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Foreigner shares why he fell in love with the Philippines

by | Feature

MANILA: Thanks to our distinct culture, postcard worthy landmarks and vibrant people, many foreigners easily fall in love with the Philippines, just like Dwaine Ammon Woolley.

Contrary to many people who go out and seek a better life outside of the Philippines, Woolley chooses to stay here and sees the country as a place where he’d spend many years of his life.

The 27-year-old Aussie was born and raised in the dreamy city of Brisbane, but he had a special connection with the country and the Filipinos shortly after his first visit.

“Doon sa amin, walang masyadong problema. Lahat mayroong trabaho, madaming tao ang may kotse, may bahay, so wala kaming problema sa pagkain, or sa renta ng bahay. Maginhawa ang buhay doon,” Woolley shared with The Filipino Times.

“The only Filipino encounter I had when I was back in Australia was with my bayaw. So, ‘yung sister ko, nililigawan siya noon ng isang Pilipino sa Australia. So, naging mag-jowa sila and recently they got married,” he said.

“Although every culture is different, there are good things about every culture. We can learn from any culture, take what’s good from it and apply it in our own lives. There are many good things about Pinoy culture that I have adapted in my daily life which has given me a pusong Pinoy,” he said.

From Brisbane to Leyte

Woolley’s journey to the Philippines was utterly unexpected when his church in Brisbane asked him to fly here to do missionary work back in 2011.

“Mormon kasi ako and nag-apply ako noon para maging missionary. Tapos hindi ako nagpili kung saan ako ma-a-assign. ‘Yung simbahan ang pumipili kung saan ka mapupunta sa mission mo,” he narrated.

“So ‘yung assignment na binigay sa akin ng simbahan ay Leyte. Nung nabasa ko ‘yon, sabi ko, ‘Hala! I didn’t expect that I will be assigned to the Philippines and I don’t know anything about the Philippines except the things I learned from my Filipino brother-in-law’,” he continued.

Woolley accepted the assignment, but having been used to a comfortable life in Australia, Woolley admitted that he had a hard time adapting to his new life in the Philippines.

“I was shocked with the way that they were living, and as a missionary, I had to live that way too. Naligo ako gamit ang balde, nagluto ako nang walang kalan, natulog ako sa sahig. Nagulat ako to the way they live kasi andon ako sa Australia all my life so medyo naging sheltered ako from the outside world,” he said.

Nevertheless, Woolley said that coming to the Philippines made him appreciate the things he has in life.

In a short a span of his stay here, Woolley was able to learn three languages including Filipino, Cebuano, and Waray. His fluency in speaking these native languages made him famous on social media.

His school named “Missionary Training Center” taught him how to speak Bisaya or Cebuano for two months.

“I spent two months learning Bisaya pero it was useless kasi Waray pala ‘yung salita ng mga tao doon. So, while I was in Leyte, I learned Waray din,” he said, adding that, “Gusto ko talagang matuto, at nagsipag ako mag-aral. Nagte-take down notes pa nga ako noon. Kahit saan ako pumunta noon sa Leyte, meron akong dalang notebook tapos sinusulat ko doon ‘yung mga naririnig ko,” he said. During the course of his missionary work, he gradually became fluent in speaking other languages in Visayas. When he moved to Manila, that was when he decided to learn Filipino as well.

Life after his mission

According to Woolley, Mormon missionaries only serve for two years. After those years of missionary work, they can return home, go back to their jobs, and live the normal life they had before.

However, he realized that the Philippines has left a mark in his heart. After going back to Australia, he found himself longing and wanting to return to the country he never expected to visit in the first place.

“After ng mission ko, umuwi ako ng Australia tapos parang na-miss ko yung Pilipinas. Parang gusto ko talaga na bumalik,” he recalled.

So, he decided to come back to the Philippines, start a life anew there, and pursue a career in Philippine show business.

Beginning of showbiz career

Woolley said that ever since he was a kid, he has always been interested in singing and acting. And it came true when he returned to the Philippines.

In 2015, he joined the contest called “You’re My Foreignoy: Artistahin Talaga!” in “Eat Bulaga” where he placed second runner-up.

After his stint in “Eat Bulaga”, Woolley started gaining more exposure by singing and hosting several events, weddings, and debut parties.

He also decided to put up a YouTube channel where he frequently posts his vlogs of varying content.

“I wanted to show the Philippines how beautiful your culture is but I didn’t know how to. I always wanted to make videos pero hindi ako marunong gumawa. So nung ni-release ‘yung iPhone 6, nakita ko na may app siya na iMovie. So iyon, bumili ako ng isang iPhone 6 dahil lamang may iMovie siya,” Woolley said remembering his beginnings in YouTube.

Since then, Woolley uploaded several videos, one of which became viral and skyrocketed the number of his online followers.

“May isa akong video na nag-viral – ‘yung ‘How to Speak Waray’. Tapos parang naisip ko na, ‘Okay, this is working. I need to keep doing this. Ituloy ko na lang kasi there is already a fanbase.’ So iyon, gumawa lang ako nang gumawa ng videos at parami na rin ng parami yung mga nanonood, pati ‘yung likes and subscribers ko sa YouTube channel ko,” he said.

But aside from his budding showbiz career and subscribers that he gets for his YouTube channel, it is the Filipino people in his surroundings that make him want to stay and settle in the Philippines.

“People here are very warm and hospitable. Parang lahat ng tao dito, kahit saan ka pumunta, pwede mong maging kaibigan. Doon kasi sa Australia, hindi ganon. Masasabi ko na mas masaya ako dito sa Pilipinas,” he said.

Finding his forever in the Philippines

Lots of good things happened to Woolley ever since he moved to the Philippines. But it is finding her one true love that he’s most thankful for. She’s a Filipina from Leyte named Shanta Marie Salburo.

“Modern love story siya,” Woolley said of his love story with Salburo. “Na-meet ko siya sa Facebook. Since dahil nga nag-a-upload na ako ng videos sa Facebook, nakita ni Shanta ‘yung isang video na in-upload ko,” he added.

After finding out that they belong to the same church, Woolley and Salburo became online friends in 2016. But their online relationship gradually turned into something deeper.

Woolley flew to Leyte to meet her and court her in the traditional Filipino way. He shared: “I went to Leyte and na-meet ko siya sa airport. Nakita ko na mas maganda siya in person. Iyon, niligawan ko siya sa Leyte. I met her mom and it’s funny because I asked her mother for permission. Sabi ko, ‘Nay, pwede ko po ba maging girlfriend si Shanta?’”

Six months after proposing, they got married in Cebu.

“Pumunta lahat ng family ko from Australia doon sa Cebu, pati sina lola, mga tito, tita, mga pinsan. Sobrang saya. Sobrang ganda nung kasal,” Woolley said.

Even though he seems to be living the perfect life in the Philippines now, Woolley’s fans and followers can still expect lot of things from him in the near future, such as new content on his YouTube channel, his own line of merchandise, and a new phone app.

Woolley will also be part of ABS-CBN’s romantic comedy series ‘Since I Found You’ which stars Piolo Pascual and Arci Muñoz.

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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.

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