By: Flyhigh Manila Staff / Photos: Julio Mallari
Our doctors, nurses, medical staff, police, military, security guards, grocery workers, etc., all at the frontlines helping one another battle this Coronavirus CoviD-19 pandemic that has gripped the world. While these frontliners are strong, they also need the backing and support from others. Enter the "frontliners" of the sky, our cabin crew. Three Philippine Airlines flight stewards pulled out all the stops to help these frontliners on "ground zero".
PAL flight stewards Julio Mallari, Allan Martin, and Arwin Villafuerte are also entrepreneurs. When not flying, they attend to their own businesses. Julio and Arwin are business partners of a popular milk tea shop in Cavite named "Cabin Brew Milk Tea". Yes, do you remember the story of the manglalako who was given a free milk tea since it was his first time to try one? That milk tea shop was Cabin Brew.
Allan Martin on the other hand owns a restaurant called "The Good Kitchen" which serves comfort food like Krispy Pork Adobo, Pork Katsudon, Beef Pares, and Pork Sisig. This restaurant is located in Palanan in Makati.
The three are also training batchmates for cabin crew in PAL, belonging to batch ICCT15-04. ICCT stands for "Initial Cabin Crew Training."
It didn't take long for the three to really decide to help out the frontliners, especially now that they are not flying as PAL scheduled passenger flights are temporarily suspended until such time that the Philippine Government lifts the Enhanced Community Quarantine in the Luzon region. "I have friends from the medical industry, kaya malapit puso ko sa mga frontliners particularly doctors and nurses, tsaka madami kami customers na pulis, sundalo, cashier sa grocery, reporters, etc. Then medyo kinulang naipit ang frontliners sa loob ng hospitals baka di na sila nakakakain ng decent food sa tamang oras. Alamo mo yun mga ganung bagay kaya sobrang naawa kami," Julio shared.
"We considered ourselves blessed, it's all about sharing.. Seeing the news about what’s happening in our country right now breaks our heart. So we decided to help out as much as we can even in smaller acts," Arwin said.
Everything started when Julio and Arwin gave out free milk tea to the people of RITM, the grocery workers, and security guards. These were taken out from the sales revenue of Cabin Brew Milk tea. So basically, everything was self sustaining only up to a certain point since more quantities had to be given out but the sales revenue were already unable to keep things running. Hence more funds were needed.
Arwin said, "We used our own budget to give help to our frontliners. But now more people are reaching out and tried to contact us so that we can be an instrument to reach and help more people."
With the support of one of PAL's cabin crew manager and Julio's supervisor, Cherry Yap Suarez and flight purser Judy Silvestre who saw the importance and urgency of this project, the group was able to collect enough funds from fellow colleagues in PAL and other people. Cherry and Judy also provided social media support to further help the group collect more funds. At the same time, another batchmate, Allan Martin decided to incorporate his TGK food with the milk tea deliveries in one package for every frontliner.
The idea was perfect. Great comfort food downed with some milk tea which is almost everyone's favorite, especially during a hot summer season. Doesn't get as refreshing as this!
Both Cabin Brew Milk Tea and The Good Kitchen have been providing food and refreshments to different hospitals and places before combining forces. With both groups and all three flight stewards working together, they were able to expand their distribution network of frontliners.
Each packed meal from The Good Kitchen comes with a Cabin Brew milk tea, a direct 1:1 proportion. In terms of production, the two groups communicate on how many meals and refreshments will be produced.
In terms of work load distribution, Julio shared, "pantay pantay kanya kanya kaming hanap ng donor, ng benificiary, lahat kami sa kanya kanyang operations nakatutok hanggang sa distribution ng goods. Fair and square."
With all their efforts combined, the three PAL stewards were able to give out to PGH, Las Pinas Medical, DLS-UMC, RITM, South City Hospital and Medical Center, SM Hypermarket (cashiers, baggers, guards, janitor).
The group will also be going to St. Lukes BGC, and South City Hospital and Medical Center in Bacoor, Cavite.
As PAL cabin crew, the value of "service for others" has been a part of their upbringing since their training days which has been constantly injected into them consistently throughout their flying career in the airline. It has come to a point that being of service for others extend outside the cabin of the aircraft, especially in times of calamities and pandemics like this.
Many flight attendants have been busy supporting all our front liners by providing them with food, refreshments, face masks, and PPEs as they give themselves to help fight the CoviD-19 crisis. This is one of those many stories.
To be a flight attendant, you must simply have the heart, a heart for others without having to think of your own personal convenience. It doesn't matter if you are in the sky or not, because being a cabin crew is not just about a career, but it is about living a lifestyle of service for others over self.
"Sa eroplano, ang pasahero ang prioridad namin. We make sure safe and comfortable sila. Pag may problema tulad ng medical emergency, kami nagaasikaso para siguraduhin ang kaligtasan nila. Now that we are not flying, our frontliners are like our passengers. We take care of them just like the way we were trained to really take care of our flying passengers. Hindi namin iniisip ang takot o risk kasi mas risky ang dinadaanan nila. Total, ganito ren kami sa eroplano. Bago namin isipin ang sarili, dapat yung iba muna. Buong pusong alaga yun binibigay namin kung baga," Julio shares.
"Being a cabin crew by itself is what drives us to serve others," said Arwin. "Hindi kami indibidual, kundi cabin crew nga. Para sa tao at sa bayan kami, Hindi namin sila hahayaan," he shares.
For Julio, Allan, and Arwin, it was not just a service for the frontliners, but a service for "Inang Bayan" itself.
The group still need more donation in order to sustain all efforts in producing meals and refreshments for the frontliners. For donations and sponsorship, please do take note of the details below: