Flight attendants are frontliners, too
Flight attendants are frontliners, too
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Sometimes missed out in the roster of frontliners are the airline guys, including flight attendants (FAs), whose job requires close contact with passengers. One such FA is Margaret Ann “Maan” Bayot, who has been with Emirates for 12 years, based in Dubai with her husband Warren de Guzman and their three-year-old twin sons Andre and Antonio.

To refresh your memory, Maan was 2004 Bb. Pilipinas-International, with batchmates Maricar Balagtas (Universe) and Karla Bautista (World). Maan competed in the 2004 Miss Maja Mundial held in Colombia where she placed first runner-up to host delegate Sandra Milena Sanchez. Canada’s Natalie Glebova, who was second runner-up, was crowned the next year as 2005 Miss Universe in Thailand. Maan finished among the Top 15 in the 2004 Miss International pageant (won by Colombia’s Jeymmy Vargas) held in Beijing on Oct. 16, 2004.

In an exclusive e-mail interview, Celso de Guzman Caparas did for Funfare, Maan recalled that until flight restrictions were imposed, she took the Dubai-Maldives flight last March 14.

Maan as Emirates flight attendant with husband Warren de Guzman and their twin sons Andre and Antonio.

“But even before that,” continued Maan, “l had a layover in India a few days back. At that time, India was already taking actions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The day we left India, we had to accommodate a few citizens from Germany and France as they were refused entry since the travel ban was implemented on the same day they arrived in India. Sadly, they had to fly back with us on the same flight. Since then, I was lucky to have a few days off and I was not assigned to do any other flights.”

Then on March 25, added Maan, “Our Emirates decided to temporarily suspend all passenger flights. Because of the pandemic, some countries had to do border lockdowns and travel bans. As a result, the travel demands became really low. At first, I got overwhelmed with the news though I was kind of expecting it already. I just couldn’t believe that after 12 years of working with Emirates, this is the only time that they had to make a very painful decision in this very difficult time. But like what we always say, ‘This is not goodbye, but see you soon.’ I’m looking forward to resume flying around the globe the soonest time possible.”

2004 Bb. Pilipinas- International Maan Bayotde Guzman (left) with Maricar Balagtas (2004 Bb. Pilipinas- Universe), Karla Bautista (2004 Bb. Pilipinas- World) and former DTI Secretary Mar Roxas who served as judge in that year’s pageant

Health is wealth. That’s one lesson Maan has learned during this crisis.

“We are often so busy with our lives that sometimes we set aside taking care of ourselves,” Maan said. “We should also find time to talk quietly with God. Prayer can really move mountains. Nobody can be truly happy without a heart full of love and gratitude. We should be thankful to God. Every time we wake up in the morning is a blessing. Be thankful for our family, our health and our job. No matter how busy we are, take some time to relax and pay attention to our health. And most of all, enjoy every single moment we have with our family and loved ones.”

2004 Miss Maja Mundial pageant (from left): 2004 Miss Maja Mundial Sandra Milena Sanchez of Colombia, and runners-up Maan (first) and Natalie Glebova of Canada (second, who won Miss Universe the next year)

Coping with the crisis is not that hard, according to Maan. In fact, she said that she is immensely enjoying quality time with her family for whom she does what she calls “quarantine baking.”

“I get to clean up and declutter my closet, sort some things out at the apartment that I never got the time to do. Being a ‘Flying Mom’ is fulfilling but it’s not easy. I appreciate life more as I look after my children every day compared to when I was on duty. I spend more time now with them though they get me physically tired, especially when we play together. But those little moments are precious, moments that I missed while busy at work sometimes for as long as one week. My daily routine now is pretty much the same, except that we can’t go out because we are on partial lockdown also and we observe curfew.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

FA MARGARET ANN “MAAN” BAYOT MARICAR BALAGTAS
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