At 19, he dropped out of college due to financial difficulties and got himself employed as a casino dealer where money was good. “My life is the casino. This is my bread and butter,” he staunchly says. “For a college dropout, it’s hard to find a job that pays like the casino.”
Thirty-six years later, he is now the Pit Manager, the officer in charge of supervising and managing gaming areas and tables in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) casinos. “I see to it that house rules and regulations are properly observed,” he explains, “and at the same time, our casino gives the utmost customer service to our players.”
But in 1997, he discovered and fell in love with Action Script, an object-oriented language that enables animation and adds interactivity to programs. He began to study it on his own and by 2006 he searched online for a site where he can test his knowledge on Flash and action scripting. He tried many freelancing sites until he found the then getafreelancer.com (which eventually evolved into Freelancer.com), where he found his first freelancing gig.
Alongside his work at the casinos where he also gets to travel the country for free as he visits PAGCOR’s 13 branches, he has a thriving web development business called Cessy Rona Studio (www.flashflexhtml.com). Among the services he offers are the creation of advertising widgets and banner ads, maintenance or expansion of existing projects, addition of product or application features, and adding interactivity to websites. The company also develops CMS websites, games, desktop or browser applications and e-commerce sites. Romeo is expanding his business to include mobile application programming and development.
From time to time, he changes hats and becomes an employer on the online outsourcing platform. “I sometimes hire someone else to help me with a project, especially if it’s more than I can handle, or if I can’t figure out something with the program. It’s great that someone is able to help you solve a problem.”
With his earnings from Freelancer.com, he was able to renovate his house. “About 90% of the total amount I spent on home renovation came from freelancing.” He was also able to take his family on vacation to Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and other local destinations.
He adds, “Freelancer.com is excellent in all ways—from job search to bid placement, from project awarding to payment and commission collection, and even to action on complaints.” For a man who has mastered the complexities of such games as craps, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, stud poker, pontoon, pai gow and sic bo, he has very simple advice to fellow Filipino freelancers on the platform: “Just be patient and be honest.”
Freelancing is somewhat akin to a casino game—it’s one big gamble where you take high risks. Whereas a traditional workplace offers you a more or less certain future defined by a secure source of income, in freelancing, you face an uncertain future where you are given the opportunity to shape it according to your will.
But unlike games of chance, you can grow as a freelancer as you improve with practice; you persevere until you win. And once you get the upper hand like Romeo did, freelancing opens doors to vast opportunities that you may not have even thought about.