For 16 years, Eden Iquin-Serrano worked as a nurse at the St. James University Hospital in Leeds, United Kingdom. Like the millions of Filipinos who ventured abroad, Eden and her husband, Jamie, had big dreams and excited about the good life that working abroad often brings. They arrived in the UK in 2000, with the 3-year-old daughter, Jaemien, and 2-year-old son Jert, in tow.
In no time, Eden began working at the local hospital. The tremendous demand for nurses at that time opened many opportunities and more hospital shifts, and Eden quickly settled into a nursing career, which paid a generous salary and benefits, plus extra pay for overtime.
Like other Filipino nurses, Eden took additional shifts during her days off to earn more money. Meanwhile, at the time, Jamie, took on odd jobs, starting as a carer at a local care home, while studying at night to have his skills accredited in the UK. After months of sleepless nights and hard work, he finally secured a job as an architect, spending long hours in an office.
In just a few years after settling in the UK, Eden and Jamie finally achieved the ultimate OFW dream: a high paying job that’s more than enough to pay the bills, a car, extra money for savings, travel, and other material goods that the family could ever want. As long as they stayed employed and worked hard at their jobs, the family can enjoy the comfortable income that they have grown accustomed to.
But in spite of their growing income, something was amiss. “I was working 5 to 7 days a week, on 13-hour shifts, while Jamie also worked full time at his job,” said Eden. “My daily routine was all about time pressure: child care and school runs, chores, and my job. I would sleep for about 4 hours, then wake up to go to work. Unti-unti kong naramdaman ang pagod, and I started thinking how long I can keep up with this routine,” she said. With Eden’s physically demanding job, she can barely manage to take the kids to school and get a few hours rest before starting on a new shift at the hospital. Even holidays were not spared from their usual routine.
“I am always working during Christmas, and eventually the kids got used to it as they were growing up. But one time, my daughter spoke to me. She said, ‘Mum, when will you stop working? We rarely see you because you are either working or tired and asleep. You care for your patients, but why don’t you care for us and spend time with us?’
Those words struck me. We were so busy working, pre-occupied about paying our bills, our mortgage, and providing a good future for our kids. Hindi namin naisip na mas malaki pala ang kapalit,” said Eden. Shocked and struck by their daughter’s words, Eden and Jamie realized that they were paying a much higher price for the well-paying jobs.
The comfortable life they have built abroad was far from being a fairy tale – and it was a story shared by thousands of OFWs abroad. “We noticed na maraming OFWs ang bumabalik sa hirap dahil sa utang, bisyo, o kaya naman dahil sa hindi pag manage ng finances nila habang abroad,” said Jamie.
“Marami din OFWs na tumatanda abroad kaka-trabaho, hindi man lang na enjoy ang time with family, at nagkakasakit. It was a major wake-up call for us. Gusto naming ibahin ang future namin.” They turned to books, trainings, and looked up to millionaires such as Robert Kiyosaki and Warren Buffet. Determined to find out the secret to wealth and escape from employment, Eden and Jamie soon found the answer.
“Sabi nga ni Warren Buffet: If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die. That is true. The reality is, when you are an employee, your only capital is your strength and energy. One day, it will not be enough,” said Eden. “All the books we read, all the trainings we attended, and all the millionaires we know, iisa lang ang sinasabi: mag-invest at mag-negosyo. And the time to do it is now,” she said.
In 2006, after rigorously attending several investment classes and training programs, Eden and Jamie decided to invest in real estate, which, according to the couple, is where 95% of all millionaires spend their money in. “Properties continue to increase in value through time almost automatically. We started to invest in rental properties in the UK, leveraging the rental income to grow our portfolio,” said Jamie.
“There really is treasure in real estate.” In 2013, Eden and Jamie met former OFWs-turned-multi millionaires Terence and Tet Lim, who founded a campaign for OFWs called the FRICH (free and rich) revolution. The FRICH revolution is a massive global movement that aims to educate, empower, and provide opportunities to overseas Filipinos to acquire a life of wealth, happiness, and true freedom.
Together, Terence and Tet Lim serve as FRICH Mentors to all overseas Filipinos who want to be free and rich, without the need to work abroad again. “After meeting our mentors Terence and Tet Lim, we saw the huge potential in the Philippines and we decided to level up our business and investments,” said Eden. “Kahit saan kami mapunta, kami ay may pusong OFW.
The best thing about this business is that nakakatulong kami sa kapwa OFWs by teaching them how to invest, why to spend, and how to get started on a company even without capital or previous experience. Alam namin ang lahat ng hirap at sakripisyo ng isang OFW, kaya tulong-tulong tayo to understand the life we deserve: a life of wealth and freedom.”
To date, the highly-successful couple have amassed more than 10 rental properties in the UK and in the Philippines, which they have bought and rented out over the years. With the staggering passive income earned from these properties, along with their multi-million peso real estate business, Eden and Jamie began millions- earning ten times more than their combined income from their jobs. As proud investors and business owners, in 2016, they made a significant decision.
“After 16 years of sacrifice, hard work, and investing, we finally quit our jobs and living our dreams as investors and entrepreneurs,” said Eden. “Now, at a young age, we don’t have to worry about our finances, we have time to do the things we want, travel wherever we want, and spend as much time with our kids as we want.”
Asked about their advice to fellow OFWs, the couple said, “Take time to learn paano mag-invest at mag-negosyo. Don’t be afraid – if we can do it, anyone can do it. Life is so short – the time to take action is now. Enjoy the most precious things in life: time and freedom.” Like Eden and Jamie Serrano, are you an overseas Filipino who wants to have a free and rich life? Join the revolution at www.freeandrich.com