In a 2017 report from Thailand’s Department of Employment, at least 14,830 Filipinos have found a niche in the field of management, engineering, architecture, hospitality, business and teaching in the kingdom. Some of these Filipinos who have found a home in the different provinces of Thailand have risen to become pillars in their respective communities. Among the many, some stood out to become Outstanding Pinoy.
One exceptional story is that of Dr. Marlon Sipe, who has continued to pursue his personal and family goals while wholeheartedly serving his community in Thailand for the past 15 years.
Outstanding Khun Kru Pinoy
Marlon D. Sipe, 38, a university lecturer at Walailak University in Nakhon Si Thammarat, marked his 15th year as an English teacher in Thailand in May.
His journey overseas began when he decided to shift from teaching English at a Catholic school to serving the Armed Forces in the Philippines. However, the stars did not align to make that happen. When he failed to make it to the cut for the AFP, he flew to Thailand on May 1, 2006 and the rest, they say, is history.
Easy teaching job, better opportunities
Sipe landed his first teaching job in Chonburi where he stayed for three years. He recounts that his early years in Thailand was both easy and challenging.
“Back then, the teaching job was a lot easier. There’s way less paperwork compared to teaching responsibilities back home,” Sipe says. “But, it’s culturally challenging because I had to learn the language and make major adjustments with their customs,” he adds.
When he moved to a school in Khon Khaen, that’s when he decided to stay not only because of the better renumeration but because of the many opportunities that opened its doors for him.
In 2011, Sipe finished his master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from the International Graduate Studies at Burapha University in Chonburi, Thailand.
Outstanding Pinoy: Being a Filcom Leader
In 2015, Sipe was elected president of the Association of Filipinos in Thailand (AFT)-Khon Khaen. For him, it was an honor to be given the opportunity to serve his “kababayans” through the initiatives and projects he and his fellow officers implemented.
“During my term, we were able to facilitate teachers’ training and seminars, Filipino community congress, and consular outreach by the Philippine Embassy,” he shares.
Admittedly, he had to deal with negativity and the Pinoy toxic culture of crab mentality during his tenure but it did not stop him from spearheading more relevant projects for the community.
He also initiated group savings, annual community celebrations, “pass the hat culture” for an AFT-KK member who has lost a family member and holding of Pinoy Fiesta.
Like a true Outstanding Khun Kru Pinoy that he is, when asked what his greatest achievement as a leader, he says: “The opportunity to serve was already an achievement for me”.
Being a UPOU PhD graduate
In 2019, Marlon Sipe finished his degree of Doctor of Communication from the University of the Philippines Open University in Laguna.
This was in the midst of his multiple responsibilities as a full time teacher, president of AFT-Khon Khaen, Secretary General of the Filipino Community Leaders’ Congress of Thailand which he also initiated, and as a family man.
Here’s an excerpt of Khun Kru Pinoy‘s one on one interview with Dr. Marlon Sipe:
- When did you decide to pursue your studies in UPOU. What are the reasons for that decision?
In 2015, I failed to get the European scholarship I applied for earlier. Got frustrated, I tried my luck in UP.
- What challenges did you overcome as a PhD student in the Philippines’ top state university?
“Time management was one. I expected the lessons were hard, too. What I realized later was “working full time while doing a PhD was already very challenging. But being a family man, a community leader, a full time employee and a PhD student at the same time, to me, was both a miracle and an achievement”.
- How did you manage your time having a full time job as a teacher, being a leader of the Filipino community, and being a PhD student in UP?
One day, I just found myself got entangled into a position of “no turning back”. One challenge came after the other. I couldn’t afford to flip-flop my decision. Of course it was a rough sailing. But you know what? It taught me something – that was to turn a blind eye on disruptions. Just have faith and HE will do the rest for you.
- Please walk us through how you managed to handle that year in UPOU while you were doing your PhD course works and you were also managing the conduct of the (biggest) Filipino community congress in Thailand with no less than OWWA Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac and DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III as guests of honor?
“I remember I was only half way through my journey as a doctoral student. All I can say is, just manage your time properly. Your 24 hours isn’t different from mine. There is time for everything. No one knew I would sleep beyond midnight and I kept it that way. Never mind the eye bags, the stress, the white hair, etc. I was glad to have worked with you and other community leaders. Cheers!
- What advise will you give to our fellow OFWs who aspire to pursue their postgraduate studies even if they are based overseas?
“You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Just be yourself. Just imagine yourself engaged in a mountain climbing adventure. Enjoy every step of your journey. Never mind the body pains. When you get to the top, you will see the “view around you” is very wide and beautiful. Isn’t that nice to achieve something?”
Outstanding Pinoy: Being a family man
- What struggles did you have to face as a family man while juggling all these responsibilities?
“Family comes first. I always made it a point to give my time to my daughter and my wife after work. My student life begins during my free time at school and continues when my family goes to bed.”
- What are your investments so far being an overseas worker?
“Education is one. My wife and I also managed to save for a real property in Davao City, and a small savings for “tag ulan”. Just be ready, do save save save!
- How do you manage your finances?
I simply follow this formula “Salary – savings = expenses”
- How did this pandemic affect you as a family?
“We didn’t get to travel back home in March 2020. I lost my father months later in July at height of the lockdown and I didn’t get the chance to see him. The year 2020 was really a challenging time.”
- How did your wife and your child show support during the busiest years of your life?
“They would go to bed early so I could study at night and do other things. They were this supportive. They are my number one fans. They are my source of strength and inspiration. So, when I made it to the commencement exercises in 2019, we all traveled to Los Banos and they witnessed the ceremony.”
- What are your plans for the future?
“I might go back home and contribute something to society.”