00:01 An Huy Tran
Hello, you are listening to Record of Change.
Record of Change listens to eight individuals located on every continent about how their lives have been twisted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
My name is An Huy Tran and I am a researcher talking to you from Tokyo, Japan.
When air traveling has been pretty much stagnated all over the world due to the Pandemic,
have you ever wondered how people working in the airlines industry cope with such situation?
Today, please join me to listen to the story of Rey Casao, who is working as a cabin crew for Philippines airlines based in Manila.
His experiences with the Pandemic started with a volcano eruption in January, 2020, and then a nationwide
lockdown, which encouraged him to embark on new adventures with being a barista and a disinfection officer.
Since June, this year, Rey was able to work again, but being a flight attendant during a world pandemic, it's something different.
01:24 Reynaldo J. Casao
My name is Reynaldo Casao Jr.
You may call me Rey or RJ .They call me Rey.
I'm 30 years old and I'm currently based here in Manila.
I am from the Philippines and I'm currently working as a cabin crew of Philippine airlines.
01:45 An Huy Tran
How long have you been working as a cabin crew for Philippines airlines?
01:50 Reynaldo J. Casao
I've been flying for three years, more than three years.
01:54 An Huy Tran
Before all of this COVID-19 panoramic happens, could you describe a little bit of your worklife as a cabin crew?
02:04 Reynaldo J. Casao
As a cabin crew, I always fly for six days a week.
Sometimes I fly five days.
And I have two days two days stress, days off.
We have some international destinations like Incheon Korea, and China, some of the provinces of China.
But mostly I fly here in the Philippines, domestic flight all over here, in the Philippines.
02:34 An Huy Tran
It seems like you have a pretty busy job, right?
Six days or like five to six days per week.
02:39 Reynaldo J. Casao
And then mostly because I'm a morning person, I usually have the morning flights.
Like you have to wake up at 1:00 AM.
And then prepare for your 3:00 AM duty or 2:00 in the morning.
So basically you will you'll end your duties around lunchtime or because of the traffic sometimes after lunch time.
So basically 10 hours of duty or 12 hours.
03:15 An Huy Tran
Well, that's actually a pretty tough job.
03:18 Reynaldo J. Casao
Because you know, in the, in the airline airline industry, every second is very important.
They are so strict with the attendance.
But since I really love my job for the three years, I have perfect attendance.
03:35 An Huy Tran
So tell us, how did you first hear about the situation of COVID-19?
03:42 Reynaldo J. Casao
I hear that as during one of our flight, because yes, one of my colleague my co-crew like
said that, Oh, there is because mostly our passengers in one of the destinations came from, came from China.
And then I heard that news with my co crew, that there is a certain virus that coming from that country.
So of course it's so alarming because, every day we face a lot of people, different people.
It alarmed me, of course.
04:16 An Huy Tran
And, when was that time when you first hear about the virus?
04:22 Reynaldo J. Casao
It's the first, that was January, this year.
So because there was an incident here in the Philippines with one volcano erupted.
So after that, I heard that another news about that COVID-19.
04:44 An Huy Tran
Tell us a little bit more about the volcano eruptions that you have just mentioned.
04:50 Reynaldo J. Casao
Um, that was Taal Volcano , that's the second active volcano here in the Philippines.
It's not it's because we're, everyone is not wasn't ready during that time.
So, you know, we had also experienced, our flight being canceled during that time, we're already in
the aircraft and then in the airplane, and then we had the new step: "Oh, you're not allowed to fly.
It's for your safety".
Other passengers are also, you know, we understand their situation because most of them have their
own appointments but unfortunately there are flights that are being canceled during that time.
And of course that situation causes panic to the people around here in the Philippines, especially those who are living near the volcano.
05:41 An Huy Tran
As I remember correctly, it also happened in January, right?
Like the beginning of January.
05:46 Reynaldo J. Casao
During that time, people are looking for some medical equipment, like the masks.
