Abandoned Boy Turns HR Professional in Saudi Arabia

The Metaphor of Life

Sailing alone into the deep blue sea hoping to catch fish to fill his rumbling stomach. As he paddles towards the middle of the ocean where he could see nothing, but the magnitude of the approaching swell.

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Jonathan Mahilum, an HR Professional based in Saudi Arabia. As a child, he imagined himself wearing a suit one day, but to realize it, he had to pursue and finish his studies.

He looked around back and forth, where there is no more land visible from the distance, realizing he has gone too far. His heart beats fast, though scared and daunted he continued boldly crossing the unrelenting waves that strike against his wooden boat as if yelling him – ‘you can’t make it to the shore.’

His Humble Beginning 

Meet Jonathan D. Mahilum, 34 years old, from the remote province of Zamboanga Sibugay, Philippines. A successful HR Professional currently based in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Just like many success stories we’ve seen on TV, Jonathan’s journey to the pinnacle of his ultimate dream life was a roller-coaster-ride.

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Jonathan sits with his newly bought car in Saudi Arabia used for his daily commute to the office.

Grew up in a poor, small peaceful village of Monching Zamboanga Sibugay, where his family made a living through fishing. At a young age, his parent’s dysfunctional relationship ended-up leaving him alone, and now has to fend for himself. Devastated by his parent’s separation Jonathan has to find ways to survive on his own.

Since then, several good-hearted families welcomed him for shelter to live and schooling. In return, Jonathan has to perform various household chores to reciprocate his foster family’s generosity until he’d finished halfway through secondary school.

The Struggle of Being Alone and Bullying 

At school, Jonathan had to endure the constant bullying from other kids and his classmates. At one point, he would cry out loud in the corner and can’t help, but wonder why he has to live through such difficult situations. What’s more heartbreaking is, when he sees other kids with their parents during school events and gatherings.

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During the weekend Jonathan and his friends go around like renting an ATV car in the desert.

Instead of losing hope and strength, he wiped off his tears and promised himself, “10 years from now, I will graduate in college no matter how hard life can be,” Jonathan told himself.

While most abandoned kids end-up their life miserable because of growing up without proper care and parents’ guidance. Jonathan’s case was different, though very young to understand, his traumatic experiences in life made him more persevering and dream even higher that one day he’ll achieve his rewards.

A New Chapter of His Life

At 14, he moved out from his hometown in Zamboanga to Iligan City Philippines, where he stayed at his aunt’s house til graduated in high school. Knowing his aunt can’t afford to send him to college, he started working several menial jobs to support himself and survive solitarily.

Jonathan knew the only way to alleviate from extreme poverty is through education, but his scanty income isn’t enough to send himself to college. This is when he started feeling down and self-pity, though sad and desperate. He never had lost hope that one day, an angel would come to the rescue.

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Jonathan with his local and expat colleagues in the office where he is currently working.

True enough! At the age of 24, a Good Samaritan offered a helping-hand to enroll him in college, so he immediately grabbed the opportunity, passed the entrance exam and got accepted as a working student in the university where he is going to study. As a working student, he had to do the dirty jobs at school alongside his studies. Though tired and exhausted most of the time, it never came to his mind of quitting out, finishing a degree was his last resort to change his current situation.

Dreams Do Come True 

After four years of struggle and battling against all odds, Jonathan earned his degree in Bachelor of Science in Commerce. During the graduation day, tears of joy overflowed over Jonathan’s face as he stepped fast towards the stage receiving his hard-earned diploma. It was then he’d realized his long-time dream to finish college 10 years ago.

With his excellent track records and stainless reputation at school, his college offered him a job. Without having a second thought, he accepted the college’s offer and got assigned to the school’s HR Department and eventually became the HR’s Assistant. While working there, he took up Master’s Degree in Management Human Resources to further improve his career.

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Jonathan enjoys side trips outside Riyadh including visits to historical landmarks.

Despite the difficulties in studying and working at the same time, he’d completed his master’s degree in 2012 with the support and love of his wife and his faith in God. Though earning a good income through his local job the birth of his first child made him thought to work overseas, knowing he has more mouth to feed now and the growing responsibility to provide his family a better future.

Moving to Saudi Arabia, He Has Learned That Saudi is a Lovable Country 

Jonathan got hired by a leading Manpower Solutions Company in Saudi Arabia based in Riyadh. Prior to flying to Saudi Arabia, he had a nerve-wracking sensation due to his misconception and wrongful information instilled on his mind by the bias media about Islam. Arriving in the kingdom he’d come to understand it was all the opposite and not the general truth about Saudi Arabia.

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Jonathan has been in the kingdom for almost 5 years and counting, he has learned to love and embrace the Saudi culture and environment.

Although there are challenges along the way he’d quickly adapted to the new environment and able to come along and make friends with the local and expat colleagues. After nine months of being a Client Account Representative, he got promoted as Account Officer and eventually became an HR Specialist. Over the time he has learned to love and embrace the life in Saudi Arabia and completed almost five years now.

Quote of Wisdom – Hard Work and Let God Do The Rest

“Working overseas is a battle between sacrifice and abundance vise versa. You can never have abundance without sacrificing. But when you sacrifice there is always abundance,” Jonathan quoted.

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Apart from his faith in God, Jonathan’s inspiration is his beautiful wife Janice Bongabong and his only son Cean Zyke Mahilum.

As with his secret of being successful and strong – “Rely on God as He has His best plans ahead of us. God grants our desires if He is delighted in our lives,” Jonathan added.

Jonathan’s story is a true testament of life that there’s nothing impossible in this world for a hardworking and determined person, whilst most of us are easily swayed by the waves that hamper our way. Jonathan proves that even his solitary there is no greater waves if we put God in the center of our life.

Jonathan’s story inspires us to continue life no matter how heavy the waves are. As we keep paddling through the test of life, we’ll surely reach to the shore if we persevere and won’t quit over our trials.

Author: montergv

The author is currently based in Saudi Arabia, the holiest land of Islam. He’s a full-time employee of the largest energy company in the world. He’s a graduate of Communication Management, loves to write and travel.