Empowering People with a Heart that is Tested through Time

Written by Charmaine Joy Rama-De Guzman

My ninth year in the tourism and hospitality industry has taught me so many lessons in my career. At some point in my life, I enjoy my daily routine and the sense of stability but the challenging circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has made me better understand the true message of RESILIENCE and RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP.

For the past 11 months, COVID 19 has unbelievably brought so many challenges and pains. It had a vast reach in transforming human life at all levels. The pandemic gave a big blow to our tourism industry and it is one of the most vulnerable sectors.

CJ’s outer playground for the past 9 years in the hospitality industry, a usual view at Camp John Hay, Baguio City.

The business suddenly halted. It was swift and we were totally unprepared. As the head of my team, I have been very anxious as to what would be the future of our industry. I have to think of my teammates who depend on their salary. We have all felt the pandemic’s impact during the lockdown and, sadly, it has triggered an alarming economic downturn and this affected the financial aspect of almost all businesses.

Sadly, the beautiful picture we imagined in 2020 was dramatically altered with the onset of the pandemic. Witnessing people lose their job and livelihood, crushed and broke many hearts.

The vibrant Le Monet Hotel CJ manages was replaced by a very few guests, but remained intact to still give the best hospitality experience to them.

Like the rest of the world, everything’s changed and we were all trapped and, sadly, unequipped. Nobody knows how to deal with this test of time, but in good faith we learned to adapt and accept that this world is no heaven.

Up to this day, this pandemic still brings disruption and hardship in almost every aspect of our lives, but it has also forced to reflect on the ethics of our everyday living, especially the ways we treat each other as we continue to go about our daily survival.

I am not going to deny the fact that my faith and spirit were shaken and tested. There were times when I was on the brink of giving up and had so much self-doubts but at the end of the day with the support of my team, I decided to go with the flow and let God play the music of my life – a life that is destined to lead.

It wasn’t an easy dance tune though , there were complicated steps and at times I lost my rhythm and lost counts, but as a General Manager, it was a matter of ATTITUDE.

One of the many offerings of Le Monet Hotel initiated by CJ.

I have to be the source of inspiration to my team and establish a positive disposition while keep praying for God’s mercy and guidance. There were questions in my head such as what to do next? How would I restart? Will we be paralyzed for good and do nothing? But I told myself, “No. I will not lose hope and let negativity drag me down.

So, on that same day when I decided to “fight and move on”, I researched and have reviewed all safety protocols issued by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), the Departments of Tourism and Health and the Local Government Unit.

Le Monet Hotel’s team at the hotel lobby in the new normal with CJ at the center.

I decided to seek help from our head office’s training department and helped devise training programs on safety protocols: We rolled out safety training, we refined our systems and procedures, we intensified our sanitation and disinfection processes, we have done renovation of our facility to adjust to the new requirements or the new normal, we kept ourselves busy, we prepared for the days where we will be able to welcome and host our valued guests safely and responsibly once again ,and, finally, we confidently applied for our Permit to Operate from the DOT.

Part of the new normal of Le Monet dining experience includes an envelope for the face masks of the diners.
CJ was tested by the pandemic but never gave up to still attain for the best.

The road we are taking is still a downer and full of uncertainties. We are still fighting an invisible enemy and that makes the battle disadvantageous to everyone. But, again, instead of feeling down, we have to start, to reopen, to save more jobs, to give hope to our employees, to do things right and responsibly, to focus on the things that we can control, to safely mobilize the team and to do things to overcome given challenges and to continuously prepare for the coming days.

Indeed it still is a challenging chapter for all of us but we have to learn to stay focused, to stick to our goal-driven work ethic, to follow government agencies’ safety guidelines and to be RESILIENT at all cost, because right now we do not have a choice but to soldier on and help combat this pandemic.

Today, I am sharing this in celebration of my ninth year anniversary with the industry that is, unfortunately, for now trying to make ends meet.

CJ believes that people exist with a purpose.

With head high, someday I will be sharing all these experiences with much zest, passion and confidence just like our lolos and lolas sharing their WAR STORIES when we were young over and over again (how can I forget that).

Someday, I will be very proud to be one of the wordsmiths of COVID 19 pandemic, I believe that the blueprint we are creating now will be the survival guide of our future generations. For the time being, my goal is clear: whatever the future holds with the grace of God, I am confident that I will be able to etch my name in one of those significant pages.

For now, I will wait patiently for better days to come, wait for the vaccine, wash my hands, wear my face mask and face shield.

CJ Rama-De Guzman devotes herself empowering her people and leading with a heart.

Charmaine Joy Rama-De Guzman, fondly known to be “CJ” by her friends and colleagues, poised herself being an empowered General Manager of Le Monet Hotel. She is an advocate of life, enjoying the positivity of what relationships and collaborations can offer. CJ devotes herself as the Vice President-Hotels of HRAB (Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio) and trainer of various institutions including TESDA, Department of Tourism and University of Baguio in select programs. A communication expert by profession, she started her career with ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation as a talent and a DJ. She has been invited to several hospitality and customer-service based workshops in the country and graciously represented the Philippines in the global map as resource speaker in Germany, United States of America, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Published by lifeofatourguide

Jopet is a tree hugger, beach bummer & island kisser. He promotes the Philippines and Asia as a licensed tourist guide and tourism trainer. Currently, he is one of World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations National Trainers and Department of Tourism Philippines accredited trainer and resource speaker. He is also the pioneer of live virtual tour guiding in the Philippines and the founder of V Guides Philippines. Share your travel and tourism experiences with Jopet! Send him an email at inquiry@lifeofatourguide.com or jamesgalvez@lifeofatourguide.com.

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