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‘Buong Pusong Alaga’

Lia Andanar Yu

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BALLARAT, Australia — I have watched something many times on board different aircraft of Philippine Airlines (PAL) and I am always left with a smile that glows from my heart to my face. It fills me with a sense of adventure, awe, pride and longing at the same time. You may think it is a Pinoy tearjerker telenovela but it simply is PAL’s Heart of the Nation Inflight Safety video. Whoever conceptualized and created this short film deserves praise for highlighting the beauty of the Philippines and the heart of the Filipino while reminding passengers of the practical safety features of the aircraft they are in.

Upon check-in recently, I noticed a small frame on the benchtop that separated me from the customer service staff behind the counter. The frame mentioned PAL’s “Buong Pusong Alaga” service attributes. It stated, “We consistently deliver a Heartwarming Filipino Travel Experience through our Buong Pusong Alaga service attributes.” Namely, “Magaling, Maaasahan, Maalaga, Magalang and Malambing.” Little did I realize that these attributes would be called upon on our return flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne via Manila.

We were halfway on our drive towards home from Tullamarine, Melbourne Airport when my daughter realized that she had forgotten her cellphone inside the back pocket of the seat directly in front of her in the roomy and comfortable Airbus 350. We took turns searching her backpack to no avail.

As soon as we arrived home, we called Melbourne Airport but it was a Sunday and the first call did not look promising. So I searched for what I hoped was the official Facebook (FB) page of PAL and sent them a message detailing what had happened. That first message was sent at 11 a.m. I immediately received an auto-reply saying, “Due to high volume of messages we may not be able to reply right away.” It was a standard, realistic and valid message which was understandable as it was peak season after all.

My daughter was certain she had forgotten it in that back pocket of the seat in front of her. She always puts her mobile phone straight on her desk in her bedroom or into her backpack or bag, if we are out of the house, after she uses it and was annoyed and disappointed why she did not this time around. My husband and I were thinking along the same lines, that is, we should have checked all the pockets to make sure. In my head I could still clearly repeat the flight attendant’s reminder to, “please check your surroundings for personal items you may leave behind.” That, too, is a standard gentle reminder.

The plane we were on had already departed Tullamarine for another flight and the airport staff I first spoke with told me that the cleaners had not reported anything to the Lost and Found section. I turned to my daughter saying, it’s okay, it’s just a phone. We proceeded to unpack our pieces of luggage and settle into our comforting home routines.

After an exchange of messages with PAL’s FB customer service staff, at 2:31 p.m., I was so relieved to receive an update saying that the item was found! I was advised to claim it when we check-in for our next flight. That works perfectly as we are set to catch our next flight soon. I excitedly gave the good news to my daughter who beamed and swiftly gave me a bear hug!

So to the unnamed staff who man their FB page, to Liz, Con and their other helpful colleagues (whose names I wish I took down through the years but whose faces and smiles I distinctly remember) at PAL’s check-in counters at Tullamarine, to Saya Lee at PAL’s counter at Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 2 and to all the wonderful and caring employees who share their warm smiles and help make even the bumpiest, turbulence or air pocket-ridden trips more bearable, thank you for sharing the heart of the Filipino! You and everyone like you carry our flag so very well.

Maraming, maraming salamat po. Looking forward to seeing more of the world with you.

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