*Article taken from http://www.gmanetwork.com, written by ROUCHELLE DINGLASAN, GMA News April 2, 2012 5:10pm
As they say, we never know where life will take us.
Who would have expected Francis Padua Papica, a former janitor, to become a successful lawyer in the United States?
Francis is currently the host of “Today with Francis,” the newest talk show on GMA Life TV.
Born in Bicol in the Philippines, Papica migrated to the US with his family when he was 16 years old.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News Online, Francis recalled his life as a seeming roller coaster ride: how he was “forced” to join his family in the US even though he was enjoying life in the Philippines, their father dying young, facing discrimination in the US, and fighting poverty.
“It was very hard (to migrate in the US) kasi I have lived a good life here sa Philippines. I was 16 years old then. ‘Yung parents ko ang nauna. I had no choice but to follow them. When I followed them, less than a year namatay ‘yung tatay ko,” Francis recalled.
“Tatlo kaming magkakapatid, ako yung panganay. Walang life insurance yung father ko nung namatay. We had nothing. Kahit pagpalibing nahirapan kami. So I was the first one that said that I really have to work. That is the reason why I started working,” he said.
Looking back, Francis said he now sees his father’s untimely death as a “blessing in disguise,” as it made him persevere.
“My first job was as a janitor, which is a good thing. I realized kung gaano kaimportante yung pera na hindi mo lang pwedeng ipamigay o pwede mong waldasin. That’s why I realized, it was a blessing in disguise na natutunan ko yung importansya ng paghawak ng salapi, and hard work.”
Now a lawyer and philanthropist, Francis said he had his share of racial discrimination in the US, where he finished his undergraduate course at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Cum Laude distinction.
He finished his law studies at Syracuse Law School at New York, again as Cum Laude.
“I am an attorney by profession and one time, actually three times it happened to me, kasama ko yung kliyente ko, s’yempre you know you have to look good as an attorney, pero ‘pagpasok ko sabi ng mga abogado (na nandun) ikaw ba yung interpreter?” he said.
“At that point, I really don’t know what to say. Absolutely, no doubt about it, it was discrimination. So, next time around, sabi ko I gotta come out with something more witty. So when they came around, sabi ko kung itim ako kako akala niyo ako ‘yung may kasalanan. Hindi sila nakakibo so they really apologized. But that was one experience I’ll never forget,” Francis said.
“Secret” to success
Asked about his “secret” to success, Francis said: “Ang secret is kahirapan. You know ‘pag mahirap ka sa buhay kailangang magsigasig ka. I never really considered myself as an intellectual, I never did. I never considered myself as really smart. I just work harder than most people do, 10 times harder actually.”
“You know, I believe in God more than anything else. Lahat ng ginusto ko sa buhay, lahat ng pangarap ko natutupad dahil sa pananampalataya sa Diyos,” he said.
After 26 years of living in the US, Francis, who works at Nordstrom, Steele, Nicolette, & Blythe Law Office, refuses to change his Filipino citizenship.
“I consider myself an OFW (overseas Filipino worker). I want [OFWs] to never give up. There is always hope. ‘Pag matiyaga ka at naniniwala ka sa Diyos, things will happen. That has always been the guiding force in my life.”
Francis set up his own foundation, The Francis Padua-Papica Foundation, in his hometown in Bicol 15 years ago.
The foundation supports the youth with full or partial scholarships. It also provides children and young adults alike with reading materials.
One of his foundation’s scholars was 2010 Ms. Universe 4th Runner-Up Venus Raj.
Today with Francis
“Today with Francis” will be aired on GMA Life TV starting on April 21.
“The show is actually based on the foundation that I have… ‘Today with Francis’ started as a small local show in Bicol which aired for less than one season,” Francis said.
“Basically, the show is about encouraging other people to get better in their lives. It is a combination of a news magazine show that highlights the life of other people, showing how they prospered in their respective lives,” he said.
For its first season, the guests included Vice President Jejomar Binay, Congressman Jack Enrile, Cesar Montano, Marc Nelson, Dodot and Mikee Jaworksi, and Vince and Shai Hizon, among others.
The show will also be featuring places within and outside the country such as Hong Kong, Macau, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Boracay, and his home region of Bicol.
“Today with Francis” will be available in several countries and regions including the US, Canada, Middle East, North Africa, Japan, Guam, Saipan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. – VVP/YA, GMA News