Dubai: Friends and colleagues have paid emotional tributes to Filipino Sonny Ancheta who helped train thousands of his fellow countrymen in computer basics. A popular figure amongst Dubai’s huge Filipino expatriate community, Ancheta died of heart failure on May 14. Never married, he was 53 and leaves behind a younger brother and sister Sheila with whom he lived with in Dubai.
A double degree holder in nursing and chemical engineering from St Louis University, Baguio in the Philippines’ largest island of Luzon, he was born some 200km up north in Bangued, the capital of the landlocked Abra province.
However, Dubai remained his home for over two decades since he first came here in 1992 to work as an ambulance nurse before eventually rising through the ranks to become a prized executive – the business continuity manager - at a leading Dubai property developer.
Friends remembered him as someone who inspired many Filipinos in Dubai and provided computer training to over 30,000 low-income expats from his country as a weekend volunteer trainer at the Filipino Computer Club (FCC).
“He joined as a student with very little knowledge of computers but soon became one of our best students and eventually took over the mantle of teaching other Filipinos. He was a great motivator and was loved by his students,” said Jijie Zablan who founded FCC in 1996 along with her sister Cherry Pye under the auspices of the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.
“I was his mentor but soon were friends when we set up public speaking club Desert Voices Toastmasters. That’s when I realised how magnetic he was,” added Jijie who works as a learning and development manager at a Dubai bank.
“My brother fought a congenital heart problem all his life. We knew he had a rheumatic heart from childhood but he always pushed boundaries, academically and socially. He underwent a surgery in 2006 but his problem recurred in 2015 and progressively worsened,” said sister Sheila, who works as an accountant.
According to her, Ancheta took up nursing after completing his chemical engineering degree and was a consistent Dean’s Lister, landing a Top 20 rank in the nurses’ board exams administered by the Philippines’ Professional Regulation Commission.
“He made an instant connect with people every time he spoke,” said a fellow Toastmaster. As a trainer too, he was hugely respected.“I learnt so much from you. Thank you so much for the support, advice and guidance...You are really a great person...May your Soul Rest in peace in the kingdom of God,” said Ely Bersamina on Facebook.“His good deeds were felt by people around him. He was a loving person; people remember him for what he did,” said another acquaintance.