Ang Pagkikita sa Vitaliz Compound….tungkol ito kay Guate

Ang Pagkikita sa Vitaliz Compound

…tungkol ito kay Gaute

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang pangyayaring ito ay maaaring mangyari sa kahit kaninong grupo ng magkakaibigan na sa tagal ng panahon ay hindi nagkita. Ang kaibahan lang dito ay mga pangalan at lugar na pinangyarihan, at ang dahilan ng pagkikita. Subalit ang hangaring magkita ay nananatiling nag-iisa sa bawa’t puso ng magkakaibigan. Sa pagkakataong ito, ang dahilan ng pagkikita ay si Guate at nangyari sa payak niyang tirahan sa Vitaliz Compound, Baltao, sa Pasay City.

Nagkita muna ang magkakasama dati sa Philippine Airlines sa isang restaurant malapit sa lumang domestic airport upang doon ay sariwain ang mga nakaraang araw nila sa nasabing airline at upang makakain na rin dahil sa susunod nilang pupuntahan ay walang makakain. Kasama sa pinag-usapan si Guate na mahalagang bahagi ng kanilang samahan mula sa Administrative Offices Building (AOB), tapat ng lumang domestic airport, hanggang sa Vernida Building, Legaspi St., Makati.

Hanggang sa pagiging paksa na lamang si Guate dahil nakaratay ito at hirap nang kumilos. Isa sa pinag-usapan ng magkakaibigan ay kung paano silang makatulong sa kanya, sa pamamagitan ng pera o bagay. Sa madaling salita ay nag-ambagan sila ng pera upang mapandagdag sa araw-araw na gastusin ni Guate na ang SSS pension ay wala pang Php8,000.00 – kulang pang pambili ng gamot at gasa(gauzed) para sa kanyang bedsore.

Pagkatapos mananghalian ay pumunta na sa Vitaliz compound sina Gil Carolino, Rosy Dizon at kanyang anak, Tess Bulatao, Corrie Aguirre, Joe Clemente, mag-asawang Rudy at Lita Magsino na galing pa sa Legaspi City, Roam Farol na galing pa sa Estados Unidos at bitbit ang oxygen tank na hugis shoulder bag na ang dulo ng tubo ay permanenteng nakakabit sa ilong, Alice San Juan, Boy Reyes na lumiban pa yata sa isang importanteng appointment, ganoon din si Arnul Pan, at siyempre si Mai Jovida na siyang pinaka-“ina” ng tropa at nagsisilbi ding leader ng “Prayer Warriors” ng PAL. Ang wala sa grupo subalit nagpaabot ng tulong ay si Lino Zapanta na dating presidente ng PAL, Jam Ang ng PESALA, at Perla Parales-Onrubia na nasa Amerika. May nag-abot din ng tulong kay Cathy, ang matiising “caretaker” ni Guate.

Tiniis ng grupo ang alinsangan sa loob ng maliit na tirahan ni Guate, at dahil sa liit nga ay tatlo lamang ang nakaupo, ang iba ay nakatayo na. Sa kagustuhan ng lahat na hindi makalimutan ang makabagbag-damdaming pagkikita, ay nagtiyagang magkodakan sila kahit na nagkakabanggaan ang mga siko.

Sa ginawang reunion ng grupo ay talagang todo tiis ang bawat isa dahil sa trapik na sinuong makarating lang sa restaurant muna at sa Vitaliz Compound. Si Rosy ay nakiusap sa anak na ipag-drayb siya, at si Gene naman ay may kalabuan ang mga mata kaya palaging kasama si Maggie ang magandang asawa. Si Mai ay sa Antipolo pa nakatira. At, si Gil ay may inaalagaang asawang nakaratay din tulad ni Guate. Kaya, pagkagaling kay Guate, ang grupo ay dumiretso na rin sa bahay ni Gil upang asawa naman niya ang bisitahin.

Gusto ko lang ipabatid na ang mga naglagareng magkakasama sa grupo ay hindi na kabataan ang mga edad at dapat ay nagpapahinga sa kani-kanilang bahay. Subalit dahil sa hila ng pagkakaibigan, nagawa nilang tiisin ang init, alikabok, at trapik upang hindi mabura sa isipan nila at bagkus ay masariwa ang nagdaang samahan.

Walang katumbas na pera ang magandang samahan, kaya ang mga hindi nagkikita nang personal ay nagpapasalamat sa social media tulad ng facebook na siya nilang ginagamit upang makipag-ugnayan sa isa’t isa.

Iba si Cathy…hindi mukhang pera

Iba si Cathy…hindi mukhang pera

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Si Cathy ay taga- Estancia, isang bayan sa Iloilo na bukod sa kinilala dahil sa mga espesyal na daing, tuyo, at ginamos ay naging tanyag din dahil sa Sicogon Island. Siya mismo ay natutong magdaing ng mga isda at gumawa ng ginamos sa murang edad. Subalit sa kanyang mapusok na ambisyong hanapin ang kanyang kapalaran ay nangahas na lumuwas sa Maynila. Nakapasok sa mga trabaho subalit dahil hindi nakatapos ng pag-aaral, ay hanggang sa pagiging kasambahay lamang.

Nakapag-asawa sa murang gulang at nagkaroon ng apat na anak, subalit maliliit pa lamang ang mga ito, ang kanyang asawa ay nagkaroon ng kanser. Dahil nerbiyosa, hindi ipinaalam sa kanya. Nagsabwatan ang kanyang mga biyenan at asawa sa pagtago ng lihim. Nang umabot na sa stage 4 ang kanser ng asawa ay nalaman na rin niya. Ipinaglaban niya ang kanyang karapatan bilang asawa upang maiuwi ito sa Estancia, ang probinsiya niya. Dahil sa kalagayan ay naging bugnutin ang kanyang asawa at di-hamak na mga panglalait ang inabot ni Cathy, na kanyang pinalampas. Naunawaan niya ang kalagayan ng kanyang asawa hanggang sa ito ay namaalam.

Dala ang mga anak, bumalik siya sa Maynila upang magtrabaho. Pinalad naman siyang makapasok sa mga trabaho subalit hindi mga regular o permanente. Upang madagdagan ang kita, ay tumanggap siya ng mga labada. Nakapagtrabaho siya sa isang pagawaan ng handicraft at tumira na rin silang mag-anak sa compound nito. Sa kasamaang palad ay nagsara ang pagawaan dahil sa hina ng benta, kaya balik si Cathy sa pagtanggap ng mga labada. Dito niya nakilala ang kaibigan kong nakatira rin sa compound.

Naging magkaibigan si Cathy at ang kaibigan ko na ang kasama ay isang apo. Napansin ni Cathy ang mabilis na pagkahulog ng katawan ng kaibigan ko hanggang pati ang paglalaba ay hindi na rin nito nakayanan. Kinuha siya ng kaibigan ko para sa kanyang serbisyo bilang stay-out na kasambahay upang maglaba, maglinis at magluto sa suweldong Php1,500 isang buwan. Ganoon kababa ang suweldong nakayanang ibigay ng kaibigan ko dahil maliit lamang ang kanyang pension.

Nang tumuluy-tuloy ang pagpapaospital ng kaibigan ko dahil sa mga kumplikasyon, pinilit ni Cathy na payagan siya ng kaibigan ko na bantayan na rin siya kaya halos hindi na rin siya iniwan. Umuuwi na lang si Cathy upang ipagluto ang kanyang pamilya, at bumabalik agad sa kaibigan ko. Hindi siya nagpahiwatig para sa dagdag-suweldo, subalit dinagdagan na rin upang maging Php3,000 kada buwan. Hindi lang siya kasambahay ngayon…caregiver pa na ang trabaho ay 24/7, at kasama sa ginagawa niya ay ang pagpalit ng diaper ng kaibigan ko, subalit hindi siya nagrereklamo.

Nag-confide sa akin si Cathy na ngayon siya bumabawi ng pag-alaga sa kaibigan ko dahil halos hindi siya nabigyan ng pagkakataon noong nagkasakit ang kanyang asawa. Mahigit lang ng ilang taon sa kwarenta ang gulang ni Cathy at ang kanyang pangalawang asawa ay doble kayod din sa pagiging Barangay tanod sa gabi at nagdadrayb ng “padyak”, tricycle na de-sikad. Ang kanilang anak ay tatlong taon. Mabait ang bata na paminsan-minsan ay sumisilip sa kanyang nanay habang nag-aalaga sa aking kaibigan. Natutong maglaro ang bata na mag-isa, at sa murang edad ay naunawaan na ang ginagawa ng kanyang nanay. Hindi rin ito umiiyak upang makakuha ng atensiyon ng kanyang nanay.

Sa panahon ngayon, mahirap makakita ng isang taong tulad ni Cathy…iba siya – hindi mukhang pera!

Mga Leksiyon Mula Kay Ed Guatelara

Mga Leksiyon Mula Kay Ed Guatelara

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Hindi man siya magsalita, marami ang mapupulot na leksiyon mula kay Ed Guatelara. Para sa mga hindi nakakakilala sa kanya dahil hindi nakapagtrabaho sa PAL, may kabuluhan pa rin ang buhay niya dahil ang leksiyon ng buhay ay hindi maaaring sabihing personal, sa halip, ito ay tungkol sa mga ugali at gawi ng mga tao – sa pangkalahatan.

Noon pa mang nagsimula siyang magpahinga bilang retiree, ako mismo ang nakiusap na kung maaari ay limitahan ang exposure niya sa mga taong talagang maituturing niyang tunay na kaibigan. May ibang taong nasisiyahan kung makita ang ibang akala nila ay nagdurusa dahil hindi nakatira sa malaking bahay, walang kotse, at kung anu-ano pang mga materyal na luho, kung ikumpara sa kanila. May mga napatunayan na kasi akong tulad nila at akala ko ay mga kaibigan ni manong Ed, na nahuli ko sa mga salitang binibitiwan, mga salitang may halong pangungutya.

Ayaw kong makarinig ng pangungutya mula sa mga taong tulad ng nabanggit dahil nang mag-retire si manong Ed, ay wala siyang maipagmalaking malaking pondo sa bangko. Hindi siya mayaman. Tumira siya sa isang bahay na inalok ng kaibigan niyang si mang Narsing, upang hindi na mangupahan pa. Ang separation pay niya at ang maliit na naipon ay walang kadamutang itinulong niya sa iba. Hindi siya nabahala sa kabila ng katotohanang ang pensiyon niya ay wala pang sampung libong piso bawat buwan. Ganyan ang ugali niya noon pa man….hindi mukhang pera, at hindi nagpapakontrol sa pera.

Napatira ako sa apartment niya kasama ang iba pang kapos noon dahil halos hindi sapat ang buwanang kinikita. Nagkikita kami ng ibang mga taga-PAL na assigned sa mga istasyon kung sila ay may training sa Manila. Isa sa mga nakaalalang nabahaginan ng ganitong grasya ay si Atty. Domingo Duerme noong siya ay assigned sa Cotabato station. Marami pang iba, tulad ni Bud Aseoche (Tacloban), Tito Garcia(Surigao), Ephraim Fernandez (Davao). Kung ano ang meron sa hapag kainan na maihanda niya ay pinagtitiyagaan. Bilang manager ng isang division ng PAL ay hindi gaanong kalakihan ang sweldo ni Ed, subalit pilit niyang napagkakasiya.

Nang ma-hijack ang isang eroplano ng PAL galing Davao, sa halip na kasuhan at ipakulong ang mga estudyanteng naglunsad ng hijacking ay binigyan ng pagkakataon ni G. Benigno Toda na Presidente nang panahon na yon upang magbago kaya binigyan ng trabaho sa kumpanya. Naghanap ng “mag-aampon” sa mga estudyanteng napalihis ang pananaw dahil sa kanilang idealism. Ang isa sa kanila, ay “inampon” ni Ed Guatelara upang masubaybayan habang nagtatrabaho sa Domestic Cargo office. Napabilang siya sa aming mga datihan nang nakatira sa apartment.

Nagkaroon siya ng pagkakataong makakuha ng bahay, subali’t dahil sa pangangailangan ng ibang kaibigan at mismong kamag-anak, naipa-remata na lamang ito upang magamit nila ang pera. Parang walang anumang lumipat siya sa maliit na tirahan. Ang sabi niya, sanay naman daw siya sa hirap, at ang importante daw ay nakakatulong siya sa iba.

Sa talas ng pakiramdam niya sa pagtukoy ng mga potensiyal na empleyadong may kagalingan, marami din siyang natulungan upang umangat ang kinalalagyan sa kumpanya, kasama na si Guy Cruz na naging Administrative Assistant niya nang siya ay maging Director ng Manila Domestic Airport. Inirekomenda pa niya ito sa isang kumpanya sa Subic nang umalis ito sa PAL. Hindi siya maramot sa pagrekomenda ng mga tauhan kung may pagkakataon siyang makita para sa kanila upang maging manager. Maraming mga kontraktwal na janitor ang tinulungan niya upang makapasok sa PAL at maging regular na empleyado. May isa rin siyang tinulungan na tauhan noong siya ay manager ng Standards and Coordination. Hindi niya ito pina-oobertaym upang makapasok sa eskwela dahil kumukuha ng abogasya, samantalang ang mga kasama nitong tulad nina Gary Cruz, Jay Delfin at iba pa ay inaabot ng madaling araw sa pag-overtime.

Itinuro niya sa akin ang kaibahan ng creative writing at technical writing. Nangyari ito nang naging bahagi ako ng mga working groups na gumawa ng mga draft ng mga pulisiya para sa mga operations manual ng departamento. Kung anong kaalaman ang ibinabahagi niya sa kanyang mga tauhan, ganoon din ang ginagawa niya para sa aming hindi kasapi ng kanyang division. Nangyayari ito kapag nagdadatingan ang mga galing sa mga istasyon upang tumulong sa paggawa ng mga operations manuals. Wala siyang pinagdamot na kaalaman.

Bukambibig ni manong Ed ang mga paalala na ang pera o anumang materyal na yaman ay para lamang sa buhay na pisikal – dito sa mundo. At tulad ng sinasabi sa Bibliya, pabigat lamang daw ang yaman sa isang tao na mamamatay na.

Hindi matakaw sa atensyon si manong Ed. Kadalasan, nagugulat na lamang ang mga taga-istasyon na makita siyang bumababa sa eroplanong kalalapag lang. Ni hindi niya nasubukang humawak ng mikropono kung may okasyon ang departamento noon. Ang mahalaga sa kanya ay maayos ang trabaho niya, at hindi niya kailangan pang i-bandera ang kanyang mukha o di kaya ay i-anunsiyo sa lahat na marami siyang ginagawa.

Sa pagpasyal-pasyal ko sa kanya nitong mga araw, ni hindi ko siya nakitang ngumiwi kung nahihirapan siyang tumayo mula sa kanyang kinauupuan upang salubungin ako, dahil sa sakit na dulot ng gout at rayuma. Ngingiti lamang ito sabay sabing “part of growing old”. Ibang- iba sa gawi ng iba, na hindi lang naiabot agad ng kasambahay ang hinihingi ay isang milya na ang sinabi.

Sa panahon ngayong maraming tukso at halos lahat ng galaw ng tao ay kontrolado ng pera, marami ang hindi mapakali kung walang lamang isang libong piso man lang ang bulsa. Ang iba naman ay nabubuhay sa kasabihang, “charity begins at home”, pero kung kelan maglalabas ng kakarampot na charity mula sa bahay, ay Diyos lang ang nakakaalam…ibig sabihin, dinadahilan ang kasabihan upang hindi makapamahagi ng sobrang blessings sa iba.

Mapalad ang mga taong na-touch ni manong Ed noong kapanahunan niya sa PAL. Maaaring abutin ng kung ilang dekada uli bago magkaroon ng isang taong tulad niya, na nagpatunay na maaari palang gawin ang kasabihang: pagkaing isusubo na lang ay ipamimigay pa….

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!

A Remarkable Guy, named Ed Guatelara

A Remarkable Guy,

named Ed Guatelara

by Apolinario Villalobos

Almost everybody who worked with Philippine Airlines until the mid-90’s knew Ed Guatelara. Aside from being the Manager of the Standards and Coordination Division (SCD) of the Marketing and Sales-Philippines Department (MSP), he was also the Director of the PAL Employees and Savings Association, Inc. (PESALA) for several years. Just like the rest of PAL executives who were well-rounded, he also held the position of Manager – Manila Domestic Airport Operation, and during the time of his retirement, as Consultant for the operation of PAL flights at the Subic International Airport. Most called him “Guate”, but the younger beneficiaries of his benevolence, called him “Manong Ed”. He was a big brother, literally, at 6’ flat height, which earned him a slot in the first basketball team of the airline, and later in lawn tennis.

His remarkability goes beyond his jobs in Philippine Airlines. PAL employees assigned in provincial stations do not tire of sharing how they were accommodated in his sparsely furnished apartment, during their sojourn in Manila to attend recurrent trainings and meetings. Simple meals were shared with them – whatever were on hand. Some of those who were unfortunate to be short of cash, were blessed with whatever amount he could afford, without any desire from him of being paid back.

Employees who were in dire need of cash, but were no longer qualified to renew PESALA loans were given guarantee by Ed Guatelara. Some would recall how they were able to get substantial loan, with his guarantee, from the cooperative, and which they used as down payment for their housing loan. His Volkswagen (Beetle), became ambulance for colleagues who were brought to the hospital in so short notice.

But he was not free from financial problem, too, just like the rest who depended on the 15th and 30th days wage for subsistence. Others just did not know about it, because he knew how to camouflage his worries with his sunshiny smile, typical of a Negrense. He hailed from Villadolid, Negros Occidental. During his youth, he was a dead ringer of Jun Aristorenas, with his thick, but constantly trimmed moustache, as shown by early photos. He was the guy who did not have the heart to say “no” to any request, official or personal, for as long as they are within his capacity. Alibi is not part of his language.

As Supervisor, and later, Manager of the SCD, he spearheaded the team that practically, laid down the foundation for a systematic operation of Philippine Airlines. Policies based on actual operational situations in Manila and provincial stations were discussed and refined by his team with appropriate support from the Cargo Division, Market Planning Division, Area Offices and outlying stations from where, select personnel were plucked to contribute bright ideas to the operations “Bible” of PAL (a separate blog will be devoted to these unsung brains of PAL).

Out of the collated ideas, two manuals were made – Station Operations Manual and Marketing and Sales Operations Manual. These manuals later on, became the prototype of smaller airlines in coming with their own, and joined the industry, in augmenting PAL’s effort to accommodate the overwhelming surge of tourists from abroad, as well as, the local travelers who began to appreciate the advantage and comfort of air travel, thanks to the flag carrier’s unceasing campaign to drum up air travel since its operation after the WWII.

Guate, just like the rest of the members of the PAL family, now sits back and happily reminisce the happy days he spent in PAL.