Filipina honored at Hospitality Excellence Awards for Middle East and North Africa


Dubai-based Filipina hotel executive Vagelyn Tumbaga Federico was recognized as HR Person of the Year for Middle East and North Africa, First Runner Up in the Hospitality Excellence Awards MENA, a prestigious search conducted by Hozpitality Group (

Federico, HR Director of Dusit Thani Dubai, competed for online votes with four other finalists who are all human resource executives.


The awardees were honored at a Gala Dinner held on 23 November 2014 at the Grand Ballroom of Le Meridien Hotel Dubai. The red carpet event was attended by close to 300 top professionals and executives in the hospitality and tourism industry.


According to Raj Bhatt, Director of Hozpitality Group, the Hospitality Excellence Awards were presented to recognize top industry organizations which have shown skill, creativity, ingenuity and success in MENA region’s growing hospitality industry.



It was learned that while the finalists were subjected to online voting, they underwent screening in the initial phase of the competition. This means that only the best and qualified candidates were listed as nominees.


Vagelyn (2nd from right) with family in Dubai during the birthday party of her twin daughters

The Farm Girl turned multi-awarded Director

The 35-year-old Vagelyn hails from San Fernando City in La Union, Philippines. She’s married to a Civil Engineer with three teen-age kids still in school in Dubai. She’s eldest among three children of Ilocano ancestry. She’s a holder of Bachelor of Laws (2004), Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science, Magna Cum Laude (2001), Saint Louis College.


Vagelyn was the only Filipina General Manager of a 4 star hotel able to participate in the Great GM Debate organized by Hotelier Middle East

Her story is inspiring. In naming here as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf, Illustrado had this to say of her: “From being a humble farm girl to a secretary who had to make 13 exits in Kish Island, to being the youngest General Manager, at 28 years of age then, of a 4-star hotel able to participate in the prestigious Great GM Debate, this resilient Filipina has come a long way.”

A well-travelled hotel executive, she has been to countries outside of the United Arab Emirates – Russia, Indonesia, Georgia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Qatar, Nepal, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey and Oman.


File photo shows Vagelyn at her office in Ice Land Water Park in Ras Al Khaimah when she was still its Deputy Director

Her passion is to look after people that’s why she concentrated to be in human resources. Among the many positions, worth mentioning are her appointments to the following:

  • Deputy Director from 2011 to 2013 of Ice Land Water Park, the largest water park in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. She headed the entire operation of the largest water park in the Middle East.
  • Hotel Manager/HR Director from 2010 to 2011 of Acacia Hotel, a 4* Star Hotel with 373 Rooms and Apartments, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
  • Cluster Director of HR from 2009 to 2010 of Al Hamra Hotels, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
  • Assistant HR Manager/Acting HR Manager from 2008 to 2009 of Dusit Residence, Dubai Marina, a 5* Hotel Apartment – 146 Apartments


She’s also part of the Pre-opening Team of Five Star International Hotels and Local Hotel Chains in the United Arab Emirates, which include the following:

  • Ice Land Water Park & Snow Village Resort -180 Rooms
  • Acacia Hotel – 373 Rooms
  • The Palace Ras Al Khaimah – 287 Rooms
  • Al Hamra Residences – 98 Residences
  • Dusit Residence Dubai Marina – 146 Suite Rooms/Apartments
  • Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa, now Radisson Blu Fujairah – 257 Rooms
  • JAL Tower Dubai, now Radisson Royal – 471 Rooms

Vagelyn (left) was Resource Person in an engagement organized by

Vagelyn’s expertise is sought in various international gatherings. She was invited as Guest Speaker in the following:

  • Executive Housekeeper Conference, an annual gathering of Executive Housekeepers in the Middle East, talks about Recruitment and Training In a Transient Market, Conrad Hotel, Dubai, November 2015
  • Dubai Hotel Show 2015, one of the World’s Largest Exhibition in the Hospitality with more than 200 Senior Leaders in different hospitality industry, Dubai World Trade Center, September 2015
  • GMs, Finance & HR Directors Conference, an annual gathering of all GMs, HR Director and Finance Directors in the UAE, Dubai,  May 2015
  • TFC FilExpo 2015, the Largest Filipino gathering in the Middle East, discussing about Employment Landscape in the Middle East, Le Meridien Hotel Grand Ballroom, Dubai, October 2015

