There is a thin line between dreams and reality—that is resilience. It is every successful individual’s distinguishing trait. For every winner, there is a story of loss, but it is always followed by an undying desire to rise from adversity. Such is the story of Limuel Hayag Vilela, a Filipino who has gained international attention for his inspiring journey to success. Vilela was born in a poverty-stricken community in Southern Luzon. At the age of six, his parents gave him and his siblings away and served as house help to a number of families. Frequently, he finds himself eating only once a day, never able to satisfy his hunger for nourishment. But his plight became his motivation to satisfy a different kind of hunger, deeply-seated in his very core that a plateful of food cannot suffice.
Vilela hungered for a better life. He scoured his family tree for relatives who were willing to sponsor his education in exchange of his services as a household helper. There was one time when his leg was cut open by a falling iron sheet from a construction site of a family he stayed with. Misfortunes did not hinder him from moving forward with his life. “Nahulugan ng yero, o. Pero wala ka namang magawa. Eh di may sugat ka”, he said.
At times he would look up in the sky aspiring to be on a plane flying by. With his dreams in horizon, and his desire overflowing, he juggled work and his studies with undeniable fervor. His aunt, Azuncion “Mama Azon” Javier financed his education and stood as his mother figure. Vilela graduated magna cum laude from Southern Luzon State University. “Si Mama Azon yung umakyat ng stage para kunin yung diploma ko”, he shared. After which, he worked as a management trainee for Kentucky Fried Chicken and was later on sent on an assignment in UK and Canada. It was when he became a permanent resident in Canada that his passion for flying was reignited. He applied for a flight attendant post in West Jet Airlines and impressed his interviewers. Asked what he can offer, he responded, “a bucket of KFC. Knowledge, faith, and confidence. I am going to get this job today.”
The former house helper is now a globetrotting professional.