Boracay Island – 2019 Best Island in Asia

Philippines Best

Philippines premier tourist destination, Boracay Island was once again recognized by Conde Nast Traveler’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards. Conde Nast Traveler is a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine based in New York City. Boracay Island which was reopened last October 2018 from a 6-month rehabilitation, welcomes visitors again with its powdery white sand and pristine waters. Not only are we captivated by its beautiful nature but also the hospitality of the locals on the island. 

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Other Philippine tourist destinations that made it on the list are Cebu and Visayas Island placed second

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Sumilon Island, Cebu
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and Palawan came in fourth.

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Coron, Palawan
Photo Credits: Filipina Rapunzel Pampilo (Balikbayan)

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bag and BOOK NOW to Boracay Island.

3D2N Enchanting BORACAY – Price starts Php 3,726

What’s Included

  • Seat-In-Coach Round Trip Airport Transfer via Caticlan/ Kalibo Airport (APT-HTL-APT)
  • 2N / 3D Room Accommodation
  • Daily Breakfast
  • With Terminal and Environmental Fees

“Do not be a foreigner in your own land”

Source: ABS-CBN News

DIPOLOG / DAPITAN TWIN CITY TOUR

EXPLORE DIPOLOG PACKAGE (DAY TOUR)

PRICE STARTS AT Php 599 per person

Sites to Visit

  • Dipolog Holy Rosary Cathedral
  • Punta Corro / Holy Cross
  • Sungkilaw Falls
  • Cogon Eco – Park
  • Casa Bernedo Heritage Center
  • 3003 Steps (Linabo Peak)
  • Good Times Cafe

Get to know our Philippines National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal and visit Dapitan City.

  • St. James Parish Church
  • Relief Map of Mindanao by Dr. Jose Rizal
  • Dapitan City Old City Hall
  • Punto del Desembarko de Rizal
  • Rizal Shrine
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...and other adventure awaits you in Dipolog and Dapitan! Contact us for more details.

Learning Customer Service

Through My Experience

What is Customer Service?

As Wikipedia defines it, “Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees “who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest”.[ 

A customer service representative or associate or advisor or some would call them customer care officer is the person who renders customer service. Among their functions is to process a request, handle complaints and satisfy the customer’s needs. But nowadays, the function of a customer service representative evolves. Some companies do not only limit their function to after-sales transactions, but they are also carrying out the task of a SALES officer. They are the first point of contact with a company. The soldiers on the battlefield. 

customer service

My first job was as a Customer Care Officer (CCO). This opened my doors to the corporate world. When I applied, I did not know exactly what it does, but anyways, I was sure that they would train me. Back then, my job as a CCO takes and process after-sales transaction and handle customer complaints. Yes, complaints from IRATE customers. Truthfully, that was when I heard the word “IRATE”…and since then, I heard it almost every day! 

A few months after I was hired, I thought I knew my job that well…until one day, I handled a complaint (though not the first time). For the purposes of reference, let’s call him Mr. A. 

I joined the company when fraudulent activities were rampant. It was the worst but hope was there because the company transitioned its system to a new technology. We received several complaints in the office and Mr. A was one of them.  He was calm in airing out his complaint. Yes, CALM because unlike other customers, he had a toned-down voice. He was not mad. He did not make a scene just like other customers. However, he said the most hurtful words a new CCO can take. I felt it in my bones, so to speak. I felt insulted, embarrassed, incompetent and while we had lunch…I cried (oh, don’t feel sorry… I deserved it). 

What Went Wrong? 

  1. When Mr. A narrated his complaint, I did not give him my FULL ATTENTION. I was doing something else looking at the desktop. RUDE, I must say.
  2. My BODY GESTURES was neither responsive nor proactive. “I can still remember I was crossing my arms”. I have not shown my willingness to help him.
  3. NO URGENCY was given to his complaint. I just took it easy and NO IMPORTANCE at all. That was his 2nd visit. 
  4. NO ACTION to show any helpfulness from my end. Neither did I took notes nor probe his complaint. 
  5. Mr. A’s complaint was about the company product and its service. But he felt worse because of how I handled his transaction.

BANG! I just CREATED an IRATE CUSTOMER. I FAILED.  

What Could Have I Done? I should have acted F.A.S.T.!

Focused on providing undivided attention. I should have dropped everything else. This would have made Mr. A feel more important and valued as a customer. Customers are the lifeblood of every business. If there is no customer, there is no business. Hence, we need to take care of our customers. They, therefore, deserved our full attention. We are all customers. Even the person who holds the topmost position in the company is a customer. 

