Joery Falloria: Surviving Typhoon Yolanda and Life’s Excruciating Challenges (…unsung hero of Philippine Airlines)

Joery Falloria: Surviving Typhoon Yolanda

And Life’s Excruciating Challenges

(…unsung hero of Philippine Airlines)

By Apolinario Villalobos


Just like most of Philippine Airline marketing and airport personnel, Joery started his career at the lowest rung of the airline’s corporate ladder which is his case was as a porter. Although, the trainings involved courses on cargo handling, passenger check in, basic domestic ticketing, and customer handling, the employee of “long ago” cannot say no, if he was assigned at the airport to haul carry checked-in baggage and cargoes on tow carts from the terminal to the aircraft. This was what Joery experienced when he joined the airline.


The kind of exposure that an employee gets has been actually designed to toughen and prepare him for more responsibilities ahead as he advances in his career. It makes the employee some kind of a well-rounded guy – an airline man who can later handle responsibilities as manager. Joery has marshaled incoming aircrafts to guide them to their slot in the tarmac, computed weights to be loaded for safe flight,  which included those of cargoes, checked-in and carry-on baggage, as well as passengers that also include the crew and paying ones.


Along the way, he was also trained to handle PAL customers, be they walk-ins who would like to make inquiries or purchase tickets. To cap this particular training, he was also fed with knowledge on values and attitudes to maintain the high quality of service standards that his person should exude. It was a long journey for Joery from the airport ramp as loader to his present managerial position as Head of the Tacloban Station. It was a journey beset with financial difficulty and emotional pressure. But he made it….on August 15, 2015, he was designated as Officer-In-Charge of Tacloban Station, a managerial position.


It was while navigating his challenging career path that he met Pomela Corni Tan who eventually became his wife, and who gave him two offspring, Anthony who is now a registered Nurse working with the Davao Doctors’ Hospital, and Mary Rose, on her second year of Veterinary Medicine course at the VISCA in Baybay City.


The typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban to the maximum, and recovery was even more challenging, as Joery and his local PAL team, worked hard to rise from such disheartening situation. To make PAL operational again, he had to coordinate with concerned government agencies and the head office in Manila for replacement of lost equipment and office supplies, as well as, reconstruct destroyed records. The story of recovery that was woven around the effort of the PAL Team, with Joery at the helm, was just one of the many that inspired many people around the world.


With Tacloban City propped back to normalcy, Joery resumes his overall administration of the whole Tacloban station that includes routine calls on travel agents, issuance of tickets and airport operation. His free time is spent on spiritual-related activities of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, being a Lay Minister. He is also an active officer of their homeowners’ association.


Over a simple lunch at the canteen of SSS near the PAL Administrative Offices in PNB building, he confided that he feels blessed for working with the airline. And, as the company is in its recovery stage, he has committed himself to do his best as part of the team. In a way, Joery has survived the various changes at the top management of the airline…just like the survival that he experienced when typhoon Yolanda devastated their city.


The PAL TOPIC Magazine, PALakbayan Tours and PAL’s Total Effort in Promoting Philippine Tourism

The PAL TOPIC Magazine, PALakbayan Tours

And PAL’s Total Effort in Promoting Philippine Tourism

By Apolinario Villalobos


TOPIC which stood for “Tours and Promotions Information Office” was the publication conceived by the Marketing and Sales- Philippines during the time of Mr. Ricardo Paloma as a tool for the promotion and “selling” of the tourist destinations; festivals; tourist facilities such as restaurants, hotels, pensions, transport services; festivals; outdoor sports such as mountaineering, spelunking (cave exploration), bird watching, trekking, scuba diving; festivals; dive spots and mountains. It was administered by Mr. Vic Bernardino, the Manager of the Tours and Promotions Division. The early issues were edited by Alex Enrile, which was later on taken over by this writer. The magazine is the epitome of the typical Filipino “bayanihan” or cooperation spirit, as the whole staff of the Division contributed their skills to make every issue interesting.


As if by coincidence, the staff of the Division had various expertise in the fields of scuba diving, mountain climbing, cave exploration and birdwatching, not to mention outdoor photography. Thelma Villaseἧor was for instance, a scuba diver and mountain climber, and so were Ed Buensuceso, John Fortes, Reggie Constantino, Bong Velasco, and Julio Luz, Jr.  Aside from diving and climbing, John Fortes and Ed Buensuceso were also spelunkers (cave explorers), who pioneered the exploration and mapping of the Palawan Underground River (formerly, St. Paul Subterranean Park), with the help of a caving team from Europe.


Ed Buensuceso, together with the Kennedy National Geographic Team recorded the first-ever in-flight mating and breeding of the Philippine Eagle (formerly, Monkey-eating Eagle), for which close coordination was made with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Baracatan Breeding Station in Sta. Cruz, Davao City. For such effort, the Department of Tourism-Davao was also involved. On the other hand, John Fortes was exerting his own effort in promoting mountaineering in the country, the penultimate of which was the organization of all mountaineering clubs into the National Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines (NMFP).


Mayie Santos an intrepid writer who was among the original staff of the Division contributed her share of effort by attending festivals and making reviews on resorts, pension homes, hotels and restaurants. Even Vic Bernardino, the Manager, would lend a hand in gathering information as needed, by attending important touristic activities. Furthermore, the staff was also trained to speak in seminars on Philippine tourism aided with slides presentation and handouts. Information given to participants were first-hand, hence, even the Department of Tourism, the UP Asian Institute of Tourism, embassies, consulates, tour and travel organizations, and educational institutions would request for the group’s assistance.


