Though a long road ahead, the LGBTQ community’s rights continue to progress one step at a time. This time, it comes in the form of a major Philippine airline hiring the country’s first transwoman flight attendants: Jess Labares and Mikee Vitug.
Jess, a reigning beauty queen and now officially a Cebu Pacific cabin crew, posted the milestone on her Facebook page after regaling her 57 days of training with the airline. Jess writes, “Now that I’m officially a cabin crew, I can now say I made it. I surpassed the most difficult training I ever had. This job has always been glamorous to look at, but they don’t know the battle that we’ve fought. It’s not all about looking pretty, it’s been all about your comfort and your safety.”
According to the 24-year-old, the achievement was less a childhood dream than it was a challenge to step out of her comfort zone and discover more of her capabilities. “As a trans woman, [I am] the first post op transgender woman flight attendant in the Philippines. A history has been made. I will forever cherish this opportunity given by Cebu Pacific. I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to Cebgo and Cebu Pacific for their acceptance. In behalf of the LGBTQ community, thank you,” Jess continues. “This means that we are now slowly accepting and respecting individuality, uniqueness, and expression. It is another milestone in the country that shows that Cebu Pacific is diverse and multicultural company."
In light of Jess’ history-making hiring, she hopes that her achievement will serve as an inspiration to LGBTQ youth everywhere to pursue their passions. Her advice? “Perseverance, positivity, determination, and loving what you are doing [make] the perfect formula to achieving your goal, and will definitely lead [your] way to success and happiness. Now I can finally say, this is by far the greatest crown I have ever achieved.”
Mikee, another licensed pharmacist, also celebrated the news with a similar Facebook post where she recounted rising above the difficult two-month training process. She also admitted that her application came as a random idea at first, doubting her chances at getting the job since a Philippine airline hiring a trans flight attendant had remained unheard of, up until her partner gave her the encouragement she needed.
"I feel honored and humbled that I am one of the first transwoman cabin crew dito sa Philippines. This is something new and I hope it will spark a change sa kung paano ang pag tingin ng mga tao sa mga transwoman na hindi kami ibox or istereotype kasi tao din naman kami, capable din kami, normal lang din kami na tao." Mikee writes. "I am grateful na binigyan ako and Miss Jess Labares ng rare opportunity ng Cebu Pacific CebGo na iprove ang sarili namin na kaya namin maging cabin crew."
Much like Jess, near the end of her post, Mikee leaves an encouraging message for the LGBTQ community: "To those people who are afraid of going out of their comfort zone, to those people who want to make a change but keep on holding themselves back because of prejudice, judgement and discrimination, just listen to your heart and make it happen because nothing is impossible."