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Cielo Caneja, a Filipina Nurse in the UK: Achievers In their Careers and Passion

Filipino Nurses are world class nurses and we excel in the health care profession. With our busy & demanding work as nurses, can we still have time for their other passions outside work?

We are featuring three Filipina Nurses - Cielo, Rhoda and Romalyn. They are achievers in their careers as a nurse. Their daily work schedule might be hectic they still found success in their passion outside work- from the field of poetry, sports and social media. Filipina Power!

Meet Cielo, an Advanced Research Nurse Practitioner & World Champion of Eskrima.

Cielito Caneja, also known as Cielo, is an Advanced Research Nurse Practitioner in Chelsea Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust/ Royal Brompton NHS Foundation Trust. A Joint Research Committee UK Awardee, Cielo also had multiple clinical and scientific research publications with global citations and has been an author and part of the editorial Board of various scientific journals. With all her accolades and her roles, she still finds time to practice martial arts.

Cielo is a world champion in Eskrima, also called kali, arnis or Filipino Martial Arts. Her father instilled in her that she should always be able to protect herself, even at home as she has to compete with her brothers in the field of martial arts. Inspired by her father, Cielo learned Eskrima when she started working here in the UK. It started out as a hobby, but she then started competing in regional and national meets and has travelled to countries such as Norway and Hungary for international tournaments. Cielo then qualified to compete in the World Eskrima Championship 2008 which was held in Cebu, Philippines where she represented the United Kingdom. Registering using her full first name, Cielito, she was initially listed in the male division of the tournament! It was a rough start for her in the competition, but it did not matter as she flew back to the UK with a Gold medal and the title of world champion.

Aside from Eskrima, Cielo also plays an active role in various non-profit organisations. She is the Chairperson of Filipino Unite, a non-profit organisation that helps Filipinos in the UK. Through her leadership, Filipino Unite is active in extending charity work not only in UK but to those who are in need from our home country, the Philippines.

We asked Cielo about her career & her passion in Martial Arts, how she manages her time, and drivers for success. Hope her story would inspire you to reach for your dreams, whether it is in your nursing career or in your other passion or even in both fields!


The meaning of success can vary depending on who you are speaking to and can also change over time. For me, success can be defined by the achievement of the goals that you set. Just like our happiness, we define our own success and can change as we achieve milestones in our life. I can say that what I have achieved now is more than what I have expected.

Initially, my career goal was just to finish my Master’s degree whilst working as a specialist nurse. Ten years on, I was able to graduate with 2 degrees (Masters of Cardio Thoracic Medicine & Respiratory Medicine) and now working as an Advance Research Nurse Practitioner. I have also continuously challenged myself to be better in my profession & set myself goals that seem to be impossible to achieve. I am now doing a Nurse Practitioner role where I bridge academic & clinical work. I am also part of the Faculty of Bronchoscopy where I, as a nurse, am training doctors. These were not part of my initial goals, but my goals have progressed over time. I am pleased, grateful and proud to have reached these milestones.

As for Eskrima, this just started as a hobby or a way for me to destress and relax. I have grown to appreciate the sport and was driven to perfect my skills. I, together with husband, trained as hobbyists and later decided to compete. We have entered competitions and reached the international level. Although I am passionate with Eskrima, it did not come easy for me. It required patience, perseverance, and worst of all, pain. After a whole day’s training, I can just feel my body ache and sore, but it was worth it.


As a Florence Nightingale alumni awardee, Florence Nightingale inspires me as nurse and a leader. Florence Nightingale belonged to a comfortable and wealthy family but chose to devote herself to public service. A true nursing inspiration and a true leader, she did not settle with one profession but many, she too was a researcher, a very good statistician and she can kick every solider that stood her way but lead in the most civil and diplomatic way. A true leader humbles herself but makes sure that she is innovative and leads by the teams’ vision and mission.


I follow by 2 simple rules. One step at a time. And second, wherever you are – be all there.

Most of us nurses are trained to multi-task. Although it’s a good skill to have, I have trained my mind to focus. If I am at work, I give my 100% on my work alone and don’t let myself be distracted with other things. It is similar when we are in the procedure room, team’s focus is only one person alone—that is the patient. Focus & finish on one task first before going to the next. I apply these principles with how I achieve my goals.

Aside from these 2 rules, being organised also helps. I need to have clear goals. These goals help me understand my plan of action and steps I need to take and focus on.


Believe in yourself but always remain grounded and humble. Filipino nurses are world class nurses. We just need to believe in our own skill, drive our careers forward and push for greater heights. But as we achieve these dreams, we need to know how to reflect, recognise and remember where we came from. I am lucky to have met and worked with great doctors and professors in my career, but what I found inspiring is how they stayed grounded despite their achievements and accolades.

Continuously develop yourself. Remember- opportunities can be grabbed or created. You define your own success.

>> READ MORE of our Filipina Power Story Series:

Click link to read the STORY OF ROMALYN, a Specialist Nurse Practitioner & an award winning poet.

Click link to read the STORY OF RHODA, also known as"ALING ODAY", a Filipina Nursing Care home Manager in UK & an award winning You Tube vlogger.

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