April 16, 2024

My 9th year in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry has taught me so many lessons. At some point in my life, I have been a creature of habit enjoying daily routine and the sense of stability, but challenging circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic shaped me to better understand the true message of resilience and responsible leadership.
For the past 11 months, the pandemic has unbelievably brought so many challenges and pains. It had a vast reach in transforming human life at all levels. The pandemic dealt a big blow to our industry and our sector is one of the most vulnerable. The business suddenly halted. It was swift and we were totally unprepared. As the head of my team, I have been anxious about the future of our industry. I also have to think of my teammates who depend on their salary from their work. We have all felt the pandemic’s impact during the lockdown and sadly it has greatly triggered an alarming economic downturn and this affected the financial aspect of almost all businesses.
Sadly, the beautiful picture we imagined in 2020 dramatically altered with the onset of the pandemic. We saw people losing their jobs and livelihood and saw how the pandemic crushed and broke many hearts. Like the rest of the world, everything changed and we were all trapped unequipped. Nobody knows how to deal with this test of time but we learned to adapt and accept that this world is no heaven. Up to this day, this pandemic still brings significant disruption and hardship in almost every aspect of our lives but it has also forced reflection on the ethics of our everyday living especially the ways we treat each other as we continue to go about our daily survival.
I am not going to deny that my faith and spirit were shaken and tested. There were I almost got to the brink of giving up and had much self-doubts but at the end of the day with the support of my team, I decided to go with the flow and let God play the music of my life: A life that is destined to lead. It wasn’t an easy dance tune though. There were complicated steps and at times I lost rhythm and lost counts but as GM, it was a matter of attitude. I have to be a source of inspiration to my team and establish a positive disposition while praying for God’s mercy and guidance. There were questions in my head such as, “What to do next? How would I restart? Will we be paralyzed for good and do nothing?” I told myself, “No.” I will not lose hope and let negativity to drag me down. So, on that same day when I decided to “fight and move on”, I researched and reviewed all safety protocols issued by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), Department of Tourism, Department of Health, and the local government unit. I decided to seek help from our head office’ training department and helped devise training programs on safety protocols. We rolled out safety training, refined our systems and procedures, and intensified our sanitation and disinfection processes. We conducted renovation of our facility to adjust to the new requirements of the new normal, kept ourselves busy, and prepared for the days where we will be able to welcome and host our valued guests safely and responsibly once again and finally confidently applied for Permit to Operate with the DOT.
The road we are taking is still really a downer and full of uncertainties. We are still fighting an invisible enemy and that makes the battle disadvantageous to everyone but again instead of feeling down, we have to start reopening, save more jobs, give hope to our employees, do things right and responsibly, focus on the things that we can control, safely mobilize the team and do things to overcome given challenges, and continuously prepare for the coming days. Indeed, it still is a challenging chapter for all of us but we have to learn to stay focus, stick to our goal-driven work ethic, follow government agencies’ safety guidelines and be resilient at all costs because right now, we do not have a choice but to soldier on and help combat this pandemic.
I am sharing this in celebration of my 9th year with the industry that is still making ends meet. With heads held high, someday I will be sharing all these experiences with much zest, passion, and confidence just like our lolos and lolas sharing their war stories when we were young over and over again. Someday, I will be proud to be one of the wordsmiths of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I believe the blueprint we are creating now will be the survival guide of our future generations. For the time being, my goal is clear, whatever the future holds with the grace of God, I am confident that I will be able to etch my name in one of those significant pages. For now, I will wait patiently for better days to come, wait for the vaccine, wash my hands, wear my face mask and face shield, practice physical distancing, disinfect and sanitize often, eat healthier foods, exercise, perform my job responsibly and sincerely pray for everyone’s health and safety. In short, I will do my best to be a responsible Filipino citizen.
I would like to leave you with this quote, “One tiny crack does not mean that you are totally smashed. It means that you are just put to the test to learn and find your way to be better.” And yes, we are in this together. Fighting! (CJ DE GUZMAN)