So people are panicking about the supplies because the government informed every Filipino, especially those who are
here in the national capital region - Manila ,should have their masks everytime they go out and they like, so people
are panicking, even in the groceries or the supermarket, they are like, you know, we have to prepare it like that.
And then after that incident, here comes now the COVID 19.
06:25 An Huy Tran
How did you feel that time?
Like after the volcano eruption and then comes the new situations with the coronavirus
06:33 Reynaldo J. Casao
It created panic because we just had this incident and then here comes now the next one.
we are quite far from the, volcano, but still we can, we can experience the, you know, the ash fall here in Manila, but this virus
is different because we can't see them, we can't prepare if, if you know that person or that passengers in your flight, is a carrier.
Everyone could be a carrier, even me.
07:07 An Huy Tran
When did you realize that it could also affect you?
07:13 Reynaldo J. Casao
Um, that was like around February, because our office informed us that you have to wear masks every flight or in the airplane or in the aircraft.
But in the airport, in the lounge, where you report you don't need to wear your mask, but some of the crews are like, you know, it's for safety.
So like me, I always wear my mask, even I'm I'm outside or I'm in the shuttle service, going to my work.
So that was around February and then no gloves during that time.
But we already knew that there is.
Because there, I think is that December.
I am not quite sure if it's December, 2019, when there is one Chinese nationality or that
got positive in one of our flights, Philippine airlines flights here in the Philippines.
You had one positive case in 2019 December already?
08:19 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, I think end of December or I'm not quite sure, but it's nearly end of 2019, but we're not
aware of that COVID virus or only after that Taal volcano eruption, we got a news or we got aware of that virus.
08:39 An Huy Tran
How did you perceive people around you and especially the passengers and your colleagues react towards the threat?
08:47 Reynaldo J. Casao
Of course it causes panic to everyone.
Like, you know, the normal, when we got, in the crew lounge, when we usually report for our work, we got some handshake with our seniors, but no more
handshake with our colleagues, with our co-crews because it was implemented that no more body contact should be done whenever you see people or no huggies.
During that time, it's quite different.
So there's some changes, should I say it, in our norms of in our workplace
09:23 An Huy Tran
And then with the behaviors of the passengers, how do they change throughout the, uh, Pandemic?
09:32 Reynaldo J. Casao
So the passengers also started to wear the masks.
They are very cautious about their seats.
They bring alcohol every time and I guess that's for their safety.
09:48 An Huy Tran
And then how does this change the natures, or the tasks of your work?
Because I assume that like, as a cabin crew, you have a lot of preparations to do before the flight and even like during the flight and after the flight.
10:04 Reynaldo J. Casao
So we have a lot of procedures.
When you have flights you have to wear your PPE or your personal protective equipment.
In our flight here in the Philippines, we usually have the inflight service.
We serve coffee, we serve tea.
We serve snacks as a complimentary to the passengers.
But during these times there are certain flights we don't serve coffee.
We don't serve tea, we don't serve the snacks . Now we only give bottled water.
So as much as possible, less contact with the passengers.
It's for their safety.
So if, if some of the passengers, especially those who are frequent flyers: "Oh, you don't have coffee?
You don't have tea?
"Sir, it's for your safety".
So we explained to the passenger, we do the announcement.
If you are the lead cabin crew, you have to announce it that we will be serving a modified service during your flight.
Please bear with us, so that they will be informed why we don't have coffee ,before we have coffee.
So you have to explain it to the passengers.
So there are big changes as of the moment between the norms, the old normal and the new normal.
So you have to follow the new normal, even though it's hard for us, even though we don't want to wear the
gloves, we wear the hairnet took over our hair because they said the virus can also enter with your hair.
And, I follow a little bit of the news what happenings in the Philippines, like a few months ago there was a lockdown, right?
11:47 Reynaldo J. Casao
11:49 An Huy Tran
So, as I remember, like during the lockdown, there would be no domestic flights as well.
So basically your work was suspended, right?
12:00 Reynaldo J. Casao
So when we heard that news was really, you know, I, I felt sad.
