MANILA -- After becoming the Philippines' first transgender flight attendants, Jess Labares and Mikee Vitug, set out to break another stereotype in aviation: the flight stewardess as "servidora" (servant).
Flight attendants are also the aircraft's safety officers, even as passengers mostly see them pushing meal carts and distributing airport cards, said the pair, who work for the country's largest airline, Cebu Pacific.
Labares and Vitug told ANC's Headstart that they got no special treatment and underwent the same procedures as their colleagues.
"We are more than just servers we are the safety officers of the flight. We make sure that all of the passengers are safe and secured and comfortable," said Vitug.
"Parang lahat ng bagay kailangan naming idaan in a professional way and also we were trained in self-defense," she said.
Cebu Pacific cabin crew fly 4 to 6 times daily, Vitug said.
"What I'm thankful of is that Cebu Pacific really embraces us, they've been extremely happy of having us. We can feel the warm welcome by our colleagues, the other departments in Cebu Pacific," said Labares.
Vitug and Labares said they knew they were different from other children at the onset and credited their parents for being supportive.
"We respect our elders so it's like without the blessings of our parents it's like hindi ka kumpleto without your parents blessings so it really is a big deal," Vitug said.
(We respect our elders so without our parents' blessings it's like we're not complete, so parents' blessing really is a big deal.)
"What we want people to focus is that we inspire people regardless of whoever we are because we want people to focus on 'Oh yeah, they're trans woman but they can do anything that they want'," Vitug said.
Labares pressed for the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, which seeks to protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community from discrimination, is passed in Congress.
"SOGIE bill is perfect. SOGIE bill is not just exclusive for the LGBT community--it is for everyone. It umbrellas everyone so this promotes equality towards workforce, public utilities," she said.