Later, in line with the tourism-centered effort of the airline, Mr. Paloma also conceived the PALakbayan Tour Program which consolidated all the efforts, this time, with the cooperation of the domestic stations. The program was divided into several “modules” such as Excursion, Education and Culture, Conventions and Seminars, and Sports. During this time, the exhaustive endeavor in exploring tourist spots was doubled, bringing to light non-traditional destinations such Sorsogon, Romblon, Mamburao, Palawan, Fuga Island, etc. Development of outdoor activities which were new among local tourists involving study of butterflies, migratory habits of birds, and culture of tribal communities were also developed to stir their interest. Schools were encouraged to consult the office for their planned educational tour program and other out-of-town activities, for which PAL stations were tapped for assistance.


The PALakbayan Tour Program virtually catered to all the needs of air-travelers within the country…the airline’s proud legacy to the industry, and considered as “Asia’s First Airline”, which initially operated using rehabilitated post-war DC-3’s.

Michael Villaflor, Jr.: Profile of Diligence and Humility…another “unsung hero” of Philippine Airlines

Michael Villaflor, Jr.: Profile of Diligence and Humility

…another “unsung hero” of Philippine Airlines

By Apolinario Villalobos



When Michael Villaflor, Jr, or “Mike” to his friends and family was looking for a job after graduating from Mapua Institute of Technology with a Management Engineering course, the country was in its economic and political healing stage after Ferdinand Marcos was successfully ousted by the “People Power” which saw the installation of Corazon Aquino into presidency.  It was during this uneasy period when Mike initially tried his luck for a job in San Miguel Corporation. Unfortunately, the company was giving priority to applicants who graduated from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo. He went through similar discouraging experience when he applied at Philippine Airlines which was giving priority for applicants from the two aforementioned universities, as well as, the De La Salle University.


His persistence, however, in following up his application with PAL paid up when he was finally given the chance to undergo an interview and a series of written exams which he passed with flying colors. For assignment, when he visited the Office of the Metro Manila Sales in March 1986, headed by Milagros Limgenco, without much ado, he was sent to the Escolta Ticket Office to immediately render duty as Information Clerk. Due to his remarkable good performance, in less than a year, he was promoted as Cash Custodian, then, as Domestic Ticket Representative in the same ticketing office. In 1988, he was further promoted as Integrated Ticket Representative, a job which required him to compute international fares, as well. Unfortunately, on that same year, the Escolta Ticket Office was closed which caused his transfer to the Makati (Greenbelt) Ticket Office.  A little later of that same year he was transferred to the Taft Ticket Office, located on the ground floor of the Philippine Women’s University.


In early 1989, he retraced his steps to the Metro Manila Sales Area, but this time, with a new appointment as Sr. Market Planning Analyst under Marcial Zamora. His fast journey along the path of his corporate career brought him the following year, to the position of Staff Assistant for Luzon Sales Area which was merged with Metro Manila Sales by the VP-Sales and Services, Avelino Zapanta. This time, he worked under Teresita Al Luna.


While the career of Mike was gaining momentum, the general economic situation of the country was at its crucial that resulted to a slow down. Meanwhile, the management of the airline changed hands from Eduardo Cojuangco to Lucio Tan. In addition to the airline’s struggle to keep afloat, there were also problems that had to be dealt with – those of  PALEA (Philippine Airlines Employees Association) and the ALPAP (pilots’ and flight attendants’ association), which finally resulted to the temporary closure of the company in 1998. During the time, Mike was under Danny Lim who was at the helm of the Metro Manila and Luzon Sales.


When Philippine Airlines resumed its operations, Mike was transferred to its “flagship” office located at S & L building along Roxas Boulevard as Staff Manager in place of Atty. Cris Pascual, to work under Enrique Javier, the Country Manager for Philippines and Guam. Later, all PAL offices at S & L building were transferred to the airline’s Learning Center along Padre Faura, where he worked under different Country Managers such as Marilla Revilla, Genaro Velasques, and Dina May Flores.  When the San Miguel Corporation took over the company, it installed Salvador Britanico, Jr., as the Country Manager, and it was during this time that finally, Mike got his biggest break when he was appointed as Area Sales Manager for Luzon and Metro Manila.


When the Lucio Tan Group of Companies took over PAL from San Miguel Corporation in September 2014, Mike retained his job to work under his current boss, Harry Inoferio, who is virtually on a “home coming” stint, for he had spent a good number of years with PAL until he resigned to work with other airlines. Mike is doubling his effort, especially, at this critical moment of the airline industry under the shadow of the “open air policy” which is characterized by the cutthroat competition posed by locally- based airlines, as well as, foreign carriers that offer attractive fares. Despite the challenge, according to him, PAL is unfazed because its on-time departure reliability aside from its overall excellent service, have always been traditional trademarks that keep it flying with pride. Many passengers, especially the finicky, learn the lesson that a low fare can never replace an excellent service which is equated with comfort all the way of the flight, especially, long haul ones, hence, they go back to PAL after a “sad experience”.


In the office, Mike is ably supported by his equally diligent secretary, Melle San Jose Artillaga, who like him is equally meticulous in carrying out her job. And, at home, he is supported by his wife, Madeline and children, Mara Louise, Michael III, and Louise who understand his coming home late due to meetings. With all the challenges that he enjoys and the compassion of people around him that lightens his burden, he considers himself lucky and successful, yet feels at the same time, that he could still do more for the company.


To date, with a contented smile, he looks back to the day he was given a great opportunity by PAL which put him on the best career path, more than reason enough for him to continue doing his best. He also considers the short administration of the San Miguel Corporation as a good karma because it was during such time, while working with Salvador “Bud” Britanico, that he became a full-fledged manager.


But, most especially, for what he is now, Mike thanks his parents, Remy and Michael Sr. They molded him into a humble person who can work with utmost diligence and patience under pressure. Admirably, both parents who were supervisors of PAL then, did not try to use their influence when he was applying for a job in the company, as they wanted him to prove his worth on his own. Michael Sr. was a Ticket Office Supervisor (later on, a Manager), while Remy was a Desk Supervisor (later on, a Manager) of the Reservations Department.



The Indefatigable Esperanza (Inday) Hilado …friend, sister, mother, secretary, Sales Executive

The Indefatigable Esperanza (Inday) Hilado

…friend, sister, mother, secretary, Sales Executive

By Apolinario Villalobos


For most people who know her, she was “Inday”, although, her other nickname was “Pancing”. She was a centenarian, having reached the age of 100 years last July 22, 2015, for which she was honored with a certificate given by the Quezon City government.  She died peacefully just when 2015 was bidding 2016 goodbye, particularly on January 14, at exactly, 11:15 AM. The tragic information that I received came from Gel Lagman and Mona Caburian-Pecson, former colleagues in Philippine Airlines.


Inday came from the well-to-do clans of Fontanilla and Hilado of Negros Occidental in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Her parents were Paz Fontanillla and Ignacio Hilado, and she came third in a brood of seven, such as, Clarita, Florita, Hermenia, Gloria, Enrique and Godofredo. Inday chose to stay single her whole life.


According to Tessie, Inday’s niece, who at 74, looks more like a little more than 50, she immediately came home when informed about the demise of her aunt, as she knew that with her were only her trusted caretakers, Rudy Lopez and his wife,  Muding (Modesta). Rudy was her loyal driver since 1975, and got married in 1992 to Muding who in no time treated the former like her own mother. Since the first day of her arrival, Tessie practically did everything with the help of her assistants that she brought from America, as well as, Rudy and Muding.


My fondest memory of Inday was our working together as part of the International Sales-Philippines (ISP) Team of Philippine Airlines (PAL) based at the S&L Building along Roxas Boulevard, in Ermita, Manila. We were under Rene Ocampo and later, Archie Lacson, as the Regional Vice-President of the Philippines and Guam Region. However, due to our well-defined function as members of the Sales Team, we were directly under Dave Lim, Assistant Vice-President of the ISP. Inday was handling the special account of manning agencies for seafarers and despite her age, being the most senior in the team, she proved to be just very effective. She reported to the office before eight in the morning, prepared her itinerary for the day and persistently made follow ups on previously requested bookings for her clients. I also used to help her with her weekly and monthly sales reports by typing them for her. She even stayed late when there were social functions to fete our clients, particularly, the travel agents and manning agencies.


The job of Inday was very critical as PAL fares were comparably higher than those offered by the other airlines for the seafaring segment of the airline industry. But motherly insistence and affectionate cajoling of travel agents worked almost all the time. To show her gratitude to her clients, during Christmas she would give them her own personally-purchased gifts, aside from the standard “give-away” items from our office that included calendars. Being in-charge of the Region’s administration, I would give her extra calendars and “give-away” items.


We were close to each other, such that we sat side by side during most of our Monday Sales Meeting. It was this literal closeness that gave her the opportunity to offer me her share of snacks served during the meeting. She was also very conscious about her health, as she ate only small portions of food during mealtime at the canteen. One time, however, during a party, I admonished her for eating plenty of “lechon” (roasted pig).


A terpsichorean in her own right, she would sashay with graceful cha-cha and tango moves around the dance floor during our parties. She admitted to me though, that she was really fond of ballroom dancing, and even confided the information about the pre-war public dances that she attended at Luneta (Rizal Park) every December, when she was young. Her love for life could have given her the vigor that kept her going even at an age beyond seventy which was the last time I saw her when I left Philippine Airlines.


Inday may no longer be around, but she left a legacy founded on love, as well as, diligence and dedication to job. She was unquestionably unselfish and indefatigable in many ways. She also proved that goodwill indeed works, as her staying “single” did not deprive her of families because of her altruistic ways. She had her colleagues in PAL, and who gave her love in return for her motherly and sisterly affection….they, who have become her family until she left the company. Rudy Kong whom she served with utmost loyalty as secretary in PAL, took her in as part of his own company when she finally left the airline. She also had Rudy Lopez, her loyal driver, and his wife, Muding, who stood by her side till she drew her last breathe. She loved them all, and they all loved her… and, just as what the popular adage says… love begets love.



The TPC Mark of Ed Vergado (PAL Senior International Ticket Representative)

The “TPC” Mark of Ed Vergado

(PAL Senior International Ticket Representative)

By Apolinario Villalobos

“TPC” stands for Total Passenger Care, a trademark of PAL during its Golden Days under Roman Cruz, Jr. As a “total care”, even inquiring callers and walk-ins were given utmost attention, because they are already considered customers, though with “prospect” status. Most often, though, because of the care given, they eventually, become a full-pledge customer.

The mark of PAL’s excellent service, was again shown by Ed Vergado, a senior International Ticket Representative of Philippine Airlines assigned at the NAIA Terminal 2 ticket office. I witnessed how he offered his cellphone to a passenger, Arturo Albulario, who was in a quandary while trying to contact a friend who was supposed to meet him upon his arrival from Los Angeles.  He was taking a connecting flight to Cebu that morning and the meeting with his friend was very crucial, as time was running out.

With a smile that put Mr. Albulario at ease, Ed even offered to dial the number of the former’s friend for him. In just a few minutes, the friend who was finally contacted rushed inside the ticket office. Both were profuse in showing their gratitude to Ed. The passenger tried to show his apprehension by leaving a substantial amount to refund the consumed load for the call made, but which Ed vehemently refused. I witnessed the incident as I was inside the ticket office killing time while waiting for the arrival of a friend from Davao.

Ed began his airline career in Virac station (Catanduanes Island) as a ticket clerk, moving on to Laoag station (Ilocos Sur) with the same position. Recurrent trainings afforded him knowledge in other responsibilities such as ramp handling, counter handling (check-in), cargo handling, reservations, and manual computation of load (passenger, baggage and cargo). His expertise in the line was such that every time new stations were opened, he was among those assigned which happened when Busuanga station in Palawan was made operational to boost the tourism-related effort of the province.

With the onset of developments in the company, Ed was transferred to NAIA Terminal 2, to handle checking in of passengers for which he was well-prepared, thanks to his experience and trainings. Lately, he is now at the ticket office of the same terminal, but this time, preparing international tickets, as a Senior International Ticket Representative (Senior ITR), a supervisory position that he more than deserves.