Oh, my God, what's happening?
where will I get my money to pay my bills to pay my apartment?
So it, of course I felt, sad a bit, during that time, because, you know, that's where I get my money from my job.
12:30 An Huy Tran
Could you remind us, when was the lockdown in the Philippines?
12:34 Reynaldo J. Casao
That was March, I guess it's March 14.
I have flight during that, the next March 15, because I have flight last March 14.
That unfortunately, I didn't know that it was my last flight before the lockdown.
I heard that there's a possibility of lockdown.
And then I'm talking with my colleague, Oh my God, is this our last flight for today?
Because there might be a possibility of a lockdown for March 15 for Metro Manila and some other, other provinces that have high cases of Covid.
13:14 An Huy Tran
And how long was the lockdown?
13:16 Reynaldo J. Casao
Locked down is until I guess, end of May.
So it was around two months.
13:25 Reynaldo J. Casao
13:26 An Huy Tran
And during that two months, you basically have no flights at all.
13:31 Reynaldo J. Casao
There are cargo flights, but unfortunately I wasn't able to have that.
You know, you don't have passengers in the aircraft, in the airplane.
You just have to bring the cargo, like the goods from the Philippines to the province and from the province to the Philippines.
13:51 An Huy Tran
And how did you cope with the lockdown then?
13:55 Reynaldo J. Casao
I still, I don't know what to do.
I just do my daily routine.
Like I'm waking up in the morning and reading books, stay here in the apartment, watching movies and my daily routine.
But after one week, It's another the same thing.
And then I felt, Oh, it's just like, um crazy because you do it every morning, and then the evening you just sleep and then wake up again and do the same thing.
That's the time I decided to do something or to do, to research or to do some work or to, because I need to become busy
The lock down is already there.
It's beyond our control.
So the only thing is you have to do something that would make you busy or make your day productive.
14:52 An Huy Tran
And what did you do?
14:53 Reynaldo J. Casao
So I basically, because in my previous company, my boss messaged me that: "Oh, Rey, how's your job?"
and "Would you like to try something new?"
and then I said, "Oh, what's that?
I really want to do something because I am doing nothing here in my apartment".
And then she said, "I have this coffee shop" and then she said: "Would you like to try?
Or would you like to, explore or do some things?"
And then I was so glad that she offered me that.
And then I said "Yes, ma'am.
I would like to, I'm so happy that you informed me.
I would like to learn about what's happening in that shop."
And then she said: "Okay, uh, be ready and then I will go there.
I will pick you up".
Plus during that time, no transportation here in the Philippines.
And then she picked me up here in the apartment.
And then I I'm so happy though I don't know what will I do there?
But I'm so excited to learn something new or to do something new apart from what I'm doing as a flight attendant.
I started to work as a barista.
I was able to learn, how to prepare the coffee, how to do the Cappuccino, how to prepare
the froth, the Mocha frappe that I usually ordered in Starbucks or some of the coffee shop.
16:20 An Huy Tran
I'm sure that your passengers are going to be super happy to have better coffee from you in the future.
16:27 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, but most of the baristas are like: "Oh Rey, when you go back to your flight or
you resume your flight, you'll have this Barista technique that you will have to show to the passengers.
But during that time, I was thinking that it's just an experience or it's another experience that would help me.
It's like, I want to be busy with other things, but it's good because I learned something new with that experience, plus I had the chance to adopt a new normal.
17:05 An Huy Tran
Yeah, I totally think that it really is very interesting that people take up new skills this time of difficulties.
17:15 Reynaldo J. Casao
So, because it's just new thing.
If you're new to that particular job, you have to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, like, like being a cabin crew.
It's not for me before, it's just a new thing or a new experience.
So I have to learn it.
And then for three years you learn a lot.
You learn it, you got an expertise with that work, so it becomes an easy, so.
For me, it's the same with, if you, if you want to learn another job at first, it's so hard.
But as you go along with that, as you put your height on it, yes.
17:50 An Huy Tran
How long did you work as a barista at the coffee shop?
17:54 Reynaldo J. Casao
I guess almost two months.
Because every year we have this recurrent training or refresher training.
Every 12 months you have to retrain and do the exams required by the civil aviation regulations here in the Philippines.
You will be checked again with the rater in the, you know, in the actual flight and then that's it.
So if my office didn't inform me, maybe I will be a barista until now, or I I'm still working there.
18:27 An Huy Tran
And aside the barista jobs, is there anything else that you do during the lockdown?
18:35 Reynaldo J. Casao
During lockdown, the owner of that coffee shop, he do the, you know, the disinfecting of the different offices.
And then I said to him "Boss, perhaps I could try that job because I was not able to experience wearing
PPEs because some of the cabin crew who are flying in the cargo flights, they have to wear the PPEs.
And then I wasn't able to experience that because I wasn't able to have the flight and then
I said: "Oh, this is the time I should experience this wearing of this, full gear PPE".
Then I asked the boss of the coffee shop because he has this disinfecting services.
And then I said, "Oh, can I join?
Because I really wanted to do where that PPE and experienced that how's the feeling" and then he said, "Oh yes, you can join us.
And then this is, I was able to experience another new job, or should I say a new experience during lockdown.
Though it's quite dangerous ? Because you know, you go to the office, you disinfect the place or the vicinity of the office, but it's a nice experience as well.
19:55 An Huy Tran
When did you go back to work as a cabin crew?
20:00 Reynaldo J. Casao
I go back to work as that was first week of June, I guess.
We were able to plan to fly, but it's, you know, it's not the normal flight.
It's only cargo flight or the repatriation flight, some of the it's sponsored by the government because they
need some of the overseas Filipino worker, for example, working in middle East, they have to fly them back to
the Philippines and from here in Manila, we need to fly them back to their respective provinces or their places.
20:32 An Huy Tran
What was your first flight after the lockdown?
20:35 Reynaldo J. Casao
After the lockdown, it's June.
So it was, five destination I guess.
But it's quite crazy because it's quite long destinations here from Manila.
So you have to travel like two hours or three hours from Manila and then go back again and then fly again.
And most of the passengers are working from abroad.
So it's quite, you know.
We're quite alarmed as well because you don't know if there are carriers, though
they got tested, but of course we never know if they are also carriers of the virus.
21:15 An Huy Tran
How did you feel during that flight?
I bet you, you were happy to be able to get back to work.
But also it is a pretty risky situation.
21:27 Reynaldo J. Casao
The feeling I felt so strange because when we had the chance to get
inside the aircraft and then, "Oh, I miss this, I miss this aircraft" and like that.
And then when the passenger came.
You should, um, you have to help the passengers".
You know, here in the culture of the Philippines, it's like when they have their bags, you have to help them to
carry, to bring it or other passengers for like: "Oh, please help me about this, about my bag" and like that.
Of course during the time we don't have like, "Sir, I'm sorry.
it's for your safety".
You have to explain to the passengers that "Sir.
We don't have like this, it's for your safety" again, "Sir, I'm sorry.
We don't have blankets.
It's for your safety because the blankets are undergoing sanitations".
"Sir, I'm sorry, we don't have newspaper because it's for your safety.
The virus may easily be passed through this newspaper" and like that.
There are two feelings: you're excited to fly and at the same time, you have to protect yourself.
So it's something weird.
Or the feeling so strange.
22:42 An Huy Tran
And how did the passengers react to that?
22:45 Reynaldo J. Casao
If we explained that it's for their safety and because of the Covid, they usually understand.
They usually respond in a positive way, that: "Oh, thank you for your information".
23:00 An Huy Tran
Now they're, there are still repatriation flights, and then there are still commercial flights within the country?
23:06 Reynaldo J. Casao
But starting August 4th, we don't have commercial flights.
We only have cargo and repatriation flights.
So that's another sad news here in the Philippines, all domestic flights or all airlines are not allowed to fly.
