Dubai: Dr Ian Victor M. Aquino, Dr Marvin Felix, Dr Mona Iris Janairo and Dr Daffodils Guevarra are among many who think the world of the UAE.
As part of the first batch of Filipino medical professionals who received the UAE’s Golden Visa, they can only vouch for this feeling now.
Aquino, Felix and Janairo are dentists, while Guevarra is a physician. Collectively, they share more than four decades of service to the community and they are happy their contributions to the country are considered outstanding.
“It is both an honour and a responsibility to be given an exceptional status,” the four Filipino expatriates told Gulf News, adding: “It is also a big push for us to continue our collective advocacy to serve our kababayans (countrymen) in the UAE.”
Serving his compatriots is second nature to Dr Aquino, 45, who arrived in Dubai 14 years ago, on February 5, 2007. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was active in providing free services during monthly medical and dental missions organised by Philippine Healthcare Professionals’ Association at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.
There were times when they had to attend to around 100 patients and Dr Aquino was in charge of offering free tooth extraction and dental prophylaxis. He also addressed seminars on oral hygiene and dental care.
However, the pandemic has brought to a halt the free health services.
With regard to his UAE Golden Visa, which he got last month, Dr Aquino said: “I’ve been practising in Dubai for 14 years. Having a Golden Visa gives me the opportunity to stay and practise my profession longer in this great country. I have two sons and my immediate family is also eligible for the Golden Visa. I thank the UAE government for giving me a Golden Visa and for recognising and appreciating my skills and talents.”
Dr Aquino completed his degree in Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) in 2001 at University of Perpetual Help in Binan City, Laguna, Philippines. Upon graduation, he was given an award in Clinical Proficiency. He had also served as the president of Dental Student Council, Clinicians Club and Philippine Dental Student Association. Before coming to Dubai, Dr Aquino was a member of the dental faculty at University of Perpetual Help, where he handled the Restorative, Prosthodontics and Surgery Department.
Attracted to Dubai
Dr Felix, 43, is a colleague and close friend of Dr Aquino at Helix Medical Centre. A dentist in Dubai for six years, Dr Felix graduated from Manila Central University in Caloocan City, Philippines.
He came to Dubai in 2015 and had previously worked at Klinika Dental Clinic, before moving to Klinika Maharlika in Satwa. Dr Felix got the Golden Visa stamped in his Philippine passport last month.
He said: “I chose to practise in Dubai because I was attracted by its status of being home to various nationalities and its adaption to the latest technology. I saw myself growing here professionally and getting a Golden Visa was a big validation of my decision. I see myself staying here for a long time.”
Working in Dubai is also a big plus for Dr Felix because of the high number of Filipino expatriates. “I felt like I never left the Philippines at all,” he said. He added he would continue to serve the people by providing them with good dental care at affordable rates.
Freedom to practise one’s profession
Dr Janairo, 45, is a former schoolmate of Dr Felix at Manila Central University. Dr Janairo, who first came to Dubai in 2013, initially worked as a dental assistant before getting her UAE licence to practise as a full-time dentist in 2015. She now works at the Health Family Clinic in Karama. For Dr Janairo, a Golden Visa has allowed her “more freedom to practise her profession as she is not dependent on any employer for her residency”. “It is also a privilege and a responsibility to be given a Golden Visa,” added Dr Janairo, explaining: “The Golden Visa is a recognition given by the UAE and it means you have to value that confidence by providing good services to the people. I’m happy to serve not only the Filipinos, but also other nationalities because I know they work hard for their money. Whenever they get our services, we make sure that we conduct our duties properly and we value their trust,” added Dr Janairo, who plans to have her own dental clinic in Dubai someday.
‘Helping residents live healthier lives’
Dr Guevarra, 47, is practising General Medicine at Prime Medical Centre — Reef Mall in Deira, where she is also the branch manager at the medical centre.
She arrived in the UAE 14 years ago, in 2007, and since then has worked as a doctor in Dubai. She first worked for two years, from 2007 to 2009, at an outpatient clinic in Jumeirah, before moving to Prime Medical Centre.
She currently resides at Living Legends–Dubailand, but she is originally from Pasig City, Philippines. She took her pre-med studies (BS Sport Science) at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and received a Doctor of Medicine degree from De La Salle University, before finishing her Residency Training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.
About the Golden Visa, she said: “I am thankful to the leaders of the UAE for their visionary commitment in providing expatriates, investors and everyone else who have made the UAE their home feel secure about their future with the issuance of the Golden Visa. My family is based in the Philippines, but should they decide to live here, they can avail of the long-term visa too.”
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She further said: “With this prestigious opportunity given to me by the UAE, I plan to continue working as a doctor here in the next decade or so. I plan to be an active contributor towards helping residents live healthier lives as I am also active in providing community-based lectures about diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia (abnormal level of cholesterol and other lipids).”
Dr Guevarra added: “I think my role in the next few years will be to promote healthy lifestyle by educating people on the need to increase physical activities and develop healthier eating habits to prevent chronic lifestyle diseases.”