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Tiffany Marie Somes Ferra Hotels Boracay Industry Hospitality Hero

Tiffany Marie Somes Ferra Hotels Boracay Industry Hospitality Hero

 

Tiffany Marie Somes

Operations Manager – Ferra Group of Hotels and Restaurants

Managed by Hospitality Business Group Inc. (Management Group)

 

Three things you make sure you focus on in your work:

I give my heart to everything that I do. Being in the service business is not just about knowing the proper service standards. It is also about the heart you put into it, to make the work and service you give as genuinely and as truthful as possible; for external guests, partners and most especially to internal teams and work mates. I also believe that if you put your heart into what you do, the output becomes more meaningful, with a different kind of quality.

I make sure to build relationships to build the business. I am a very relational kind of leader. I make sure I get to know all of our staff and my team mates.  Not only by name but by their stories. Once I know who they are and what makes them work hard, I use that as a motivation to bring out the best in them. Part of this is building a different kind of respect within the team.  So when all else fails, because misunderstandings can be unavoidable, it’s easily mended because of mutual respect.

Put God in the middle of the team. Meetings and activities are never complete without an opening and closing prayer. Talking to troubled staff will always end with “let me pray for you and with you”.  I sincerely think that whatever I have in talent, in skill, in heart came from God.  And that is how I want to shape the people around me; to walk in Faith, always.

 

Top tips for your Hospitality colleagues:

My two top tips have been my guide ever since I started as a Marketing Assistant.

Increase your value. I started with Ferra Hotels as a Marketing Assistant.  I knew I did not want to remain in that role forever; I wanted to grow professionally and progress. So I started training in the Front Office. I then cross-trained to Food and Beverages Service, with a basic in Bartending. I went through training to become the Hotel’s Pollution Control Officer and then proceeded to train for Housekeeping. My next goals are to improve in Maintenance and start training in the kitchen.

Increasing your value is not always about the money, although that does come with it; you earn more when you learn more. It is about your personal growth and fulfillment;  knowing you have become better than who you were before. When you also know more, you can share more to other people. As they say, you cannot give what you do not have.

Always have ‘the attitude of gratitude’. Big or small, good or bad, be thankful. It makes you see the world and all its ups and downs with a more beautiful and positive perspective.

 

Your activities:

I assist in training our staff team, scholars and our OJT’s (On the Job Trainees).  They undergo rigid, values-centered training and skills enhancement. We also make mental health an essential in the workplace; where staff can get support from the management with their personal and career struggles. I am a young Hotel Leader under our management group, Hospitality Business Group Inc. and we ensure quality values-driven training for our staff and scholars. We concentrate on more than just their knowledge and skills, we develop their heart and their character too.

I set up a personal project when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) started on the island in March 2020.  I named it #MaskImportanteKa.  The aim is to provide a free washable, cloth face mask to vulnerable people on Boracay.  We had a shortage of N95 Masks even before the ECQ was announced.  I enlisted a local dressmaker, who had lost customers due to the lock down, to help make the masks.  I was able to use the medical knowledge I had from Nursing, which I did before taking up Communication back in college. We have been able to distribute 200 face masks so far, whilst helping local livelihoods, and will continue with production while it is needed.

During the COVID-19 Lock Down I did what I could do support stranded workers.  Not just stranded hospitality workers but the construction workers employed in the ongoing rehabilitation of the island.  I personally donated food packs to 15 stranded construction workers in Manoc-Manoc.  Ferra Hotel also supported the Red Cross My Boracay Share project by donating noodles for their food pack distribution to stranded workers on Boracay.

I also set up and run a Facebook Group ‘Stranded in Boracay‘.  More than 200 workers, stranded on Boracay during Lock Down, are members.  The aim is to provide support and information to stranded workers during ECQ.  I share announcements and words of encouragement to them, as well as useful information.  I have also coordinated with LGUs to get some of the stranded workers home.  That includes helping them process their health certificates and letters of acceptance from their home areas, working with the media to get their stories heard and working with Red Cross for the distribution of food packs to them.

