THEY come from different places: Pearl Lorraine A. Yang from Carmen, Cebu; Ronalaine Fernandez-Sato from Lanao del Sur and Karen M. Ello from Bohol. Pearl is a registered nurse, a graduate of St. Paul College, Dumaguete; Rona is a development communication graduate major in science communication and community broadcasting from UP Los Baños and Karen is a BS Psychology graduate from Holy Name University, Bohol.
Through different paths, they have converged in one workplace: Be Resorts. Karen is the assistant communications manager, based in Be Grand Resort in Panglao, Bohol while Rona is area communications manager based in Be Resort Mactan. Pearl is general manager of Be Grand.
The youngest in the group is Karen who partly grew up in the United States because her mother, a nurse, worked there. College in the U.S., she said, is very expensive. She had to work full-time to finance her studies. That proved to be too taxing and so she decided to come back home to finish her studies. After graduation, she applied for a job with the resort and got hired as executive assistant to the general manager. She then became communications officer and is now assistant communications officer of Be Resorts, based in Be Grand.
Rona’s first job was as call center agent in Manila. She came to Cebu on an aunt’s invitation and applied for a job here and became events coordinator for ASAP Advertising Services and Promotions. But since she promised to finance her younger brother’s schooling, she moved to the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry where from agent she became team supervisor. In 2010, when she got married, she quit her job. After six months, she decided to go back to work, this time with Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino’s sales team. It was a difficult work transition because in the BPO industry, she did not meet people; however; with sales, she met clients and interacted with them. After three years, she became head trainer for the rooms division handling housekeeping and front office. Then she moved to the Island Group of Companies to head customer service which handled the Island Academy.
“We were to make sure that guests would delight in our services in whatever way we could. I really felt I was made for the hospitality industry so when I got an offer from Alegre Beach Resort, I grabbed the opportunity. But sadly, the property closed for renovation. It really broke my heart. I had a friend in the Maldives, and I went there and found work there. That’s where I got reconnected with my Alegre mentor, Merril Yu, who offered me a job with Be Resorts and since ‘there’s no better place than home,’ I resigned from my job in the Maldives to work for Be,” Rona said.
Pearl, a nurse, is now general manager of Be Grand Resort. Her rise from nurse to resort GM shows her capacity to learn as well as to take any job that came her way. She had worked as a hospital nurse but after three years, her mom told her to stop because she had “compassion fatigue.” She applied for work in Hilton Cebu Resort and was hired as hotel nurse. There, the training manager wanted her to be in training. Not knowing the job, she refused but the training manager was insistent.
“So, I grabbed the opportunity and read all the manuals of the property. From there I was moved to food and beverage manager, to front office manager, to events manager. Then, I became rooms division manager. When the resort changed hands, I became executive secretary to the Movenpick general manager from whom I learned to be organized. When Movenpick closed for renovation, I moved to Quest as a head nurse. I was also in the front office and learned about front office operations. After six months there, the human resources manager asked me to handle that resort’s training. Since I had made the training manual for the food and beverage, and the housekeeping department, when the food and beverage manager resigned, I was asked to be F&B manager. I moved to Be Grand Resort as villa manager. It was still under construction, so I was assigned to sales and marketing, to putting up standards with the consultant (Merril Yu). When the front office manager resigned, I handled that; when the housekeeping manager resigned, I handled that as well so I was rooms division manager with housekeeping and front office; until I became GM last March,” Pearl said.
“I’ve had a colorful life but no love life,” she quipped. She is such a workaholic that it is management that makes sure she takes some days off.
Karen explains that she has to tell guests that though the resort fronts a beach, it is not a beach resort and the sea fronting it is a marine sanctuary. She recently became a certified SSI (Scuba School International) open water diver. This, she adds, is in preparation for when the resort owners formally get to “adopt” the sanctuary (negotiations are ongoing with the government agencies) and they will then start to transplant corals in the sea bed because the corals have been depleted to 27 percent and the sanctuary needs to bring it back to at least 70 percent to get the fishes back. She looks to the general manager and the front office on how to handle guests and hopes that, when the opportunity arises, she will be able to cope well with a guest problem.
When she joined Be Resorts, Rona recalls that “the resort in Mactan already had a name and its niche in the industry. It is Be Grand that was not so well known.” This is her main job, to make Be Grand widely known. This entails traveling especially for travel fairs, whether locally or abroad. When in the resort, she says her job is to make guests happy so they will come back. She adds that “We are multi-skilled. I can do sales, reservations, so if one person is not around we can take his place. The job takes a lot physically but it is the price to pay for working in the hospitality industry. I don’t sleep until I finish what I need to do for a guest’s needs today for there will always be another one to attend to. Our challenge is to be patient, as well as to keep healthy and fit.”
Pearl, the accidental GM, confesses that at heart she is still a nurse and occasionally shocks guests when she handles their health emergencies in lieu of the regular hotel nurse, like taking their blood pressure. As a GM she says, “It’s not the feeling of being a manager that you can make things happen because it is the team that works to make this enterprise successful. I am blessed that I have a young and aggressive team who work together to make the place better/best. The owners (the family of Belgian Honorary Consul Enrique Benedicto and wife Helena, with their son Honorary Consul of Romania Grand, as the company president) are very supportive too. They are there to guide you, to coach you, and we feel they are a second family who, when we err, say ‘It’s okay. You will learn.’ Every day is a learning experience. The aim of the consultant and the owners is my driving force to make things better.”
Pearl, Rona and Karen, each beautiful in her own way, have brought their talents, their varied experiences, their energies to their work in the Be Resorts. They are focused to make Be Resort and Be Grand Resort better known, to attract more tourists to the Be brand of hospitality. With their love and commitment to their jobs, they will surely succeed.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 19, 2017.
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