A former street vendor turned janitor has achieved his dream as he is now a successful restaurant owner in Australia.
Meet John Andrew Dangca, a business owner in Canberra, Australia, who operates a Filipino restaurant. but before he reached his success in business, he was once a street vendor and a janitor for many years. In the “Bawal Judgmental” segment of Eat Bulaga!, he shared his success story.
Andrew is now the owner of Salu-Salo Restaurant, which has been serving Filipino cuisine in Canberra, Australia for nearly two years.
From a street food vendor to a janitor in Australia
He recalled his humble beginnings while growing up in the Philippines. Life wasn’t easy for their family and he had to work to help make ends meet. At an early age, he was already working in the streets selling street foods using a “kariton.”
“Bata po talaga kami noon, e. Parang nag-start po kami, nagtitinda po sa streets [ng] street foods, may kariton po kami,” he recalled.
Things started going in his favor when a relative helped Andrew fly to Australia as a working student. He was 19 years old then and he worked as a janitor in different locations in Australia.
Andrew narrated, “Nag-umpisa po ako dito as international student po, way back 2013 po. Kinuha po ako ng tita ko, yung eldest sister nung father ko. ’Tapos yun po, naging working student po ako. Nag-work po ako as a cleaner. Nagwu-work po ako sa gabi, nag-aaral po sa umaga.”
As a janitor, Andrew cleaned malls, health care institutions, corporate buildings, and other locations that may need his services. Working as a janitor and doing other blue-collar jobs in a foreign land wasn’t easy but Andrew had his family as his inspiration to persevere. He had big dreams for himself and his family and it is what kept him going during challenging times.
“Naisip ko iyon na sobrang hirap. May time na sobrang to the point na nawalan na ako ng pag-asa. Pero siyempre po, inisip ko po yung family ko, kung paano ko po sila mabubuhay noon. Kasi wala na nga po kaming tatay,” Andrew shared.
Andrew held on to his hopes of a better life for his family as he worked hard and took on several more jobs. He said, “Nung time na lalo na po pag holiday, doon pa talaga nag-strive po ako, na kahit wala pa pong tulog… Sa train station na po ako natutulog noon, sa bus. Tuluy-tuloy po talaga ako nung work ko noon.”
Despite having relatives in Australia, Andrew didn’t rely on them and made it on his own. His dream started becoming a reality when in 2019, he was able to petition and bring his family from the Philippines to Australia.
“Thankful po ako na nakuha po ako ng relatives ko dito, pero siyempre, hindi naman po habang buhay magre-rely ako sa kanila, kasi meron din po silang sinusuportahan na family sa province po namin, ” he explained.
“Kaya nag-strive po ako, nag-self-supporting po ako sa pag-aaral ko, para po paunti-unti, nakuha ko yung brother ko, yung ate ko, then sunod po yung mother ko naman,” Andrew said.
Being a restaurant owner amid the pandemic
Andrew admitted that his Filipino restaurant also got affected when the pandemic began. Fortunately, he was able to quickly adapt to change and partnered with food delivery services. He personally also reached out to their customers to help drive orders.
He revealed, “Ina-ask ko po yung customers po namin na kung gusto po nilang magpa-deliver or ako po pupunta mismo, kahit malayo po, pupuntahan ko basta po may sales.”
Andrew’s journey shows that even in the face of adversity, perseverance and hard effort may bring success. “Talagang pinaghirapan ko po. Nag-strive po ako para makuha ko po ito kung anuman yung sitwasyon ko ngayon,” he said.
Related: For more inspiring stories, you can also read Former Service Crew Now a Successful Food Truck Owner in Canada.