For immigrants like Dr. Jomel Bajar, the need to compete and stand out in an international setting may be a very daunting task to pursue.
He was a fresh graduate of Physical Therapy from University of Santo Tomas in 1995 and already a professor in Angeles University, Pampanga when he migrated to America at the age of 22. Dr. Jomel dreamt to practice the profession in the “land of opportunity” remained clear in his mind. And so, he pursued further studies, completing his master’s degree at TWU and his doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at MGH-IHP in record time. It was in fulfillment of a promise he had made to his mom.
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP ANCHORED ON “BAYANIHAN”
One of Dr. Jomel’s fondest memories of his early years in America was the warmth with which Filipinos & Americans (many of whom did not even know him) welcomed him, and helped him adjust to his new environment. It was initially difficult for him to be separated from his family, however, his skills of being adaptable to change and being focused on his dreams made it easier to transition. Living in America for the past 25 years opened his eyes to the bountiful opportunity it can offer to immigrants and alike.
Today, as an active member of the Filipino community, he “makes it a point to make any new Filipino welcome in my presence”, said the doctor cum community leader who constantly espouses and promotes the “bayanihan” spirit. He slowly developed the mindset of gratefulness and practice it in his personal and professional life. “If there is one value that I can teach a new Filipino immigrant is to be grateful and thankful all the time”, he further reiterated.
Through his impeccable leadership as President of the Philippine Association of Beaumont Texas (PABT) for the past six years, he’s been a shining example of this “bayanihan” spirit, helping to promote the Filipino culture in Southeast Texas at every opportunity.
Through PABT, Dr. Jomel has undertaken numerous activities to promote Filipino culture, made possible from the renewed vigor and motivation he cultivated among the organization’s officers and members. He also made emphasis to engage all Filipinos in Southeast Texas, not just in Beaumont. Reaching out to different organization to assist Filipino victims during the Taal Volcano eruption and several floodings in the Philippines has been a priority during his leadership.
A DEEP SENSE OF FILIPINO KINSHIP AND FAMILY
Dr. Jomel helped elevate the image of Filipinos in Beaumont, in fact, he was the First Filipino featured in Southeast Texas Dancing with the Stars. In addition to his strong civic sense of duty, Dr. Jomel has consistently been an active member & officer of the boards of his children school, St. Anne’s Catholic School and Church.
His eldest son, Jerard, is 19 years old, and an Academic Scholar in Engineering at Texas A&M University. His daughter Jianna is 18 and is an incoming nursing freshman at the University of Houston. Both consistently received highest honors in their classes and are rooted in their Filipino heritage. Being aware that raising their children in America can cause them to be uprooted in their culture; they made a conscious decision to join PABT and be an active member. In addition, they go home to the Philippines regularly for their children to be immersed fully with Filipino culture and to learn the Filipino language.
Dr Jomel attributes half of his successes and accomplishments to his lovely wife for 21 years, Dr. Maria Luz Aspilla Dayrit, herself a doctor of PT. The two belonged to the same class in UST and both manages LiveWell Out-patient PT clinic and Fe-SiO Wellness Living in Beaumont, Texas. Because they arrived in Texas just a month apart, they instantly became best friends. Then, love naturally followed. "We figured out that we were meant for each other … marrying your best friend, I highly recommend it!”, said the 48-year-old doctor. The partnership and love that they continue to share are the key ingredients in reaching their goals in life he said. Even with their busy schedule, spending family time traveling locally and internationally has been their priority. “Our family is our priority, and everything comes in second”, he added.
Dr. Jomel is one of the recipient for the 2021 edition of “Philippine Faces of Success”. This year’s honorees are a distinguished assemblage of men and women who have made a difference in their chosen fields of endeavor such as public service, entrepreneurship, entertainment, arts and culture, beauty and wellness, and the championing of Filipino interests abroad. The organization stated that they have been made aware of Dr. Jomel dedication to the Filipino community in Beaumont and awed by the personal and professional achievements he have created for himself, thus, another example of Filipino success in America. The search committee measure success not by how much money our awardees make, nor the people that they associate with, but by how you each awardee touched the lives of people around them.
We concluded the interview by asking him how does this “bayanihan” champion want to be remembered by others? His answer is simple: “I want to be remembered as a person who inspire others to achieve their highest potential in life”.