Success in America: Rey Badajos Dacul

Published in Eastern Visayas Journal on March 8, 2021

There is no definite path to success. Yet while the definition and benchmarks of accomplishment are different to each person, successful people share common strategies and traits to get them where they are. One Filipino educator who is a success in the United States of America is Rey Badajos Dacul of Basey, Samar.

I first met Rey more than 20 years ago when I visited Basey National High School in Samar as a speaker for Career Day. He was the young teacher that hosted the event. We recently reconnected through Facebook and I was impressed with what he has achieved not only for himself and his family but also for his fellow Filipino educators in America. His rise from an English teacher to an administrator of the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington D.C., his leadership with United Federation of Fil-Am Educators (UNIFFIED) – Washington DC Chapter, and his numerous national educator and leadership awards are truly remarkable and admirable. He graciously shared some tips on making it big in the land of opportunities.

Aspire and explore. Coming to America was a dream come true for Rey. He was inspired to travel by one of his professors at Leyte Normal University. He wanted to provide a better life for his family and inspire the community that he lived in. He also considers himself a risk taker and an explorer. According to Rey, “my principle in life is to try and try until you succeed. There is no harm in trying. Whatever happens in the end, you cannot blame yourself because you tried.” His life-changing decision was the result of an unplanned visit to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) where he saw an advertisement and decided to apply to be an English teacher in the US.

Plan. Before trying something, always look at the possibilities and make plans. Rey had 15 years of teaching experience, was a master teacher, and served as adviser of two school papers at Basey National High School before applying for the US. Homesickness was part of the initial adjustment to life in a different country but he planned for this by keeping himself busy, meeting people and being involved in the community.

Give back. For Rey, true success is not just the ability to live a comfortable life but, more importantly, the ability to help others. He is the president of UNIFFIED in Washington D.C., the fastest growing association of teachers. His biggest accomplishment to date is founding the UNIFFIED DC Cooperative, a non-profit cooperative that started with just 22 teachers. Today, there are hundreds of Filipino teachers and professionals in its current membership roster. The cooperative provides regular loans anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 and gives its members cash dividends and patronage refund at the end of the year. He replicated the success of this first cooperative by establishing five other different cooperatives specifically for Filipino professionals across the country. He is also the founder of Gift of Knowledge Project for the Philippines and Waray-Waray Association of America, and one of the founding members of Filipino American Cancer Care.

For all his accomplishments, Rey remains humble and grounded. “I just want to continue to help people,” he said. “I will settle in Basey when I retire but I plan to visit the United States often. I also want to continue my community service, especially in education.” Indeed, there are many interpretations and paths to success. Rey found his path and intends to stay on it.

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