The more than 30 years of service in PAL, made Ed a seasoned customer-oriented employee, and developed in him a sharp perception on how to make customers satisfied. He does not hesitate in sharing what he has gained with his new co-employees every time he has a chance, as what I had observed also that morning. As there was a lull in the influx of customers, Ed was entertaining questions and voluntarily sharing information about their responsibilities with the rest of the counter staff.

Philippine Airlines can encourage acts similar to what Ed did, by giving deserving employees due recognition through commendation. The emulation by other employees can create a chain reaction that can definitely add more life to the consistent excellent service of the company.

The Admirable Stewardess was an Educator…Ms. Ana Perpetua Ignacio of PAL

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.

A Sweet Smile Spells a Difference in the Conduct of Business Transaction…Philippine Airlines employees still do it

A Sweet Smile Spells a Difference
In the Conduct of Business Transaction
…Philippine Airlines employees still do it
By Apolinario Villalobos

An adage says that one needs only to flex a few muscles to form a smile, unlike a frown that requires almost a thousand. Additionally, while the smile gives radiance to the face, a frown only casts a forlorn aura. And for any business, while a smile, especially, one that is sweet serves as a magnet that attracts good luck and customers, a frown drives them away.

It is a fact that some people are not in the habit of smiling, as if ill- feeling is their shadow. But this can be developed even just for the sake of business transaction. Employers spend big sum to “develop” the habit of smiling for their staff as part of their training in Values, Attitude, and Personality development.

But some people are lucky to be born with the smile habit. These are the people who others say are with the “smiling voice”, too. I have encountered these smiley gals when I visited PAL Head Office at the PNB Building. The first was Galilee “Gal” Gavino, an International Ticketing Representative who at the time was attending to a couple’s travel requirements. I got engrossed on how she graciously went through the transaction, complete with a sweet smile, emphasized by her dimples. I was practically entertained by the way she handled her customers. There was no hurry in the way she explained everything that went with the tickets being transacted, from restrictions to their limitations.

After a considerable time spent at the ticket office for my own requirement, I went back to the Benefits Office for another transaction for which I had to go to the Cashier’s Section for certain payments that had to be made. On the way, I received a call through my cellphone about a not- so-encouraging news which affected my mood. When I entered the Cashier’s Section I was greeted with a very warmly said, “good morning, sir”…”may I help you?”. It came from a lady who was all smiles. She practically vanished my anxieties! Her PAL ID says she was Geraldine Anavie Domingo. Her supervisor, Ms. Evangeline Cueto was likewise smiling, as she stood behind the cashiers, ready to offer help in case of any problem. In less than five minutes, our transaction was concluded!

Experiencing the sweet smile of the two ladies, Ms. Gavino and Ms. Domingo, made me recall the smile campaign many years back, of Philippine Airlines along with its Total Passenger Care Program. They really boosted the sales campaign of the country’s flag carrier. The airline had no domestic competitor due to the “one airline” policy at the time and the Philippine skies was so protected by the government, yet, Philippine Airlines felt the need to steadily improve its image. Such energetic attitude put the Philippine Airlines on the top echelon of the airline industry during those years….to which the pioneer employees always look back every time they reminisce how they spent some of the best years of their life.

Ang Cebu Pacific at Philippine Airlines

Ang Cebu Pacific at Philippine Airlines

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang mga kaibigan ko na nakadanas ng serbisyo ng Cebu Pacific ay hindi makaiwas sa pagbanggit na walang binatbat daw ito pagdating sa kalidad ng serbisyo, lalo na sa pag-asikaso ng mga pasahero kung ihambing sa Philippine Airlines. Sa sakit ng mga pagmumura nila sa Cebu Pacific ay ako ang parang nanliliit dahil may mga kaibigan akong nasa payroll ng nasabing airline. Tulad ko, sila ay galing din sa Philippine Airlines. Yong mga nakakaalam tungkol dito ay nagtataka kung bakit wala man lang daw halos kapirasong sistema ng PAL na ginaya para sa kapakanan ng magandang serbisyo.

Personally, ang unang napuna ko sa Cebu Pacific noon pa man ay ang paggamit nila ng deceptive an advertisement dahil sa pag-anunsiyo nila ng mga pamasahe na wala pang isandaang peso, pero pagpunta ng pasahero sa ticket office ay saka sila sasabihan na may babayaran pa palang iba, kaya lumalabas na halos regular tiket pa rin ang nabili nila. Sa Philippine Airlines, malinaw na sinasabi ang pamasahe kaya kung bumaba man ay naikukumpara agad sa regular na pamasahe, at pagpunta ng pasahero sa ticket office para bumili ay hindi sila inaatake sa puso sa pagkabigla tulad ng nadadanasan sa Cebu Pacific. Ang sabi ko naman, yong walang panlilinlang na pag-anunsiyo ng PAL ay totoo, pero yong tungkol sa atake sa puso, baka hinimatay lang ang pasahero pagkatapos niyang magmura.

