Investing in Business and Love: Tips from Ex-OFW Rebecca Bustamante

Rebecca Bustamante didn’t even want to write a book at first.  While the CEO of Chalre Associates attributes most of her success to reading books, she is not one for talking outside of business partners and friends.

But upon persuasion, she teamed up with journalist former GMA News Online section editor Veronica Pulumbarit to write “Rebecca Bustamante: Maid to Made,” where she shares her experiences to help overseas Filipino workers save money and manage their love life.

In a press launch for the book last September 17, the former nanny shares some tips on dealing with finances, families, and even romance.

Say “no” to family

Saving money was a long, arduous process for Bustamante, who fell into the same cycle as other OFWs by sending all her money home and never leaving anything for herself.

Had she continued this cycle, she said it would’ve been impossible to put all her siblings through school and build a family home in Pangasinan.

“They don’t teach (saving) in our schools. We never learned. Imagine if I didn’t read books — maybe until now I’m still broke,” she said.

While it was painful to say no to her family at first, her decision led her to becoming the success story she turned out to be.

Learn to invest

While reading financial books will certainly teach an OFW ways to save his/her money, Bustamante said families of OFWs must also learn how to make use of the money sent to them.

“Kung ano man yung perang ipinapadala, i-save nila, tapos magtrabaho sila. They need to work and make money for their expenses every day,” she said.

“Kung anong pinapadala sa kanila, i-invest, ilagay nila sa bangko para at least hindi kawawa yung pamilya nila na trabaho nang trabaho, hingi sila ng hingi. Samantala kung may business sila, then of course the family’s happy,” she added.

Because of the length it takes for investments to pay off, most skip investments in favor of spending their money immediately.

However, Bustamante said families of OFWs should be “willing to pay the price upfront,” no matter the price, to truly get what they want.

She also said that OFWs must bear the hard work, saying that if she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in now if she gave in to provocation at the start of her career.

“Karamihan sa kanila, nanny pa rin at nagtatrabaho sa mga hotel as a tagalinis. In short, the story is: kahit anuman, be willing to pay the price upfront,” Bustamante advised.

“Invest” in love

Yet for all her achievements, she said her greatest accomplishment was building a family and fulfilling her promise to her mother.

“When my brothers and sisters finished university and [moved] to Canada, and I was able to build a family home in Pangasinan, it’s an achievement… [there’s] nothing else I could ask for except to get married and have my own family, and I have that, too,” said Bustamante.

But in building and raising a family, the CEO said it was important to be meticulous in choosing the right partner. She said the hardships her mother had to go through because of her husband and sons motivated her to research how to pick the right person.

She said singles looking for a partner should list down the qualities they want to have in the person, clarify what they want in the relationship, and make sure that whoever they meet was someone they were truly interested in.

Richard Mills, Bustamante’s husband, said they kept their relationship strong by developing it beyond the initial infatuation.

Through trust, respect, and having the same goals and vision, as well as developing individually, couples can remain strong and loving, she said.

“If they decide to stay home, great, but maybe try to take some courses at school, develop a skill, maybe get a part-time job, get involved in charitable pursuits, just so your world’s expanding and you got things to talk about,” said Mills.

Raising their two sons also helped them bond, as they share everything with them, building trust within their family.

Give back

Because debt was such a common occurrence with OFWs, Bustamante hopes to tour schools in impoverished areas to teach kids about fiscal responsibility, as well as on how to save money.

Proceeds from the initial printing of her books will completely go into buying laptops for schools, something she already does with part of her profits.

Her husband was also part of a reason why they returned to the Philippines to “give back.”

“I love Canada because of the equality. They don’t judge you for who you are, they don’t judge you for your position, they don’t judge what you’re wearing or driving. Everybody can eat steak if you like, you can go to restaurants, you can go for holidays,” she started.

She continued, “But of course, Richard Mills, I believe in him that we need to be here to promote Philippines to encourage investors to invest here, to give jobs to many. Sabi ko, of course, why not?”

Be assertive, not aggressive

Mills said that what made Bustamante different was her security in her identity, saying she did not feel the need to “keep up” with the macho culture of high-level positions to succeed.

He said just because women are in senior positions doesn’t mean they try to act like men.

“In some countries, you can hardly tell the women from the men. Women in the Philippines are feminine, they’re very comfortable being women. They don’t try to compete… In some countries, it’s almost like they’re trying to compete for who’s more manly,” he said.

“Rebecca Bustamante: Maid to Made” will publicly launch at the Fully Booked branch in Bonifacio Global City in October. —KBK, GMA News

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