Paying tribute to PAL’s JJB

Photo: Vivienne Tan, daughter of visionary Lucio Tan takes over as OIC of the Philippine Air Line.

At a young age of 62, baby boomer Jaime J Bautista or JJB to friends and acquaintances is finally calling it “No Mas” (no more). For 26 years he went on to a journey that is full of excitement, tumultuous and turbulent. Along with the flight, he had 2 stopovers one in 2010 celebrating his 30th year with the LT Group of companies and one in 2015 when he reached the age of 55 ( usual retirement age in the airline industry).

It is funny that he says that he is currently the oldest Chief Executive in Asia in the airline industry (But yes he is indeed the oldest). But funny in the sense that in the US workforce retiring at the age of 62 is called early retirement (LOL). This lucky dude for all those 26 years was the apple of the eye of one of the richest taipan in the Philippines in the person of Dr Lucio Tan or fondly called El Kapitan. JJB, after all, piloted PAL from being in the red to a now more profitable business portfolio of the LT Group especially during the years of 2014-2016.

JJB started his career at PAL in the early 90’s. He was spotted then from the Sycip, Gorres, and Velayo which then and up to now is one of the top and elite accounting firm in the country. They developed a special friendship and trust from each other. Through all those years he rose from the rank and now holds the highest and most powerful position in the Philippine Airlines as President and COO or Chief Operating Officer. But still, you cannot outdo the success generated by El Kapitan who just like someone else also rose from a mere janitor to according to Forbes become the 2nd richest taipan in 2013.

Last year I had the opportunity to interview JJB during the inauguration and blessing of PAL’s San Francisco office in Burlingame on May 11. The date coincided with the Lucio Tan Day in the City of San Francisco as promulgated by City officials and was attended by several Filipino American community and ecumenical leaders. The interview was a revelation of JJB as a person that is down to earth and always ready to listen. His co-workers see him more as a friend and an ally. Matter of fact, he is one COO who knows most of the pursers and flight attendants.

Dell Merano, Area Manager of PAL’s San Francisco Sales Office says, “We will surely miss him. He is one person that always has a clean desk policy. He has strong leadership skills and is always all ears and readily available” She also added that the highlight of her career is when JJB together with some PAL Executives with her tow went to see as a courtesy call to Brother Eduardo V Manalo, Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo whom they conferred to as one of the Outstanding Filipino of the World.

He will leave PAL graciously and honorably as he vacates his position with PAL with the distinction of being recertified as one of the 10 Four-Star Airlines of Skytrax out of around 800 commercial airlines from all over the world. Great job JJB. We salute you. From the baby boomer to a millennial. Here she comes. The young blood of Philippine Air Line under the tutelage of their new COO (as she is jokingly quoted as saying, “Child Of Owner”) Vivienne Tan. That is her way of telling us that she has the sense of humor, more importantly, the same visionary DNA of El Kapitan. From the looks of it, PAL will be in very good hands and will continue to soar high and remain to be the heart of the Filipino. Good luck and aim high La Kapitana.

As for JJB? We say thank you. Hopefully, your third attempt at retirement will be for real. Retirement, after all, can be summarized in a song by the great Elvis Presley, One for the money, Two for the show and Three to Get Ready. Get ready with your Blue Suede Shoes and on to real leisure travel, STRESS-FREE finally. And yes You Did It Your Way.