Speech delivered during the June 12/Independence Day celebration of Tacurong at the grounds of the City Hall….
ANG MAKABAGONG ANYO NG TACURONG
NA PINATINGKAD NG PAGTUTULUNGAN
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Ang Tacurong na dating baryo ng Buluan at may pangalang “Pamangsang” ay mabilis ang pagpaimbulog tungo sa pag-unlad. Animo, siya ay isang taong nagmamadali sa paghakbang tungo sa isang inaasam na layunin…at hindi naman nabigo dahil ngayon ay kitang-kita ang mga resulta ng kaunlaran na tinatamasa. Kabi-kabila ang mga itinatayong mga gusali upang maging mall at paupahan. Lahat nang yan ay dahil sa pagtutulungan ng mga residente at mga dumadayong mangangalakal na galing pa sa ibang bayan na nakapaligid sa lunsod.
Nakatulong din ang pagpupunyagi ni Ms. Emilie Pasaporte Jamorabon ng City Tourism Office na sa kabila ng maliit na pondo ay nagawang makapag-conceptualize ng Bird Festival, and ikatlong festival ng lunsod. Walang maipagmamalaking tradisyonal na tourist spots ang Tacurong, maliban sa Bird Sanctuary ng Baras, Monte Vicenteaux Resort ng New Passi, iba pang maliliit na resorts na nakakalat sa iba’t ibang purok at barangay, at mga specialty restaurants. Ang kakulangan ng mga likas na atraksiyon ay napunuan naman, at sobra-sobra pa ng likas na magandang ugali na pinapakita ng mga Tacurongnon sa mga dumadayo…yan ang “goodwill”.
Hindi mapag-imbot o selfish ang Tacurong, at walang ibang dapat pasalamatan diyan kundi ang butihing mayor, si Lina Montilla, sampu ng iba pang mga opisyal – vice mayor, Dr. Joseph George Lechonsito at mga City Coucilors. Patas ang mga ordinansang ginagawa. Walang pinipili sa mga binibigyan ng pagkakataon upang mabuhay nang maayos….yan ang diwa ng sama-samang pagbalikat ng mga gampanin tungo sa pag-unlad.
Mababaw ang katagang “pagbabago” para sa Tacurong dahil kung tutuusin ay walang dapat baguhin, sa halip ay dapat paunlarin pa, dahil maunlad na . Kailangan lang naman kasi ang pagbabago ng isang bagay kung ito ay masama o hindi kaaya-aya…na wala sa imahe ng lunsod kahit katiting man lang. At, yan ang “nakakabilib”, kung gagamitin ko ang salitang makabago….at, yan pa rin, ay dahil sa masugid na pagtutulungan ng mga Tacurongnon.
Hindi lang iisa ang kulturang umiiral sa buong lunsod ng Tacurong. Ang Ilokano, Ilonggo, Cebuano, Pangasinense, Maranao, Iranum, Maguindanaoan, Bikol, Waray, at Tagalog ay iba’t ibang kulturang maituturing subalit nasa hanay na pangrehiyon o regional…at lahat ay nag-uunawaan…walang hidwaan o kontrahan. Dito lang sa atin may subdivision na sa gitna at hindi kalayuan sa mga bahay ng mga Kristiyano ay may mosque. Dito lang sa atin may simbahang Katoliko na may mga estudyanteng Muslim. Dito sa atin ang mga Ilokano, Bikol, Waray at Tagalog na animo ay mga Ilonggo kung magsalita ng Bisaya. Ang pinag-uusapan natin dito ay iba’t ibang tradisyon, na sa kabila ng pagkakaiba ay may pagkakaisang nakatuntong sa pundasyon ng magandang samahan. Bihira ang kalagayan natin dito sa Tacurong na dapat ay ating ipagmalaki…na guto kong tawaging “cosmopolitan” o “sophisticated”.