Acknowledged his problem. I should have got the facts, asked for more details. Showing body gestures like nodding, leaning forward and maintaining eye contact would mean that I’m listening. These are non-verbal communications that would create a great impact on how to handle complaints. This would imply that  I’m here to help him out.   

Smile. As the saying goes, “A smile can brighten the darkest day”. Your customer might be on his worst day. He might have problems at work, maybe stuck in bad traffic, perhaps he just argued with his wife or missed his flight or missed a very important call. Your frown is the least that he needs. 

Take action and offer a solution. Probe. By asking questions, I should have understood the cause of Mr. A’s complaint. Taking action would also mean escalating concerns when needed. Some concerns are beyond the control and approval parameters of a customer service representative. Hence, immediate escalation to the concern department must be done. And DO NOT FORGET to PROVIDE FEEDBACK. Be proactive in giving feedback. Don’t wait for the customer to visit you again. RESOLVED OR UNRESOLVED, PROVIDE FEEDBACK. Always provide options to your customers. By all means, RETAIN the customer.  Remember, retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.

Learnings…

As the famous American poet Maya Angelou said:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

and yes, that was 20 years ago! Up until now, I can still remember how I felt that day….and perhaps the feeling is mutual. Mr. A too will never forget how I made him feel: ignored, neglected, unimportant and whatever he may have felt. That incident motivated me to handle customers beyond expectations. It inspires me to learn more about customer handling, customer retention, handling rejections…I strived hard to offer the best experience my customer could have. The company I worked before, launched a customer service campaign, “Service Beyond Smile”, it’s providing customer service by exceeding customer expectations. I attended seminars and symposiums on customer service. I continually improved myself in this area. Seven years after that incident, I was promoted to handle bigger responsibility and higher accountability, I ensure to share this story to my staff and supervisors. If by any chance, I will meet Mr. A again, I will thank him for those painful words. I will thank him for his honesty and being straightforward in correcting me. I have learned my lessons early on. God made him an instrument on how to become better at my job. 

Now as an entrepreneur, I have practiced what I have learned in my corporate years. True enough, we still have a long way to go in improving our products and services, but we strive hard not to create Mr. A’s amongst our customers. 

Travel Services

How My US Visa Interview Went Well

…on first shot

USA…my dream destination…or maybe not only mine 🙂 But most of us somehow, likes to see what America looks like. How does it feel to be in the land of Milk and Honey? How does snow “taste” like? Does it taste and look like an ice from the freezer? How about winter? Is it really that cold? From someone who just travelled in Asian countries, it excites me to think that I would be flying for hours and hours before I reached my destination. I pictured myself doing selfies in “The Bean” in Chicago, the World Trade Center in New York and if luck is on my side…selfie at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. (that’s mind-setting, hehe)

BUT first, THE INTERVIEW. The interview, where most people would feel like having butterflies in their stomach, sweaty palms and an “almost heart attack state”.

At first, I had second thoughts to get a US Visa. The FEAR OF GETTING “DENIED” is the top most reason for not getting one. The cost makes it second. Aside from the US Visa Fee you need to set a budget for your flight to and from Manila, hotel accommodation and of course your food allowance. Not to mention the accent of the Consular Officer who will interview me. He might be too slang…and I would not clearly understand what s/he is asking me. How about the requirements? I knew someone who brought with her a lot of documents like land titles, stock certificates, bank statements and other proof of income from business and employment. It surely is a waste of time, money and effort if one gets DENIED. Right?

But for whatever reason, I logged in to the US Embassy website, applied for a visa online, paid the visa fee and scheduled an interview. Of course, since I had the liberty to choose for the schedule, I selected a schedule which is few months from the application date. That would give me time to gather the requirements, “of course the prerequisite”—my confidence and enough time to pray that I would ace the interview (so to speak).

THE PREPARATION (?)

Months went by and it’s time to fly to Manila for “THE INTERVIEW”. By the way, no one knew about ‘THE INTERVIEW”, except my husband, my friend in the US who was my contact person in the application form, and a friend (who was also with me for an interview). It was a choice not to tell anyone (not even my immediate family), for obvious reasons. Haha 📷 That was a busy month. Schedule was hectic with so many company meetings from work, family reunion, and a batch get-together. “THE INTERVIEW” slipped my mind..

My flight was a day before the interview…I made sure that in case of flight cancellation, I still have options to rebook to a later time. I boarded the plane, with ONLY A PIECE OF PAPER as supporting document, lot of SELF-CONFIDENCE, “BAHALA NA” attitude and this BIBLE verse that I kept in mind: “Mark 5:36 …“Do not fear, only believe.”

