At the height of the global pandemic, many women frontliners bravely took on the challenge of playing important roles in helping the country navigate through the new normal. Displaying resilience amidst unsettling conditions and determination to continue providing quality service despite tougher struggles, women have continuously shown power to lead and thrive even in difficult situations and in fields largely associated with men.
Within the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), many female team members have proven their strength to overcome personal challenges and continue to excel in a male-dominated industry. In support of the Philippine Commission on Women’s #WomenMakeChange theme for 2021’s National Women’s Month Celebration, we shine the light on the women who run our LRT1 railways.
Lead Station Supervisor
Having spent nearly 15 years in the rail industry and working for LRT-1, Lou has the task of properly leading the team that directly interacts with customers, including station supervisors, tellers, and other personnel directly performing their functions within the station. With the goal of delivering a reliable and quality customer service to the riding public, the weight on her shoulders is pretty daunting.
As a frontliner, the pandemic has been challenging for Lou. “Isolation, contact restrictions, and economic shutdown completely changed us,” she says.
Many things worried her: the challenge of ensuring the safety of her family in the province and making sure their basic needs are provided, the thought of not seeing them due to travel restrictions, and the probability of getting Covid-19. There was also that fear of losing her job due to the economic crisis.
But like a true leader honed by years of experience, Lou managed to allay her worries and fears. She continued to be “the kind of person who always looked on the brighter side of every situation, facing these times with self-care and care for others.” She keeps her strong faith in God, which are her “best weapons in overcoming these adversities.”
It’s not every day we get to see a woman train operator, but Christine has bravely stepped up to the challenge amidst the risks and responsibilities the job entails.
Working in a male-dominated industry, the pressure of being a woman in her job post is something she’s lived with. But with the pandemic, the anxiety just doubled with the added risk of contracting the virus due to constant exposure to different people.
But Christine says she feels lucky to be working with her LRMC family. “I am very thankful to the company for providing and ensuring the health and safety of employees in our workplace,” she says.
Christine takes extra measures to perform her job well and ensure her and her passengers’ safety. “Drivers must be cautious and must know the basic health safety protocol in this pandemic, like proper wearing of face mask, face shield, proper disinfection, and keeping a safe distance,” Christine says.
Head of Human Resource and Admin
As the primary caretaker of LRMC’s employees, Florence has to look after the well-being and concerns of team members. “Although stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns have always been there, this pandemic brought the employee’s mental health to the forefront,” Florence says.
As a general solution, she ensured that communication lines between management and employees—from top to bottom—remain open at all costs. “As a leader, I can never overemphasize the need to consistently reach out and communicate to our employees,” she says, stressing on the importance of communication, albeit virtual, at a time of physical distancing.
As the head of human resources and administration, there is obviously much on Florence’s plate. But when the pandemic happened, the challenge became even tougher. “None of us had imagined that something like this would come, the sudden shift in work culture has brought a lot of challenges for HR,” says Florence.
This includes their abrupt transition to working remotely/out of office work, which has somehow slowed down their operations as a company. But teamwork, as one of LRMC’s core values, grew stronger and allowed LRMC to deliver efficient service despite the challenging times.
In some ways, the pandemic made the team stronger with team leaders increasing the check-in with their team. The human element in any crisis cannot be ignored, and LRMC’s HR team made sure to support team leaders in addressing concerns, says Florence.
Head of Buildings and Facilities Section & Infrastructure Division Manager
As the head of LRMC’s Buildings and Facilities Section, and manager of the Infrastructure Division, Melca plays a key role in handling the overall management of tracks, buildings and facilities. She also ensures all projects and construction work are done on time.
Like Lou, Melca’s main struggle during the pandemic was balancing her responsibilities between work and home. “This pandemic has not been easy for everyone; it’s painful and worryingl,” she admits. She had to learn to adjust and adapt to new changes and face new responsibilities.
Despite these predicaments, Melca has managed to keep herself on track. “I stop, set and list down my priorities, slow down and focus on the important things first,” she says.
Thanks to a new hobby, which is gardening, she’s able to keep worries off her mind and find a source of joy. “Seeing my plants grow puts a smile on my face,” she says. It’s also a happy conversation topic with her husband and children, who are away from her. Watching funny videos on YouTube and movies on Netflix with her youngest son allow her to relax and spend quality time with him.
Through hard times, she has kept her faith and determination to become better both at home and at work.
Head of Maintenance Planning Section
Working with a more optimized team of engineers and the unavoidable work-from-home scheme during the pandemic, Jireh found it challenging to juggle work and family responsibilities. “As a working mom, I have also been worried about my and my family’s safety,” Jireh admits.
Despite the new challenges, Jireh has managed to harness strength from all her past experiences. “I overcome all my struggles with my faith in God,” she says.
Jireh also focused on having a more positive outlook in dealing with her problems both at work and at home. She’s thankful to have a job she really enjoys and is passionate about, which helps a great deal in overcoming all the challenges she faced during the pandemic.