Put a Smile on Your Face! Part 1
“The triumph of hard work, resilience, ‘bayanihan’ and determination sums up the story of these three young Filipino-Canadian dentists,” says Jake Ladrido of Pacific Coast Dental Centre Surrey. Indeed, many have dreamt of practicing their professions in Canada, and many have triumphed with great determination and drive to succeed. Three dentists, Dr. Wendell Obach, Dr. Jett Martires and Dr. Anna Ladrido, studied and trained tirelessly, and were able to overcome the odds and pass all the requirements of the NDEB (National Dental Examining Board) in 2017. They were able pass the dental equivalency requirement (5 exams) and practice their profession here in Canada. They all associated and mentored with Dr. Dan De Jesus before joining him in 2020.
Dr. Wendell Obach was born in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and graduated from Cebu Doctors’ University College of Dentistry last 2001. He placed No.5 in Philippine Dental Licensure Exam 2002 and did his externship and internship training in oral surgery and hospital dentistry at UP-PGH 2002 and 2003. He was a clinical Instructor at Cebu Doctors’ University 2004 and Associate Professor at Davao Medical School Foundation College of Dentistry 2005-2014.
Wendell and his wife Maria Carmen Carriedo had a stable dental practice in Davao City, and in 2009, when Canada opened the Federal Skilled Workers Program and listed dentistry as one of the professions listed, he and his wife decided to give it a try.
“It was for our two kids so that they will have more ‘options’ in their studies here in Canada,” Wendell shares. They got their visas within seven months, which they had not expected, as they have heard stories of people waiting for years for theirs, but they took this as a sign to move forward with their plans.
“When we arrived here in Vancouver Canada, we said to ourselves that we can continue to make a difference to others,” Wendell says, and he sought the help of Filipino dental practices to be able to do so. “It took me 3 years to get my Canadian Dental License but the preparation was more than that. I started as a Chairside Dental Assistant back in 2014, then took 2 exams to get my Certified Dental Assistant License.”
There were a lot of challenges and frustrations in preparing for 5 exams, shares Wendell. “There were financial, emotional, mental, physical and environmental difficulties. I still remember travelling to the review center for an hour with all the dental instruments and things during winter. Exam fees were high plus you needed to buy your own instruments and materials and also pay for review centers. Budget was tight. There were times that I was out 7 days a week. I work during the day and study at night then work again the next day. I worked for 4 days and studied for 3 days and so on. We even approached a bank for a loan just to pay for the exams. There were lots of frustrations and tears. A lot of times I wanted to give up and go a different path but my wife, kids and the promise I made to my parents and mother-in-law that I will become a dentist here in Canada kept me going.”
For Wendell, it was also a way for him to show his kids what it was like to persevere and not give up. “With God’s grace, the full support of my wife and our parents back home, I finally got my license last 2017. It was one of the best Christmas gifts I received from the Lord. I just knelt and cried that day,” he shares, with tears still welling up in his eyes.
From there, he enlisted with Dr.Dan de Jesus for training. “He made the transition easy. He is a perfect mentor who is always there ready to give his help and advice. I really appreciate his guidance and I look forward to working with him for a long time,” Wendell shares.
He wishes for our kababayans to persevere in hurdling the challenges of professional accreditation. “It is really a challenge financially, emotionally, spiritually and mentally but don’t give up. I know that we all have different challenges in life, but you lose 100% if you do not try. Give your best and pray. I know that the Lord is always there,” he adds. He plans to help other Filipino-Canadian dentists with their pursuit once the pandemic is over.
“It is doable, and perseverance is necessary to make sure we get to see our goals through,” he adds with a smile.
Like Dr. Wendell Obach and many more who have pursued their professions in Canada, determination to succeed is the key to success, and with a community supporting one another, these dreams will come to their fruition.