Noong sa Davao ako, at habang nagtsi-check in sa counter ng PAL, natanaw ko sa hindi kalayuang counter ng Cebu Pacific ang isang babaeng inobligang tumuntong sa timbangan ng mga bagahe upang malaman ang kanyang bigat. Nagulat ako. Ang alam ko, napakaselang bagay ang bigat ng babae…ni hindi dapat pag-usapan. Sa tagal ng pagtrabaho ko sa PAL, wala akong nalamang pagtimbang sa pasahero. Ang mga eroplano ngayon, hindi tulad ng mga sinaunang pampasaherong eroplano, ay may “allowance” o kaluwagang inilalaan para sa mga inaasahang extrang bigat ng mga pasahero at para sa computation ay may nakalaang “constant” na bigat nila batay sa dami ng mga upuan. Sa ginawa ng taga-Cebu Pacific, naisip ko tuloy na baka may balak silang magsiksik ng mga bagahe at cargo na magreresulta sa overweight, kaya bilang paniguro ay tinitimbang pati ang mga pasahero. Naawa ako sa mga pasaherong tinimbang dahil nagmistula silang baboy na binibenta sa katayan! Bakit kasi hindi na lang singilin ng excess baggage…

Pumutok noon ang isyu sa pagwala ni Raymart Santiago at Claudine Barreto sa airport ng Manila pagdating nila mula sa Boracay. Hindi daw naisama sa nai-check in nilang mga bagahe ang isang bag kung saan ay inilagay nila ang mga gamot at iba pang gamit ng kanilang mga anak. Hindi daw sila sinabihan sa Boracay na io-off load ang nasabing bag, dahil kung sinabihan sila, malamang ay pinalitan nila ng iba ang nasabing bag, o di kaya ay nagbayad na lang sila ng excess baggage. Sa pagreklamo nila, walang manager o supervisor na humarap, hanggang napasok sa eksena si Tulfo. Sa Philippine Airlines, SOP na pag may reklamo, supervisor agad ang haharap dahil may mga desisyong kailangang gawin agad-agad.

Marami pang mga hindi daw makataong ugali ang mga taga-Cebu Pacific, sabi yan ng mga kaibigan ko…pero sabi ko, hindi naman siguro. Subalit nang magkaputukan ng sunud-sunod na bulilyaso tulad ng flight cancellations at flight delays nila noong nakaraang bisperas ng pasko 2014…sabi ng iba pang nakadanas ng mishandling din, sobra na daw ang pagkagahaman nila sa pera dahil sa ginawang overbooking. Inaakala daw ng Cebu Pacific na “maluwag” ang gobyerno sa kanila kaya sila nakakalusot, kaya ganoon na lang ang wala nilang pakundangan sa pag-overbook ng mga flights. Ibig sabihin, malakas ang loob nila…matapang. At, wala rin daw silang common sense dahil alam nang peak season ay bakit kukunti ang mga tao nila sa mga check- in counter. Sabi ko hindi naman siguro….ayaw kong maghusga dahil may mga balita naman sa diyaryo, TV at radyo na naririnig, kaya bahalang maghusga ang iba. Alam naman ng mga tao kung ano ang ugaling sakim sa salapi, mukha na singkapal ng tabla, at pusong singtigas ng bakal!

Basta ang alam ko, sa PAL, tutok ang mga supervisor kung peak season at hindi talaga bumibitaw sa mga problema hangga’t hindi nabibigyan ng solusyon. Wala silang pinapabayaang umiiyak na pasaherong naiwanan ng flight. Nagbibigayan din ang mga front liners ng PAL, o yong assigned sa mga check-in counter at ticket offices, sa pagbakasyon kung peak season upang masigurong hindi nawawalan ng mag-aasikaso sa mga pasahero.

Malaki daw talaga ang kaibahan ng Cebu Pacific sa Philippine Airlines. Sa pangalan daw kasi, ang dala lang ng Cebu Pacific ay “Cebu”, kaya kesehodang mabulilyaso ang mga serbisyo nila, dahil Cebu at mga Cebuano lang naman ang mapupulaan. Pero sa Philippine Airlines, buong Pilipinas at lahat ng Pilipino ang dala, kaya ingat na ingat ito. Sabi ko hindi naman siguro…yon nga lang, sa PAL, bahagi na ng tradisyon nito ang “total passenger care”…kaya walang kaplastikan ang serbisyo nito sa kabuuhan.

Sa lahat ng bagay na ating ginagawa, palaging mayroon tayong pagkakataon upang mamili para sa ating kapakanan. Sa pagpili, mayroon tayong sinasakripisyo. Halimbawa, tulad ng murang bigas na hindi mabango at hindi maalsa, at kung minsan ay malabsa kung hindi maingat ang pagkasaing. Sa pagbili ng murang damit, huli na natin nalalaman na umuurong pala ang tela, maliban pa sa kulay na nanghahawa kung mabasa. Meron ding pagkaing bangketa na mura nga ay barubal naman ang pagkaluto kaya nagreresulta sa pagkakaroon natin ng hepataytis. Ang gumagabay sa paggawa natin ng desisyon ay mga kaibigan batay sa kanilang karanasan, at sarili mismo nating katinuan batay na rin sa ating karanasan.

Ngayon, sa kabila ng mga sariling karanasang kahindik-hindik at mga kuwentong nakakarindi ng utak, ay uulitin pa rin natin ang paggawa ng isang bagay….ayaw ko na lang banggitin ang isang salita na aangkop sa katigasan ng ating ulo! Marami namang pagpipilian…..ganoon lang.

The Unsung Heroes of Philippine Airlines (part 1)

The Unsung Heroes of Philippine Airlines (Part 1)

By Apolinario Villalobos

By modern lingo, heroes are not just those who saw action in the battlefields. Heroes nowadays refer to people who keep the streets clean, sun-scorched and rain-soaked traffic enforcers, young policemen who risk dear lives in tracking down criminals, overseas Filipino workers, and many more. In the case of Philippine Airlines, the employees who belong to its era of early operations, they who laid down its foundation, the frontliners who faced irate customers and passengers at the ticket offices and terminal, endured the sun’s scorching beating at the tarmac, and those who lost sleep and skipped meals as they worked overtime on policies that are needed to be collated into operating manuals, are the “unsung heroes”, I am referring to.

The airline as the country’s flag carrier has been magnanimous in its role – practically in bringing the islands together, easing the travel of Filipinos, propping up commerce that nurtured the eventual development even of far- off towns and islands, and shuttling people from abroad to interesting nooks in the country, thereby bringing consciousness about an exotic archipelago somewhere in Southeast Asia, along the rim of the Pacific. Philippine Airlines, proudly flew the country’s colors in its effort to put the latter in the international tourism map, and it was successfully done with its prime travel program – PALakbayan. And, that was the era of the airline’s struggle to make significant contribution to the country’s economy. With Ricardo G. Paloma, “Mr. Tourism” among the people of the industry during his time, at the helm of this effort, success was achieved, and of course, with the help of its “unsung heroes”.

