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“I Interact with Different Cultures”

Avegail Sison is a cabin crew member of Philippine Airlines, the country’s national flag carrier. She concedes that “God is a priority” in her life, and therefore, is able to reconcile a demanding work with family life and church service in a unique manner.

Please tell us more about yourself
I am an Economics graduate of Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 1992 and initially worked in a bank for a year. My passion has always been to travel and thought of applying as a cabin crew.

How did your career as a flight stewardess begin?  
In 1994, I took the courage and applied to Philippine Airlines, the flag carrier of the country. Much to my surprise, taking in account the many applicants, I was considered and was accepted. And so it began.

What has been your experience so far?
Being a cabin crew, we are there to ensure the safety and comfort of our passengers. So it entails that we undergo grueling training, understanding the insides of a plane, knowing where the emergency equipment is stored and operating them. We need to be sure of practically everything that pertains to safety—from putting out fires and giving first aid to evacuating an entire plane in record time. During training one learns to act in extreme situations, become flexible in finding a solution to the many sudden problems and fix them as quickly as possible. One has to be a little bit of everything—a good and observant communicator and leader who remains calm under fire but also has to be a good team player. It is a very unique job.

What are the challenges you face as a cabin crew?
One is challenged every flight to face different scenarios. This ranges from empathizing with first time travelers to addressing a passenger’s non-compliance of rules to pacifying a confrontational traveler. Collectively displaying a calm demeanor should always come as naturally as possible. From my 25 years of flying, I can honestly say that by creating a positive environment and always helping out whenever possible with a ready smile and utmost patience, one can deliver passenger satisfaction.

How can you describe the everyday life and work of an air hostess? 
I think this is best described by Ryan Estis, a renowned keynote speaker when he said, “When you decide to show up consistently as the best version of who you are, it gives you your best opportunity to meet people where they are because you’ll never know when someone needs you to be your best.” One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is that I get to interact with different cultures. Thus, I perceive it as a way for me to serve as a little ambassadress of my country in my own little way. After all, I fly with our national flag carrier and every time first time tourists would enter our plane, I get the chance to deliver a heartwarming Filipino travel experience with them.

How do you reconcile work, family and church?
Having a busy schedule does not excuse us from getting involved in church activities. From the start of our marriage, Ricky Sison, my husband, and I have been active members of our respective parishes. We believe that making time for God is a priority— that giving ourselves to God is also our spiritual act of worship. His endless blessings are always upon our family and we try our best to incorporate it in our day to day life. 

Can you please elaborate how you got involved in church activities despite having a full time job?
Early on we became members of Bukas Loob Sa Diyos (Open in Spirit to God), which is a Catholic Charismatic Covenant Community. It is a family encounter group which we feel made our three kids closer and more open to us. In 2014 we were invited by our parish priest of Holy Family Church, Kamias (Cubao) to join the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators. I had mixed feelings then for I knew that a non-regular schedule like mine can be a challenge. Fortunately, when I mentioned this to the core team of our ministry they were considerate in permitting me to still be a member and so it goes. I would fill in for the times a fellow Ministry of Lectors and Commentators will become unavailable alongside getting a regular schedule that fits in my printed flight schedule each month. 

How do you integrate your Christian faith in your life and work?
I believe that promoting God’s work can be done anytime and anywhere for as long as one wills it. I am fortunate to have found a work that reconciles serving people and my God. By being of service to my passengers, observing patience, promoting goodwill not only to them but also my colleagues or any person I come in contact with I am allowing myself to participate in the work of God. Being a member of Ministry of Lectors and Commentators is a privilege and joy that every time we proclaim the living Word of God with sincerity and reverence we pray that it can inspire and nourish those who listen. But it is also a responsibility to challenge us to allow the Good News to change our hearts in order to develop a deep care in how the Lord can use us to meet the needs of others. We are also happy that we were able to convince our two sons (Ryan Christopher and Sean Matthew) to join in the same ministry. Hopefully, our only daughter Avery Christine will also follow her two brothers.

What is your message to young people who wish to work as cabin crew?
I hope the young people can find inspiration in what Steve Jobs has to say: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do!” But the most important thing to consider is to always put their faith in God. Because no matter what adversities come their way, they will have the strength to go on knowing God is always in control. 

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