 

One of Ferra Hotel’s projects is Lighting Your Paths. It is an electrical lighting project which runs from the start of the road our Boracay hotels are located on, all along and then down to Bulabog Beach.  During the rehabilitation of Boracay in 2018 this road, and the connecting road down to the kite-surfing beach was plunged in to darkness.     We started Lighting Your Paths in July 2019.  Ferra Hotel provided the equipment; basic 20 watt Firefly Floodlights, and the wiring. Ferra Hotel’s Maintenance Team did the job connecting the wiring to the electricity source of Ferra Hotel’s staff house.

For the community, we invited people of Bulabog for a Covid-19 Awareness Forum, sponsored by our hotel. We also distributed Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the neighbors, as awareness campaign during the onset of the pandemic.

We were also able to distribute at least 50 food packs to people from sectors who lost jobs; ordinary vendors, boat men, etc.  The food packs contained 2 kg of rice, canned goods, noodles, coffee and some personal hygiene items and a washable cloth mask.

When tourism first began to struggle, we started the #BestTimeNow campaign. I presented the campaign to the other island stakeholders, to help us push the tourism agenda of the island. We invited managers and business owners for a short brainstorming session, to present the idea and work on uniting people as one Boracay community; promoting the island, setting aside competition to work as a team.

 

Inspirations:

I grew up with my grandparents, so they inspired me a lot. My Tatay, who recently passed away, taught me to be tough yet gentle with people I meet. My Nanay, who is now 75 years old, gave me my hunger for education (both of them are teachers).

My boss, our General Manager, Sir Dante Cruz, also inspired me to be a person of vision and that being young doesn’t mean you can’t become somebody; for yourself and for the people around you. As he said, age is just a number and as young as I am, I should be a visionary leader with high integrity.

 

What’s in your Future?

I hope to grow our team within Hospitality Business Group Inc. and Ferra Group, by building their knowledge, skills and heart. I think that is the real value of me as a leader; build more leaders with so much heart for what we do. I want to inspire young hoteliers like me to dream big and succeed in the industry. We want to expand the Ferra brand soon and I would like to be there when it happens.

On a personal level, my dream is actually to become a lawyer.  For now, I don’t see myself getting to Law School anytime soon, maybe a Masters or additional academic credentials might do for now.

Mike Martillano MY RANGGO Hospitality Hero

Mike Martillano MY RANGGO Hospitality Hero

Michael “Mike” Martillano

Owner (corporation) Eclipse Dive Center, Boracay

PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with specialty ratings for Nitrox, deep dive, night dive. 

2016-2019 President of BBASS (Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc.).

2020 Vice President of BBASS

 

Mike has held the position of Vice President or President for the Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc. since 2016.  BBASS Environmental advocacies include Ocean-Bed Clean-ups, Crown of Thorns removals, maintenance of Dive Buoys, as well as assisting with maintenance of snorkeling and anchorage buoys.  Members may also be called upon to assist with search and rescue missions.

 

3 things you focus on in your work:  Diving is a specific industry so I have very distinct focus points.

Quality of Service – Making sure I have good and well maintained Equipment, so checking regularly. Ensuring standards and procedures of training are strictly followed

Attention to detail – this for me is getting to know and understand my students; how I may teach one can be very different to how I would teach another.

Safety – For me this is about familiarity with the dive sites on any given day in terms of how they react to weather and currents, and with my students; so we can agree on the dive sites appropriate for their skills or experience.

 

3 things that are important to me when I’m working:

Communication – you have to have the best communication with the people you work with. For co-coordinating day to day activities, maintenance of equipment but also during dives

Time-keeping – this is very important, especially in certain dive destinations, where you have to pay attention to the current and weather. Time-keeping is important for Instructors to follow, and our students.

Being physically and mentally fit – Not just me but my instructors too. Diving requires you to be fit and healthy. It is especially important for divers working on Boracay, where there are a lot of bars and parties; you have to have a balance.  It’s vital to keep yourself physically fit for diving, for yourself and for your students.

 

My top tip for my Hospitality colleagues:

Put your best foot forward.  The moment the guest meets up with you, be you’re absolute best.  You are providing a service, an experience.  This approach gives them the best time and also lessens the chance of complaints.

 

My activities:

I have been a member of BBASS since 2012 but I’ve been diving a lot longer.  I was the President of BBASS (Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc.) from 2016, when the President stepped down half way through his term, and I stepped up. I was then elected President in 2017-2019.  In 2020 I stepped down to the Vice-President position.

