I don’t know what it is with me but for some reason, my opportunities to travel for work abroad, whether it be for a local or foreign employer, never seem to push through.
Three years ago I was employed with a company that regularly sends employees to the US. I got fired from that post and never got to go. With my next employer there were two occasions wherein I would’ve been able to go abroad, first to Hong Kong, then to the US. Neither trips pushed through. With my current employer I got the opportunity to fly to South Africa — that didn’t push through either. Finally, last month I applied for a position that would assign me in either Shanghai, or Copenhagen. I didn’t get the post, and as with the others none of the trips came into fruition.
I don’t really bewail the fact that I wasn’t able to travel abroad. I have done it before, for leisure (my sister and I went to the US a decade ago to visit our late grandparents), and I have some sort of vow that if I’m ever to travel abroad, it would be for leisure. In fact, I do have a written promise to myself that I’ll fight my battles in this country, in an earlier manifestation of this blog hosted by Friendster.
Many times we take for granted things that we say to ourselves, whether or not they are half-meant, but it occurred to me that a big chunk of the realities that we experience were things that we always talk about.
For example, back when I was newly married and had a low paying job in a local bank, I had often wondered when and how I would reach a pay grade like that of my managers’ back then. Now, only four years later, my salary is around four and a half times (before taxes! :p) my pay the day I asked that question. Back when I was a teenager I vowed that, before exploring the world, I would explore the Philippines first. Today, aside from the fact that I was able to visit several tourist destinations in the country within 14 months, my wife actually owns the travel agency that made the trips possible in the first place!
Indeed, that promise — that vow, to stay in the country and work our way to progress despite the difficulty in doing so, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those little promises allowed me, along with my wife (I’m very, very lucky to have a wife who shares my dreams and ideals), to recognize potential, read sign posts in our lives, and take advantage of what to others appear to be an environment bereft of opportunity.
Over the years I have learned not to mind the fact that I haven’t been able to go abroad to work or corner a job opportunity out of the country. It doesn’t matter. I’ve told myself once before that my fight is right here in this country, and the way things are going, I’m really, really enjoying it.
With juice magnate Alfredo Yao’s acquisition of local airline Asian Spirit, it was not entirely unexpected that he would change the branding of the carrier. Considering that Asian Spirit has been the butt of jokes (“fly as an Asian, land as a Spirit”) it is not surprising that Yao would rebrand the airline.
Asian Spirit has since been renamed Zest Airways, or simply, ZestAir, complete with a new orange and green livery:
Photo by Xu Zheng, taken from airliners.net. Click on the pic to enlarge.
“Asia’s most refreshing airline” has been continuing the major refleeting effort started before Yao’s acquisition of the airline, with new Xian MA-60 turboprops replacing most of its old aircraft. ZestAir is retaining its De Havilland Dash-7 aircraft however.
An interesting note is that the ZestAir website fleet homepage now officially publicizes their intent to acquire at least one (apparently, up to four) 220-seater Airbus A320. Once this jet is delivered, ZestAir will be at par with big players Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, and would leave behind Southeast Asian Airlines as the only major Filipino carrier without a wide-bodied aircraft.
Furthermore, the arrival of yet another Airbus-powered airline might spur a new round of price-wars amongst the local carriers. If that happens, it will be good for all Philippine travellers — hopefully it won’t be at the expense of good service, though!
In light of my recent posts regarding Cebu Pacific, it has become obvious that it is attempting to repair a damaged public relations image, especially in the internet where the horror stories have persisted. It has become damaging enough that Cebu Pacific had to put up a blogging contest to counter it.
I personally believe that that contest will fail, considering some of their “victims” consist of the country’s more active members of the blogosphere, all of whom subscribe to each others’ blogs and would have read about their alleged atrocities already. A blogging contest would be tantamount to hiring amateurs, when what they need is a competent PR agency in the Philippines to repair their image.
Now if they can’t (or won’t) afford a professional PR agency, I’m sure these things would help though:
Train their people in customer relations, especially in handling irate customers. Seriously. The way some of their employees treat passengers who are already inconvenienced despite being paid customers needs really, really serious work. If their employees start treating their customers with more respect then maybe the inconvenience of having one’s flight delayed would be lessened.
Learn to sincerely apologize to their customers when such inconveniences happen. Not only have passengers experienced being shouted at or mocked, many have had nary a sorry from employees, nor the company, when things go wrong. No wonder these people would blog bad things about them. Even a blanket apology after the fact may be able to restore whatever goodwill was lost during unfortunate situations.
Stop trying to fight fire with fire. Arguing with irate customers makes things worse. Ignoring customers who need attention makes things worse. Putting up a blogging contest which will usually comprise of empty testimonials which were written for the sake of prizes will not effectively counter around two years worth of negative blog entries, all written with sincere disappointment. Nobody could ever trump that kind of blogging, especially if an already massive amount of entries is already on the net. There are ways to find out how to contact these bloggers: communicate with them instead — and maybe that act by itself would convince those bloggers that 5J actually cares about them, and write about that instead.
Now I do not have any experience in public relations — the only training I have ever received was a Guthrie Jensen conducted customer service seminar four years ago. But if Cebu Pacific did even just one of the points stated above, I’d be convinced that there’s hope for things to be better with them.
