Engr. Edgardo F. Suniga, Jr.
From funeral parlor helper to companyís CEO;
An engineer who builds dream house for family
by Yul Espartero
Position: Senior Planner
Company: Turner & Townsend
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Hometown: Ramos, Tarlac
HE WAS 13 years old when he started working as a helper in a funeral parlor. Determined to rise above poverty, Edgardo F. Suniga, Jr. worked his way to success.
Now, he is the Owner/CEO of a construction company in the Philippines and works as a Development Planner in Dubai at the same time. He is one of the few globally certified Project Management Professionals (PMP) since 2009 and one of the youngest Filipino project managers in a construction industry in Dubai at the age of 29.
Bong, as he is affectionately known, is connected with Turner & Townsend as a planning specialist. He did the planning and scheduling of Al Ain Wadi Adventure, which is well-known as the highest man-made wave pool in the world at the time and the only man-made water rafting in the desert.
Born to a very poor family in 1982 to couple Edgardo R. Suniga, Sr. and Melania Flores, Bong recalls that they nearly had three meals a day. He narrated, “My father didn’t have a regular income as a farmer and my mother was a housewife who sometimes worked as a house helper (wash and iron clothes) to families, to augment whatever income. We had a very rugged house that leaks everywhere whenever it rains. I and my two sisters used to split one fried egg into three just to have something to eat.”
His two siblings Gazel Suniga Igup and Roda Suniga Romin are now both married. He was educated at Coral Elementary School (1995) and attended high school at Mapua Institute of Technology and St. Rose Catholic School (1999). “While growing up, we were forced by the situation to stay with our relatives in Manila and in Tarlac and be apart from each other just to study. I worked as a funeral parlor helper, a construction laborer. I used to do thesis and reports for other students to have additional money to sustain myself,” he continued.
Poverty motivated him to take up Civil Engineering at FEATI University in Manila, hoping to better the situation. “When I was in third year college, oftentimes I slept in the streets of Manila (particularly in Avenida and Recto) as I did not have money to pay for a home rental. Some friends allowed me to stay in their houses and it helped a lot. Our house was used as collateral for borrowed money to help my studies, which gone out of control as the interest over grew for us to take it back,” Bong recounted.
He graduated in 2003. “After passing the board exam, I worked as a Civil Engineer yet I was receiving a PhP6,500 salary, which was not enough to sustain my family. Our house was still with the lending company. It broke my heart every time I saw my mother crying for being chased by the collector and being threatened that she’ll loss her only inheritance from her parents.”
Paying family’s debt
Bong decided to seek greener pastures abroad to pay off his family’s debt and take back the inherited lot of his mother from a lending company. The long-term reason is that he dreams of a financially stable family.
“I decided to go here in Dubai with the help of friends through a visit visa. I borrowed 5,000 pesos from each of my friends to come-up with enough money to pay for my ticket and visa, promising them that if I got a job I will pay them. But the reality was different as I need to find a job while working as a part time table cleaner. But then by God’s grace, I found a job related to my course. That’s when I started to work and study at the same time to upgrade myself and be more competitive in the market,” he added.
His first job in Dubai was as estimator and site engineer. He has been abroad for more than 11 years.
“The turning point was, when I went back for vacation and saw my relatives and people in my neighborhood who were going through the same hardship I had before. That’s the time I said to myself that I need to do something to hope for, to encourage them that poverty is not a hindrance to success if you are following a correct formula. I need to give them a job to be able for them to sustain the studies of their children, so in the future they can be taken away from poverty. That’s the reason why I started Suniga Construction Company in Philippines five years ago,” he said.
While abroad, he took further studies in 2009 at the Chicago Training Institute and Cambridge Training Institute. “Until now, I am trying to sustain my work in Turner and Townsend and remotely manage my company back in the Philippines,” he added.
It’s time to give back. He is one of the founders of Pinoy Group-MTA, an education provider for Filipinos which has been operating for five years in UAE. In the Philippines, his company regularly contributes to the school and church activities. He’s still young and dreams to accomplish more.