This week we heard from Girlie who is currently at home in Iloilo City, Philippines

Building a career at sea

Prior to my sea-going career, I worked in a government-owned bank back in the Philippines where I did a lot of travelling as the project development officer assigned to the Department of Agriculture.

Having a desire to travel and to meet people from all walks of life, I accepted a Utility position to start my sea-going career with Cunard back in 2005. I used to clean the glass panels of the grand staircase of the Grand Lobby which was my favourite area on board Queen Mary 2. Overlooking the Purser’s Desk I saw the interactions between Receptionists and Guests and I told myself that one day I would be working in the Purser’s Office. I steadily rose in the ranks to take up an Admin position which I held in various departments;  Housekeeping,  Food & Beverage and the Crew Office. Next I served as Grills Concierge and as Purser Guest Services before becoming Hotel Operations & Retail Manager. I’m ever so grateful for my humble beginnings as they have shaped the foundations of my personal values.

Round World Voyage

My last memory of the world pre-Covid was a hectic and memorable Christmas time on board Queen Mary 2 and the beginning of her 2020 Round World Voyage. When the Covid-19 pandemic began our World Voyage itinerary was curtailed as we faced unprecedented worldwide lockdowns and severe travel restrictions. It was a very challenging time on board dealing with the ever changing situation for our Guests and Crew.

Throughout it all I stayed positive and tried not to worry about the situation back home. By keeping focused on work-related matters I kept up my courage and continued looking after the wellbeing of my peers and my team.

Returning home

For many of us, returning home meant facing challenges ranging from stressful travel, strict quarantine controls, multiple Covid testing, and extremely long isolation and waiting periods.

When I got back to the Philippines in March, I was quarantined for 40 days before I finally reached home. As a Seafarer, I’m no stranger to confinement, however being isolated in an accommodation for 40 days was a different story completely.

The longest and most stringent quarantine period in my homeland has tested my mental resilience and I learned and developed my own coping mechanisms to deal with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, helplessness and depression due to uncertainties about what the future will hold.

For many like I, the fear for our own safety, for the safety of our family and love ones, and the fear for surviving the months ahead has taken its toll. Not to mention as a returnee to our homeland, we have become suspects to our communities; they see us as ‘outsiders’ and as potentially bearing an unseen, dangerous virus. Discrimination towards health workers, front line workers and Overseas Contract Workers is real! Once the heroes of local communities it appears we have now becomes the villains in the society we live in.

What’s next?

I have started focusing my attention on what I can control. I have small children and elders to take care of at home and have shifted my attention from problems to finding solutions.

My husband and I started an online food and beverage related business and it’s amazing how the family has come together to get the business going. We also attended several training seesions and webinars to give us further knowledge in running our small, family enterprise. It gives us a reason to look forward to each day.

This pandemic is an unprecedented crisis with a steep learning curve. Lessons learned now will be used in years to come on the individual as well as on an organisational level. I certainly hope we will return to service soon and stronger than ever, and I am looking forward to walking up the gangway again!

Next week will be ‘A day in the life…’ of the Technical Department on board Queen Mary 2.

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