I recently gave a talk on Environmental Protection and Preservation to the faculty and students of College of Immaculate Conception in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. It's a month long celebration of CIC's Social Responsibility with the theme "Kalikasan Ating Kinabukasan... Kilos na! (KKK).

It was a challenging talk. I usually have my trusted PowerPoint Presentation with me, but this time, I have to do without it... almost. Because there were about 2000 students, the only venue that is available is the open gymnasium with broad daylight that made LCD projection almost impossible. But, as one teacher aptly put it, it was a blessing in disguise as the students were forced to use their creative imagination as I describe my set of photos.

What I initially feared as a challenging talk turned out to be one of my most memorable talks to ever give. The students were all excellent, they were all cooperative and participative despite the technical glitches and the heat.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the entire CIC community for the warm welcome you have afforded me. I hope something positive will come out of this event. I'm looking forward to seeing CIC be the first plastic-free school in Cabanatuan and in Nueva Ecija.

September 16, 2008

Mr. Jaime J. Bautista
President & Chief Operating Officer
Philippine Airlines

Dear Mr. Bautista,

I am writing to express my disgust with the quality of service and the attitude of personnel of Philippine Airlines. I have long heard of many bad things about your company but my experience last September 15, 2008 in your Cubao Sales Office left no doubt of the values that your company holds.

It is a shame that PAL is the country’s flag carrier. You do not deserve to have this title. With the quality of service, or the lack thereof, that you provide, you are a disgrace to this country. You are indeed Asia’s oldest airline, not because you are a pioneer but because your service is Jurassic and outmoded.

For you to understand this great dissatisfaction that I feel towards PAL, please allow me to share the events that lead to that unfortunate day of September 15.

Early September, after seeing an advertisement on your promo rate, I logged on to your website to book a ticket to Bohol for late November. I was surprised to see however that the advertised rates are not available online. I decided to call your telephone reservations hotline but was only able to connect after numerous redials and after being put on queue for the longest time.

After knowing that I can avail of a cheaper rate over the phone than online, I decided to make a reservation and was told to pay for it on or before Sept 15. Given that you have very limited sales offices, and only one (Cubao) near me, I was only able to visit on September 13, a Saturday.

But alas, to my surprise, it was close. It is close every Saturday afternoon and whole day of Sunday. On weekdays, you’re only open until 5pm! Why a sales office with limited locations would close on weekends I beyond me. Cebu Pacific is open until 9 or 10 pm, 7 days a week!

But of course, what can I do? I have to miss work on Monday just to pay for this ticket. So I went back Monday lunch and arrived at a place with hundreds of angry people! I was given a number 1186, and the number was still in 900! At 3PM or 3 hours after, the number is 999 – which means I’m not even halfway near. If this trend would continue, I would be accommodated past 6pm already, if I’m lucky!

But the waiting time is not the only problem. The attitudes of your employees are the worst that I’ve seen. If the attitude of your employees is even just half the quality of the service crew of Max’s Restaurant beside it, you would be worthy of being the country’s flag carrier. Come to think of it, the waiters have a more stressful job, but they can still afford to smile.

But your employees? Not only a smile was never to be seen, they are very rude! Your guards were shouting at the customers. Your agents were angry and irritated by questions from would be passengers. When I asked one agent a question, all she told me was “Sir, ask from the information.” So I went to the information, only to find out that no one is manning it because the ONLY person assigned was having lunch – and it was 1:30 in the afternoon!

So I went back, and ask another teller if I can pay by credit card over the phone. He said no, but another agent beside him said yes, so he told me “Sir, can you just call our hotline and ask from them?” Wow! Do they even have training? Not a single employee that day showed any courtesy to me or to any passengers that day. I even heard a foreign looking customer arguing with your agent with the customer shouting in despair at the end of the argument “I’m never going back to the Philippines!”

I was also wondering why after doing this everyday for so many years, you don’t even have a system to manage your ticket selling efficiently. You have electronic numbering but it is not being followed. Those who came later are being called first than the people who were there earlier. The guard explained this by saying that you could be called by your number or by your name. How is that possible, he can’t explain. There were also not enough seats for everyone. And you can’t leave even to eat because once they passed you, you have to get a new number. No one would give you an estimate so you really have to wait.

Now, please tell me Mr. Bautista, is this the kind of service that you can be proud of? You really think you deserve the title of the country’s flag carrier? You had a press release before saying that you expect a rough time ahead because of high fuel prices. But I tell you this, you’re greatest challenge is how to win back customers who lost their trust. Because for now, I will never buy my airline ticket from your company. And I will ask my family, friends and anyone who will listen to do the same until you have changed.

Without us, you have no business. So why don’t you give back a bit of what you’ve earned? Invest on a better system (online and on site sales offices), train your people on proper customer service, and make them appreciate their job. A piece of advice, let them eat at Max’s beside your Cubao branch and maybe they can learn a thing or two on customer service.

We don’t want to be pampered, we just need to be RESPECTED! We need to be treated like human beings every time we transact business with you. Is that too much to ask for?

Froilan Grate

I've been hurt for so many times, and yet I hate no one. I initially thought I am not capable of hating anyone. Be angry yes, often in fact. But hate? No way!

We might fight today, but next week, I won't even remember what we fought about.

That is until there is GMA. You have to give it to her. Even the most Christian among us would find it hard not to see all the evil deeds that she has done. From stealing our votes, corrupting our bishops, buying our governors and mayors, killing our journalists and those in the opposition, desecrating our constitution, selling our land to the Japanese (JPEPA), stealing from public funds (duh, as if this has to be mentioned), abusing our very basic human rights, to telling us that she is the best person to lead this country! The list is endless. And these are the general ones. Of course, we have the macapagal boulevard, NAIA 3, north rail, ZTE, etc!

How the other 80 million great Filipinos were not insulted when she said that she is the beast, the best I mean, person to lead this country is beyond me. I wanted to puke when I heard it!

I was initially sorry that I wasn't able to join EDSA 2 (because I was in the province) but now I am just glad I wasn't part of those who put her in power. Of course, I'm not blaming those who went to EDSA 2. I'm sure they all had good intentions, except probably for GMA and her cronies.

Who could have known that the Vice President that was so silent until it was sure that Erap will be ousted did make her stand and offer herself as an alternative. The nerve!

At least, Erap was elected. In a democracy, you deserve the leaders that you elect. But in GMA's case, she rigged the elections and stole the vote (Hello, Garci? I am sorry...), we do not deserve anything that she could give us.

She is not my president. And God will understand me for hating GMA with all that I am. Anyway, I have no desire of killing her. That would be too nice and easy. Yes, she doesn't deserve the death penalty - she's far too worst than that.

What could be worst than living until you're 80, inside a solitary cell, with 80 million Filipinos hating you?

You tell me.


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