Work is not work when you are doing what you love. Regardless of how much hard work you have to put in to achieve a goal in your chosen field, your burning passion and love for what you do overshadow all struggles. If you turn your passion into a career, you are creating a lifestyle you want to live albeit its challenges and setbacks. For some who have more than one passion, like being a flight attendant and a fashion guru, they will do all to make ends meet and to excel in both.
Meet Maria Gilda Dangan, a Philippine Airlines flight attendant and a fashion stylist at the same time. She is one of the airline's faces, being on sent on special assignment by the company during major airline contract signing events like the sealing of the Philippine Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) deal, and many other major airline events. She is also a fixture in VIP flights, like those official flights of the Philippine President. To be chosen by Philippine Airlines in such assignment means that her performance is exceptional, and being more than just a beautiful face, she is able to exceed the expectations of the company in assimilating its core values towards the passengers.
If that's not enough, Gilda is also a known fashion stylist who has handled big named celebrities like Maine Mendoza and Lovi Poe. She has made a name in the fashion industry where she even became the cover of the Alabang Town Center magazine named "All About Town".
Flying and styling are indeed Gilda's passion in life where she has greatly excelled. To her though, getting there was not as easy as counting 1 2 3. She too went through struggles to get to where she is. She was also one time a flight attendant aspirant just like many of you reading this.
We were lucky enough to interview her one day. Hope you enjoy her write-up and our interview video of her at the end where she talks about her life as a flight attendant and fashion stylist at the same time, how she arrived there, and how she seeks excellence in everything she does.
Enjoy her story below!
I am Gilda, 28, a dog lover, and the unica hija of the family. I work as a flight attendant at Philippine Airlines. I do styling also for celebrities, prenups, and whoever needs my expertise in styling.
So, how did everything start? I’ll give you a little bit of background.
During highschool, I was really active in volleyball. I was even once the team captain. During those nene days (haha!) I remember, in the mall, an agent spotted me and wanted me to model this certain shoe brand. Since then, it opened a lot of opportunities for me-- I do print ads and ramp modeling for brands and couture. Believe it or not, never in my wildest dream did I ever think that I’d experience them.
In 2010, I graduated from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde with a Bachelor of Science degree Major in Human Resource Management. I was a consistent dean’s lister til my second year. There were accounting parts and numbers are really not my friend, but I love this course! It’s a combination of psychology, law and finance.
During college, as we all know, we didn't have school uniform so everyday was a challenge on what to wear. When Tumblr, Lookbook were new and became hit, I used to post there with my outfits. I had no idea about Tumblr much, so my account was really plain. One time, this famous magazine emailed me and asked permission from me if they can grab my photo and include it in their Trendsetters page. Yes, since then, I challenged myself. I knew I can do better. I never knew I had this eye for fashion, so I explored more about my abilities and myself.
I took a 3 month course of basic fashion styling in School of Fashion and the Arts. After that, I wanted more, so I enrolled at London College of Fashion for an extensive learning about styling. I received my admission letter already, and I was good to go to leave for London, but one thing just happened. God gave me a huge opportunity which I couldn’t miss. I was tasked to do styling for this huge name in the industry for fashion editorial in this renowned magazine. Why would I miss that right?? Yes, I was able to refund my tuition fee! Buti nalang! Haha! God has been blessing me because after that first project, I did another fashion editorial with a friend who I teamed up with for the same celebrity. I would say, my styling career started from there.
Indeed, it opened a lot of opportunities for me. Guestings here and there, being invited to series of shows during fashion week, did talks about women empowerment and personality development. But as I go along on this journey, I learn a lot too from people and learn about myself. Whenever I am in doubt if I can do it, I always tell myself, God brought me here and He will never abandon me. Kaya lumalakas loob ko kahit kabado inside.
My fashion icons: Olivia Palermo, Blake Lively and our own, Pam Quinones, stylist of the stars, who I also dreamt to be part of her team when I was starting.
Come 2012, my best friend who is working in San Miguel, called me up asked if I know anyone who wants to be a flight attendant and told her I’ll ask around. She told me what if I try as well. Knowing me as a spontaneous person, I grabbed it. I took the chance.
Philippine Airlines’ screening and hiring process was undeniably intense. It took me 3 interviews. Phone interview—initial interview in the office—Medical—second interview—finally, executive panel interview. Take note, you cannot proceed to another if you didn’t pass the initial. Feel good a little if you made it to medical exam. Haha! This is not to scare you guys. I just want to share what Ive been through before I landed this job.
Initial cabin crew training was more intense. Really! I felt like I went to college again! Haha! 90% passing on all exams?! I was like, waaa! Hahaha! But with God’s grace, I survived. I made it!
I am now in my 6th year here in PAL and I am truly blessed to part of this company. It has given me broader opportunities and help me grow in this field and my styling career.
How I managed?
As published in the previous article about me, I used to style phenomenal star Maine Mendoza while I am flying. What I did, I pre-styled all her outfits to be used for a week, and during my days off, I go to her along with my assistant stylist at Eat Bulaga studio or in the field. With some other clients at the same time, I asked my assistant to go to the other clients (thanks to the modern technology there’s facetime), so I can see and decide which outfit to be worn. But you know what, I really enjoyed it because I really put my heart on it. I also grace the cover of Alabang Town Center magazine last year for their Summer editorial along with Heart Evangelista and her stylist.
Despite all these opportunities, I am far from being the best or an expert. I am still learning as a fashion stylist.
PAL, on the other hand, trusts me to do special assignments. They send me to events where I represent our airline, which is now a 4star airline. One of the highlights of my career here in PAL was when I became a Presidential Flight Crew. Being one of the delegates of our country is truly an honor and PAL gave me that opportunity. Just recently, I and my colleague, along with PAL bosses, went to Tokyo Japan to grace the historic partnership of PAL and ANA.
From time to time, I get messages and inquiries about how to be a flight attendant or fashion stylist or how to be both. Becoming a flight attendant is easy when you look at it, but its hard in reality. Yes, you can say, its all glamour, well yes because being classy is part of it, but saving lives up there until we bring you to your destination is such a heroic duty. All of us are trained to do all the emergency procedures. We are all first-aiders too. Knowing all the 'hows' of those emergency equipment inside the aircraft, managing unruly passengers, etc., we put our lives to it. We miss special holidays and special events of families sometimes because we, the flight attendants and pilots are here to give you a safe travels. It’s not just about giving you complimentary food and stuff. We share our lives with you and that’s why it saddens me whenever I read or hear some people look down on flight attendants. Always treat people the same way how you would want to be treated— with RESPECT.
Tips to aspirants...
Modesty aside, the job is not for everyone. There are really strict requirements. First things first, weight and height requirement. Practice yourself to be a bit more sociable. Manage your thoughts. In flight, you will encounter a lot of impromptu conversations from different nationalities. That’s why during interviews, you will do a lot of talking. They want to see how spontaneous you can be.
Just like me, challenge yourself. If you really want to become one, work hard for it. Never stop believing in yourself and what you are capable of. Rejections are part of life. Never let it consume you. Just because you were rejected, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing better in store for you. Explore more. Be positive. ALWAYS. Never let negativity bring you down. If things aren’t in the way you planned it to be, it’s fine. Maybe God wants you to see what He has for you now or He may be diverting you to a better path.
Always look at the brighter side. Put your heart to what you love. Enjoy it. Remember, the art you will choose is the kind of life you will live in. So make it a masterpiece.