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This early PAL profits up

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines posted profits of $50 million for January and February this year as reported by PAL president and COO Jimmy Bautista during the board meeting held earlier this week. The improved performance in the past couple of months can be attributed to a number of developments, among them the “new” revenue management team reinstated by Jimmy after PAL regained control of the carrier (following a buyback of the 49-percent stake that San Miguel Corp. purchased in 2012), the lowering of fuel costs and the streamlining of operations that helped increase passenger count.

PAL chairman “El Kapitan” Lucio Tan is naturally elated to hear the report after he got back PAL.  According to Jimmy, they will continue with the long-term re-fleeting program with brand new Boeing 777-300ERs for long haul flights, although they have cut down on Airbus orders. PAL earlier secured approval for the deferment of the delivery of 33 Airbus aircraft to 2024, but has set aside $250 million for the acquisition of five Airbus A321s this year, with an additional $30 million for spare parts.

Last March 15, PAL resumed flights to New York after 17 years, making the Big Apple the airline’s fifth US destination – which is expected to be a profitable market for Asia’s oldest carrier.

British school defended

A parent, who asked not to be identified, wrote to Spy Bits expressing concern about the controversy surrounding the British School Manila (BSM), saying the news going around has been unfair to the school. Expressing deepest sympathy to the family of Liam Madamba, whose shocking death devastated the BSM community, the letter sender says she feels compelled to “speak up as a parent to set the record straight.” 

Almost from the time of Liam’s passing on Feb. 6, the BSM staff had already put into place “amazing support” with counselors from In Touch and ISM at the campus, to help the children deal with the outpouring of grief. Teachers and counselors also worked with the students in year 12 and 13 to ensure that they come to terms with the tragedy. A drop-in counseling center was also set up, with everyone told it is for their use whenever they feel the need. Before the half-term break, the school sent an email saying a crisis line had been set up with the contact numbers of various counselors also provided.

“For us parents, it was incredibly reassuring and comforting to see BSM do so much so quickly… focused on the well-being of our children. This was BSM doing what it always does, caring for our kids,” the email sender said. Contrary to what has been reported, the school head of school never said, nor even suggested, that the student who died had mental illness. “The only time mental illness was mentioned was when the expert counselor from In Touch quoted a statistic on suicide that over 90 percent of suicide cases involve mental illness both diagnosed and undiagnosed. This is a fact that can be checked not only with In Touch but also with parents who attended.”

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A small group of parents “used every opportunity to grandstand and put down the school, demanding answers to questions that would have been disrespectful to Liam and his family. What’s more, this small group of so-called ‘concerned parents’ even went so far as to drag our year 13 children into the room resulting in these vulnerable 17- and 18-year-olds hearing  distressing, distasteful information shared by these parents, which to many was wholly inappropriate,” the parent wrote.

Apparently, this same small group (we’re told no more than 20) calling themselves “Concerned BSM Parents” are making it appear as if the school parent body share the same negative sentiments that the group has been telling the media. Nothing could be farther from the truth, the email sender said, adding that, “They do not represent the majority of parents who think the school has done and has been doing everything that could be expected, and more. The school has absolutely respected the privacy of an individual student, even in death. If it were my child, I would not expect anything less from BSM.”

As for reports that the school is doing nothing, this is simply not true, the parent asserted, providing a timeline of events to show that on the very first day of school after the tragic event, the possibility of forming an independent review panel (IRP) was broached, with the members selected and subsequently holding their first meeting 16 schooldays after Liam’s death, and the BSM chair also meeting with Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro.

“Everyone I have spoken with, except for this tiny minority – many of whom we rarely see on campus – are strongly supportive of BSM and its head… the majority knows that the school and its teachers always put our children first, that their well being and education is the primary focus. Reality meets expectation.

“In all the years that my children have been at the British School Manila, let me tell you that they have flourished.  The education is of an incredibly high standard, and the programs are outstanding. There is no doubt that BSM provides our children with the opportunity to become the kind of adults we would be proud of.

“But what really makes BSM special for everyone who goes there is the atmosphere and the close relationship between children, parents and staff. BSM is a small place, where everyone tends to be close and know everyone else. It exudes warmth and caring. When you walk on campus, kids, parents and teachers smile, say hello and stop and talk to you. People reach out and welcome others. It feels like a second home, and for many children and parents, it truly is,” the email sender concluded.

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