Our Featured Alumnus: Teddy V. Oruga, Jr.

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Engr. Teodoro V. Oruga Jr, or Teddy to those close to him, is the proprietor of Norugate Land Surveying Services. He graduated from the department in 2008. Below is his message shared to the recent GE board exam passers and to all GE students and alumni as well:

Good morning!

First of all, many congratulations to you and your remarkable success of passing and topping the recently concluded board exam. Hindi ito ganun kadali dahil —months of no sleep and grueling study to overcome your first hurdle to be professionals in the Geodetic Engineering field. You have made your professors and especially your parents proud of this achievement. Give yourselves a round of applause.

I am honored yet a bit surprised that I was chosen to give a speech for the board passers. Paano ko ba maiinspire ang mga bagong propesyonal? Masyado kasing mapaglaro si Tadhana sa akin… at mala-MMK ang kwento ko.

The road to success is never a smooth one. Not that I’m totally successful now. I went through a lot of twists and turns before becoming the person I am and doing the things I do right now. To tell you the truth, I failed the first time I took the board exam. Actually, it was conditional because of the law component. But I just retook the whole exam. The feeling was surreal – Humigit isa o dalawang taon ako hindi nagpakita sa UP. Hindi ako makatingin sa mga tao. Bumagsak ako hindi dahil hindi ko kaya ipasa yung exam or hindi ako matalino o magaling. I failed because of my attitude. Nagpabaya at binalewala ang pag-aaral. Nag aral ako pero huli na – nagseryosong mag-aral isang araw na lang bago ang board exam.

I spent my days partying with my friends and girlfriends. So when the results came I just needed some points to pass — 1.25 points to pass. Sayang… I was disheartened but I realized that failure is not an option. I want to prove myself to be worthy. Second time around, I aimed for no. 1, but I just passed. So I became a licensed GE. Simula palang pala ito ng kalbaryo at ng mga matitinding hamon sa buhay.

I was not born into a well-off family. Kaya kahit di pa ako nakapagboard exam nagtrabaho na ako. I got a job in a construction company. Mas mababa pa sa minimum wage ang kinikita ko. Naisip ko, ganito ba talaga? Nag-aral sa UP pero pag nagtrabaho parang kulang pa para sa pamasahe at pagkain ang nakukuha. Pero at least may trabaho ako. Nakamenos gastos na ang mga magulang ko kahit papaano. Always be thankful with what you have. God always provides.

I got another job as a GIS specialist in the mapping industry with the help of a batchmate. When I got into the mining industry, I was able to travel to different sites—Balabag-Zamboanga Sibugay, Jose Panganiban-Bicol, Runruno-Nueva Vizcaya, at Mankayan-Benguet. I was happy with my job. Pero di maiiwasan na may mga taong naiinggit…di ko alam kung dahil gwapo ako o magaling. Siguro pareho. Nagsawa ako sa mga tao na nanghihigit pababa. Para ano? They are the kind of people you should be aware of and watch out for — the crab mentality of your fellow Pinoy. It’s never a nice thing to experience. But it is happening all the time. So whatever you do when you go out into the real world, remember “Work hard & be kind. That is all.” Hinayaan ko na lang sila. For me, being successful is the sweetest and best revenge.

In 2011, I realized I wanted to start my own company and put into practice what I learned in UP. I finally decided to take the risk of starting a business and – NORUGATE was born. It wasn’t easy shifting from an employee to an employer especially since I had no business management background. As they say, there’s a thin line between courage and stupidity. I’d like to think that I’m courageous. Luckily, during the first steps of setting up Norugate, I was trusted by a bank to be its land surveying contractor. I learned about land disputes, learned to read Spanish titles, find the lots with conflicting locations and other related problems.

I witnessed anomalies and inconsistencies in government records. I rubbed elbows with politicians — in a not so good way. I encountered family feuds – at totoo nga na kahit kamag-anak mo na ay makaka-away mo pa ng dahil sa lupa. My life has been threatened a lot of times. Sabi nga ni late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, ‘I eat death threats for breakfast’. But you don’t have to be afraid. If you’re doing your job right and you have thought about and covered all your bases well, then you have the best defense that will get you through what you have to do. You need to be confident and take pride in what you do. Kapag may katwiran, syempre ipaglaban mo.

It is not easy managing a start-up company. The money doesn’t come regularly, you have to handle employees with different characters, attitudes and moods, and clients that are too stingy and/or talk about their problems all the time that you somewhat become part of their drama – kasi ang lahat ng lupa ay may istoryang kasama.
It wasn’t easy then and it isn’t easy now either. But I can proudly say that the process has taught me how to manage finances, people and especially stress – see boses may sakit ako ngayon ng dahil sa stress. Kung akala nyo napagdaanan nyo na lahat ng masakit nung undergrad—sakit sa bulsa, sakit sa ulo, sakit sa puso. Mas maraming pasakit pa ang mararanasan nyo sa ‘real world’ — pero huwag na huwag kayong bibitiw.

I was offered an opportunity to work abroad, particularly in U. A. E., but I realized that I want to practice my profession here in the Philippines. I render my services and sometimes give a discount to those who are in need but can’t afford the usual tariff rates. Yes, service to the Filipino people ng dating Iskolar ng Bayan.

You are all in for a ride and you will experience these things, too, if you are going to practice here. But always be prepared when you ‘fall down’. Falling down once is not a reason to give up, rather it prepares you for the chapter of success that lies ahead. This is what I apply to my company, choose the right people and work as a family. Right now, my projects include construction in the renewable energy industry (2 years in Sunpower), small private construction – eto yung mga nagpapaggawa ng mga 2 or 4 storey construction building, medium to high rise condominiums, etc., private individual lots – nagpapasaurvey at may nakahanda o abang na demolition for sheriff, bank properties, mining for tenement surveys, GIS mapping or asbuilt mapping surveys, government projects like Geotagging of Mangrove Trees ng PhiLIDAR 2 – FRExLS, On-the –job-training ng mga OJTs, other projects like Alternergy, and pagbibigay ng geodesy knowledge sa mga schools dahil sila ang mga future GEs.

There are many opportunities for you to try to explore while you are young. Hanapin niyo lang kung saan kayo Masaya. Gauge what you really want to do as professionals. The important thing is that you like or you really love what you do as well as doing it right. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know what we do and will take us for granted. Forgive them, for they don’t really know. Show them instead why we and our work as GEs matter – kapag ginawa mo yung trabaho mo ng tama, pagkakatiwalaan ka ng mga kliyente pati yung gawa mo. By word of mouth – hindi mo na kakailanganin ng advertisement dahil silang mga kliyente mo mismo ang magrerekomenda sayo.

Kaya hindi ko man ito nagawa nung board exam, pero ginagawa ko naman ang kagalingan sa kasalukuyan. Only we can measure with excellence and integrity

Thank you very much for listening and congratulations again to the new batch of licensed GEs!!

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Norugate Land Surveying Services is a company that specializes in mapping, property surveying, geodetic engineering, geographic information system, environmental impact analysis, and related fields in geological assessment. 

Engr. Oruga maybe contacted through: 0999 651 5352 or email: teddy.oruga@gmail.com
FB: https://web.facebook.com/norugate/