Hindi tayo dapat mangamba o matakot sa anumang banta na pilit nagpapadiskaril ng direksyon na tinatahak ng lunsod. Ang bantang yan ay dapat pang magpaigting ng ating magandang samahan. At, dahil ito ang huling term ni mayor Lina at iba pang mga Konsehal, ang panawagan ko ay magtulungan tayo sa pagbalikat ng mga gampanin ng mga papalit sa kanila. Huwag nating pairalin ang pulitika na nagsisilbing salot na sumisira ng magandang samahan pati ng magkakapamilya.
Magkaisa tayo tungo sa pag-unlad pa ng ating lunsod na nag-iisa lang!…ipagmalaki natin na tayo ay mayroong Tacurong, na ang pangalan ay hinango sa “talakudong”, isang malapad na katutubong sombrerong nagsisimbolo ng proteksiyon sa lahat na handang makipagtulungan at walang mapag-imbot na hangarin.
Magbuklod-buklod tayo at sa iisang boses ay sumigaw ng SULONG TACURONG!
ENRICK SAMONTE: THE COPYING MACHINE TECHNICIAN
WHO BECAME A REGULAR PAL EMPLOYEE
By Apolinario Villalobos
During the early part of 1990, to ease the burden of copying for the Standards and Coordination Division (SCD) of Marketing and Sales-Philippines (MSP) of Philippine Airlines, an agency was contracted for the provision of one heavy-duty copying unit with a technician. Everybody then, on the 5th floor of Vernida building, not only the division for which the machine was intended, was happy. What made them glad more was the amiable technician who was assigned by the agency, Enrick Samonte. A gregarious guy, he at once befriended almost everybody for being accommodating. He would be late sometimes for lunch for giving in to many requests for which he would just smile and scratch his head.
He must have been astounded with the voluminous requirements most of the time that at times forced him to extend his duty beyond 5PM. I would recall the times that he also stayed overnight with the staff if there were urgent copying to do. All of them were taken in stride by Enrick. He was also proud of his job and diligent, as we would find him at his post way ahead of the PAL employees in the morning. He was also very neat in his outfit and sometimes wore blazer to match the color of his sport shirt.
When our group was absorbed by another division at S&L Building, I lost contact with Enrick. I thought he was pulled out by his agency and transferred somewhere else. I was glad to learn, however, that he was taken in as a regular employee. When I left the company, I learned further that he joined the staff of Mr. Dave Lim, the SVP for Sales. Lately, I was surprised to find him to have been assigned to the Office of Metro Manila and Luzon Sales, a division of the Philippine Region.
For Enrick, his journey within Philippine Airlines has been challenging as he had to deal with people of various characters, but he successfully melded with them. He is liaising for the division with which he is now connected and very much happy about it because he is back to where he started as a copying machine technician. Just like any other regular PAL employee, he is enjoying free tickets, benefit that he shares with his family….all because of his patience, diligence and amiability.
NANETTE SALVADOR QUINCENA
…and her indefatigable quest for success
by Apolinario Villalobos
What impressed me when I saw Nanette was her face which made me recall an actress who belongs to the Salvador clan. She was then, the Branch Manager of the Asian United Bank at Rotonda, Bacoor City, and when we got introduced to each other, my hunch was right. She is indeed a Salvador, a clan known for actors, actresses, directors and film editors – pillars of the country’s movie industry.
I found out too, that her grandfather, Atilano was among the directors of the late Fernando Poe, Sr., but before that, he has been known as a film editor since 1958. Several uncles are also part of the movie industry as Director, such as, Augusto “Direk Angie” Salvador who had been a favorite director of the late Fernando Poe, Jr.; Danilo Salvador; and Rogelio Salvador. The skill in film editing has manifested in Nanette’s elder brother, Edwin, who has been given consistent recognition for his achievements as a post-production Editor. On her part, Nanette had her share of the limelight as a model when she appeared in the advertisement of the Orient Bank. She did not pursue the call of the show business as she was more interested in the challenging banking career.
The family of Nanette hails from Lucena City, in Quezon province. Her proud parents are Edgardo and Natividad Salvador, both fortunate for having children who always find a reason to be with them as much as possible, and their reunion is characterized by a color scheme of shirts to make their reunion symbolic and memorable. The Salvador brood, aside from Edwin and Nanette, also include Neah and Edgar, both successful professionals abroad.
Nanette is married to Erwin who works with Coca Cola- Philippines. They are blessed with Nikka Angela, now 17 years old and on her second year in Civil Engineering course; Erwin Angelo who is in Grade 9; and, Nova Angeline who is in Grade 7 – all of them doing fine with their studies according to Nanette which makes her a proud mother.
Nanette balances her life as a career woman, wife, and a mother. Despite her obligations to her family, she has also shown her mettle as a manager when she joined the Asia United Bank. From her former assignment at Bacoor City which is much near her home, she took in stride and as a challenge her transfer to the newly-opened branch along Buendia Avenue extension in Pasay City.
With the new assignment, she had to wake up much earlier than before to avoid the traffic along the three choke-points such as Emilio Aguinaldo Highway in Bacoor City, the Coastal Road with its infinitesimal traffic, and the Roxas Boulevard funnel before finally turning right at the junction of the Buendia Avenue extension toward her office, the last several meters of which on unlucky days could be blocked by slow-moving buses that wait for passengers bound for Makati. She drives her way all the way from Cavite which makes her more admirable, considering that going through hellish traffic jams is no joke.
As a manager, Nanette exudes for her staff, simple and doable traits that I have observed to be natural part of her persona. She shows her colleagues in the office, that it is does not take much effort to smile, and being petite, it makes her more youngish. Added to that is courtesy which has also become deeply impressed in their service, from the way they address their customers to handing of a business card with both hands. These AUBians are really a typical breed of bankers, as they come from humble yet reputable schools that consistently shine because of their graduates, many of whom are government scholars.
Nanette who looks like an elder sister to her eldest 17-year old daughter expressed that she is happy with her life now being fortunate for having a happy family, what with a hardworking husband and intelligent children, aside from loving parents and siblings who always find ways to be together. As with Asia United Bank….it is her benefactor to which she will always be grateful for giving her a break, despite her being a graduate of a provincial educational institution which shows that schools and books do not necessarily spell success, but the drive innate in a person.
Ang Mga Matulunging Sekyu ng Philippine Statistics Office (PSO)
Na sina Ronald Caldito at Rodolfo Gauiran
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay makakatagpo tayo ng mga taong matulungin, at hindi lang matulungin kundi nagkukusa o nagboboluntaryo ng kanilang tulong. Sa ganyang sitwasyon ko nakilala si Ronald Caldito ng Commander Security Agency ng PSO sa Quezon City at Rodolfo Gauiran ng Gold Cross Security Agency, na nakatalaga naman sa Roxas Boulevard “Serbilis Center”.
Kailangan ko pang magbiyahe mula Cavite upang marating ang PSO sa Quezon City at lalong kailangan kong gumising sa madaling araw upang makaiwas sa trapik. Mali ang akala kong napaaga ako ng dating bandang alas siyete, dahil nakita kong halos puno na ang mainit na “waiting area”. Napansin ko rin na ang ibang kliyente ay may dalang malalaking bag kaya halatang galing pa sa probinsiya. Sa oras na yon ay wala akong nakitang taga-PSO na nasa bukana man lang upang gumabay sa mga kliyente, kundi mga guwardiya ng Commander Security Agency. May natanong akong isa sa kanila kung saan ako dapat pumuwesto batay sa kailangan ko, subalit mali naman ang ibinigay na direksyon. Sa halip na ituro ang tamang daan patungo sa bahaging nasa “likuran” ay basta na lang ako itinuro sa isang direksiyon na nang tumbukin ko ay comfort room pala. Mabuti na lang at sumilip pa ako sa bandang likuran at doon ay may nakita akong isang maliit na parang waiting area. Dahil may mga nakaupo na, nakiupo na rin ako.
Nang magsimulang magdatingan ang mga empleyado, lahat sila ay may “straight face” o yong seryoso, pero kung kapwa empleyado ang masalubong ay nagtatawanan pa….walang nakangiti kung tumingin sa mga naghihintay na palatandaan sanang pwede silang matanong man lang. Kung hindi pa dumating ang isang security guard na si Ronald Caldito ay hindi ko pa nalamang ang natagpuan kong waiting area ay siyang pakay ko pala. Siya rin ang gumabay para sa tamang pagpila dahil first-come-first served ang patakaran. Maraming mga padaan-daang mga empleyado pero wala man lang ni isang nagkusa na magtanong o maski ngumiti sa mga kliyente upang mapawi ang agam-agam tungkol sa kahirapan sa pagkuha ng kailangang certificate.
Nang lumapit ako sa Public Assistance and Complaints Desk, ang simpleng pakiusap ko na baka pwedeng i-check sa computer ang impormasyong kailangan ko upang makapag-file ng angkop na form ay hindi pinakinggan ganoong may computer naman akong natatanaw sa loob. Ang paulit-ulit na sinabi sa akin ay mag-file daw talaga ng form itinuro ako sa lugar na dinagsaan ng mga taong nagpi-fill upa ng forms. Ang inisip ko, ay bakit kailangang gawin ko yon kung sa ilang minuto lang naman ay masasagot na ang katanungan ko upang tamang form ang mai-file ko? Nagtimpi na lang ako kahit alam kong may mali sa sistema nila na pasikut-sikot.
Ang sistema pala nila ay dapat may isang form na pipil-apan muna ng mga impormasyon at isa-submit sa isang pinipilahang counter upang ma-check sa computer kung may record sila batay sa mga ibinigay na impormasyon. Babalikan mo pa ang resulta sa susunod na araw para malaman ang resulta. Kung negative, pipil-ap na naman ng isang form para sa ii-isyung certificate of no record. Kung positive, pipil-ap pa rin ng isang form para sa ii-isyung certificate na may record. Kung alin man sa mga certificate ang maisyu, magbabayad ang humihingi na inabala ng “madugo” nilang sistema. Umalis na lang ako.
Dahil sa naging problema ko sa central office ng PSO sa Quezon City, sinubukan ko ang maliit na branch sa Roxas Boulevard na ang Public Assistance Desk employee ay nakangiti pang tumulong sa akin gamit ang computer niya kaya nai-file ko agad ang tamang form. Ito ang ni-request kong assistance sa head office (Quezon City) na hindi pinagbigyan. Ang napansin ko pang malaking kaibahan ng serbisyo nila, sa Roxas Boulevard, bago pa lang mag-alas otso, ang mga tao ay pinapapasok na sa aircon na waiting area upang papilang makaupo at binibigyan pa ng instruction ng mga matulunging security guards, bagay na hindi ginagawa sa mismong central office sa Quezon City. Doon ay pinapahintay pa ang mga kliyente ng alas otso bago sabihang pumunta sa isang hindi aircon na bahagi pa rin kung saan matatagpuan ang mga forms, kaya nagmumukha silang kawawa sa pakikipag-agawan habang tinitingnan ng mga security guards. Ito ay sa kabila ng matagal na nilang paghintay sa mainit na waiting area bago pa man mag-alas otso. Tipak-tipak tuloy ang mga nagtitinda ng kape at sandwich sa labas lang ng gate.
Sa Roxas Boulevard PSO ay napansin ko rin ang pagiging matulungin ng mga security guards na pinangangasiwaan ni Rodolfo Gauiran. Talo pa nila ang mismong mga empleyado ng PSO dahil pati natutuklap sa pagkakadikit na mga posters ay inaayos nila. Ang mga assigned sa releasing section ay may kusa rin dahil nang humingi ako ng tulong sa isang security guard upang ipa-check ang nai-file ko makalipas ang mahigit dalawang oras na siyang takda ng release, ay dali-daling lumapit ito sa counter upang magtanong. Kasama pala ako sa isang batch na natawag na pero ang ginamit sa pagtawag ay pangalan ng namatay na hinihingan ko ng record pero wala sila, kaya certificate of no record ang binayaran ko. Hindi pangalan ko na siyang nag-request at buhay na buhay ang tinawag. Inakala ko tuloy na ka-apelyido ko lang ang tinawag! Kung hindi dahil sa matulunging security guard na nakalimutan ko ang pangalan ay malamang na na-bagoong ako sa releasing section!
Iyan ang Philippine Statistics Office na nangangailangan ng MALAKING PAGBABAGO!
The Humility and Diligence of Atty. Domingo T. Duerme
by Apolinario Villalobos
I first heard about him when I joined Philippine Airlines, middle of 70’s, as another Notre Damian like me when the late Joseph Alabanza, one of our instructors asked me if I knew him. I replied in the negative because while I graduated from a parochial Notre Dame during the time, he was a product of the education system’s university in Cotabato City, the prime city of the yet, undivided and vast Cotabato province. The same question was asked by the late, Ricardo Paloma who was also curious about our school. Our paths crossed when he became the Branch Manager of Davao station, when I used it as my jump-off point in covering tourist areas in Mindanao as editor of the PAL TOPIC Magazine. From then on, I called him, “Atty. Duerme”.
The next time we met was when he was sent to Manila to take the place of the late Federico Pabelico as Director for Luzon Sales Area. I took note of the paintings that he hung in his room, and which I observed to be different from those that the Construction Office of the company purchased to enhance the rooms of executives. I thought they were just among his personal collections that he preferred to display. I only learned about them as his own paintings when he was packing up for another assignment as Sr. AVP for International Sales-Philippines to be based at S&L Building along Roxas Boulevard. He gave me an unframed sketch of an old woman as a precious token.
I had an opportunity to meet his better half, Connie when she came over from the province. She struck me as equally humble and soft-spoken, too. Atty. Duerme confided that they met while both of them were studying at the Notre Dame University (NDU). She was taking up Banking and Finance while he was struggling with his Bachelor of Science in Education. She was also his “sponsor”, being an officer of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) of the university. Connie was an able support to the struggle of Atty. Duerme as he tried his best to establish a home and family. She went into different business ventures, supplying beef to patrons in Davao and Manila, as well as indigenous monkey that abundantly thrive in the region, which were sent to Europe for scientific experiments and medical purposes. To cap her business acumen, she opened a canteen that fed about 2,000 employees of a garment factory at Awang district of Cotabato city. The two are blessed by daughters, Ma. Dolores and Ma. Lovella, both nurses and currently working at Houston, Texas.
The journey of Atty. Duerme started at Pototan, Iloilo where he was born in March 28. His parents were among the farming pioneer settlers of M’lang (today, part of North Cotabato). As a young boy he had a share in tending their farm, a task which did not hinder him from graduating with honors from elementary (Bialong Elementary School) to high school (Notre Dame of M’lang). He finished a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) at the Notre Dame University (Cotabato City) in 1968, and Bachelor of Laws in 1973, hurdling the Bar in 1975 (Roll 25707).
What is remarkable about his struggle is that he joined Philippine Airlines in 1968, a month just before graduating with a BSE degree and went on with his struggle to finish his Law degree. His being a Ticket Freight Clerk with a “just-enough-wage” did not deter his determination to become a lawyer. And, to think that it was during this time that he and his wife, Connie were putting up the foundation of their family. To work with PAL Domestic Sales during the early days of the company was being like a soldier who should be ready for assignments anywhere. This commitment made Atty. Duerme assume positions without question, as Branch Supervisor of Dipolog, Cagayan de Oro, and Bislig within the period of 1972-1978, within which he also successfully passed the Bar examination.
The hard-earned achievement as a full-fledged lawyer, easily gave him the opportunity to become a Branch Manager of Cotabato station from 1978-1986, moving up as Branch Manager of Davao from 1987-1992. The rest of his journey became more challenging as he became the Director of Luzon Sales Area from 1992-1994, Sr. AVP for International Sales-Philippines from 1994-1996, and finally coming home to Mindanao as Sr. AVP for the said region.
The feat of the unassuming Atty. Duerme is such that, a roll could be filled with his accomplishments as he struggled his way up, from their sun-drenched farm in M’lang. He was a Rotary Exchange Student and as such he was sent to Ontario Canada, aside from being a Jaycee scholar. He received an award from his alma mater, Notre Dame University as an Outstanding Alumnus, aside from having been given recognition as an Outstanding Son of M’lang. When he had a stint in Davao as PAL’s Sr. AVP, he actively got involved in the local tourism industry as member of the Davao City Tourism Council; President of the Rotary Club of Davao; President of SKAL-Davao; Representative of the Private Sector in the Region XI Development Council; consistent Chairman of the PAL Inter-Club Golf Tournaments; Chairman and President of the Davao Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Private Sector Representative to the Tourism Inftra-structure and Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA); Trustee of the Philippine Red Cross. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board of the M’lang Water District.
Despite all those accomplishments, Atty. Duerme seems not a bit tired, as he might give in to another opportunity that is persistently knocking on his door…
Ms. Bernardita S. Paclibar and Ms. Nenita P. Bernardo
…my beloved cousins, my strict teachers
By Apolinario Villalobos
Looking back to the days when I was young, I fondly recall my cousins who have been part of my growing up. One was “Ms. Paclibar”, a cousin who was also my teacher in Grade Three, and who was known for her strictness. She was fair, as inside the classroom, I was treated as just one of her pupils. I also experienced spanking and ear-pinching. But every time I visited my “lola” Sayong, their mother, she would offer me fruits from their yard, especially, ripe guavas. If none has been picked on that day, she would tell her younger sister, Heidi (but I fondly called “Lily) to pick some for me.
She chose to stay single till the day she died, as were most of the teachers of the past years. It was a most appropriate decision because when their parents were ageing, she contributed a lot in caring for them. When I was in college, I recalled her hair to have changed color from brownish black into cloudy white, but fitted her mestiza features. That was also the time that she began calling me by my nickname, while I called her “nang Deting”, as when I was in elementary she would call me in school by my family name. I failed to attend her wake and funeral as I was out of the country when the news of her demise reached me.
In college, a cousin was also one of my teachers, “Ms. Bernardo”. She handled our science subjects. A University of the Philippines graduate (BS Pharmacy), she was supposed to be a pharmacist by profession. But after a short stint in such field, she chose to stay put in our town and teach in the only Catholic school, the Notre Dame. Practically, she was among the pioneers of the school together with the Canzanas, Jamorabons, Romeros, Josefina Lechonsito, and, Mr. Nicolo who later became principal of the Tacurong Pilot School.
As a science teacher she was in-charge of the school “laboratory” with its donated few microscopes, few boxes of thin crystal slides, preserved insect specimen in jars of formalin, and science reference books. It was in that sparsely –furnished room where I saw my first amoeba and other flagellates, cross section of leaves and stems, and microbes in a drop of water from a canal. What took root in my memory was her admonishment of the whole class for the failure of one or two classmates , with a clear reminder that no one can help us but ourselves in order to have passing grades. Being a perfectionist, she expected all of us to pass, and eventually, graduate. We shared the same idea that the school and books can help but intellect is innate in all of us, hence, we become what we are by our own doing…which made me proud of her and our parochial school with its sparsely furnished library.
She exuded sophistication in her tailored dresses, mostly cotton, as she gracefully walked her way from their house to the school and her being slender helped a lot in radiating such image. Her seemingly eternally coiffed hair also added to her classiness.
Their father was our clan’s “Tata” who contributed a lot in making our town what it is today, a flourishing city, as he was a long-termer Vice-Mayor. When he finally succumbed to complications which forced him to stay home, my cousin and teacher whom we fondly call “nene Nita” stayed by his side, until a full-time caregiver was hired.
Today, at an advanced age of almost eighty, “nene Nita” lives at their ancestral house with her youngest sister, Judith, while the younger brother, Nonito, lives not far from them.
Both the Paclibars and Bernardos are among the pioneer families of Tacurong City. But, to my two strict teachers…and beloved cousins, my recognition is more than their being members of the prominent pioneer families of our place. They are among those to whom I owe much of what I am today.
“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.