Gratitude and Success
By Apolinario Villalobos
Outside our family circle, there are people who have touched and influenced us towards our quest to fulfill our purpose in life. In my case, some of them are still around, some even tagged within the web of the facebook network, some are now with the Lord. But I have no idea where the rest are. If the facebook has been able to connect the lives of people who for years are not in touch with each other through the photos that viewers innocently, though, happily post, I am praying and hoping that a simple post in prose like mine will also have a good result. Perhaps, viewers can help by mentioning this to those whom I am grateful, and whose names are highlighted.
Since my elementary days, I have been fond of writing poems. It was only when I was in first year high school that my English teacher, Mr. Elmer Festin, noticed my interest in writing. He made me edit our high school organ, The Green Ember, despite my being a neophyte. Life was not easy for me in my effort to finish my studies. I had to practically do odd jobs even in college to earn my allowance. It was when I was at this stage that the Department of Social Welfare opened a branch in our town to handle the ever increasing number of evacuees from neighboring towns due to the Muslim-Christian conflict. Mr. Claudio Estante who was sent by the DSW Regional office in Davao to do the task, hired me to help him after asking around for references. He allowed me to work only on Saturdays and Sundays because of my full time studies.
One day, a certain Mr. Virgilio Manocdoc who was an acquaintance of my friend came for a short visit. He casually mentioned that he was working as ticketing clerk of PAL in General Santos. I kidded him for an information in case of a vacancy. I forgot all about it until months later I received a telegram from him telling me to proceed immediately to General Santos and bring pertinent documents, for interview as PAL was hiring. Fortunately I passed the interview in General Santos, as well as the final one conducted in Davao City.
After passing the rigid training in Manila, all trainees were called to the Administrative Offices Building (AOB) for a briefing. Posted on the bulletin board was the list of stations with vacancies to be filled up: Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Manila, Tablas. I loudly thought about Tablas, if it was OK to be assigned there. Mrs. Mila Limgenco who holds an important position next to the Director of Luzon Sales Area approached me and smilingly convinced me to take it. She told me about the abundance of vegetables and fish there as though she knew about my vegetarian diet. I took it and later, the decision proved to be just right. While in Tablas my patience was tested in preparing tickets, handling irate passengers who were bumped due to limitation in view of unfavorable wind during take off, signaling to pilots as the plane was taxiing in and out of the tarmac, weighing cargoes for appropriate assessment of rates. I could have not done all those had I been assigned in a big station where I would be limited to a single function. It was also there where I unknowingly was able to project a good image of PAL which resulted to my being invited by Looc National High School as a convocation speaker after a few months of my arrival. I spoke before the students in their dialect.
While in Tablas, Mr. Bien Alvaro, the supervisor, Celso Dapo, Load Controller, Oswald Alamo and Sonny Garcia III, senior ticket and freight clerks, unselfishly guided me. A certain Mrs. Nena Gacura who at first feared me because of the Muslim tobaw that I was wearing on the day I arrived became my foster mother later on, her family, my foster family. The same gesture was given to the rest of the PAL staff. One of her daughters, Bel, married another PALer, Boy Loquias who gave me moral support when we were boarding together in Baclaran.
Not long after, I was fortunate to fill up a vacated position in Tours and Promotions Division headed by Mr. Vic Bernardino as Manager. He trusted me with the editorship of TOPIC Magazine which promoted touristic destinations and activities to entice local and foreign tourists to travel around the country. The break gave me the chance to finally express my longtime passion in writing. The job was part of my responsibilities as Tours and Promotions Representative. Just like the rest of my colleagues in the office, I was also required to be part of project study groups, join researches and spoke in tourism-related seminars organized by agencies, including the Department of Tourism. It was a great exposure for me who, despite a tough competition from equally deserving applicants, was given the favor by Mr. Bernardino. My colleagues in the office also gave me full support: Ed Buensuceso, Jun Luz, Thelma Villasenor, Mayee Santos Cuenco, John Fortes, Ed Ramos and Reggie Constantino. We were a family in the office.
Life in Manila was not easy due to the high cost of living. Mr. Ed Guatelara, supervisor of Standards and Coordination Division, after learning from others about my difficulties offered another room in his apartment which could still accommodate one more bed space. The rate for the space included meals which came out way below what I had been spending for my board in Baclaran.
From being a Tours and Promotion Representative, I moved on as Sales Account Officer and eventually rose to the position of Administrative Manager for the Philippines and Guam Region, the opportunity given by RVP, Mr. Archie Lacson. The trust he gave me bolstered my effort to prove my worth.
The Regional Vice President for Philippines and Guam, when I joined PAL was Mr. Ricardo Paloma. When he finally retired, his position was Senior Vice President for Finance. While packing up his things, he invited me to his office for a cup of coffee. At this juncture, he brought out a stack of clippings from newspapers and magazines and jokingly asked if I was familiar with them. I was surprised because they were clippings of my articles and poems that saw print in dailies and magazines! I learned that he instructed his secretary to religiously check subscriptions for my published contributions. He had them Xeroxed, giving me the duplicates. Though no longer with PAL, at least once a week, he would call me to join him for lunch in his favorite French restaurant in Greenbelt (Makati). It was during one of these meetings that he gave me the study he made on how tourism could still be further developed as an industry. It was nicely bound into a book form. He said it was one of his treasures and told me to use it. When I spoke at the Lyceum of the Philippines University (Intramuros) on September 14 about tourism in the Philippines, I used the book of Mr. Paloma as one of my references. My great respect to him developed upon knowing from senior PALers how he started his career in PAL – as a porter. This could be the reason why he would always tell me that I was lucky to have joined PAL as ticket and freight clerk, while he worked his way up the rung of PAL hierarchy as a porter. The last advice he gave me was to “go on writing whatever happens”,.
It is only through diligence and contentment that we can be happy in what we are doing. There is no ultimate success, yet, while we do our best to survive as we embark on the journey of our life. Where there is happiness in what we do, there is success. We should never think about what we could have done as that thought tends to compare our achievement with that of others. It results to envy if we fall short in comparison. We should always be thankful of any opportunity that comes our way and thank those who have been part of that opportunity. We should look at the past to appreciate the present and work for a better future if need be. We should never think of failure. Every falter along way should be regarded as challenge for us to move on. Again, every happiness that we feel along the way should be regarded as success. As an important note, many high ranking corporate executives switch to lesser jobs upon retirement “for a change”, resulting to their satisfaction and happiness – success. The quest for success does not follow an upward trend.
As for the ultimate success, only God can determine if we have achieved it at the end of the road that we are taking…the end of our journey in life.