Cebu Pacific, one of the country's major airlines, has started hiring transwomen flight attendants.
This is cause for celebration as every little step toward gender equality in the country counts a lot for the LGBTQ+ community.
Newly-minted flight attendants Mikee Vitug and Jess Labares are proud of their milestones, which they both shared on their social media accounts early today, November 19.
The good news comes at a perfect time as the world celebrates Trans Awareness Week.
The reigning Queen Philippines Universe titleholder said she never really dreamed of becoming a flight attendant.
She wrote in her Facebook post (published as is), "Fifty-seven days.. 57 days of hardship, tears, laughters and sacrifice. Becoming a cabin crew was never a childhood dream.
"It was more like a challenge, a challenge to myself to know what Im capable of.
"To try something new. Sometimes you have to go out from your comfort zone to know yourself more and to know your capabilities."
Jess graduated with a degree on Physical Therapy from Cebu Doctor's University.
She continued, "Now that Im 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 dont know the battle that weve fought.
"Its not all about looking pretty, its been all about the comfort and SAFETY of our passengers."
Proud of her feat, Jess expressed her gratitude to Cebu Pacific for giving her the opportunity to become the first post-operation transwoman flight attendant in the country.
"As a trans woman, 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.
"Id like to extend my deepest gratitude to Cebgo and Cebu Pacific for their acceptance.
"In behalf of the LGBTQ community, thank you.
"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.
"This wouldnt be possible not because of the pillars, bosses and supervisors of the company."
Jess hopes to inspire other members of the LGBTQ+ community to never give up on their dreams.
"I hope this will be an inspiration not just to the LGBTQ community but to everyone who dreams and has goals in life to never give up on something you really want.
"Perseverance, positivity, determination and loving what you are doing are some of the perfect formula to achieve your goal and will definitely lead you the way to success and happiness.
"Now I can finally say, this is by far the greatest crown I have ever achieved."
She did not forget thanking her friends, family, and everyone who supported her on this journey.
"This would not be possible without my support system. My family and friends, you are all my inspiration and motivation that keeps me going.
"To my papa in heaven, I know you are so proud of what I have achieved and for what I have become.
"Sorry if I was not there beside you when you left I know you would understand. Thank you and we love you."
Mikee, for her part, said she initially felt she was shooting for the stars when she thought of becoming a flight attendant. But all her worries began to subside with the support she received from her partner, Vinny Mariñas.
She wrote in a Facebook post (published as is), "Nag umpisa lang talaga sa random idea na mag apply ako as Flight attendant but I know it's impossible here in the Philippines for a transwoman na maging flight attendant...
"And sa pag kaka alam ko wala pa talaga na official na pinay transwoman na naging cabin crew dito sa Pilipinas (Sa US meron sa American airlines ata)
"Lalo na mejo conservative ang bansa natin aminin natin o hindi talagang hindi gaanong ka open ang karamihan sa kagaya ko.
"Pero inencourage ako ng partner ko na subukan ko mag apply he said 'stop resisting because there's no harm in trying.'"
Mikee went on to recall the screening process that aspiring flight attendants go through.
"So I did what I needed to do, i prepared myself by reading articles and watching videos on how to do well on an interview from proper attire, makeup and how to give a good inpact.
"The day of the interview came and screening palang sobrang kaba ko na kasi di ko sure kung pasok ba height ko, complexion ko and smile ko sa standard nila, and hindi na ako nag expect pero pinag stay pa ako for an impact interview and sobrang nagulat ako na naka lagpas ako sa screening..
"I also passed the impact interview and pinabalik ako for final interview.. Hanggang sa sinabi na nila na 'Congratulations!' soooobrang saya at di ako makapaniwala na pumasa ako!"
Aside from the interviews, she also went through the 57-day training period.
She wrote, "Dumating na ang training, hindi ko inexpect na sobrang hirap pala.
"2 months training, araw araw may exam and 90 to 95% ang passing score kaya talagang effort kung effort at mag puyat if needed para lang mamemorize verbatim lahat lahat sa dalawang makapal na manual.
"Di pa tapos doon may survival swimming pa na talagang natakot ako dahil di ako marunong lumangoy pinatalon kami ng walang lifevest sa 10feet deep na pool... but I survived hehehe, fire and smoke drills kung saan may totoong fire at smoke at talagang gagapang ka pa sa cabin floor, masusubukan din ang pagiging alert at sharpness at pati nadin vocal chords sa emergency procedure, sisigaw ng commands ng malakas.
"Paos, bugbog, galos at sugat ang inabot.. Tapos kailangan graceful at excellent customer service padin.
"Kaya masasabi ko hindi pala talaga madali ang maging flight attendant dahil nakasalalay sa mga cabin crew ang saftey ng lahat ng passengers.
"And sobrang proud ako sa sarili ko na naka survive ako at eto na naka graduate na ako ng training at checkride masasabi ko na I am now officially a Cabin crew!"
Mikee hopes that her and Jess's achievements will help break stereotypes among the LGBTQ+ community.
The licensed pharmacist resumed, "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 i box or i stereotype kasi tao din naman kami, capable din kami, normal lang din kami na tao...
"And I am grateful na binigyan ako and Miss Jess Labares ng rare opportunity ng Cebu pacific Cebgo na i prove ang sarili namin na kaya namin maging cabin crew.
"Nakakatuwa at nakakataba ng puso na Cebu pacific Cebgo started this change sa aviation industry sa Pilipinas, they promote diversity and professional growth regardless of race, religion, sex, gender identity and individuality.
"Thank you Cebu pacific Cebgo for giving us this great opportunity to be part of your growing family."
Mikee ended her post by thanking everyone who became part of this journey.
"To our strict yet loving and patient instructors, our mommies during our training thank you so much!
"And to my Cebgo 11 batchmates thank you and see you around!
"And to those people who are afraid of going out of their comfort zone, to those people who wants 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.
"Thank you sa Family ko, Daddy, Mama and brother for loving, accepting me and supporting me all the way, hindi ako makakarating sa kung saan ako ngayon kung hindi sahil sainyo, and to my Partner Vinny, salamat din sa walang sawang pag supporta at pag encourage saakin, sa pag sama saakin sa interview etc lagi ka din nanjan para saakin!
"Thank you for loving me unconditionally! Iloveyou daddy, mama, mac and vinny!"