The screening of future heroes of the airline started at the time of preliminary interviews, during which sincerity was gauged in the answers to two questions: “are you willing to be assigned anywhere?”, and, “are you willing to learn?” Standard answer was of course, yes, but the clever interviewers, station bosses, who themselves, rose from the ranks, were able to discern sincerity in how such single word was further enhanced by the interviewees. With further filtering, the hundreds of applicants were trimmed to the very few that consisted the so-called “cream” – thick in its consistency of enthusiasm, courage and sincerity.

During the rigid training, the applicants were further scrutinized, as not only the basics of station operation, check-in counter handling, and ticketing were taught, but moral values and attitudes, as well. Those that showed resistance were eventually eased out. The early management of the company showed compassion and fairness by not giving much weight to the alma mater of applicants. My case was a clear example, having graduated from an obscure school in the south, but proud Notre Dame of Tacurong College.

My first assignment in Tablas, exposed me to the intricacies of station operation handled with resourcefulness most of the time. The station personnel got worried every time there was rain and the direction of the wind changed, factors that dictated the load of the aircraft. Some of the towns where the ticket offices were located had no electricity. Reservation was done manually. As an extra mile in serving the customers who came from far barrios, those who arrived late, meaning, early evening, were served with the use of a kerosene lamp. That was the situation when I set foot in Tablas where I found Celso Dapo, Oswald Alamo, Sonny Garcia, and Bien Alvaro, the Supervisor who welcomed me with warmth. They were the first heroes of PAL that I met. We had no day off as even on flightless days, we had to conduct some kind of community outreach by mingling with the locals to ensure their patronage of the airline. Our threat was the more frequent schedule of ferries from the nearby town of Looc and the bigger ships that made regular calls at Odiongan.

I saw the same situation in other stations that I visited when I assumed later a job to research on tourist spots for the TOPIC Magazine that I edited. When I visited Mamburao, Obet Reyes, the station Supervisor and his staff endured the loneliness of being far from loved ones. Assignment of personnel depended on the need of any station, so that some of my batchmates during training were assigned to Jolo, like Abet Yu who hailed from Cagayan de Oro. I came to understand why right at the moment of the first interview, willingness to be assigned anywhere was extracted from applicants, as I later found out that those who hailed from Luzon were assigned in Mindanao or Visayas stations, and those from the latter provinces were assigned in Luzon stations or Manila. Just like the gallant men of the military, they boldly accepted assignments without question.

What we see today is a somewhat modernistic Philippine Airlines that fly world-class, long and wide-bodied aircrafts which is far from the picture of many years ago when the Philippine skies were sliced by its HS-748’s, DC-3’s, YS-11’s, and a little later, BAC1-11’s. The airline’s president, then, was Benigno Toda, a Hispanic and very accommodating person who were perceived by the employees as a “father”. During his time, the airline was like a big family. And, there was no spat in anyway, with the union.

Aside from the harried effort to come up with systems and manuals, the airline was also into community outreach to promote air travel awareness, at the same time. Through its Public Relations Office (PRO), now Corporate Communications Department, aircraft familiarization tours for school kids and groups were conducted. The office was also tapped when there was a need for exhibits in schools, complete with stewardesses in sleek uniform. The staff of the said office, likewise, conducted film showings in communities and schools, or during seminars about the airline. This effort showed that PAL flew its aircraft not only for profit but also to foster goodwill, and contribute for the welding of the islands into a cohesive country despite its diversified cultures.

The effort of the PRO was duplicated by the Tours and Promotions Office, under its manager, Vic Bernardino which conducted slides presentations in schools and during seminars organized by government agencies, such as Department of Tourism, local government units, and travel agencies. The said office conceptualized the PALbayan Tour Program, which gave a new face to travel. Practically, the whole staff were adept as resource speakers for tourism forums. The whole staff was also given tasks that covered all facets of tourism industry. Ed Buensuceso was a scuba diver, mountain climber, birdwatcher, and cave explorer and so were John Fortes and Thelma Villaseῆor; Bong Velasco was a mountain climber and bird watcher; Mayee Santos Cuenco was a thorough researcher on festivals and tourist spots; Reggie Constantino, Ed Ramos, Bong Velasco, and this writer, whose primary responsibility was to edit the TOPIC Magazine, were also into mountain climbing and cave exploration. Tour programs for groups were developed by any of us for tourism students who would like to visit a place to fulfill a requirement in their course. The same effort also benefited travel agents who had requirements for special groups. Again, in this effort, those assigned in outlying stations were all out in giving their support. They served as “meet and assist parties” for groups that arrive in their stations. Practically, passengers were made to feel that PAL cared for them – all the way.

On the other hand, those behind their desks at the head office, worked double time in formulating policies for the operating manuals. The combined efforts of the Marketing and Sales-Philippines Department’s divisions, such as, Standards and Coordination under Ed Guatelara, Luzon Sales under Teodorico Pabelico, Market Planning under Gil Carolino, Cargo under Joe Clemente, the Administrative group under Salvador Caburian, and Metro Manila Sales under Tessie Luna, proved to be just impressive. What with their brilliant staff, such as Dennis Balictar, Gary Cruz (who later became a Director/AVP of Cebu Pacific), Toto Antonio, Jovy Jovida (who later headed another department), Jay Delfin (now, a respective Marketing Consultant in Indonesia), Bong Valencia (who later became VP-Airport Operations), Johnny Carls, Gabby Briones, Emma Tronco, Ceres Noble (who later became a Director of Cebu Pacific), Gene Asuncion, Frankie Guttierez, Alvin Feliciano, Edwin Bautista, Toton Oban, Dixon Ilanderal, Nelson Du, Rey Reyes, Tina Bacaltos, Ramon Magno, Ex Estandarte (who later became Manager-Research of HRD), Mike Villaflor (now, concurrently, Staff Manager of the Philippine Region, but with a dual function as Head of Luzon and Metro Manila Sales), Belinda Yngente, Edette Razon, Amee Atotobu (now, a manager of Metro Manila Sales), Ayee Asuncion Garvida (who held a Ticket Office manager), and Nina Intengan. Plucked from the provinces for their talents were Archie Batu, Juancho Dimagila, Ludy Bagares, Raymond Baylon, Cris Lebumfacil, Ayee Noval, and Glenna Tan. Not to be forgotten is Milagros S. Limgenco who during that time was an executive of Luzon Sales, and later, Director of Metro Manila Sales…she who worked earlier than the regular log-in time, till late in the evening. There could be other names that I have missed…but, as recalled, they will be mentioned in other related blogs.

