One Man’s Journey from the Philippine Farmlands to FIFO

Perth – December 2014

For Ermano Alaba, life these days couldn’t be more of a contrast than it was 30 years ago growing up on poverty stricken farmlands in the Philippines.

Growing up with his nine siblings in a village comprising three houses, around 1175km from the city, life was pretty rustic to say the least.

“I would go to school in the town, and when I got home to my relative’s house, I would work, feeding the pigs, cleaning up and generally helping with manual labour in exchange for sending me to school for free. There was no electricity, and life was pretty tough,” he said.

“I had to get out of the Village if I was to make a life for myself, so I moved to Manila and got a job with a relative and earned $11 a day. It was a big change from my small town and was very hard being away from my family, but I had to make some money for my both my family and myself,” he said.

Literally learning his trade on the job, Ermano built up his skill set and commenced work with Contracting and Mechanical Engineering company in the Philippines which is where he met Brett Merrey, Director of ISA Group, and his ticket to work in Australia.

“I met Brett Merrey during his business trip to Manila with a prospective employer looking for qualified skilled workers. When I was selected by the employer, I got an opportunity to work with ISA Group’s Filipino office as a skills assessor while waiting for my 457 Visa to be granted.  I submitted all the required documents to ISA Group for processing, and fortunately I had no problems. With the great help of ISA Group staff, I got my 457 visa just in few weeks,” he said.

After three months in Australia, Ermano applied for his wife to join him, and she was also successfully granted her Visa. The couple applied for permanent residency after two and a half years, and their visas were granted in just six weeks, allowing Ermano to apply for his job with CB&I Chevron.

Things are pretty different these days, as he commutes from his home in Perth to luxury accommodation on Barrow Island with around 4800 other FIFO workers. A significant change in salary has allowed him to live a comfortable life in Perth, and he has made several return trips home to see his family.

Ermano’s home will soon be the cruise ship MS Silja Europa, along with up to 1600 workers who will enjoy lounges, bars and a bistro, a swimming pool, fitness room, sauna, solarium and outside spas and internet café.

“In every step of our journey, going for the success of our lives living here in Australia, we never forget ISA Group for their countless effort for helping us during the processing of our visas and for their advice. To ISA Group Team, Mabuhay Kayong Lahat!”

The ISA Group is a specialist firm dealing with recruitment, visa solutions, migration law, migration policy and case management of overseas workers. They have offices in the UK and the Philippines, as well as their head office here in Perth.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Nicki Williams, SPYN on 0408 688 410