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Filipino ‘VIP waiter’ remembers the late Sheikh Zayed

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, Feature

‘I was instructed to go inside the rest house and was totally surprised to see the late president, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, alone and having an afternoon snack. I came to know that I was there just to serve him.’

(Ed. Note: The Filipino Times will be publishing a series of articles as part of the UAE’s celebration of the “Year of Zayed.” We are inviting anyone who had shared moments with the late H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to share their stories as well.)

DUBAI: To be given the opportunity to work abroad is a privilege on its own. But to be able to serve one of the greatest and most respected men in the Middle East is a great honor. An honor that was bestowed to Wencie “Bebot” Cala, when he served the former Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Founding President of the UAE, the late H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Cala has been working in the UAE for almost 24 years, of which two decades were dedicated in the hospitality industry.

Cala shares how, while working in the Food & Beverage Department of Abu Dhabi Sheraton Hotel, he was given the chance to serve Sheikh Zayed: “I started working during the early 90s in Abu Dhabi Sheraton Hotel under the Food and Beverages department. I started as a busboy and was later promoted to waiter, captain waiter, and as an outlet in charge.

“I felt lucky enough to be assigned at the presidential table every time a royal banquet function was held in the palace to serve the late president and his guests, mostly heads of state or royal highnesses in the UAE. My colleagues at work and my superior in the hotel at the time even called me the ‘VIP waiter’ because I was always assigned to serve the VIP guests, regardless if it were in the hotel or in the palace.”

When asked what his memorable experience was working for the late president, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, he replied, “It was when somebody came to get me from the hotel lobby via a white Mercedes limousine. My manager instructed me to get ready and to wear my white gloves.

“From the hotel, I was transported to a palace, where we rode on a 4×4 vehicle. We crossed the desert and soon reached the shore. I transferred again, but this time, on a speedboat that brought me to an island that was like paradise. During my travel, I felt curious and worried at the same time, as I didn’t have any information about my destination. I didn’t know where they were bringing me.”

Cala said he was amazed by the beauty of the island.

“I was instructed to go inside the rest house and was totally surprised to see the late president, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, alone and having an afternoon snack. I came to know that I was there just to serve him.”

It was a very memorable experience for Cala. A memory that, he says, “will always stay fresh in my thoughts.”

He adds, “I was lucky enough to be given the trust to serve one of the great leaders in the world. The only thing I regret at that time is that we didn’t have the technology yet. If cell phones were already invented then, I would’ve asked for a selfie with him.”

Cala remembers Sheikh Zayed by honoring him. “I have felt and seen how generous and kind the late president was. He truly was a great leader, as he was able to unite the different rulers while uniting the nation. Everyone can see how progressive and peaceful it has been to live in this place where other nationalities admire this country. We are thankful not only for the opportunities being given to us but also the free will to practice our own faith.”

Cala is now part of a building administration that welcomes inquiries for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) looking for flats.

The UAE is celebrating the “Year of Zayed” as 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan. The year will remember not just what the great leader did to form the UAE today, but also to impart his values and principles across the community. This observance will strengthen Sheikh Zayed’s stature as a symbol of patriotism and love for the nation.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

FOLLOW US

SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTER

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