Thursday, November 12, 2009

How it all began

This first post is a lengthy one.

This is the first time that I'm writing about my dream of becoming a flight attendant. It was only late last year that I started to look for resources online on how to become one. I found out that there are hundreds, even thousands, of Filipinas like me who are also dreaming of becoming one.

Who doesn't want to get paid while touring the world at the same time? However, there is more to free trips and glamour in becoming a flight attendant, also known as cabin crew for most airlines nowadays. I've always thought that it's a glamorous job but while reading blogs, articles and forums about being an air stewardess, I found out that a cabin crew's main responsibility is ensuring the safety of the passengers aboard the plane. It is more than serving drinks and food; it is making sure that those on-board are comfortable through the whole flight.

Armed with this new knowledge and the drive to become a cabin crew, I tried my luck December 2008 with Cebu Pacific, a domestic airline here in the Philippines. I was confident that I'll get in since I know I have the physical attributes they are looking for, the charm and the personality. However, I was a little bit apprehensive since I have this scar in my right leg below the knee that I got last 2007 due to a motorcycle accident. I bought some Sally Hansen leg spray and it did a pretty good job in concealing the scar.

My second dilemma is that I don't know how to doll myself up. Although I know how mascara, eyeliner, blush and an eye shadow work, I don't how to put them on. I decided to visit a near salon instead to have myself made-up during the recruitment day of Cebu Pacific last December 2008.

As far as I can remember, I came early in the hotel where the airline was supposed to have their recruitment process done. When I arrived, there were only 5 of us waiting for the recruiters to start.

I was so nervous but tried very hard not to show it. Other cabin crew aspirants started coming in and there were already around thirty of us in the room. The recruiter started calling our names one by one. When it was my turn, I can tell that she was physically scrutinizing me from head to foot. She then took my height and instructed me to show my elbows and teeth to her. She asked me some common HR questions like; why do you want to work for Cebu pacific, why flight attendant and where do you see yourself in five years.

She scribbled some notes in her paper and told me that I'm not qualified for the second stage of the recruitment process. She told me that I have this scar in my leg ( so she did noticed it) and there is something wrong with my teeth ( I have been confident of my teeth because they are naturally aligned and I don't know what she was talking about).

I smiled and said thanks. I went home with a heavy heart but still determined to try again since I have read a number cabin crew stories where they got the job after failing a twice, thrice and sometimes, five times.

After a couple of weeks, I decided to have my scar checked by a dermatologist. He prescribed some topical medications in order for the scar to look lighter.

February 2009. Cebu Pacific is coming over to Cebu for another round of assessment. The scar is now a little bit lighter but I was still having second thoughts if I'd show up and apply again. My drive to really work as a cabin crew propelled me to apply again for the second time. When I arrived in the hotel, there are already around 60 aspirants waiting for their turn for the initial assessment.

When it was my turn, Miss Faye (not the recruiter during my first assessment) physically scrutinized me again. She made me turn around, walk a little and checked my skin, elbows and teeth. She told me that I was perfect for the job except for this very minimal and unnoticeable scar in my forehead. It's the only blemish I have in my face and she still noticed it! So, I'm not qualified again to go through the second stage. I went home very frustrated. Adding to my frustration is when I knew that a friend's friend got in for Cebu Pacific recently as a cabin crew.

March 2009. Exactly a month after, I decided to give Cebu Pacific another try. They were scheduled to recruit FAs in Dumaguete. I bought a ferry ticket for myself and woke up early to get ready for my long trip to Dumaguete. Except for my boyfriend, no one knows I’m going to Dumaguete to pursue my dreams of becoming an FA. After around 2 hours of sea trip, I finally reached Dumaguete and the first thing I did was to look for a salon where I can pay for makeup services.

After spotting a salon and changing clothes, I went to Silliman University where the recruitment process was held. When I got there, not a soul was waiting for their turn to be called. It was around 1PM. I saw Miss Faye again and the other gay recruiter that I recognized during their Cebu assessment. They saw me get inside the room. The gay recruiter looked at Miss Faye and whispered something to her. I can’t figure out what he was telling her but it was something positive. It seems like he’s telling Miss Faye to let me passed the initial screening and proceed to the next stage.

