Global Pinoy Idol from Hagonoy, Bulacan

Andrew Nathaniel G. Santos

Planning Head
Group Five Pipe Saudi
Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Illustrious shepherd of migrants goes beyond boundaries, extends help

A GRACIOUS and compassionate Bulakenyo, Andrew Nathaniel Santos is one of the first Filipinos who was presented the Outstanding Migrant Workers Award in 2014 by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.  He is the first Outstanding Alumnus in the field of Information Technology (IT) of his alma mater La Consolacion University Philippines in Malolos City, Bulacan. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Leader in KSA by the Filipino Community Leaders and the Global Pinoy Idol given by ABS-CBN TFC-DZMM in Dubai.

The 55-year-old native of Guiguinto sits on the School Governing Board for 2-terms of International Philippine School in Al Khobar. He holds the rare privilege of holding highest positions in Filipino community organizations in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He served, among others, as President of OFW Congress – Eastern Province KSA, Dammam Black Gold Sapatilha Eagles Club, K Fitness Club and Desert Smashers Club. He was International Director of Association of Chiefs of Police in the Philippines, Inc., Middle Eastern Makabayan Chapter, Regional Overseas Vice Chairman of Anti Organized Crime and Corruption Intelligence Group and Chapter Pursuivant of Knights of Rizal – EPCC Chapter. He was Vice President of Harmonicans Choir.

At work, he was promoted from IT Manager to Planning Head of Group Five Pipe Saudi. With this promotion, he holds the record as the only Filipino manager in one of the leading manufacturing companies of large diameter spiral pipes in the Arab kingdom. While he has done great things as a community servant, he still seeks how he can extend his support especially to our fellow OFW in distress. He organized various community and environmental awareness programs which the host country appreciated much. He was leading in the organizing of the Kalayaan celebrations in the Eastern Region and during the visits of the Philippine Presidents, H.E. Rodrigo R. Duterte and H.E. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in organizing the delegations of Community leaders to attend in the Meet and Greet in Riyadh, KSA.

He took his elementary education from San Agustin Institute of Technology in Valencia City where he graduated in 1980. He graduated as an Exemplary Student in 1986 from St. Anne’s Catholic High School in Hagonoy, Bulacan. He was an Outstanding Computer Science Student and recipient of Service Award when he graduated in 1991 for his bachelor’s degree from La Consolacion University Philippines, in Malolos City. He obtained his Master of Arts in Education from Adamson University in 1998 and Masteral Units in Master of Business Administration in La Consolacion University Philippines and Masters in Information Networks in Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

He was 20 years old when he had his first paying job. He recalls, “During my college days, I worked as data encoder in the university and so I was able to sustain my education and helped also my three brothers in completing their baccalaureate degrees.”

In 1991, he married Vilma Gonzalo Mendoza. Their marriage is blessed with six children. The eldest, 32-year-old Kristine Andrea, a graduate of BSFM at Far Eastern University, works as a call center supervisor. The second child, 29-year-old Katrina Ann, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Math major in Computer Science from Bulacan State University, is a credit analyst in BPI Main office in Makati. The third child, Karen Angelica is a graduating BSIM student at BSU. The other children are Engr. Karl Andrei, aged 25; Karisa Alyanna, aged 23, a 3rd Year Tourism Management Student in National University Baliwag; and, Kiana Amirah, aged 9.

Prior to his departure overseas, he was the Dean of the College of Computer Science and Engineering at La Consolacion University Philippines. He said, “I requested the University President, Sr. Carmel Ma. Catan, OSA to allow me to go to KSA for a two-year sabbatical  leave so I can expose myself to the industry or in the business sectors and  in my return, I will be developing a comprehensive curriculum in the  college of Computer Science and Engineering. That was the plan that time.”

Fascinated. The first time he came to Dammam, he was impressed with the city’s development. “I was fascinated with the infrastructures and the way things are implemented. I feel that it is more peaceful and enjoyable to stay here. I still appreciate the host country allowing expatriates to work for a living, although there are new laws and regulations now, but still, it is favorable to work here. I find many Saudis as friendly, professionals and caring people.”

He said, “I took note of the increasing needs of my family. As a father of six children, it was very difficult for me to sustain their education. I was forced by the situation to stay as an OFW. Happily, I was blessed that I was able to bring my family with me here in KSA and we were together. But this is not the case of many.”

He has been abroad for the last 22 years. He further said, “After serving for three years from August 2002 to September 2005 as System Analyst in Gulf Agency Company in Dammam, I found myself, that it was then the needs of my family should be on top of my priorities. I decided to continue my service in the kingdom until today.”

Modern factory. The Group Five Pipe Saudi which operates under Abdel Hadi Al Qahtani and Brothers in Dammam is a modern factory that supplies Saudi Arabia and the neighboring Middle East markets with big-diameter, high-quality carbon steel pipes. These pipes are used in the sectors of oil and gas, water and construction.

Andrew was involved in creating and developing an in-house information system known as the Pipe Tracking System. It was a very significant project because it serves as the main application that tracks the status of the project and it will provide a real-time update and needed reports. “This was during the time that I was the IT Manager of the company. Being the Planning Head, I am responsible for the production planning and monitoring of various multi-billion projects in Saudi Aramco and SWCC in the KSA.”

Lessons learned. According to him, being an OFW is not forever.  “It is a temporary journey in your life that you try to get out in your local community to look for a greener pasture outside the country. Value your money and time. Educate your family in the Philippines that the money that you earn is not easy. Encourage your relatives to be entrepreneurs so that the daily needs may be provided by the small business you put in.  This will make them busy and productive rather than waiting for your remittances. Start investing for your health and future. Look for good investment programs that will allow your money to grow big.

He adds, “Always communicate with your family, relatives and friends. Nowadays, it is easy to keep in touch through social media. This is for you not to dislocate and be forgotten by the people whom you know. It will make you easy to reintegrate one day. Lack of communication makes relationships with your spouse or children difficult and it makes you alienated from them. Sometimes, it leads to broken and problematic family relationships. So be careful, always go back to your decision why you have to leave them.”

“As an OFW, look for partners of the same interest as yours, so when you come home, it will be easy to put up business. Do linkages and partnerships. Always plan and see to it that it is achievable. Your plan will make your journey in life more worthwhile and no regrets.”

Passion to serve. “When I arrived here in August 2002, after a month I was able to get involved in the Filipino Community. I was appointed to handle a sports tournament (Basketball League) among Filipinos here in Dammam and Al Khobar. My training and experience in the Philippines handling a regional meet paid off and I was able to share it to many of the OFWs.”

“I joined OFW Congress-EP and during the election that year. I was elected as the Secretary General and that started my life as a servant to the OFW. As president of this organization, I was able to concretize my passion to help, assist, educate and serve my fellow kababayan creating an environment of unity and collaborations about various organizations.”

“I have made many accomplishments in terms of helping my fellow distressed OFWs, especially during the pandemic. Truly as they said Bagong Bayani I feel useful to my country as we are the one who help to fuel our economy.”

He has been commended for his consistent passion to serve, share and love to people. “I am a type of a leader who does not need an appreciation or accolade. It is enough for me to make other people happy and succeed.”

“I wanted to take challenges and opportunities and never give up.  Many events in life had passed. Many successes are being praised. For me, if I will do it again, I will make sure that it is in the next level. I feel I still have a lot of things to do. God made me as an instrument of his greatness and blessings. I will continue and I will never stop until the last moment of my life. I want to be remembered for having a happy and contended life, leaving a legacy that anyone would emulate and replicate.”

Source: Andrew Nathaniel Santos/ ABS-CBN TFC Global Pinoy Idol