premiership, and by extension, the Office of the Prime Minister — leaving Jobi and the rest of the employees almost jobless. Recounting the collective anxieties and uncertainties they felt during these times, Jobi shares, “Imagine that you just entered a job, then two months later “What’s gonna happen to me, in-abolish ‘yung office! What’s gonna happen to me?”
“We were just clicking our thumbs in the office. We had to go to work, right? Because we’re getting paid anyway. To tell you, I’ve never read so many newspapers in my life. I spent the whole time just reading maybe six, seven, eight newspapers a day because there was nothing to do! There was really no work! We were just asked to come to the office but there was really no work.”
“But you know, somehow there’s also some bit of luck there. Look, these things turned around, ‘di ba?”
It’s not commonplace to be part of what could be considered as one of the most historic events in a century — and it’s even rarer to witness two.
After the abolishment of the Office of the Prime Minister, a massive reorganization took place in various offices in the government. From their team of twenty, only four were retained — Jobi included — to move and work for the Department of Finance (DoF).
Fast forward to his new role as part of the DoF, Jobi recalled that one of the earliest tasks handed to them was to talk to the country’s creditors after the Revolution. Under the Marcos regime, the Philippines was left badly in debt and was considered one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world. That is why, as members of the International Finance group, Jobi and the rest of the Philippine team spoke with world leaders to ask for any of the three things: Can they forgive us our debt? If not, can they at least extend our repayment terms? And finally, can they also lend us new money to help bring life back to our economy?
Jobi recognized the load of this responsibility assigned to them. He was just in his late twenties then and trying to make sense of the strange and overwhelming feeling of pride and surrealness to be in the room where it happens.
“Across the table to me were ministers, directors of finance institutions like the World Bank. They were very senior people, all were with white hair, and there I was as this young little boy, negotiating with them. Of course, we were with our superiors, but, you know, we were there. So, that was a very interesting time for us.”
Reflecting on his journey on how he managed to get a seat on these tables throughout his career, he believes that it’s his dedication to constantly learn and the commitment he poured to his job that paved the way to these golden opportunities. “The challenge (for the young) is really finding yourself, finding what you want to do,” he ruminates, “when you work, it’s not even just, an 8-hour job. No, it’s not! Sometimes you won’t be able to sleep because you’re thinking about a problem at work and how could you resolve it.”
“In doing this, you don’t have to be extraordinary, you know. You don’t have to graduate with honors or whatever. [These awards] open doors for you, yes, but in the end, it’s really your diligence in your work, your attitude towards your work that counts.”
Recounting another instance where his perseverance unexpectedly opened up for him a door of opportunity, Jobi shares: “I remember when an international bank offered a job to me, and I asked them, “Why are you offering this job to me?” He told me, “Do you remember that signing, that long signing we had,” he recalled to me, “you were actually sick…and yet you came (to the loan negotiations). We remembered that.”
Jobi admitted he didn’t think much of it then, as he believed anyone in his place would have done the same. It was in the midst of tackling the most critical issues of the negotiation, and it seemed only natural for him to be there, regardless. Looking back now, Jobi thinks it was his attitude towards his commitments that perhaps earned him their recognition, and later on, the job offer.
“ Certainly, you don’t have to be exceptional, you can be ordinary.”
While Jobi may not have achieved his childhood dream of being a pilot, he had fortunately gotten involved in refinancing programs for the re-fleeting of an aviation company — thus allowing other dreamers to keep their flying dreams alive.
This heart to open doors of opportunities for young people, according to Jobi, is what drove him to build Rodolfo and Milagros Dimayuga Memorial Foundation Inc., their family-owned NGO dedicated to supporting underprivileged young dreamers in the healthcare sector in honor of their parents who were both healthcare professionals — with his mom, a pharmacist by training and his dad, an orthopedic surgeon.
“It was but natural that our inclination is towards supporting this field. Although our earliest beneficiaries graduated at a time when nurses were having a difficult time finding jobs, times have certainly turned around, especially during this time of pandemic when we can proudly say that we have helped nurture our modern-day heroes,” Jobi explains, expressing the pride of building the organization.
Given the expanse and complexity of the problem that belies the lack of opportunity that impedes young people from reaching their full potential, Jobi thought it might be a good idea to have their foundation partner with similar organizations who share their mission of serving the youth, such as InvestEd.
“It’s an unfortunate fact of life, that unless you have a college degree, your chances of actually getting a good job, is hardly there…I think InvestEd’s mission is greatly aligned to what our foundation’s mission is — which is to be able to give opportunities, particularly educational opportunities, for those who have less in life.”
On top of all the accolades and accomplishments he has garnered over the years in his profession, Jobi is a passionate education advocate, grounded by his own story as a testament to the life-changing power of completing a college degree.
After having lost his mother to a car accident, his father was left behind to manage the business’ debt and their household finances for the better part of his life. Although these financial struggles hardly left his parents to provide them with material possessions to inherit, for Jobi, his parents’ greatest pride and legacy remain to be the good moral and educational foundation they built for him and his siblings.
“Education is the key to a good future, whether crisis or not. True, there may be notable exceptions e.g. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, even Manny Pacquiao. But they are precisely that — exceptions. And the fact that they wanted their own children to have the best education is further testament to its importance.”
“We’re a very young country…and now is the time to actually invest, because otherwise, if you miss this generation what’s going to happen? Hopefully, when we invest in this resource (our young people), we’ll be able to help our country in moving forward,” Jobi adds.
Currently, Jobi Dimayuga serves as the Executive Vice President of the Development Bank of the Philippines and sits as part of InvestEd’s Board of Advisors.
Asked about what drives him to be hands-on in these dream-building initiatives, Jobi shares a more personal reason for getting involved:
“Sometimes I ask: what will happen to everything that I’ve worked for after I leave? I know I want it to go to something that will outlast me…I think that’s really the main part of it (supporting the mission) — the satisfaction that I’m doing something that I believe in.”
As lives go on in the new normal, InvestEd stands firm in its commitment to economic mobility and stability by serving the youth through education.
Prolonged disruption in the education system may lead to increased drop-out rates from students, as young people and their families choose immediate sources of income over completing a college degree to secure daily provisions and recover from the financial setback of recession.
Be an education champion and support our future frontliners! Visit http:www.invested.ph/investing to learn more about the InvestEd Student Loan Program.