New Zealand-based Filipino dairy farmer Christopher Vila was named as the “2021 Dairy Manager of the Year” by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.
Vila worked as a swine and poultry veterinarian in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines before moving to New Zealand in 2008. He started his career in the dairy industry as a farm assistant, then became a farm manager in the JA BE Turnwald Family Trust 103.8ha farm in 2013.
“As a migrant worker you start with no networks, no money, and go about achieving your goals in a new country. For me, personally, it took six years to become a farm manager. Some people may see this as a disadvantage, but I see one advantage,” he said.
“Starting from the bottom motivates you to work extra hard, accumulate and master knowledge and skills needed, think outside the box, and catch up with those who have a head start.”
Vila said that he decided to stay in the dairy business because he wants to give back to the same industry that helped him reach his “NZ dream.”
“In my humble opinion, migrant workers should strive to stay in the industry and pay back for the opportunity the industry has given to achieve your dreams. I owe a lot to the dairy industry,” he said.
Top manager, top industry
Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Gary Domingo also celebrated Vila’s achievement in the country’s top industry.
“It goes to show ‘yung galing ng Pinoy na ating mga bagong bayani. Especially dito sa New Zealand, the number one industry is dairy and we’re very proud that we have a kababayan who has been recognized as [the] top manager of [the] top industry. So it shows the Filipino community in New Zealand of 80,000 is really coming of age,” he said.
Other people recognized by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards this year are Ruth Connolly, the “Dairy Trainee of the Year,” and Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj, the “Share Farmers of the Year.”