The contest is open to all bloggers, although the prizes are yet to be specified; do read the official blog entry to read the mechanics. The main item in the mechanics that amuses me, however, is item number 4:
Contest entries are blog posts that:
1. are at least 200 words long;
2. talk about places that are destinations of Cebu Pacific flights (e.g., Davao City);
3. must not contain negative reviews of the airline or any harmful content pertaining to the airline in any manner;
4. contain at least one text link to http://www.cebupacificair.com (e.g., “Cebu Pacific” or “affordable flights in the Philippines”), and must not have the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the link tag;
5. must not contain any other links except to Cebu Pacific’s website.
Cebu Pacific has undergone a LOT of negative criticism lately, including from this blogger, and all I see in this contest is a futile effort to “balance” the “distorted” views of Cebu Pacific online and convince everyone that their airline is great, if only because they’re baiting us bloggers to blog about them in a positive way.
The irony is that the solution to Cebu Pacific’s bad reputation woes will need a lot more than a blogging contest. I will have to reserve my opinions regarding how to reverse public perception for another post.
Consider this as my (un)official entry to the blogging contest.
I wonder if someone would buy a legit domain for that.
Four weeks ago, on our trip to Camiguin via Cagayan de Oro, we were able to experience firsthand the difference between the service that 5J and PR (Philippine Airlines) offers. I never realized the big, big difference of being offered water and coffee for free (of course there’s also a big difference between the airfare that trumps the cost of water and coffee, but that’s another story). Add to that unsettling feeling of being hurried along that I always get with Cebu Pac(they space their flights much, much closer to each other using as few planes as possible — go figure!). The fact that I took the PAL flight only two weeks apart from another Cebu Pacific flight only made the differences more obvious.
In this community driven award, bloggers nominate 10 peers that they deem as the most influential emerging blogs for the year, and I am proud to be a part of a blog that most of them deems influential. I believe it is evidence that the Filipino blogosphere is, contrary to perception, a very politically-aware (if not active) body which is hopefully representative of a newer generation of empowered Filipinos.
My wife, a travel agent, got fuming mad at a “friend” last weekend. Her “friend” inquired regarding passport renewal application with a caveat: “friend’s” birth certificate has some problems, preventing her from obtaining one from the NSO. My wife asked if she had consulted her local civil registrar or a lawyer to fix whatever her problems are. The reply (this was going on in SMS, if I recall correctly) made my wife hurl:
Nagpagawa na ako ng birth certificate sa Recto. Nakaprint naman sa NSO paper.
The “friend’s” excuse for taking desperate measures is the fact that she wants to become an OFW — our latest breed of national hero. And doubtless, nothing will stop her — if she has resorted to Recto to rectify (pun intended) her birth certificate issues and the DFA refuses to issue her a legit passport, she would doubtless return to those run-down shanties alongside the LRT Line 2 terminal at that avenue to obtain a fake one.
The result of the GEM Philippines 2006-2007 National Report, as cited by CVJ, is baffling, to say the least. In the study, GEM Philippines states that the distribution of entrepreneurs by socio-economic status is as follows: Class ABC+ 7%, Class C- 19%, Class D 54%, Class E 20%.
Results show that four out of 10 Filipinos (39.2%) aged 18 to 64 have businesses (see Figure 3) and the Philippines ranks second among the 42 countries surveyed by GEMfor 2006. The country is only second to Peru among middleand low income countries and ranks first among benchmarked countries in Asia.
This appears to state that Filipinos are, in fact, business-oriented. This is in stark-contrast to the often maligned notion of the Filipino as culturally biased against entrepreneurship, and having a seek-employment mentality as opposed to a business-oriented culture.
After a week of staying at home suffering from parotitis, I will be going back to the office tomorrownext week on the verge of new challenges: a training session, a new project, and some leaving colleagues. Not a pretty picture, but life’s like that.
Anyway, while I was at home I thought I would be able to blog but, instead of writing, a different “muse” bit me and this is what I spent my time on:
This is the replica cockpit of an F-14A Tomcat, in 1:48 scale.
If you’re not familiar with what a Tomcat is, it’s the fighter prominently featured on Tom Cruise’s 1986 hit, Top Gun.
Hopefully the plane takes a more recognizable shape over the next few weeks. It’s a painstaking process and even after all this years I’m still learning a new thing or two about it.
My father left for the US two days ago to attend my cousin’s wedding. My cousin Felix will wed his girlfriend (whose parents are both Filipino) two Saturdays from now, and they’ve decided to have the wedding in formal Filipino garb.
Days before my dad’s departure he was frantically arranging for a barong to be made for my uncle (6 foot plus white guy in the upper half of 200 lbs). While the tailor was able to pull off a quickie, since the only basis for the measurements of the barong was a shirt my uncle left from a recent trip — short sleeved at that, I still wonder if the barong fits. We will know in a few days I’m sure.
It amuses and delights me at how Filipino traditions are still somehow maintained and observed in foreign countries. This is especially true in the United States, where the melting pot nature of the country, with numerous migrants and communities, raises the need and want to connect with people from your own nation and culture. While there may be large Filipino communities in, say, California, however, Filipinos elsewhere might be hard-pressed to find their kababayans easily.
One way Filipinos cope with the situation is to look for community events that are either near them or can at least be accessible in terms of schedule. This is where Filipino community sites like FilipinoVillage helps. It’s a site where you can add your Filipino events, no matter where it is held.