Rebecca Bustamante: The Yaya turned ‘Yayamanin’

This is a sweet story of a Filipina who toiled as a domestic helper abroad but she was able to hitch her wagon to a star and later became a successful CEO of a multinational company.


© Rebecca Bustamante

Rebecca Bustamante was only 18 years old when her mother died. In addition, her father had no reliable source of income that dark time so she felt responsible for her siblings’ future. Eventually, she became her family’s breadwinner.

Their poverty apparently had spelled trouble so Rebecca considered looking for greener pastures overseas. She applied for a housemaid job and was then accepted to work in Singapore. Just like the rest, her main reason why she had to leave the country was to render financial assistance to her impoverished family.

Student maid

Lucky and blessed – that’s how Rebecca considered herself upon reaching Singapore for the first time. To work as a yaya however was physically and emotionally challenging. She had to wake up very early in the morning and sleep late night but for her family’s sake, she endured such slapping difficulty.

On the other side, if there’s a more remarkable opportunity which Rebecca didn’t let to pass away in Singapore, that’s no other than the chance to study in school. Yes, she enrolled herself in one of Singapore’s prestigious business schools!

On her television interview by a Philippine leading media network, Rebecca had revealed that she studied Accounting at Singapore Institute of Management Open University. Interestingly, she worked from first daylight to total darkness. At around 2300H when everyone else in the house had fallen asleep, she read books. Her Saturdays were even not for day-offs but for meeting her professors and claiming bunch of homework. For three years, it became her routine. Being a student, breadwinner and housemaid at the same time was never easy but Rebecca was so determined to reach her dreams in life. Her own family was her ultimate inspiration.

Unstoppable learner

For some reasons, Rebecca left Singapore and went to Canada. She changed a working place but her love for learning and passion to excel remained impeccable.

“Learning is very important to me. If you want to be successful, it’s important to continue learning, continue developing your skills – that’s the reason why I never stopped studying.” She said in one of her interviews.

To finish the academic course she had started in Singapore became Rebecca’s goal so she enrolled herself in Accounting and Marketing at Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada and the rest was history.

Girl on fire

Rebecca Bustamante founded her own company and eventually became its first executive head. The Chalré Associates, a multinational recruitment firm for senior management executive positions, operates in Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Canada.

“As a kid, I sold pandesal, ice buko, ice candy. I also helped my mother sell fish in the market. I enjoyed doing it. I think I loved sales even as a kid.” She said in an interview.

Happily married to Canadian Richard Mills, Rebecca Bustamante is now harvesting the fruits of her labor. She’s a living proof that indeed, poverty is not a hindrance to success but for a underprivileged to earn monumental success, one has to dream big and work hardest to prosper on life.


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