A Lady of Charity, Integrity and Vision

Vagelyn is one global Filipino achiever, who brought honor, prestige and recognition to the Philippines and whose notable achievements in the field of social and community service thru hospitality and human resource has been recognized far and wide. She is a modern-day hero based in Dubai.


at Dusit Thani Dubai’s anniversary celebration

She is, indeed, an outstanding professional –  hotel executive and HR practitioner – and a dedicated mother but to me, I would like to view her as an outstanding community volunteer. Over the years, I have witnessed her genuine interest for community service. As an exceptional volunteer, she has been among the most visible advocates for community programs and development.


Vagelyn (left) with the Cricket Team of Dusit Thani Dubai


Vagelyn joins her colleagues in the joint celebration of Chinese New Year and Sri Lanka at Dusit Thani Dubai


recognition for employees


with fellow HR Directors at the 2014 Dusit International HR Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand

Despite her busy professional career, she selflessly devoted time to organize social, cultural, religious and fundraising activities. She has committed herself to helping others not only for Filipinos but also for the mainstream expat community.


BACK TO THE FLOOR. Vagelyn and fellow Director

Even before she assumed her post as the current president of FIL-HR (Filipino Human Resource Practitioners Association), I am fully aware that she volunteers during her spare time to help facilitate job placements for Filipinos in the UAE.

Vagelyn is a true model of selfless and sincere voluntary service to the community both locally and overseas. Today, she stands proud as an inspiration to Filipinos as an icon of professional competence and exceptionally outstanding leadership.


at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi

Multi-awarded professional

In UAE, she holds the rare accolade as the third Filipino to have won the annual search for Kabayan of the Year or Filipino of the Year (2014) given during the 3rd Anniversary of Kabayan Weekly. The same award was given to Ambassador Grace Princesa in 2012. During ceremonies at The Address Dubai Marina on 15 May 2014, she was also honored with the first-ever Al Habtoor Motors Excellence Award.

Of her, Consul Giovanni Palec had this to say: “Vagelyn stood up among the other 11 Kabayan of the Year nominees because of her achievements not only in her career but also with her efforts in helping others. All of them have been nominated because they’re already achievers in their respective field of profession.  The extra achievement I looked for was how they’ve shared their achievements with others.  I considered mostly their efforts in giving back to the community their achievements. For Vagelyn, she deserved it because of her generosity in giving back to the community her achievements in life.”


Vagelyn was one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf

Her commitment to public service and professional excellence has earned her praises from people  in her circle and those whose lives were touched by her compassion and respect for human dignity. To name a few, she was awarded the following:

  • 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf recognized by Illustrado magazine, November 2015
  • Hotel Professional of the Year 2015 awarded by The Filipino Times, Asiana Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Kabayan of the Year 2014 awarded by Kabayan Weekly on 15 May 2014, The Address Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Best in Human Resource Management awarded to Dusit Thani Dubai (received by Vagelyn as HR Director) by Dusit International,  Pattaya, Thailand, 19 May 2015
  • City Excellence Award 2014 awarded by the City Government of San Fernando, La Union, Philippines
  • Al Habtoor Motors Excellence Award 2014 awarded by Al Habtoor Motors Corporation, first and only Filipino achiever to receive the award on 15 May 2014, The Address Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • 1st HR Achiever award given by Dubai Hotel HR Professionals Network
  • Clap! Clap! Clap! Award presented by Successful Pinoy Ako
  • Trailblazing Filipina as featured in “Precious Gems in the Desert of Gold” a coffee table book about the inspiring stories of 36 Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates published by Al Hilal Printing, Publishing & Distribution LLC, Dubai, 2014
  • Alumnae Distinction Award 2014 awarded by Saint Louis College during its 50th Golden Jubilee Homecoming, San Fernando City, La Union, 25 January 2014

More about Vagelyn Tumbaga-Federico:

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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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