Photos by: Ricky Alejo
WE CAP the Womens Month celebration in March 2019 with the story of four ladies at the forefront of Iloilos first international hotel brand Courtyard by Marriott.
General Manager Cleofe Albiso, Director of Operations Maia Israel, Director of Sales Joy Alonte and Human Resources Manager Frances Carmen Siongco come from all walks of life and experiences. But there is a common thread that binds them within the hospitality industry and their personal lives love, commitment, and leadership.
Together, they ensure the smooth operations of Courtyard by Marriott while serving as anchors and guides for each other.
OPEN AND COMPASSIONATE
Ms. Albiso already made a mark in the hotel industry as the first Filipino general manager of Marriott International.
As the head honcho of a chain that demands focus on services while at the same time being attentive to people, one will surely picture out a toughie.
Indeed, she is straightforward and does not mince words, but its not just a matter of putting on a lady boss face. Surprisingly, her mantra is openness to show and even elicit excellence and compassion as well from her co-workers.
I always want to reach out. It comes naturally. I want to know why they are here. And then comes the mentorship part where we remind people of the reason why they work hard. Its hard work but there is no job that does not require hard work and commitment, Ms. Albiso says.
While her work as captain of the ship could be taxing physically, emotionally and mentally, she always reminds herself of her reason for being her family.
As a mom of four, she wants to give them the biggest shots and opportunities in life so that they can also pay things forward.
It is the same message that she sends to Courtyard associates to work for and make their families proud.
We all work hard to provide for our family. We want to give them the best chances in life and motivate them to fulfil their dreams. And by doing so, they will also be motivated to do the same with their own lives and the people they will work with, she adds.
Mss. Israel, Alonte, and Siongco could barely hold their tears as they recounted how Ms. Albiso pushed them to their full potentials while at the same time be a friend and even a sister as well.
Ms. Alonte already made up her mind to settle in Cebu for good until Ms. Albiso offered her the sales portfolio in Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo. While they have been together in Marriott Cebu for years, she was apprehensive to move to Iloilo City.
Seeing her potentials even in Cebu, Ms. Albiso was able to convince her to give Iloilo a try.
Because of her motivation, I decided to move here and brought along my family and even my dog, Ms. Alonte says in jest.
Just like her boss who did not see herself becoming general manager of a Marriott brand, Ms. Alonte says she did not expect to take over her boss former office back in Cebu.
But GM has a way to nurture and make you grow. She wants you to learn what you can show to your family and associates. I was scared at first, but GM has always been there for me all the way, she added.
GOOD BOSS, BETTER FRIEND
Ms. Siongco is also a relocatee as she had to move from her comfort zone in Metro Manila to Iloilo as Employee No. 2 of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo.
Ms. Siongco reveals her personal connection to GM Albiso, like caring for their moms and moving to a new home and workplace.
She confesses to being lost in her early days in Iloilo but thanks to their boss, she was able to cope with the new culture she had to deal with.
GM was the one who guided me amid that lost feeling. Its still a roller coaster ride as I have a lot to learn. But Im lucky to have her as a mentor and as GM. She actually does not only take the role of GM because knows when to haplos and listen to people. It comes out naturally from her. She wants you to learn and helps if you need to be directed or redirected, she added.
Ms. Siongco is also thankful to Marriott International and GM Albiso for giving her the chance to work in another setting.
Its not easy for a 55-year-old to learn from someone younger but it has been a joyful experience for me, she says, while revealing that she still keeps an inspiring note from GM Albiso.
Ms. Israel admits she was never a people person until she landed in one of the toughest aspects of running a hotel operations.
Her portfolio runs the whole gamut of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo from the food, to the rooms, front office, and even security.
I was more on reservations over the phone, not the guest facing type. I was content with office management did not expect to move to entire operations, she says.
Her vision and mindset changed when she sat for an interview with Ms. Albiso.
I am lucky to have someone I can open up to, with the same mindset and situation, and same level of understanding. During the face-to-face interview, I really hoped that I will get the job because GM is very refreshing. This is something that never happened to me, Ms. Israel says.
She is no stranger to Iloilo as her family married into Ilonggos, thats why she is very familiar with the culture. And that sure provided an advantage for her work in Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo.
With the hospitality sector in Iloilo still in its emergent stage what with the entry of big names like Courtyard by Marriott, the team of Mss. Albiso, Israel, Alonte and Siongco face the daunting task of keeping up with the brands reputation and satisfying guests of varied expectations and tastes.
Thanks to the empowering and people centered management style of Marriott International, Ilonggo associates of the hotel are now among the top awardees of the company.
Their unique way of training the associates not just in their respective areas but even to other aspects of their operations empowers every worker who dreams of a better life for their families.
Ms. Albiso says her stint in Iloilo is always full of surprises, for which she is grateful to the Divine Providence.
I am surprised by the people whose lives we touch. Doing good, going beyond thinking of yourself, molding others, and doing things for a bigger and higher purpose lightens the burden. When you know the people and their story, you realize that youre touching a lot of lives, she says.
Ms. Israel says there is always good in people that must be honed to its fullest potential. She also advises women not to be too conscious with biases but instead focus on their dreams and achieve them.
Indeed, great things come in small packages, especially inspiration, according to Miss Siongco.
Draw inspiration and passion even in small things. Inspire people amid all the hurdles, she adds.
For Ms. Alonte, her experience in Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo taught her to dream big.
Dont be afraid to dream big. Dont be scared. Fear of reaching our goals is one hurdle that we must overcome, she adds.
Being with Marriott International is more than just work, GM Albiso says, because the company makes it a point to hone and grow the associates.
The company brings out the best in us. The company always shows us that there is a higher position for us here and we are testaments to that. Being a GM was never in my mind but the company showed that there are a lot of things we can get and achieve if we have the passion and commitment. Thats biggest surprise Marriott offers self discovery, she adds.
Empowerment is more than just individual effort. It takes people to build a community and the movement to give women better and equal opportunities is one example.
In the case of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo, GM Albiso and her team exemplify the best way forward to empowerment grit, determination, unity, and compassion. (FAA)