When the unpaved roads of the Perpetual Village 5 was finally completed, courtesy of the City government of Bacoor City, flaws were discovered such as the low-grade asphalt that was used to fill the gaps of sections, and which practically cracked and broken into pieces in time, and the dangerous wide-gapped corners that endanger maneuvering cars, especially, vans and garbage trucks. Two garbage trucks almost lost their balance while maneuvering the corner along Fellowship and Unity Streets.
The anticipated dangers due to the precarious corners were brought to the attention of the contractor when the project was near completion, but to no avail. Understandably, he was constrained by the allocated budget that was allowed only for the approved width, thickness, and length of the roads in the subdivision. Rather than wait for mishaps to occur, the President of the Perpetual Village 5, Louie Eguia, decided to make use of the meager fund of the association.
As expected, Hector Garcia and the available members of his family volunteered to help – his wife Angie, daughter Mara, son-in-law Jet, and even the latter’s household “stewardess”, Ting. From eight in the morning up to almost noon, the small group toiled under the searing heat of the sun. Even Mara who was on day -off and the lean and young “stewardess” Ting, took turns in mixing cement, gravel, and sand. Jet, who just arrived home from an overnight job also shook off the fatigue from lack of sleep. With a wheelbarrow, Hector tediously, made several trips to the Multi-purpose Hall for the pre-mixed cement and gravel, while Louie, though, suffering from skin allergies from the prickly heat, untiringly did his part.
I have already blogged the Garcia couple due to their unselfish “habit”, worthy of emulation. The habit practically runs in the family which also contaminated their house help, Ting, whom I lovingly call “the stewardess”. They talk less, but work more, and this habit made them click with the equally man of few words, Louie, their homeowners’ association president.
Just like the rest of the pioneers in our subdivision, the couple, Angie and Hector Garcia went through the expected hardship of living in an unfamiliar new-found home, which in our case is Cavite, used to be known for notoriety – unsafe as many alleged. Add to that the difficulty of commuting to Manila because the only way was via the Aguinaldo highway that passes through buzzling public market of Zapote. The Coastal Road during the time was not yet even in the drawing board of the Department of Public Highways. That was during the early part of the 80’s.
A “short cut” to our subdivision from the Aguinaldo highway is traversed by a creek, deep and wide enough to be classified as a river. Several bamboo poles that were laid across the creek served as the early bridge, that was later “upgraded” to a safer one made of two electric poles floored with planks. During the early years the creek did not overflow, however, the constant reclamation of both banks constricted the flow of water that resulted to flash floods which did not spare our subdivision. These instances brought out the innate character of our neighbors that hinged on volunteerism.
As the home of Angie and Hector Garcia is situated right at the western entrance of the subdivision where the creek is situated, the homeowners’ association’s heavy duty rope was used to be left in their custody. They would bring it out when flood occurred so that those who would like to take the risk of crossing the bridge would have something to hold on to as they gingered their way through waist-deep flood. A heavy rain for three to four hours would put every homeowner on the alert as the heavy downpour usually triggered a flood. Angie and Hector would miss precious sleeping hours as they waited for the right moment to bring out the long heavy rope, one end of which would be tied to the post of the bridge while the other end would be entwined around the iron grill of their fence or gate. If the flood occurred at night till dawn, we would wake up in the morning with the rope already in place to serve as our “life line” to the other side of the overflowing creek.
The couple also took pains in cleaning the vacant area behind the subdivision’s Multi-purpose Hall and planted it to medicinal plants and mango tree which also provided shade. Vegetables were planted, too, aside from medicinal herbs for everybody’s taking in time of their need. The early morning as the sun rises would also see them sweeping the street in front of their house.
The leadership qualities of the couple, made their neighbors trust them. Hector had a stint as the president of the Homeowners’ Association, while Angie kept in her custody whatever meager earnings of the association from renting out the Multi-purpose Hall and monthly dues, aside from the collected Mass offerings, until clear-cut procedures were finally established during which she turned over the responsibility to the Homeowners’ Association’s Treasurer.
Angie is a cancer survivor having had a mastectomy, but despite her situation, she patiently endured the rigorous travel to Naujan, Mindoro with Hector to regularly check their “farm” which they planted to fruit-bearing trees. When I asked them one time why they take pains in maintaining such far-off farm instead of purchasing another either in Silang or Alfonso, both in Cavite, they confided that they have already “fallen in love” with their investment. Their love for the farm truly shows in their robust physique despite their age of sixtyish. I just imagine that perhaps, if they stop commuting to and from Naujan, Mindoro, weed their farm, and take care of the growing saplings, their health would deteriorate as usually happens to people who cannot stand being idle.
