Abel Cadias

Michael's Story

A remarkable story of overcoming some of life's obstacles

I was delighted to get Phil's approval of me writing blogs about the Filipino teaching community. I thought of featuring Filipino teachers' stories and tackling some employment issues concerning foreign teachers from a Filipino's perspective which I hope might add to the tone at ajarn.com. So, wish me luck!

Well, to start with the blog, I've come across with Michael's inspiring story just today. His is not just a common story of many Filipino teachers' struggle in looking for jobs and in the end, finally got employed...blah...blah...blah. His isn't exactly a success story but it's a combination of true tales on his battles against employment prejudice, friendship betrayal, depression and a rare cancerous disease that certainly can cause his life....and yes, it all happened in Thailand.

Michael is from Tarlac City, Tarlac, Philippines. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication at Cagayan State University. He used to work at the Philippine Women's University prior to his coming here in Thailand. In 2002, he was diagnosed with a jawbone cancer. He underwent surgeries in his hometown and in Manila in 2002 and 2005 respectively. The cancer was benign and so the surgeons advised him of a total reconstruction of his jawbone. Due to financial constraint, he continued working in spite of his condition. Michael is the only member in their family with a university degree.

 In 2007, Michael tried his luck in the Land of Smiles to support his family back home and save some for the planned surgery. His "accent" was "acceptable" so said the school employers but he failed in one thing: physical appearance. One might find it funny but in all honesty, here in Thailand , you might easily get the job just because you're extremely good looking. Anyway, Michael knew that he had a problem with his jaw but not his entire physical being but he didn't realize it's a big thing in Thailand. His "fractured" jawbone slightly affected the positioning of his mouth but it didn't greatly impinge on his speech. In fact, he was very fluent and his speech was comprehensible. But to Michael's soon-to-be employers, it was just an unfortunate luck.

When Michael was in Thailand, he didn't realize that his condition was getting worst. He didn't feel anything unusual but his face started to disfigure. He got uncomfortable with all the stares he was getting. So, he finally decided to see a doctor. Specialists at Mahidol University said that it was a unique case...a rare benign tumor in his right jawbone. The doctors advised him to have an immediate surgery before it's too late. But with a meager salary, a hundred thousand baht for his surgery was impossible to raise in due time. The situation was disturbing but he had to work first and deal with the problem later. He got a teaching job somewhere in Uttaradit but it didn't last long because he's terribly coping with the physical difficulties caused by the illness. It was on the same year that he has nobody to turn to. His friends couldn't do much on his predicament. He felt abandoned. He tried to look for a other jobs but couldn't find one.

In December 2007, Michael decided to go back to the Philippines. He was then contacted by Mahidol University's doctors and they offered him a free surgery for a case study. They told him that he needed to undergo a series of delicate surgical procedure with compromising result knowing that his case was unique and so it's a first for the doctors doing the procedure. He took that risk. The tedious procedure was a success but he needed to recuperate for a few more months. A Baptist pastor took him in while he's recuperating. Thanks to the generosity of his doctors, he was able to regain his health back, and his "physical appearance" has become the least of his problem.

Michael is currently teaching in Chiangrai. He was recognized by the school of his dedication and hard work. Knowing that he was able to conquer all his tribulations, he believes he can cope with all other life difficulties that come in his way. But he also knew that his odysseys aren't over yet. There are two more operations he needs to undergo trough except that there are no more freebies this time. He's preparing himself for the next two surgeries but for now, he has to work and save.


Good afternoon. I just came across your blogs and I found this writing about Michael. As I was reading his story up to the end, I salute him for having that great courage and faith dealing with his predicament in Thailand. Indeed, with life's trials and difficulties he was able to get some support from the doctors of Mahidol University. That generosity is only a sure sign that God will always make a way for those who faithfully believe in His power. Michael, despite in his situation teaches us, Filipinos in Thailand ,that we should not easily lose hope from all life's tribulation especially when we are in a foreign land. For despite the many "discriminations" we experience in the country where we are currently working, Filipinos will always be at par with the other foreign teachers for nothing compares to Filipino teacher's hard and dedication to their profession as teachers in Thailand.!

I hope by now, Michael will know that he is a "hero" in the making. You made me proud to be a Filipino.

Lastly, million thanks Sir for this inspiring article. More Power and God Bless you in all your endeavors.

By claire c. narag, Pakchong,Nakonratchasima (21st June 2010)

Dear Nadine, Thank you for the comment...it's encouraging. I really want to feature great stories of our Filipino teachers in Thailand so others will know how inspiring it is to be a Filipino teacher in a foreign land. Cheers!

By abel, (31st May 2010)

Hi Abel,

Congratulations for coveting the Filipino blog segment. I hope you will post more stories of Filipinos here in Thailand. Not only stories but also tips on how a Filipino can cope with the changing policies, politics and dramas in the teaching profession in the Land of Smiles.

As to your account of Michael’s tale here in Thailand, initially I felt a sense of pity of his situation but reading on the story, I realized how lucky Michael is in spite of his predicament. He was still able to get a job though with a meager salary. And to top it all, Mahidol University offered an all expense paid surgery though it’s for a case study. He has not run out of blessings instead it kept on pouring in. I am hoping for Michael’s recovery and may he continue his remarkable attitude towards life.

Almost every foreign teacher here in Thailand knows that physical appearance plays an important role in landing a job. Let alone the color of the skin, the shade of the eyes and the twang accent determines a person’s chance in getting a position. It is very unfortunate because many non native speakers can communicate using the English language with ease and expertise. Many Filipinos for that matter have exceptional English proficiency though we must also accept the fact that many Filipinos have to sharpen their abilities in the four basic skills in English. As a Filipino, I don’t mind being called upon by a native speaker in terms of my pronunciation. It is our duty as a teacher to improve ourselves and learn more of the craft.

Again, congratulations and I hope you will post more blogs that is worth reading.



By nadine, (31st May 2010)

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