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Paolo Abellanosa, Student Stories

Practicum Chronicles: Germi Estiva in NAIA


For juniors, NAIA, the proclaimed worst airport in the world could be the worst possible environment for practicum. Imagine the likely everyday scene: struggle in transport, passengers complaining in their slangs you can’t bloody understand, long hours and delayed flights, the exaggerated threat of a falling roof, more so the urban legends of NAIA’s toilet. Fourth year and former Qantas trainee Germi Estiva tells Salimbay her story of how she survived the worst.

Why the airlines sector?

I chose to do my training in the airline industry since it’s the sector I am not familiar the most. Among others, this industry is the most overwhelming in terms of operations, and I thought I’d gain more knowledge in here than in any other! Haha. I really wanted to work in NAIA 1. As they say, worst airport daw so i’d like to know why.

Photo courtesy of Germi Estiva

Narrate the pre-practicum struggle.

We had to personally go to NAIA 1 to pass our CVs, then after a long period follow-up, tinawagan na kami. Kinabahan talaga kami kasi akala namin ‘di na kami tatawagan for the interview. April na nung na-interview kami. Fortunately, natanggap ako sa Qantas Airways, Ltd. – isang legacy airline from Australia. Patience and prayers lang talaga. So, nakaraos na kami…but, simula pa lang ito. Andaming aasikasuhin bago mag-start.

What were the requirements?

We were asked to prepare a Notarized Waiver at NBI Clearance (which we know mahaba-haba palagi ang pilahan). Then we had to attend an Airport Safety and Security Seminar sa Airport Police Station. Mandatory talaga ito for all airport employees for the ID renewal – Kailangan [na] maaga ka ditto [sic], muntik na kami [na] masarahan dahil late kami this only happens once a month.. if we miss it, next month na kami makakapag-OJT. Then had to get our ID/Pass sa Pass Control everytime [sic] we go in the airport. And surrender the pass as we go out. When you fail to.. Suspension abot mo.

How did Qantas assigned trainees?

Nakakalito at first kung pano ba nila pinapausad yung isang flight. Since UP daw kami, medyo fast learner kami. Kung saan-saan kami na-deploy. Pwedeng sa Arrival/Departure – we had to prepare some documents, let it signed by different Head Officers/Doctors/Captain, etc. Requirement ang time management at charm dito para ‘di ka na pahirapan [pang] pabalik-balikin dahil lang may nakalimutan kang ipa-photocopy.

Pwede rin sa check-in counters kung saan may chance kang makilala ng [sic] personal ang mga passengers, marami ding flirting opportunities dito. Pwede rin sa baggage Counter, maraming paawa na pax [passengers] dito. Pero kailangan mong ipaintindi na hanggang 23 kilos lang ang baggage allowance nila. Good luck na lang ‘pag Korean, minsan kailangan mong mag sign language.

At marami pang rotations. Syempre nahasa din ng [sic] slight ang English skills at listening skills ko. Dahil nga Aussies ang pax namin, slightly mahirap[na] intindihin ang accent nila! Nahasa din ang heels ng 4 in [inch] shoes ko, malay ko bang ide-deploy ako agad [kung saan] kailangan kong tumayo ng [sic] 2 hours straight. Ang ending..napabili ako ng 1 in. Lesson learned: Wag feelingera. Hahaha

How was the daily routine?

Best ‘yung feeling ‘pag patapos na yung flight, ‘yung nasa boarding gate ka lang nakaupo. Makikita mo ang bawat isang pumasok, i-inspect ang passport nila, at secretly wishing na sakin mapunta ‘yung inii-spot-an kong cute na pasahero or ‘yung namumukhaan kong artista. Medyo rewarding ‘pag destined na mapunta sa’yo [ay] ganun. Minsan nga lang, matatapat talaga sa’yo yung mga masusungit, maaanghit, marereklamo.. nakakayamot minsan but I had to stay composed.

May one time, may agit na passenger. Common knowledge na nga na worst airport itong NAIA1, ‘yung iba madalas pumuna but they express it in a polite way, ‘yung iba nga mapapa-buntung hiniga na lang. Pero may isang may katandaang medyo ‘di kabanguhang Aussie na nag-board, natapat sa ‘kin, and said in an angry voice, “You know what, this is the WORST Airport in the world.” Medyo nilamig ako at nahiya dahil andaming passengers na tumingin sakin. Feeling ko tuloy kasalanan ko kung bakit [sya nagalit]! That time lang siya nag-hit sakin. So I impulsively responded with, “But.. we have the best people.” As I give him a smile…and he smiled back. It’s like a confirmation.

What were the struggles in your assignment?

‘Pag nakapasok na lahat ng passengers at ready to take off na, Our job’s almost done! Gusto mo ng [sic] bumalik sa office dahil gutom na gutom ka na. Wala nga palang breaks, when you’re hungry, eat… but before the flight. Dahil makakakain ka lang ‘pag maayos nakalipad ang eroplano. Kapag delayed… Goodluck. Ipagdasal na lang na hindi aabot ng [sic] matagal…kung matagal, mag-provide [sic] naman ng food ang airline but siyempre hindi ka naman makakakain ng [sic] maayos.

Problema ko minsan ang dehydration, sa ilang oras na nakaharap sa passenger kailangan mong maging presentable, minsan nga lang ‘di maiwasan ang chapped lips dahil sa kakulangan sa tubig. Baka kasi bigla mo na lang makasalubong si Anne Curtis or si Mayor, mabuti na ‘yung handa. Just in case mag-wear off ang make-up, mag-retouch na lang sa Duty Free.

Mind to share your realizations?

Sarap huminga ng [sic] malalim ‘pag tapos na ang flight. Sarap din magpa-foot massage at kumain kung ‘di pa lumipas ang gutom. Pero iisipin ko muna kung paano ako uuwi, maabutan ko pa kaya ‘yung MRT? If not, sige bus ulit. Babaybayin ko na naman lahat ng sulok ng Maynila. Kung nag-rent ka naman ng boarding house malapit, it won’t be a problem. Paano na kaya yung mga totoong nagtatrabaho sa Airport? 12k lang [ang] sweldo nila. Kailangan nila mag-rent [sa] malapit para ‘di sila ma-late ‘pag maaga ‘yung flight or madaling umuwi pag delayed. But experience wise, I think they also think it’s all worth it.

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About aitsalimbay

The official newsletter of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism.

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