MANILA – Hard work and perseverance paved the way for a former household service worker to make the life of her family, and relatives, better.
Cynthia Panga is now a restaurant owner in Salalah, Oman.
When it comes to Filipino food, Panga's bulalo and laing restaurant is the place to be.
Panga has been in Oman for 22 years. She singlehandedly provided for her three children after her husband left them.
"Lahat ginampanan ko--naglinis ng bahay, nagluto, naglalaba, nagpa-plantsa, naglilinis ng sasakyan. Napakasakit noon, umiiyak ako na mag-isa pero wala ako magawa para sa pamilya ko. Natiis ko lahat ng paghihirap ko," she said.
Her luck in the food business began when her former Omani employer offered her the chance to manage a restaurant.
"Five years naging katulong ako, nag-part time ako ng seven months after that. May nakilala ako, amo ko nag offer siya sa akin. 'Offeran kita, kaya mong mag manage ng restaurant?," she recalled.
She accepted the offer even though she did not have any background in running a restaurant.
But that decision proved to be the best as her luck started coming in and she was able to start her very own restaurant. Aside from that, Panga has been sharing the blessings by providing jobs in her restaurants to relatives and other kababayans.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa tita ko kasi syempre siya ang nagbigay ng trabaho sa akin," said her nephew and staff, Ruben Paz.
Pinoy waiter Jose Arroyo Jr. said, "Malaki po ang naitulong sa akin ng tita ko dahil natustusan ko ang pangangailangan ng pamilya ko sa Pilipinas."
The business also enabled Pangan to send her children to school, save, and invest in properties in the Philippines.
"Kahit alam po namin na mahirap ang buhay dito ni-risk niya para sa amin," said her daughter, Marcy Jane.
She still finds time to support to the Filipino community.
"Pagdating sa sports, laging naka-support yan. Nagma-manager siya, most of the time sinasagot niya yun uniform," said customer Ryan Estrella. Report from Rowen Soldevilla, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau