Tina and Grace of BPI-Imus Market Branch (Cavite, Philippines)

Tina and Grace of BPI-Imus Market Branch

By Apolinario Villalobos


The smiling ladies of the Bank of the Philippine Islands-Imus Market Branch continue to impress me, the latest being, Tina (Cristina Biongko) and Grace Haguring. Both diminutive Tina and Grace can also make a first-time client of the bank, at ease. But, in addition to their arresting smile, both exude the sales qualities that competitive entities like the BPI look for in their staff. Tina did not tire of convincing me to open an account.


Before Tina and Grace attended to me, they patiently went about the routine counter preliminaries with a steady smile on their face which made us, who were waiting for our number to be called, comfortable. Monday and Friday are the most pressure-filled days of operation of entities such as banks due to the stacked- up pended transactions during the weekend and the earnest to finish transactions before the Friday ends. The morning I went to transact with the bank was a Monday, and despite the first-day-of-the-week jitters, I was attended to by Tina and Grace without a single hitch, making me step out of the bank after a short time….again.


Bank of the Philippine Islands holds the record as the oldest banking institution in the country, although, the Monte de Piedad had a share of the banking function only during the later part of the Spanish regime. The bank is also reputed to be conservative which proved to be a plus to its operation, as being such, the institution treads only with utmost caution in all its ventures. Lately, however, it has joined the bandwagon towards modernization of its facilities for the comfort and convenience of its clients which brought to the fore of their operation the paperless transaction machines where the clients punch their requirements instead of filling up small sheets of forms.


And, in the face of the rigid competition in the banking industry, BPI is fortunate for the services of its two dynamic smiling ladies, Tina and Grace.

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.

Kimberly Bautista Rosel:Angel on the Road

Kimberly Bautista Rosel: Angel on the Road

By Apolinario Villalobos

Around seven in the morning of July 26, I was on my way to Divisoria, on a jeepney that plied the Mabini Street of Ermita. At the corner of Salas St., two young Koreans hailed the jeepney and showing the photo on their cellphone to the driver, asked if he was passing by the said landmark. The driver inaudibly replied which was of course, not understood by the tourists. At this point, I asked them if it was alright for me to see the landmark on their cellphone which I found to be the bastion of Intramuros, after which I gave them directions.

A young pretty lady across from where I sat, volunteered that she was on her way to Intramuros and offered to guide the couple. She told me that she was a student of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and that she had enough time to drop the two tourists where they wanted to start their walking tour. As I was impressed by her attitude which was another inspiring act, my favorite subject for blogs, I ventured if it was okey for me to write something about her, giving my “credential” in the process. Also I asked her to share with me what would transpire in the course of her angelic gesture. As the three hastily alighted for a connecting ride, all I got from the young lady was her name, “Kimberly”.  I thought she would forget all about me until I checked my facebook the following day for any message from her which I fortunately got. With it she sent a “friend request” which I immediately confirmed.

She was Kimberly Bautista Rosel. In her message, she shared that she brought the young tourists to the landmark where they wanted to start their walking tour. Not long afterwards,  pedicab drivers approached them to offer their service of a quick tour of the Walled City but were declined with her help, as the tourists knew only a sprinkling of English.  After giving more information, she left them and hastily proceeded to her class. She shared that they were wondering why I was nice to them on the jeepney to which she explained the Filipino trait of volunteerism.

At sixteen, Kimberly impressed me as having a strong personality. During our short exchange of pleasantries on the jeepney, and while talking to the tourists, she spoke with confidence and in a very good English without a ‘trying hard” twang, for which many teens are apt to do today. I was not surprised as I found later that her mother is a teacher. She also unabashedly confided that her father is a driver in a school in Pasay City. Her family hails from Nasugbu, Batangas. When I checked the photos on her facebook, I found images of a happy family.

Kimberly is the epitome of the Filipino hospitality, on which hinges the effort of the country in upholding its lure in the face of the cutthroat competition in the tourism industry. Hopefully, the two Korean tourists will tell their friends back home about their experience, that indeed, the Philippines is really a safe place where one can enjoy the sights and goodwill of the people. I firmly believe that “word of mouth” is more effective than the printed advertisements, as the former is a reliable first-hand account.

Kimberley more than advertised the country with her act. If I may add, she is also pretty, a typical dusky Filipina. How I wish there are thousands more of her kind that tourists will find along their way around the country.

An Ideal Homeowners’ Association…Flores Village Phase II (Bangkal, Davao City)

An Ideal Homeowners’ Association
…Flores Village Phase II (Bangkal, Davao City)
by Apolinario Villalobos

Life in a subdivision is not always idyllic. There are always setbacks such as unreliable security, stray dogs, arrogant neighbors, and irregularly maintained cleanliness of surroundings. Having a reliable homeowners’ association then, becomes the only hope of the homeowner from nurturing regrets for having lived in such kind of community.

During one of my trips to Davao City, I was invited by a friend to stay with his family for a night which I gladly accepted. He lives in a middle- class, though exclusive subdivision, the Flores Village Phase II in the suburbs of the city, particularly, Bangkal. As I was used in our subdivision of being bothered by the presence of stray dogs and their incessant barking at night, my overnight stay at the Flores Village was a relief, as I never heard a single bark.

Incidentally, my friend, Ed Collado is the president of the homeowners’ association and I got interested on how he does his job. He confided that among his implemented priority projects was the installation of the CCTV units at strategic locations around the subdivision. The cleanliness and cordial relationship among neighbors are also maintained. The vacant lot which has been developed into a plaza which lately, has been provided by the local government with a multi-purpose shelter and basketball court is further made useful with the Council’s encouragement of homeowners to maintain plots which to date are planted with vegetables. Much earlier, mango trees were also planted to provide shade and later, fruits.

A healthful activity of the homeowners is the early morning brisk walk around the village which they commence as early as five in the morning. Usually, the earliest to rise is Manuel Pabriaga who is also a staunch volunteer in practically all activities of the association, despite his being a non-officer. But Ed, considers him as the Council’s “Ex-O”.

Noticeable in the subdivision is the abundance of ornamental and medicinal herbs. Some are rare which prompted this writer to encourage Ed to have them propagated and sold during agri-trade fairs, making such venture as a fund-raiser for their association. And, for this purpose, a small portion of the community garden can be converted into a nursery.

I was also told that coordination is being done with the local government for the provision of additional streetlights that will definitely make the village more livable. As of now, only the “tri-sikad” (non-motorized tricycle) is allowed to service the transport needs of commuting homeowners within the village to maintain the peace and quiet.

Interesting is their “mortuary” program for the homeowners which is akin to the “paluwagan”. In such, the homeowners are encouraged to deposit in their common fund, Php100 per month that can be withdrawn to provide relief when somebody dies in the family. This is aside from the fixed death aid benefit.

Aside from Ed Collado, who is the President of the homeowners’ association, the rest of the officers are: Emeterio J. Josue, Jr. (Vice-President), Elizabeth E. Sacco (Secretary), Rolando V. Supetrano (Treasurer), Alex Cordero (Auditor), Jesus Galcio (Business Manager), Federico Limjuco (Public Information Officer), and Rogelio Limjuco (Peace Officer).

The successful Council of the Flores Village Phase II, showed that an effective homeowners’ association is very crucial to maintain a friendly, clean and secured in a subdivision.