Two new employees of the low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific have gone viral on social media after becoming what are believed to be the first two transgender flight attendants in the Philippines.
Mikee Vitug, a former pharmacist, announced her graduation from Cebu Pacific’s training program on Tuesday on her Facebook account. Vitug said she was “honored and humbled” to be one of the first two transgender cabin crew members in the country, a distinction she shares with Jess Labares, her classmate in Cebu Pacific’s training program.
She wrote in her post, which has been shared almost 1,900 times, “At first, applying as a flight attendant was just a random idea. I know it’s impossible for a trans woman from the Philippines to become a flight attendant. From what I know, there has never been a Filipina trans woman who became a cabin crew here in the Philippines.”
“But I was encouraged by my partner to try and apply and he said, ‘Stop resisting because there’s no harm in trying.'”
Vitug, 26, was pleasantly surprised when she passed the interviews, which opened the door to a rigorous training course that tested her resolve and intellect.
“When the training started, I didn’t expect it to be so tough. It was two months and every day we had an exam where the passing grade was 90 percent to 95 percent. I really had to exert effort and stay late to memorize two thick manuals in verbatim.”
“And it didn’t end there. There was also a survival swimming class where I was so scared when they told me to jump in a 10-feet deep swimming pool without a life vest, but I survived, hehe,” Vitug said.
In a message to Coconuts Manila, Vitug said that wasn’t even the toughest part of the training.
“It was this session called Emergency Procedures where you will apply everything you’ve learned from ground training [inside the plane]. You should have memorized all procedures and you will really shout as loud as you can the commands and instructions. This is the part where you can get wounds and scratches because you really have to move fast to check and evaluate all passengers. You will have to crawl inside the cabin if necessary especially when there’s fire and smoke,” she said.
Vitug said that she took away several lessons from the whole experience.
“I learned that nothing is impossible if you’re determined and you work hard for whatever you want to achieve. If you do this, you’ll definitely make it. Fear, anxiety, and self-doubt will definitely hinder you from achieving your goal, so stop resisting, and just take a leap of faith,” she said.
When she passed the rigorous training, Vitug said her family was delighted for her.
“They were very happy and excited as well. They were so proud even during the time I passed the initial screening and interview. They were so supportive of me and now that I have graduated they are overwhelmed because they didn’t expect that it will leave a huge impact on people,” she said.
Vitug also offered a few words of advice for other trans women who wish to follow in her footsteps.
“Stay strong because that’s our only choice to survive, surround your self with positivity and self-encouragement. As much as possible, stay in school and finish your studies. Focus on making yourself better every day and do not be afraid to take risks or to pursue whatever profession or career you want — even if other people think it is impossible for us just because of who and what we truly are. Don’t listen to them, listen to your heart and soul!” she said.
Have you heard of similar inspiring stories? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.
This article, Ready for Takeoff: Philippines’ first transgender flight attendants inspire netizens, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!