The couple has three daughters, all successful in their chosen fields of endeavor. And, one of them is serving the Homeowners’ Association as Treasurer.
“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.
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.
(for Kristel Mae “Mhai” Padasas)
ni Apolinario Villalobos
mga pangarap na sa isang iglap
ay nalusaw nang hindi sinasadya
patunay na ang buhay sa mundo
ay hindi hawak ng sino mang tao
ang buhay, wari’y parang kandila
‘di man mahipan, ito’y nalulusaw
kaya ang tanglaw nito’y nawawala
na sa paligid ay dilim ang nalilikha
may kabuluhan naman ang kandila –
na sa paligid ang dulot ay liwanag
hangga’t ito’y malusaw, o mahipan
at magdudulot naman ng kadiliman
sa nangyari kay Kristel Mae sa Tacloban
marami ang nagitla at di makapaniwala
nguni’t kung ginusto ng Diyos ang lahat
walang makakahadlang kung nararapat
ang ilang araw na kanyang naiambag
ay naging bahagi ng dakilang gawain
‘di mawawala sa isipan ng mga mahal
dahil para sa taong turing nila’y banal!
(Kristel Mae “Mhai” Padasas was a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), and was a volunteer during the papal visit. She was hit by a scaffolding that collapsed due to strong wind at the site in Tacloban where Pope Francis officiated a Mass. She reached the age of 27 without having been spoiled despite her being an only daughter of hardworking parents. Her mother works in Hongkong. She was characterized by friends as humble, jolly and compassionate, finding satisfaction in her involvement in humanitarian and civic activities.)
While it is true that each of us has our own life to live, there are instances when sympathetic acts which are given voluntarily in the spirit of cooperation are necessary. Unfortunately, some people view this as some sort of meddling in other people’s lives. Sympathy is extended to give comfort to grieving people, aside from lightening up their heavy load of responsibility. Such act is usually manifested through soothing words, action, and material comfort.
What is bad is that those who have no intention of volunteering sympathy try to dissuade others from doing so, especially, if they have a grudge against the beneficiary of such sympathy. One community that I know has so many religious proponents but they are on their own, except when they see each other during the weekly liturgical service during which they put on the best face they could muster to hide their feelings toward each other. Each is afraid to volunteer counsels for fear that they will be misconstrued as meddling. Prayer meetings are held but shared feelings become useless because they return to their usual selves after they leave the meeting place. The habit of backbiting is still enjoyed by them, and envy is still manifested as they pull each other down to ensure that nobody is above anybody.
A friend who belongs to this community and who relinquished her duties as head of their organization shared her disappointments about this wicked attitude of her neighbors. When her plan to help the incoming officers by way of suggesting some important hints in running the organization was known by her friends, she was practically told to leave the new officers alone, and for her not to meddle since she is no longer an officer of that organization. These same people also, just has no kind words for the volunteers who spend their spare time in assisting the parish priest. Instead of praising the volunteers who have more time than them in assisting the parish priest , they look at them as a bunch of suckers.
In another community, the head of a non-religious organization , confided that he was discouraged to share everything he knows in running an organization to the incoming new set of officers. Those who did are supposedly his close friends who told him that his plan is tantamount to meddling which might be misunderstood as influence peddling. This is contrary to his plan which is to support the new group of leaders in their endeavor. He was even prodded to spend the budget on hand for whatever projects he may think of, and let the new group raise the replenishment to show them that leading an organization is not easy. But obviously, those who are trying to influence him are not in good terms with the new set of officers. They tried to use the outgoing leader as an instrument in getting back at them. Fortunately, the outgoing leader, proceeded with his plans and gained the respect of the new set of officers.
The above are just examples of how some people can easily destroy the essence of volunteerism which is a necessary component of sympathy. There are some people who enjoy the helplessness of others when this could be avoided if a helping hand is extended. This attitude is made worse by their ploy to use others as instrument in carrying out their evil desire. These same people would rather see the failure of an organization than witness how recognition is given to those who are successful in their effort to uphold its integrity. It seems that these kind of people live on the dictum: let others suffer for their acts and let them break their back for something they want.