Exit to Kish 13 times: Secretary-turned-Hotel Director shares her story of survival, victories


It was not an easy road for this Ilocana. She had exited to Kish Island for 13 times for a change visa, a remarkable feat only few women dared to triumphantly accomplished. In the United Arab Emirates, an expat has to go to exit either to Oman or Iran to avail of a new visa for a new job. 

Vagelyn Tumbaga Federico  was forced to do so because among others, she was part of the pre-opening of four hotels in the UAE.

She reached the epitome of success at a very young age of 28 when she was named the  General Manager of Acacia Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. She has established a name overseas as the only Filipino and youngest General Manager of a 4 star hotel to participate in the Great GM Debate.

For her tangible professional achievements and exceptional way of returning the blessings that she has received the last 11 years overseas, she was chosen among  a long list of Filipino achievers in UAE to receive the 2014 Kabayan of the Year award organized by Kabayan Weekly.

“I love my profession because it leads me the way to help people and reach out to those who are in need. I have the power and authority to decide what is best for my staff and how I can be beneficial to the community and to others. I have given many jobs to our jobless countrymen way back home and in the UAE.”


Vagelyn (3rd from left) is herein presented the Kabayan of the Year (Filipino of the Year) award 2014 during ceremonies at The Address Dubai Marina.

From Secretary to Director

She came to the UAE 8 years ago on a visit visa and started her career as a Secretary cum HR Assistant with 1000 dirham salary  in a construction firm. She shared bed space with more than 10 people in one room and took a public transport in the midst of the hottest season.

From being a secretary, she began the slow but deliberate climb up the corporate ladder and took a more rewarding path while many successful Filipino migrant workers ventured into lucrative  business. She sustained her lifelong commitment of providing jobs to Filipinos and expats especially those from poor countries.

“My passion is to look after people.”

She worked as the Cluster Director of HR of Al Hamra Beach and Resort for two years and  moved as the Deputy Director of Ice Land Water Park, heading the entire operation of the largest water park in the Middle East.

She is presently the Human Resource Director of Dusit Thani Dubai, a top-level executive post in this leading international Asian hospitality hotel. Four years ago, she was Assistant HR Manager of Dusit Residence Dubai Marina.

“The advantages being a Director is that I can train, motivate, empower and recognize people in my organization. Being a leader, it is very important to see that your employees progress in their career and they develop themselves to be somebody like me in the near future. I love to see others succeed in their career through my guidance and leadership.”

 “Sheikah” of the Filipino community

 Vagelyn has been tagged as a “Sheikah” within the Filipino community because of her influence in the emirate of RAK in executing work then for the Sheikh. “It is my nature to help people. I think of others first before myself. My dad taught me to give rather than to receive.  I feel I am so blessed because I always share whatever I received from God.”

When she was a GM, she was in the frontline responding to the needs of her countrymen. With support from Acacia Hotel, her group was able to raise AED200,000  (roughly Php2 million) for  the liver transplant of Baby Iya. She helped the prisoners in RAK by giving them financial support through different fund raising programs.

She is the founder of the “HeavenLyn’s Foundation” with 30 disabled children under her patronage.

On Top and Down

Vagelyn is an inspiration and a precious jewel awarded by her alma mater as a Distinguished Alumna during the 50th Golden Anniversary of Saint Louis College in La Union.

“I have been on top and down the line but now I have reached the peak of it and revolve on its light and brightness.”

“My dream right now is to give my children the best future and for them to grow with fear in God and be responsible citizens of our country . Nothing is more important to me than my family. Whatever I am doing is for my family. I love to see my family stronger day by day and my children healthy at all times.”

“I have gone through lots of challenges already which made me a better and stronger person right now. I saw failures and successes and I am proud that I made my own way up on my own skills and abilities through God’s grace.”

o0o —————– o0o

IMG_3984THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique.  While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.


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