23:23 An Huy Tran
Do you think that there might be another lockdown because of the second wave in the Philippines?
23:29 Reynaldo J. Casao
I'm not quite sure, but whenever I go out, I heard that from other people that they said that, "Oh, maybe there is another lockdown".
23:43 An Huy Tran
You also told me about, testing and quarantine.
23:46 Reynaldo J. Casao
23:49 An Huy Tran
The time that you started flying again, how did that testing and quarantining apply to you?
23:57 Reynaldo J. Casao
During our flight, there was a suspected carrier.
So their procedure is that all of the crew during that flight would be under monitoring.
So they will monitor you and then you are not allowed to fly for 14 days.
You need to isolate yourself.
You need to stay at home, so they will check you every day.
They will check if there is any symptoms of respiratory infection or are you feeling well?
How's your temperature?
Do you have difficulty on a breathing?
And then you'll answer, you have to answer that.It's a must that you have to answer because it's for your safety as well.
And then after that, they will check if you are positive or not.
But, I'm so happy that I'm not positive.
I got negative results.
24:53 An Huy Tran
that was the only time that you were in that situation?
24:59 Reynaldo J. Casao
This is the only time um, I get paranoid during the time.
Am I a carrier and that every time I felt I have fever, I checked my temperature and then: "Oh, I have normal temperature".
And then every time I, I have, I sneezed or I got the symptoms, but whenever I check: "Oh, I'm okay.
I, I, I don't have any symptoms.
You have to be aware because you meet a lot of people during everyday in your flight,or especially that's a repatriation flight.
25:34 An Huy Tran
Even though you have all the protection equipments, it's
25:38 Reynaldo J. Casao
25:39 An Huy Tran
still a risk.
25:41 Reynaldo J. Casao
25:43 An Huy Tran
As a cabin crew, working on those repatriation flights, you also are limited to just working and
then you are also not being able to see other people like your friends, your families very regularly, right?
26:01 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, even though I would like to go to my sister, but I always explain to her that I don't want to risk because she has this daughter.
I might be a carrier because everyone can be a carrier.
So that's why I better not go to my sister's house to protect them as well.
26:23 An Huy Tran
Are your families or your loved ones or your relatives?
Are they all healthy and alright?
26:31 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, they are all right, because my parents are living quite far from Manila.
It's a one hour flight, the province.
And then of course I miss them, but we only do the phone call.
My mother usually called me every morning to check if I'm okay.
My sister here in Manila, but I wasn't able to go there because there's strict implementation of this lockdown now.
But we have communications.
Thank you to Facebook, thank you to, to Zoom because I was able to do, to see them, though it's like, you know, onscreen communication.
27:14 An Huy Tran
So for now all of your social lives are just bound to the apartment and the workplace?
27:25 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes in the Facebook and Zoom.
That's crazy, but that's the reality.
27:34 An Huy Tran
For you, it would be a strange feeling as well, right?
Because you have a lot of contacts with passengers.
There were a lot of passengers in physical places.
27:45 Reynaldo J. Casao
27:46 An Huy Tran
Even though you meet a lot of people, you are also feeling isolated in a way that like, you cannot see the people that you wanted to see, right?
27:55 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, it's so weird, but because this is your job, this is your calling.
This is what you love to do.
28:07 An Huy Tran
Were there any point during all of this craziness that you think is the worst moment for you?
And what would be the moment that you feel happiest
28:23 Reynaldo J. Casao
I always look up the brighter side of what's happening, though you cannot control it, it's already there.
But the only thing you can do is for me, is not react, but to respond to what is happening, to make yourself busy or make yourself do something new.
Like, for example, if I don't have flights, I usually have this sign language with my colleague.
It's another thing.
So it's another learning for me.
Because there was an instance, one of the flights here, there was a flight attendant from Philippine airlines, and then there
was a passenger who is deaf and then the passenger was so happy because the flight attendant was able to communicate with him.
And then he uploaded the video in the Facebook and it went viral.
