I’m Carl Alberto, a work-from-home WordPress web developer based in Antipolo, Philippines. I hope my story will inspire people that came from schools that don’t teach too much technical stuff and people that are coming from remote or not highly developed places It won’t be a hindrance in getting a good WordPress related job.
Web Development in my early years
I had a first glimpse about web development around the mid 90’s when my dad was able to manage in buying an IBM-clone 4×86 for me. It was marquees and frameset were the cool stuffs back then. During our college, not too much is being taught in our school and Internet is slow and very limited so I have to learn on my own and mostly at home. It’s amazing to imagine that we were able to survive with a 56kps dial-up connection way back then.
I was able to get a lot of practice in programming because my other batchmates were too lazy to do their school projects. They easily give up, rant a lot about the school’s broken facilities and would rather play Warcraft DOTA or Counter Strike while I am busy doing thesis projects. At that time, I was into electronics and was using other CMSes for web based projects because I had the impression that WordPress is just a blogging platform and not as powerful as the others.
Entering The Corporate Office Scene While Undergraduate
Unfortunately, due to financial issues, I have to work on my own to finish up my last few years of studies but it did not became a hindrance for me in getting my degree. The fastest way to get a job here without any diploma and experience is through contact centers. I am very thankful to this industry because many filipinos got a decent living out of it specially for those people that came from the provinces.
After a year of struggle with the traffic and balancing my life with school and work, finally I got my diploma. I tried to pursue an office based tech related career but most of the job openings needs at least 1 years experience and based in Makati, which is 2 hours away from me. I was able to land an office based job but I gave up in less than 6 months because of the huge amount of time and effort that I loose during the commute. Imagine, an average filipino loses 4 hours of time during the travel. In a month, it translates to at least 80 hours of wasted time. Multiply that to the millions of the office workers that travels everyday.
Shifting from Tech Support to a Web Developer
Good thing, there is newly opened web development company here in Antipolo so I left my job from the Metro to grab this opportunity closer to home. Luckily my web development projects from college served as my portfolio to land into that job. At this point of time, we are not mainly using WordPress and only use it as the part of the SEO process. A year has passed and I tried applying to companies that offers remote positions, luckily I was accepted by an Australian web development company. Before I switched my career in a remote working environment, I got married.
With my employer at that time, we are still not using WordPress as our main CMS and using single-sign-on connector to manage it. After years of doing this process, when major revisions of the other CMSes rolled out, we’re having hard time coping up with the compatibility of modules, extensions, plugins and themes. Then we saw some of our blogging sites that is running on WordPress, still solid and with minimal issues during major updates. We offered upgrade packages to clients but some of them view it as a rip-off because they already spent a lot in the development and after a few years, they will be paying again for an upgrade which they don’t really care about as long as they have a website running.
Awakening WordPress in me
At work, we studied WordPress in-depth, researched it and compared it with other, and was able to discover that there are already huge sites that is running solely on WP so why do we still have to run it side-by-side with another CMS? It’s scalable, easy to manage, extended via plugins and communicate with other system using its REST API. Then we got ourselves busy by getting migration projects from other CMS to WordPress. When I got immersed with WP projects, I never looked back and never again tried another CMS or programming languages.
I applied again with another interesting employer, this time under the US timezone, they are the one that introduced me to the WordPress ecosystem. The owner Toby C, served as my idol and mentor in the WP world. He encouraged us to contribute and allotted 5% of our work time to contribute back to the WP Community. He is very active in their local community and meetups. WordPress became our primary choice for all projects, if client do not trust WP as their CMS, we don’t do it. At this time, I am now a believer that WordPress can scale on large projects, we’re able to utilize multi-sites, we were able to work in teams, use version control properly, we even used a custom WP site as our internal project management system. We created custom themes and plugins for each client’s specific needs. We lived and breathed WP everyday. It’s fun working with them and even met with one of my remote team mates on another province.
Unfortunately after 2 years, the 12 hours time difference of US and Philippines worn me out easily. Good thing about WordPress is there are abundant jobs available and was able to find another employer with a Danish company which is only has 6 hours time difference. Their main business is catering ice, cocktails, wines, bar tending stuff, etc. but their front-end online platform is all built with WordPress & WooCommerce. From here, I was able to harness the power of WP and WooCommerce.
Contributing back to the WordPress
I’m very thankful that WordPress has the REST API and it helped me create custom endpoints for 3rd party integrations, but still it has a lot of shortcomings and documentation is not perfect. Instead of ranting out those issues, it encouraged me to reach out in the WordPress.org support forums. I just found out that the WP codex will be deprecated soon and will be replaced with a more streamlined support system which is currently in the making by a group of volunteers around the world.
The WP community is very friendly and will point you to the right person on whom to get in touch with if you have any WP related questions.
There, I met Jon A., one of the most supportive person in the forums, as well as Hugh L. (big fan of his WP plugin template), both of them is leading that Codex replacement project at that time. From them, I was inspired to give back some of my spare time by contributing to the project that they are working on. Another thing that I love with the community is even if your contribution is big or small, it doesn’t matter, they will always make you feel awesome and urge you to help more.
Spreading the WordPress Community in the Philippines
I am very active in attending events and hackathons here in the PH but I noticed that there is still a lot people look down to WP developers because of the mindset that is just a blogging platform, but hey you can rapidly prototype a Minimum Viable Product with it and win some hackathon like what we did in this Bitcoin event. I also noticed that there are a lot of WordPress groupies here in the Philippines but it seems they are divided and after years of observing, nobody is organizing a local group. Luckily after months of waiting, our WordPress Meetup group for Manila was approved and we are now on a mission to unite the local WP community and reviving the WordCamp which became dormant after 2012. If ever you are in the province and cannot attend to our monthly gathering in the PH, I’ll do my best to help you out in getting your local community started or simply fill out the meetup application.
I’m also glad that under the spirit of Open Source, we have the support of other local communities like Drupal and Mozilla that help each other.
Since then, I try my best to accommodate schools in the provinces that requests to talk in their school or organization, engage them to learn Web Development and WordPress, help them not to be discouraged even they are far from the city and from a remote location, there is a big chance to have a WP related job to be found.