How a Filipino Dishwasher Transformed His Life to Be a Pizzeria Owner in Italy

We often hear about stories of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning home to launch their own business using their hard-earned money from abroad. But the success story of Marvin Aguda, a former OFW in Italy, has a little twist from usual OFW success stories.

Instead of putting up a business in the Philippines, Aguda now owns Il Postino, a busy pizzeria in the non-tourist district of Milan in Italy.

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PHOTO CREDIT: ABS-CBN News

So how exactly did a former dishwasher achieve business success in a foreign land?

Back in 1999, Aguda left the country and went to Italy to search for a greener pasture. In order to earn, he worked as a cleaner, waiter and caregiver. But in 2002, he decided to work as a dishwasher for Il Postino pizzeria.

Little did he know that cleaning tables and toilets, washing piles of glasses and plates and throwing the trash would eventually prepare him to become the owner of the said pizzeria.

“Ako, nagsimula din ako sa pinakamababang posisyon dito sa Italya. Nagtrabaho din ako sa bahay, nagsimula ako dito na ako ang naghuhugas ng pinggan, ako ang naglilinis dito ng banyo, ng lahat,” Aguda said.

Aguda soon took interest in the preparation of different types of pizza. By observing the chef, he learned the process of preparing the dough, slicing the ingredients and even garnishing the pizza.

Dreaming Big

Opportunity knocked after the death of one of the owners of the pizzeria. The female boss who was the only one left to run the business decided to sell Il Postino. She agreed to Aguda’s offer of purchasing the business through a bank loan.

In just two years, Aguda was able to pay off the loan.

“Kailangan lang talaga dream big, kailangan mataas ang iyong pangarap sa buhay hindi yung laging hanggang doon na lang, hindi ko kaya yan, hindi pwedeng ganoon,” Aguda said.

More than a decade since becoming the owner of Il Postino, Aguda is truly tasting the success of his hard work and perseverance. Aside from offering traditional Italian pizza, Il Postino prides itself with its Filipino-style spaghetti and pizza that have become hits even for Italian customers.

To date, Aguda is the only Filipino chef in Milan. Despite not being a native of their country, Italian customers patronize his creations.

“I was thinking that the Italian people are the best in the world in making pizza but after I tried Filipino-[made], I changed my mind,” an Il Postino regular customer commented.