“Work Hard in Your Youth”…a Wise Reminder from Manny Relova, PAL’s Hardworking “Salesman”

“Work Hard in Your Youth”…a Wise Reminder

From Manny Relova, PAL’s Hardworking “Salesman”

By Apolinario Villalobos

This blog is about a guy who propelled his way to success by working hard since his younger days. The name may not be familiar with other viewers, especially, those who were not connected with Philippine Airlines. What I would like to impart here, however, is his philosophy in life which is worthy of emulation, in the face of the prevailing attitude of today’s youth.

Manny Relova worked his way up the corporate ladder of Philippine Airlines which he joined after leaving his job at the Elizalde Publications, as Circulation Manager. The said company was known for their Evening News and Bulaklak Magazine. The job honed his expertise in operation and handling of people, a responsibility that he held as a young man and which became useful when he joined the country’s flag carrier.

In 1970, he joined the Marketing and Sales- International Department of Philippine Airlines which brought him to Sydney where he had a stint for two years, followed by a three-year assignment in Honululu, and one year in Bangkok. He was later recalled back to Manila to head the Sales Force, located at the S and L Building Extension Office, along Roxas Boulevard, which was considered as the “flagship” for sales of Philippine Airlines. The “S&L”, as what travel agents, corporate accounts and government offices, referred to, was so strategically located, being within the tourist belt, as well as the community of travel agents.

When Manny Relova set foot on “S&L”, he could have felt the opportunity offered by such location that he immediately embarked on the enhancement of the various services of the PAL offices at the said site. In the process, special desks were set up to serve the specific needs of the various segments of PAL’s clientele, through its “retailers” – the travel agents, as well as, the government agencies.

Aside from the regular domestic and international ticketing offices, other service outlets were Government Travel Ticket Office (GTTO), the desk for Middle East market, and, Special Services Unit (SSU) which was tasked with the computation of special fares that involved connecting flights with other international airlines. These “special sales desks” were the important sinew or muscle that made the Sales Force formidable, in the face of cutthroat competition from other foreign airlines that had the temerity of offering “bargain fares”, to undermine the effort of Philippine Airlines.

Discipline was instilled in the mind of the Sales Force, composed of young Account Officers who were trained to persuade even the most inflexible travel agents to allow their clients to savor the PAL hospitality, this despite the almost give-away fares offered by other airlines.  The exquisite PAL service that speaks of Filipino hospitality has always been the selling point of the “flagship” at S&L, and which stiff competitors and trying times failed to erode.

During the incumbency of Manny Relova, PAL enjoyed the “golden years” of international sales and marketing, such that, many thought that the office along Roxas Boulevard where the Sales Office was located, was the entire PAL itself. Those years brought to fore personalities who became synonymous with “PAL sales”, such as Rene Ocampo, Archie Lacson, Dave Lim, Danny Lim, Harry Inoferio, Elsie Enriquez, Noel Abad, Millie Braganza, Dichay Gonzales, Ruby Precila, Tesi Ona, Ginny Gotamco, Ging Ledesma, Lou Bengzon, Mona Pecson, and Jaime Lucas.

The legacy of hard work was passed on to Rene Ocampo when Manny Relova was assigned to San Francisco and London. The tradition of discipline was so instilled among the young Account Officers that it strengthened their salesmanship in the airline industry. A few years later, most of them have been promoted to higher positions such as managers and vice-presidents.

Hard work tempered with discipline can really do wonders, especially, if they are instilled at a young age….as it can steer dreams towards reality. This, however, is possible on the “leader of the pack”, whose diligence is beyond question, if one belongs to a group.