But I saw Miss Faye shaking her head. She then approached and told me that she remembered me in the Cebu City assessment last month. According to her, I’m not qualified to reapply yet since it was just last month that I applied. She also mentioned again my forehead scar. It wasn’t noticeable this time but she mentioned it again. That was the last blow for me. I went out of the room and cried in the washroom.

That was it. I sat for a while in the University’s lobby. I met a new friend; she was applying for another job since there was a job fair held that day. We exchanged numbers and off I went back to the pier. I went home to Cebu with a heavy heart.

July 2009. I saw an ad in the local paper that PAL is hiring flight attendants here in Cebu. I was overjoyed since it’s another opportunity for me to pursue my dream. I went there and was happy since I passed the initial screening. They checked my skin, height, weight, teeth and checked my visual acuity. They also asked me a couple of questions. The one who interviewed told me that their HR team from Manila is coming over a week after to facilitate the 2nd stage of screening. I was happy since it was my first time to pass an initial assessment for a cabin crew position.

After a week, I went back and saw some familiar faces that were also aspirants during the previous Cebu Pacific assessments. I was in the afternoon batch and there were rumors circulating in the group that no one in the morning batch passed the 2nd stage. We were called in groups of five and were instructed to talk in front of the group about ourselves. We were then made to turn around. They checked our elbows, skin and teeth. A paper was then given. The paper was supposed to tell you if you were successful and if you were legible to proceed to the final interview. When I opened the paper to read it, it stated something like this; thank you for your interest in applying but it seems like you don’t pass our standards. Another blow to my ego.

I met somebody during the assessment and we exchanged numbers. She asked me if I made it because she thought I got in and I was one of her bets among the group. I told her I didn’t and a few days later, she texted me again that only one got in among the Cebu aspirants. A male aspirant. I was wondering what PAL was looking for and they came all the way here in Cebu only to hire one male flight attendant.

October 2009. I was really excited when I knew that Qatar Airways is coming over to Cebu for an Open Day assessment. I’ve always wanted to apply for International airlines like Qatar and Emirates but their assessment screenings are done only in Manila (IPAMS). I knew 3 Cebuana friends who went all the way to Manila for assessment in IPAMS and they’re now with Emirates and Qatar. They risked and they got in! I’ve always wanted to go as well to Manila but my fears of not making it reigned. I could not risk spending for the airfares and some other expenses without the assurance that I’ll get in. My confidence is too low because of my failed attempts with PAL and Cebu Pacific. Besides, if I go to Manila, I’m not really familiar with the place and I don’t know where to go for some makeup.

So when I knew about the Qatar screening in Cebu, I was very grateful and excited at the same time. It was a Sunday and I really prayed that I’ll make it this time around. I even completed the 7-day novena to St Therese. I asked for guidance and confidence for the Open day.

When I arrived in the venue (Marriott Hotel), there were already around less than a hundred aspirants and there were two recruiters. I was directed to sit down in the Caucasian Recruiter side. The other recruiter I found out was Filipino-Canadian. I met again some aspirants that I met during the PAL assessment. One even told me that she didn’t expect to see me there since she thought I already passed the PAL screening. I’m not sure if she was telling the truth or not but it was really an ego-booster for me.

When it was my turn to hand over my resume, the recruiter asked me some questions and that was it. It didn’t even last a minute. I went home and prayed for their call for the second assessment the next day. 6pm. 10 pm. 12 midnight. No call came. I failed again. I played back the scenes again and again in my head. I asked myself which part I screwed up. Maybe because I didn’t wear some pearl earrings. Maybe because I wasn’t that interactive. Maybe because I didn’t smile. Maybe it was my posture. Maybe because. Maybe.

The year is about to end and after 4 failed attempts this year and 1 last year, the drive to pursue my dream is still here. But what should I do with this drive when I don’t even know what’s wrong with me?

There’s another Open day for Qatar Airways this coming 21st of November and assessment for Emirates is also going on in IPAMS Manila. A part of me wants to go but there’s another voice that tells me to exercise some patience and wait for them to go back here in Cebu City.

Should I risk now? What if I’m wrong about my perception that I’m fit to become a flight attendant? I’m still 23 but there are a lot of aspirants out there younger than me and my chances of making it is now lesser as time slips by.

Are my dreams not God’s plans for me? Or should I not stop dreaming?