“I was given an opportunity to learn and to develop in HR even though I didn’t have theoretical knowledge or study HR.”
Meet Bernard Panilagao, our HR Officer. An employee who is truly loved by everyone, a huge Nicholas Cage fan, coconut milk addict, who owns the most welcoming smile and contagious laugh (that will definitely help ease the nerves on the first day as his face is the first you will see when you join Aspire).
Where are you from?
I am from Manila, in the Philippines. I came to Jordan almost 14 years ago in order to have a better future. I worked in a family house as a handyman before joining Aspire. I miss my country a lot, but my life is in Jordan now and my plan is to return to the Philippines only when I retire.
How was your adaptation period after moving to Jordan?
In the beginning it was a bit hard, especially because I had never left the Philippines, so it was a bit of a culture-shock for the first few months. I came to Jordan with basic English and no Arabic skills, so learning the language was the hardest part. It took a while to learn, but I had the support of my sister who also lives here in Jordan. The best part of my adaptation was that I met my wife here, she is also from the Philippines, so Jordan has a really special place in my heart.
What do you love the most about Jordan?
There are many tourist places to visit in such a small country. My favorite is the Baptism Site along the Jordan River, it is truly a holy place (I have been there at least 4 times).
I also love the people here, especially at Aspire, they are so friendly and kind.
I joined Aspire almost 10 years ago as an Office Boy. I had 3 other opportunities to choose from, but they were outside of Amman, so I chose Aspire because it was closest to my house and I had opportunities to grow within the company. This was by far the best decision I have made!
What was the path to your current role at Aspire?
I started out as an Office Boy in 2009, I was promoted to an HR Clerk in 2011 and in 2013, I became an HR officer.
What does your typical day look like?
The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is pray. I ask for blessings for the day, I shower and help my wife prepare our kids for school. I have two kids here and one back in the Philippines. After my kids go to school, I come to work and the first thing I do is check my emails. After clearing my inbox, I go through checklists and prepare contracts for our new hires, along with other HR related tasks. I do all of the on-boarding for our new hires, which is a lot of fun as I get to show them around the company and introduce them to other employees. Throughout the day, I work closely with the Finance and Productivity Control departments. Before leaving work, I make sure everything is set for the next day. Sometimes I bring work home, however, I always make sure to have dinner with my family. I play with my kids before they go to bed and later on, I like to watch the news on TV to see what is happening back in my country.
Bernard and his family.
What do you value the most about the company?
I value the trust I was given. Here, we have opportunities to grow. I was given an opportunity to learn and to develop in HR even though I didn’t have theoretical knowledge or study HR. Everything that I know was taught to me and I learned by being hands-on. I wasn’t very technical with computers before coming to Aspire, but now I love it and I especially love working with people.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movies are National Treasure 1 and 2. Especially because my favorite actor is in these movies – Nicolas Cage. I think he is amazing.
What is your favorite band/singer?
My favorite band by far has to be The Bee Gees and my favorite song from them is Mr. Jones. I also absolutely love One Friend by Dan Seals, that is my second favorite song.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids. That is the most important thing for me. We cook and eat a lot on weekends. I always try to cook traditional Filipino food for them, so that they can be in sync with our native culture.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite filipino dish is Ginataan. It is basically a stew cooked in coconut milk that you eat with rice. There are many versions, with chicken, fish, shrimp, vegetables and even a sweet dessert version called ginataang mais. I love all of the versions as I am a HUGE fan of coconut milk.
What is one thing you want to do before it is too late?
I would love to retire in Batanes. I’ve seen it many times on TV and I think it’s beautiful. It is considered the ‘New Zealand’ of the Philippines and the people there are very honest and friendly. It seems like the perfect place to grow old.
What is a dream that you would like to achieve?
I have already achieved most of my dreams: to have a family, to be healthy and to get a good job. I guess another big dream would be to become the mayor of Mahinog municipality in the Philippines when I am retired. I would love to be able to give back to my community some day.
What’s your biggest personal achievement?
My biggest personal achievement would have to be marrying my wife. It was love at first sight. I didn’t believe in soul mates, but when I saw her for the first time, I felt like I already knew her for a really long time.
What’s your biggest professional accomplishment?
Aspire is my biggest professional achievement. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to finish high school and I left my country in order to have a more promising future. Aspire gave me the chance to learn, to develop my career in HR and to grow.
What’s your life philosophy?
To become a better person everyday.
Most memorable moment at Aspire?
Back in 2013, I received a trophy for my hard work and dedication to the company. It is a moment that I will never forget.