THE INTERVIEW

Finally, the day of the interview has come! Since my schedule was very early in the morning, I woke up at 4am, prayed 📷, took a bath, folded that piece of paper, my COE (Certificate of Employment) in 4 folds, slipped it inside my passport and tucked it in my pocket.. Since our hotel was near the Embassy, we just walked going there at 6am…and oh I also had the documents that I printed out from the online application. I suggest to leave your mobile phones or any gadgets, these are not allowed inside the Embassy. Otherwise, you will pay people outside (selling ball pens etc) to hold it for you while you are inside. They charged P500 or more.

Someone told me that the moment you entered the embassy you should keep your calm, smile often and look confident. There are CCTVs everywhere and the officers or someone from the embassy might just be observing you. But OMG! How can I look confident when even the last person in line can hear my heartbeat 📷📷📷. And the people who were before and after me? They brought A LOT of supporting documents. Anyways, I went through the PRE-SCREENING area, where the embassy personnel requested for my passport and 2 x 2 picture. I was then directed to another station for FINGERPRINT SCANNING. Then I waited for “the INTERVIEW”…trying my very best to stay calm. What’s on my mind? “THY WILL BE DONE LORD”. At last, my number was randomly picked and showed in the overhead flat screen monitor. I walked to the booth where my number was called and hand over my passport to the consular officer.

The Consular Officer asked me these questions:

What’s the purpose of your travel?

How long will you be staying in the US?

Have you been to other Asian Country?

What’s your job in the Philippines and how long?

I answered these questions as exactly as how I answered them in the online application and the Consular Officer said, YOUR VISA IS APPROVED! That was music to my ears…I smiled back at him, said “Thank You” and turned my back. A week later I received my passport with my US VISA for 10 years, Multiple Entry.

The INTERVIEW, lasted for 2 minutes or even less. But that was the longest 2 minutes of my life.

TIPS BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE

STUDY your online application form. Most of the questions are just from the information you answered in the form. If in case, someone helped you to fill out the form, BE SURE THAT YOU KNOW EVERYTHING in the form. Just like the application of my husband (he had his interview a year after mine and also got approved), I was the one who answered his application form but I printed it and he studied on his flight to Manila for the interview.

Be HONEST! I don’t want to scare you but these Consular Officers would really know if you are lying.

As much as possible, TRY NOT TO LISTEN to the other’s interview, it will just make you more anxious.

Answer the questions as EXACTLY as what you have answered them in the form. They would know if you are the one filling out the form or not.

ANSWER only what is being ASKED. More talk…more mistakes. DO NOT expound not unless asked.

In filling out the form, there’s a portion where you are asked about your Primary Occupation. If you hold a position, tick Specify Other and indicate your Position.

BE CONFIDENT.

ABOVE ALL ELSE…PRAY

Indeed, SNOW is tasteless, I like SPRING over WINTER and SELFIES were GREAT!

What’s More?? I left the US Embassy with my COE unfolded. (not a single supporting document was asked)

THE HOLY LAND TOUR

2020 MOST AFFORDABLE HOLY LAND TOUR AT P124,000 (CEBU DEPARTURE via Emirates Airlines)

Travel Dates:

  • March 24 – April 5, 2020
  • April 23 – May 5, 2020
  • May 29 – June 9, 2020

TRAVEL SERVICES INCLUSION:

  • Roundtrip Airfare via Emirates
  • 10 Nights 4 * Hotel Accommodation
  • All Meals indicated (B/L/D)
  • All sightseeing and applicable entrance fees
  • Daily 1 bottle of mineral water
  • Daily private masses
  • English speaking Tour Guide
  • Private air-conditioned coach
  • ****SINAI is Optional

TRAVEL SERVICES EXCLUSION:

  • XT Taxes: $165 (Subject To Change)
  • PH Travel Tax: $31.00 USD
  • Beverages during meals
  • Tips for driver, guides, etc. ($10 per day per person)
  • Incidental at hotels. Telephone
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel Insurance: 61 – 69 $20.00
  • Visa Fee $130.00

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Colored scanned copy of passport
  • Passenger Information Sheet
  • Passport should be valid for 4 months

BOOKING CONDITIONS:

  • Non-Refundable deposit of $500 per person & passport upon reservation
  • Min of 30 full paying adults required operating the tour
  • If the group fall from 29 passengers and below, your travel agent has the right to cancel or reschedule the tour, otherwise new rates will apply.
  • Penalty applies for cancellation made within 30 days prior to departure