Many people lost their jobs this year because of the pandemic. One of them was Maureen Avila, a 26-year-old lead cabin crew member of a local airline company.
Maureen, whose inspiring story went viral on social media, revealed in an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that her retrenchment during the pandemic hit her badly. The first two weeks that followed were the hardest, to the point that she found it most difficult to eat and get out of bed.
She said, “Honestly, I [was] very scared and worried. My mind and heart [were] clouded by [questions like,] ‘Paano kami sa araw-araw ng pamilya ko?,’ ‘Saan ako kukuha ng panggastos namin?,’ ‘May mahahanap ba akong trabaho during this [time] , e, halos lahat ng kumpanya nagtatanggalan [ng tao]?’”
Fortunately, Maureen found a strong support system in her family and in her boyfriend, Carl. Still, she couldn’t help but feel upset, finding it difficult to accept that she lost a job she loves and had held for the past three years.
But that was until one of her friends made an offer to her and Carl to get a franchise for an LPG business. Maureen and her boyfriend easily agreed, knowing that there’s a constant demand for the product.
It wasn’t easy to suddenly shift gears, of course. Maureen had a number of worries, like securing the capital for the business.
She opened up: “We had enough savings to start [the] business, but we [were] torn between [using the money to] set up [the business] or use it for our everyday survival.
“Siyempre wala pa akong trabaho. Yung panggastos namin sa araw-araw, sa ipon ko kukunin. Paano na pag ginamit pa namin ito sa business? Sobrang maghihigpit na kami…
“But with the help of our parents, nag-decide kami to take it easy and mag-risk sa LPG [business].”
Maureen was initially worried about the tight competition, too, especially with some of her neighbors selling LPG tanks at lower prices.
“Inisip namin if tatapatan namin yun or [should] we focus on having a big profit per tank,” she said.
“Mas nag-focus kami [na] makakuha ng customer kaysa tumubo agad. Namigay kami ng flyers to each and every house sa buong barangay namin. Mayroong interesado at, siyempre, mayroon ding mga deadma,” she recalled.
Next, Maureen relied on her bank, BDO, to help make day-to-day operations of her new business more seamless.
“The BDO [Digital Banking] app helps me a lot with my business. Almost all of my friends use BDO [for] their savings [accounts] so if they want a cashless transaction, I’ll just send my account number to them," she said.
“[I also use the cash] deposit machine in different BDO branches. [This way] I don’t need to fall in line to deposit my earnings [anymore],” she added.
To fellow business starters, Maureen shared these tips.
Start small. "Take it easy and slowly but surely. Lalo ngayon, napakahirap kumilos dahil ang daming restriction," she said.
Use your connections. "[Like] closest friends, colleagues, and relatives. As well as social media!" she said.
Build a rapport with customers. "Focus on your customers, not your sales... because that's where repeat orders will follow," she said.
Set a daily target for yourself. "Don't settle for anything less," she said.
Now, things are finally looking up for Maureen. With her loved ones by her side, she’s getting used to having a new life and managing a small but thriving business.
“I am really getting better. May mga times na naiisip ko at nasasaktan pa rin ako. Nakaka-miss, sobra. Kasi feeling ko hindi ko na maibabalik pa yung wings ko.
“But with my life now and support of my family, okay ako. Sila ang motivation ko. Slowly but surely, nakaka-survive kami,” she said.
In parting, Maureen offers encouraging words to others who are experiencing setbacks in life.
“Wag mo iisipin ang sasabihin ng ibang tao. Diskarte at sakripisyo ang bubuhay sa iyo at sa family mo.”
“Walang mabigat na pagdadaanan pag family mo ang kasama mo. Hugot ka lang ng lakas sa family mo at lagi ninyong papairalin ang pagmamahal at pagkakaintindihan."
And to those who lost their jobs, including those who are daunted by the bleakness of the future, Maureen encourages them to not give up.
She underlined, “Life has many things to offer. Always look at the light at the end of the tunnel. Ibibigay sa iyo ni Lord kung ano yung para sa iyo in time. Basta nakikita Niya na pinagsisikapan mo ito. Walang nakukuha sa madaliang paraan.”