Written by Mirjan Hipolito
I was 3. My mama told us a story of a plane crash in our neighborhood that took place many years before I was born. The story keeps repeating in my mind. I started to fear airplanes.
I was 4. It was raining so hard that it's almost impossible to hear any sound other than the heavy rain. But I heard it— the frightening roar of an airplane passing. I hid under the table, covered my ears, and prayed that it will not fall on us. The preschool teacher explained to me that the roaring is a normal sound created when the airplane is traveling in opposed direction to the wind. My hands still sweat whenever I hear the roar.
I was 5 and starting to like geography. My father and I are discussing the landmasses of the Americas when I told him that I want to get inside the Atlas and walk my way through the different countries found inside. He said that I'm already big enough to fit the poor book but there are people that work in the airplane who get see different countries everyday. I asked him if they are "astronauts", he said that they are some sort of like those minus the weird helmets and space suits. I said that I'd like to become one. He answered that it can only be possible if I grow into some 5 ft 6 inches tall and got my crooked teeth fixed. That was the first time I dreamt of becoming a Flight Attendant.
I was 11. My classmate said that one of the requirements or becoming a Flight Attendant is jumping off from a moving airplane that is 10,000 ft above the ground. I hate heights, they make me feel nauseated. I told myself to set aside that dream and focus first on my high school entrance exams. I completely forgot about my dream for years.
I was 14— a school pub writer and a weird adolescent. I have this big crush on a Thai Actor named Jirayu "Kao". I wrote a story in my diary where we get to meet each other in the plane; him being the cool rockstar as he is, and me being the FA assigned to serve him. It's humiliating to remember that I wrote that story— I still laugh at myself sometimes.
I was 16, an incoming college freshman with absolutely no idea on what course to take on. I qualified in a scholarship program in a local college where I got to choose from three courses; Computer Science, Information Systems, and Tourism Management. I have chosen the latter because I've had enough of binary language and Visual Basic back in high school. I hate programming.
I was 18. I am nearly finished with my college course but has never rode nor even got close to a real aeroplane. Sure my college conducted Educational Tours and Cultural exchange programs, but I was never able to join because we cannot afford them. I wonder what does it feel like to be up there and flying.
I am 20. Few days ago, my friends told me of a mass hiring of a local airline happening in our city. I said that it's quite impossible for me to attend due to work commitments. I woke up early, I hear that little voice inside me saying that I should give it a go. But I just can't, it's another busy day at work. Due to a reason unknown to me now, I had to stay a little longer at work. I was left by the company shuttle. I told myself that maybe, in one way or another, being a Flight Attendant is a profession not destined for me. As I motioned my way to go, one of my workmates offered me a carpool going to the mass hiring venue.
It was already 3:30 pm at the time I reached my destination. The employee in the registration area told me that I am the last person they will accommodate before registration closes. For a brief moment, I thought that I'm lucky— not until when he asked for my resumè. I wasn't able to bring one. Thinking.... Thinking.... I heard a voice calling my name. There he goes— my best friend waving at me saying, "I printed your resumè." All I can think of was, "God, what a save."
It was the third stage of the hiring process when one of the HR asked me, "Why shouldn't we hire you?". I was caught off guard. I thought that marketing yourself in front of five professional looking individuals was hard, until this question came. I was quiet for two minutes, I didn't know what to say. It was then that I decided to just be honest and answered, "I'm a fresh graduate. There's nothing much I did in my past two months of employment that I can truly be proud of. I have crooked teeth, that's why I'm still required to wear braces until such time that my teeth get straight. I have an imperfect complexion— mosquito-bite marks everywhere, dark elbows and knees. I have poor eyesight, I've had it eversince I was 7. And most importantly, I haven't been in an airplane before. I don't have the slightest idea of what the interior of the airplane looks like. I'm not even sure, on whether I can stand airsickness or not."
What are the odds of getting hired after hearing those things? One from the HR team said, "We can feel the genuineness in your voice whenever you speak. You need not to be perfect, you just have to be yourself. Congratulations, welcome to PAL Express." Seeing your dreams, the things that you have prayed for, for years, unfold before your eyes was surreal. I always pray for the same thing every night, that God will help me find my vocation in flying. And I did.
To my tatang— the first person who believed that I can be a Flight Stewardess, see you in the skies. To my mama— the wind beneath my wings, we will reach places together. To my family and to friends who treated me as their own family— I owe everything to you. Maraming salamat po!
Not many are blessed to know what they really want to become in life, so when you find it, make sure to give it a good fight. It sure is a turbulent journey, but never let circumstances sway you from your resolve.
Former First Rider, now flying with you.