And then during that time we had, I had the chance to talk to that flight attendant.
And then I said, "Oh, I also have the background here in sign language".
And then at the management in our company had this program to train all the cabin crew to be part of that basic sign language.
You know, how will you communicate that deaf passengers?
Like, how will you brief them in case of an emergency, what they will do if you don't have that, if you don't know the signs or the sign language.
So basically for me, that's another learning here in lockdown.
So I have to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn.
30:04 An Huy Tran
Well, it seems like you did a pretty good job in keeping yourself busy.
30:10 Reynaldo J. Casao
I have to, because if you would just, just leave or wake up, sleep again, fly and then go again.
You know, with this situation here in the Philippines, you need to be productive, or should I say, you need to be busy.
30:30 An Huy Tran
And now what is the current situation like now?
30:35 Reynaldo J. Casao
Now we are in the modified enhanced community quarantine.
So no transportation, public transportation, again for starting August 4 to August 18.
No barbershops, only those who are essential needs, like the food establishments are allowed to operate.
Here in our place, we also have the curfew starting, starting eight in the evening until five in the morning.
So no matter what you do, you have to be back before eight?
31:19 Reynaldo J. Casao
Except for us like cabin crews.
So you have to show your IDs and there are, there are securities near the different streets.
So, "are you, are you a resident here?"
And they will check your temperature.
31:39 An Huy Tran
There are two more questions, that I would like to ask you.
The first one would be your future plan.
I mean, for now, it is just a very silly question, at least to me, to ask for, like, oh, what are you going to do in the future?
What is you plan for the next few months?
Because, there are too man uncertainties, for now.
But, I mean, I will just ask this anyway.
32:08 Reynaldo J. Casao
In our company it's so hard to plan.
I'm still working as a cabin crew and of course I will continue.
But I'm also considering to go into business, but I'm still thinking what kind of business.
Because you know, nothing beats with a business minded peron, because you'll be the boss of your own.
But of course with this situation, it's so hard, but I, what I do is I keep on planning maybe this food business, because that's essential.
You know, that's the basic nee,d everyone's basic needs.
Look forward to being able to support your food business and see your business blooming
33:01 Reynaldo J. Casao
33:01 An Huy Tran
in the future.
I hope all the best for the planning for the business.
Getting through all of these, on the lockdown and a lot of uncertainties going through two jobs, learning a lot of new experiences.
What would you say that, is the biggest change?
33:25 Reynaldo J. Casao
I was able to learn how to adapt, you have to acknowledge that there is a change.
You have to adapt, you have to have the ways on how you adapt to that change.
It's a new normal, it's a new thing, but you have to adapt.
And after you adapted that change, you need to embrace the change, because it's, it's your another way of life.
You cannot control it.
You have to embrace the change.
And of course, your positivity should be there.
So it's a matter of mindset on how you will adapt or you will embrace the change.
34:12 An Huy Tran
So be positive and be kind, right?
34:14 Reynaldo J. Casao
Yes, that's right.
Be positive, but not Covid positive.
We also have this new normal announcement.
Would you like to hear it?
34:25 An Huy Tran
Please enlighten me.
34:30 Reynaldo J. Casao
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your flight PR and 2P2958 bound for Mactan Cebu.
We care about your health and safety.
To ensure that you enjoy a healthy, safe, and clean environment, we are all required to wear our face masks during the flight.
They may be loosened or taken down only for eating and drinking.
Also, we will be serving a modified service during your flight.
Once again, this short flight PR and 2P2958 bound for Mactan Cebu.
35:22 An Huy Tran
You have just listened to episode three with Rey Casao, the interview was done by me, An Huy Tran . And this episode was edited by Thomas Reintjes.
Stay tuned for the following episode of Record of Change, when we will hear about a story
of how a restaurant owner in Athens manages his business in the midst of the Pandemic.
Follow us on your favorite podcast provider, and find out more about the stories behind on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or on our website, Recodeofchange.com.
This podcast is implemented by and with members of the Bosch alumni network.