I was the President of BBASS during the closure of Boracay, when the island was under heavy scrutiny.  I advocated hard for Boracay’s Marine environment to be included in the Rehabilitation Program.  Initially it wasn’t included, other than the issue of making the water cleaner.  I attended one meeting early on in the closure, and was then invited to lots of meetings. It was good to know that the Dive Tourism Community’s voice was heard.

During the closure I advocated strongly for the remaining divers on the island to be allowed to continue with the ocean clean ups and monitoring of the ocean bed.  At the time there was a ban on boats and people using the water, other than a small stretch of water at Station 1. I had to approach the Security Committee of the island and negotiate with them to allow the remaining divers on the island to have access to the water.  We had a major Crown of Thorns epidemic, at the time.  It had started early in January and there was a massive epidemic of them across the Philippines. It was vital we had permission to enter the water to try to clear them, before they destroyed our corals and reefs.

BBASS has worked closely with the Boracay Inter-Agency Taskforce ever since, to set up various initiatives and advocacy projects.  We have also conducted seminars for the Greenfins Foundation here; educating island stakeholders and water users.  Topics include Why you shouldn’t drop Anchors, what fish shouldn’t be caught and why, not dropping trash in to the ocean and dry docking for repairs and not doing it whilst on the ocean.  We also put signage, inspired by the Greenfins Foundation, all over the island and with DENR.

Every September is International Coastal Clean Up (ICC) month and all members participate.   Officially BBASS organizes clean ups every quarter, but many members also carry out monthly clean-ups . And some divers practice it daily, always carrying a net bag, to educate the student divers on the importance of looking after the marine environment.

We maintain the Dive Buoys and help with snorkeling and Anchorage Buoys.  We still sometimes see evidence of anchors having been dropped but it’s very few now.  But in the past when it wasn’t followed, we would take photos and make reports of offenders.  Visiting yachts is still an issue ; our dive buoys are not designed for yachts and many don’t know where to moor up.  This is something we still need to address.

 

Inspirations/Goals:

My biggest inspiration is to have Boracay recognized as the leading Sustainable Tourist Dive Destination in the Philippines.

What is unique here is that Boracay’s dive spots are all within 20 minutes of the beach, and an island full of hotels, spa’s, restaurants, bars and other activities.  Unlike other Philippine Dive Destinations, which are really only geared up for Dive Tourism and often a great distance from the nearest hotels or attractions for non-divers.

Here tourists can visit with their families or friends and indulge their love of diving whilst the rest of their party chill out on the beach, have a massage or do their own activities.  And they can all still meet up for lunch, or dinner afterwards.  There’s no having to travel for 2 or 3 hours to get to their dive centre; everything is here within walking distance along a beautiful white beach.  Plus we have a great range of dive sites for beginners and experienced divers.

 

What’s in your Future?

My main aim is to continue to provide a quality service.  I’d like to see more locals becoming more environmentally aware and responsible for the island; to be Eco-Warriors.  Not just on Boracay but across the Philippines and the World. To be aware of the impact that they have on the environment, and how they can minimize it.

 

More about The Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops Inc (BBASS):

The role of BBASS is to maintain the Boracay Dive Center Compliancey register and provide a forum for Dive Shops.  BBASS used to oversee the set Dive Rates too  but in 2019 decided to focus more on the islands environmental  issues, continuing with the Ocean Bed clean-ups, maintaining the buoys at the dive sites and the Crown of Thorns removals.

BBASS also polices Standards and Procedures of member dive shops; equipment and training of BBASS members.  They undertake an inspection of all shops at the start of the year, with PCSSD (Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving), Philippine Coast Guard and officers from the LGU, prior to endorsement for renewal of their business permits.

BBASS also does random inspections on the shops and personnel, throughout the year, checking instructors certifications are up to date, dive equipment is well maintained, recording procedures etc.  BBASS decided these issues were more important to focus on, than setting the dive rates for Boracay, which wasn’t being followed anyway.

One of the requirements of BBASS is that every dive shop is required to participate in the BBASS environmental advocacy programs.   Shops send personnel to join the ocean bed clean-up dives.  Or, when they need to collect and remove Crown of Thorns.  This is done with volunteer divers from the islands Dive Shops and various other island officials and groups.