The Admirable Stewardess was an educator
…Ms. Ana Perpetua Ignacio of PAL
By Apolinario Villalobos
The crew that serves the passengers on board an airplane is generically called Flight Attendants, although, for gender distinction, she could be a stewardess or he could be a steward. The job of the flight attendant is no joke – demonstrating the use of different safety gear for passengers even while the plane has just made its unsteady ascent, as well as, enduring a sudden jolt due to an unexpected turbulence while serving coffee.
When I took the first flight PR1809 of PAL to Davao on June 17, one of the F/As was a look-alike of Alicia Alonzo, a 70’s Filipino actress who also had a stint as stewardess of Philippine Airlines. I first noticed her at the pre-departure area, because of her smile, although, the airline is supposed to require its F/As to always smile. But hers was different, as it forms naturally on her lips while she spoke.
Inflight, she was so professional in carrying out her duties – checking on the seat belts and putting to upright position reclining seats as necessary. I thought all the while that she was on the job for a long time, as she breezed through the routine checks with much ease, without a bit of self-consciousness. I was surprised to learn later that she had been flying for just three months! I was even more surprised that she was a former prep-school teacher. No wonder, she had a distinct almost flawless diction when she spoke either in Pilipino or English. Her story brought to my mind that of Princess Diana’s, who was also a prep-school teacher before she became a Princess of Great Britain.
When asked what prodded her to join PAL instead of other airlines that proliferate the industry, even the international ones which I was sure would be glad to hire her because of her alluring personality, she told me that she wanted to be part of the country’s flag carrier. It’s PAL for her, nothing else, she emphasized with a smile. Of course, she added that financial security was secondary and next was her love for travel. When she excused herself to do her other chores, I admired her tenacity in proving her worth as a deserving crew of the flag carrier – with her quick movements coupled with ginger sureness of her every step.
Philippine Airlines has a high standard when it comes to hiring its personnel, especially the flight crew – pilots and flight attendants. During trainings, emphasis is given on the aspect of customer service. But for the customer-contact jobs, such as ticketing, and passenger handling on board, much emphasis is on courtesy that should be enhanced with a sincere smile. High intelligence is of course, a must, as the employee is exposed to the different kinds of people with varied characters and mindset. Observing Ms. Ignacio made me conclude that PAL is back to its former high standards. As if by coincidence, Ms. Ignacio joined the airline just when the former Chairman, Lucio Tan, took over the airline from San Miguel Corporation. Both of them seem to be trying to show that the “new” PAL now boosts of fresh energetic and young crew, and is back to its former reliable service with the “Kapitan” at the helm.
I asked the permission of Ms. Ignacio to write something about my impression of the flight and their service with special mention of her name and the other crew, to which she gladly conceded, thinking perhaps that I would be doing a typical critique to improve their service. She gave me the names of the rest of the crew as: Chito Archie Sunga, Gerald Chester Perez, Myra Lorelie Villar, and Ana Francesca Arrida.
When we touched down at the international airport of Davao, as expected, it was smooth. Unfortunately, I failed to take note of the pilot’s name and his co-pilot when he introduced himself over the PA system while we were on our halfway inflight cruise toward our destination.
By the way, as added information, the delays in departure and arrival of PAL flights are due to the heavy traffic of almost simultaneous arrival and departure of aircrafts at the airport in Manila, especially, in the afternoon. They are not the fault of Philippine Airlines. The blame should be on the lone runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)…and perhaps, the government for not coming up with a solution about this problem until now.