PAL’s Golden Era was during the time of Mr. Benigno Toda, during which Mr. Ricardo Paloma was the Regional Vice- President for Philippines and Guam. It was during that time that the oneness of employees as one family was strongly felt. Those belonging to other departments did their share by upholding the spirit of discipline and pride for being part of the country’s flag carrier. Everybody was driven by the desire to excel in their assigned tasks, be they at the Comptroller Department, Corporate Planning, Marketing and Sales-International, Airport Operations, Passenger Handling, Public Relations, Inflight Service, Passenger Service, Reservations, and Maintenance Department (now, Lufthansa Teknic).

This desire to excel in assigned task was among the sparks that ignited the idea to come up with the Total Passenger Care program. The concept actually was developed during a workshop of supervisors and managers in Baguio, and a name I can recall that formulated the concept was that of Tessie Luna, manager of Domestic Ticket Office. The program practically made those who availed of PAL service, feel not as customers, but as members of the PAL family, too. They were pampered with comfort all the way from the time they purchased their ticket until the time they reached their destinations.

PAL would not be what it is today, without the unselfish dedication of its unsung heroes. Some have retired many years ago yet, some just a few years ago, some still just lately, and with a very few still working for the company, as if like leaves clinging to the robust tree, waiting for their time to fall…and become a nutrient to further its life. That is the humble legacy of the early employees of PAL…as nutrients to ensure that it will go on streaking the Philippine skies with pride!

Dr. Avelino L. Zapanta…Mananalaysay ng Lakbay-himpapawid at Kalakalan nito sa Pilipinas

Dr. Avelino L. Zapanta…

Mananalaysay ng Lakbay-Himpapawid

At Kalakalan nito sa Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kulang ang ibig sabihin ng titulo sa pagtukoy ng kaalaman ni Dr. Avelino L. Zapanta, at “Lino”, naman sa kanyang mga kaibigan pagdating sa kasaysayan at kalakalan ng lakbay-himpapawid sa Plipinas. Mabigat ang dating ng salitang mananalaysay o “historian” dahil sa lawak ng saklaw nito pagdating sa kultura ng isang bayan, kaya hindi ko na dinagdag pa sa titulo ang kanyang pagka- Presidente ng Philippine Airlines na tumagal ng maraming taon, at ngayon ay bilang Presidente at CEO naman ng SeaAir.

Tulad ng iba pang mga natatangi at nakaka-inspire na mga empleyado ng Philippine Airlines, nagsimula din siya sa mababang puwesto. Maganda ang animo ay pagtuntong niya sa mga baytang ng hagdan ng tagumpay upang marating ang pinakarurok na puwesto sa kumpanya, at iyan ay bilang isang Presidente. Naging Supervisor, Manager, Director, Assistant Vice-President, Vice-President, at Senior Vice-President din kasi siya ng iba’t ibang departamento ng PAL, hanggang maging Presidente. Kung baga sa prutas, siya ay hinog sa panahon. Kaya nang maging Presidente siya ng kumpanya ay alam na niya mula sa kaibuturan ng kanyang puso at isip, ang lahat ng mga bahagi ng operasyon ng Philippine Airlines, na itinuturing na flag carrier ng bansa.

Nang dumating ako sa opisina ng Marketing and Sales-Philippines na nasa Administrative Offices Building (AOB) na ngayon ay Data Center Building (DCB) na, at sa tapat ng unang Manila Domestic Airport noong kalagitnaan ng dekada sitenta, natanaw ko si Dr. Zapanta sa kanyang “cubicle” bilang manager ng Cargo Division, at subsob ang ulo sa mga ginagawa. Ang tanawing iyon ay hindi na nasundan pa dahil ipinadala ako sa Tablas station (Romblon), sa paghikayat na rin ni Gng. Mila Limgenco na Market Planning Analyst ng Luzon Sales Area, na nasa ilalim naman ni G. Federico Pabelico bilang Area Sales Director (puwesto na naging Assistant Vice-President, kalaunan).

Noong panahong nasa Tablas ako, tuluy-tuloy na pala ang paggawa ng departamentong pinasukan ko, ng mga alituntunin at mga pulisiya para ipaloob sa isang libro o manual na siyang magiging batayan ng mga desisyon na aangkop sa lahat ng sitwasyon sa pagpapatakbo ng kumpanya, gaya ng pagtawag o pagpunta sa ticket office upang magpareserba o bumili ng ticket, pag-check- in sa counter, pagpadala ng cargo, pag-arkila ng eroplano, pagdating ng pasahero sa airport ng destinasyon, pag-asikaso ng mga pasahero kung naantala ang paglipad ng eroplano dahil sa bagyo o pagkasira nito, hi-jacking, at pagtulong sa lokal na pamahalaan na may dinadayong festival tulad ng Ati-Atihan at Moriones.

