A former street vendor and cleaner has accomplished his dream of owning a successful restaurant in Australia. This is one of those stories that we typically scroll through our feeds, or pop on our timelines, but have we really stopped to think about the sacrifices that people make, to get where they are now?
John Andrew Dangca is a young businessman who owns and operates a Filipino restaurant in Canberra, Australia. For many years before gaining financial success, he toiled as a street vendor and cleaner. He shared his success story in Eat Bulaga! episode “Bawal Judgmental.”
Pinoy Janitor Turned Restaurant Owner in Australia
Andrew is the current owner of Salu-Salo Restaurant, which has served Filipino food in Canberra, Australia for over two years.
Growing up in the Philippines, he reflected on his humble roots. Their family had a difficult time making ends meet, and he was required to work. He began selling street food from a “kariton” at an early age.
“Bata po talaga kami noon, e. Parang nag-start po kami, nagtitinda po sa streets [ng] street foods, may kariton po kami,” he recounted.
When a cousin assisted Andrew in flying to Australia as a working student, the tides began to turn in his favor. When he was 19 years old, he worked as a janitor in several places in Australia.
Andrew recounted, “Nag-umpisa po ako dito as international student po, way back 2013 po. Kinuha po ako ng tita ko, yung eldest sister nung father ko. ’Tapos yun po, naging working student po ako. Nag-work po ako as a cleaner. Nagwu-work po ako sa gabi, nag-aaral po sa umaga.”
Andrew worked as a janitor in various locations, such as malls, corporate buildings, and health care facilities. It was a challenging job, but Andrew was inspired by his family to persevere. He had big goals for himself and his family, and it was this that kept him going during difficult times.
“Naisip ko iyon na sobrang hirap. May time na sobrang to the point na nawalan na ako ng pag-asa. Pero siyempre po, inisip ko po yung family ko, kung paano ko po sila mabubuhay noon. Kasi wala na nga po kaming tatay […I’ve thought about it – how hard my situation was then. There was a even a time I almost lost hope. But then I thought about my family – how I can best help them since my father’s already passed away],” Andrew said.
While Andrew struggled to keep his family afloat, he held on to the hope that things would eventually get better. He said, “Nung time na lalo na po pag holiday, doon pa talaga nag-strive po ako, na kahit wala pa pong tulog… Sa train station na po ako natutulog noon, sa bus. Tuluy-tuloy po talaga ako nung work ko noon [There were holidays when I worked doubly hard even without (proper) sleep… I’d take naps at the train station or the bus. I kept working and working back then].”
Andrew didn’t rely on his relatives in Australia to help him get to where he is today. In 2019, he was able to bring his family to Australia after he had successfully filed a family petition for them.
“Thankful po ako na nakuha po ako ng relatives ko dito, pero siyempre, hindi naman po habang buhay magre-rely ako sa kanila, kasi meron din po silang sinusuportahan na family sa province po namin [I’m very thankful that my relatives helped me get here and took me in, but of course, I can’t rely on them for everything since they, too, have families to support back in our province], ” he explained.
“Kaya nag-strive po ako, nag-self-supporting po ako sa pag-aaral ko, para po paunti-unti, nakuha ko yung brother ko, yung ate ko, then sunod po yung mother ko naman [This is why I strived hard to support my education and was able to bring my brother, older sister, and then, my mother, here with me],” Andrew added.Andrew said that the pandemic had an impact on his Filipino restaurant as well. Fortunately, he quickly adapted to his new surroundings and partnered with food delivery services. He also personally approached customers to help improve sales.
He revealed, “Ina-ask ko po yung customers po namin na kung gusto po nilang magpa-deliver or ako po pupunta mismo, kahit malayo po, pupuntahan ko basta po may sales [I’d ask my clients if they’d like some food to be delivered or have their orders delivered myself even if they’re quite a long ways, at times, just so we’d have our sales for the day].”
Andrew’s success story is a testament to the power of hard work and perseverance. “Talagang pinaghirapan ko po. Nag-strive po ako para makuha ko po ito kung anuman yung sitwasyon ko ngayon [I truly worked hard for everything that I have today],” he said.
You can watch Andrew’s clip on Bawal Judgmental in the video posted below:
Indeed, life brings us many challenges, and oftentimes, there’s no other way but to break through these difficulties. As OFWs, many of us understand the value of hard work and dreams. Overseas, life isn’t always as easy as some people – even our families – would think, but as long as our hope lives on, there’s no way we can give up on our dreams. We may be away from home, but we’re not alone in this journey; there are many people who support and love us, and we’ll always have their backs.
We hope that this story will give you some hope and inspiration to never give up, regardless of the situation at hand, whether at work, your studies, or any other aspect of your life. If there’s one thing we can learn from our fellow OFWs, it’s the fact that all good things come at a cost. We sacrifice our time, youth, and personal aspirations to help the people we care about. We put our own lives on hold so that we can provide for our loved ones. But in the end, we realize that all of these sacrifices are worth it, because they give us the freedom to live our dreams and pursue what’s truly important in life: family.