Flying High With Limuel Hayag Vilela

Limuel Hayag Vilela

We recognize that many people outside of the startup world break boundaries every day so we wanted to share a story of a guy who has broken many boundaries in order to get to the place he is currently at in life.

We first met Limuel at the ASC Fashion Show through a mutual friend of ours, Carmelo Soberano. We wanted a chance to interview him because he was very driven and he wasn’t afraid to ask for what he wants. Those are always traits we admire as we can’t be timid about pursuing our goals. Like it has been said, the answer is always no if we don’t ask!

Meet Limuel

Limuel started off in humble beginnings in Quezon Province in the Philippines. He worked his way up from growing up in a poor family to a flight attendant and to an up-and-coming model. He currently resides in Canada and does runway shows in New York City. Here is a snippet of his interview:

Note: His interview was in Taglish (Tagalog + English) so the following contains translation from Tagalog to English.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I’m from Quezon province. I worked as a manager at a fast food restaurant and then I moved to the UK. I was a restaurant supervisor there, but unfortunately, I didn’t get permanent residency so I needed to go back to the Philippines. When I went back, I told myself I wanted to go to a country that has  easier immigration laws. I stayed in the Philippines for around 2 years. I worked at ABS-CBN (one of the Philippines’ largest television network) and I pushed myself to the point where my career was going really well. Then, after that, I ended up moving to Canada.”

Good stuff. How was your childhood growing up in the Philippines?

I grew up separated from my siblings and my parents. So, the struggle of being separated from your loved ones, it’s hard as a kid, right? Especially when you’re as young as 7 so you want to dream something big, but you don’t have much support from the people closest to you. I never thought that it was a hindrance nor did I catch hard feelings. From there, from elementary to high school to the university, I became very driven. My life started in a challenging way so I grew up very passionate about my goals and the things I want in life.”

So, now you’re a flight attendant and an up-and-coming model. How did you get from there to here?”

“I worked hard. At that time, I was getting bullied, also. People were saying I was too skinny and weak, ugly, corpse-like. I wasn’t physically fit. I wasn’t interesting. I told myself that I’ll build myself physically to the point that no one can judge me based on my physical attributes anymore.. that no one can drag me down. Being successful for me is not just having a good career. You have to be physically fit also because your body is a platform for you to have a good career.

In the Philippines, there’s high discrimination, right? I experienced it. If you’re dark, if you’re skinny, if you’re short, if you’re too old, you get discriminated against.  It’s the culture. But I asked myself, can I change? Do I have an opportunity to change this kind of culture? I know I might not be able to change the people in the community itself, but for myself, can I change? I got challenged. The things that I can control, the things I can change within myself, I’ll do it.”

Would you say that was your lowest point?

“I think so, yeah, the discrimination. Looking back now, I can’t believe I went through that. People judging me. I was always rejected. The way I looked. If you’re attractive, you’re good but if your looks don’t fit their expectations, you’re done. So I came to a point where I just said I’d do it. Work hard, go to the gym, eat properly. After that, I built myself, I said ‘wow, my body looks good, I actually look good.’ Then one designer said why don’t I try to audition. She said I had height and I wasn’t the typical ‘Filipino size.’

I decided to do it because I wanted to prove something to myself. Not only because of what other people were saying but for myself. I’ll start with myself and then I’ll show them. Ill show that impossible is really nothing. So I became a model and then I represented the province when I competed in Boracay.”

Out of curiosity, have you heard from the people who used to belittle you?

“I just want them to realize that there are things that you shouldn’t judge. Unexpected things can happen because as long as we’re alive, we all have an opportunity to change. They just laugh and they say ‘oh my God, this is the person we used to bully. Look at him now.’ They get embarrassed sometimes so they stay quiet. I’m not the vengeful type but I think my silence is a killer. I think I inspire them. ”

Love it! How did you stay committed to your goals?

“When I competed in Boracay, I didn’t win. I got really sad because I was representing my province and I lost. After that loss, I asked myself what I was lacking. I wanted to win because I wanted to prove myself to people. My dedication to bettering myself physically helped me stay committed. Even my dad used to say you eat the gym for breakfast. I never smoked, I just drank occasionally, I had no vices. My only vice was metal, pumping iron.”

What’s the one advice you would give to someone aspiring to become successful?

“Never be afraid of change. There are people that, when faced with a bit of change, they’re scared, but me, no. There were times that I did get angry at my circumstances or that I was too aware of what I was lacking that others had, but I realized what if I didn’t experience those challenges? What if I had an abundant childhood? Would I enjoy my success right now as much? Would I truly value what I’m receiving now? It’s part of my life journey. I learned how to adjust quickly.”

Wrap Up

There you have it! Hope you guys received as much inspiration from Limuel as we did. Check out this highlight reel!

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