Sa utay-utay na paraan, naiipon nila ang mga ideya mula sa mga empleyadong hinugot pa mula sa mga domestic stations upang makibahagi sa proyektong ito. Nang ilipat ang departamento sa 5th Floor ng Vernida Building sa Legaspi St. ng Greenbelt (Makati), lalong sumidhi ang paggawa ng mga manual. Ito ang panahong gumawa si Dr. Zapanta ng isang malaking flow chart o daloy ng mga karampatang aksyong tutugma sa mga sitwasyon, na nabanggit na. Gamit ang pinagtagpi-tagping illustration papers, ang nabuo ay animo higanteng diagram ng isang radyo na sumakop sa kabuuhan ng isang dingding ng Conference Room!

Ang mga ideya galing sa mga analysts ng Standards and Coordination Division, mga representatives ng outlying stations, Reservations Division, Cargo Division, at tinatalakay naman sa mga magdamagang miting ng komiteng pinamumunuan ni Dr. Zapanta ay pinapaloob sa mga nakalaang Manual at pinipresenta ni G. Ricardo Paloma sa management ng PAL upang maging official na mga pulisiya o alituntunin ng kumpanya. Kalaunan, ginaya ito ng Marketing and Sales –International Department na ang saklaw ay operasyon ng PAL sa ibang bansa.

Sa huling yugto ng proyekto ay napasama ako, at doon ko uli nasilayan si Dr. Zapanta. Nabigla man ako sa mga puyatang nangyari, nakisabay na lang ako. Noon ko natutuhang uminom ng kung ilang tasa ng kape upang tumagal. Subali’t iba si Dr. Zapanta, dahil pagsapit ng hatinggabi, habang kaming mahihina sa puyatan ay nagnanakaw ng ilang kisap-matang idlip, siya ay tuloy pa rin sa pagsulat, at paggising naming pupungas-pungas pa sa madaling araw, ngingitian lamang niya kami habang tuloy ang pagsulat sa malaking flow chart!

Kung sa panahon ngayon, malamang ay gumastos na ng malaki ang kumpanya sa pag-upa ng isang research outfit upang gumawa ng mga Manual, subali’t nagdesisyon si G. Ricardo Paloma, ang Regional Vice-President ng departamento na gamitin ang kaalaman ng mga empleyado, at hindi naman siya nagkamali dahil lumutang ang iba’t ibang galing ng mga ito. (Tatalakayin sa isa pang blog ang mga “unsung heroes” na ito).

Dahil sa malawak at first- hand na kaalaman ni Dr. Zapanta tungkol sa operasyon ng PAL, na nadagdagan pa ng kanyang pagsubaybay sa masiglang pagsibol ng industriya, maituturing siyang isang historian o mananalaysay nito, at isa ring airline management authority, na ang kakayahan ay hindi matatawaran. Wala nang iba pang Pilipino ang maaaring umako ng ganitong kakayahan. Ayon kay Dr. Zapanta, ang pagpapalabas niya ng kakayahang ito upang makatulong sa pagpaunlad ng PAL at ng industriya, ay hindi niya itinuturing na “sakripisyo”. Sa halip, ang mga ginawa at ginagawa pa niya ay pagpapakita niya ng pagmamahal sa larangang pinili niya at pagmamalasakit ng buong puso sa kumpanyang nagtiwala sa kanya – ang Philippine Airlines.

Wala pang gaanong naitalang kasaysayan ang industriya ng lakbay-himpapawid sa Pilipinas, maliban na lamang sa mga mangilan-ngilang impormasyong nababanggit sa mga naisulat ng mga banyaga na may kaugnayan naman sa industriya na saklaw ang buong daigdig. Ang mga librong isinulat niya na sumaklaw sa kabuuhan ng kasaysayan ng lakbay-himpapawid sa Pilipinas ay may mga pamagat na, “HISTORY OF PHILIPPINE AVIATION”, at “100 YEARS OF PHILIPPINE AVIATION, 1909-2009: A FOCUS ON AIRLINE MANAGEMENT”. Ang ikalawang libro ay mabibili sa mga outlet ng Central Book Supply, Inc., tulad ng SM Megamall (5th level, EDSA, Mandaluyong, Tel. 6381088); Ever Gotesco (Manila Plaza Mall, CM Recto Ave., Manila, Fax 7346178); Aldevinco Shopping Center (19A Building A, Roxas St., Davao City, Tel. 2241070); West Concourse (Limketkai Mall, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, Tel. 8566961); at GV Building (P. del Rosario St., Cebu City, fax 2530784). Maaari ring makipag-ugnayan sa Head Office (Phoenix Building, 927 Quezon Avenue, QC, Tel. 3723550) para sa maramihang bibilhin o di kaya ay sa may-akda mismo, sa kanyang cellphone number 09178320711, email na, at facebook gamit ang buong pangalan niya.

Si Dr. Zapanta na nagtapos ng kurso sa University of the Philippines at nagtamo ng Masters of Business Administration (MBA) sa Ateneo de Manila University, sa kabuuhan ay nakagugol ng 38 na taon sa Philippine Airlines, at apat pang taon bilang Presidente at CEO ng SeaAir na ginagampanan pa rin niya hanggang sa kasalukuyan.

Hindi pa rin ganap na kuntento si Dr. Zapanta sa mga nagawa na niya, kaya tuloy pa rin siya sa pagtrabaho at pagsusulat, na malamang ay nasisingitan ng mga tula at script na pang-pelikula… na dati na niyang ginagawa noon pa mang hindi pa siya empleyado ng Philippine Airlines. Nagbabahagi din siya ng kaalaman sa tinatalakay na larangan sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng mga lecture sa Asian Institute of Tourism(AIT) ng University of the Philippines at sa Institute of Graduate Studies ng Philippine State College of Aeronautics (PhilsSCA) . Dapat magpasalamat ang bansa at ang sambayanang Pilipino sa naiambag na ito ng isang taga-Taytay, Rizal, na tinaguriang lalawigan din ng mga pintor, dibuhista, kompositor, at manlililok, partikular na ang bayan ng Angono.