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  • Writer's pictureArmand

MJ’s Homecoming (Part 2)

JT’s Manukan Granada Dos branch in San Juan City opened in December 2019. During the opening, MJ met the owner, actor Joel Torre for the second time in her life. She first met him in 2010 when her Darys brought her to the company Christmas party. It had seemed like full circle for MJ, but it was not to be. Barely two months on the job, another obstacle loomed large.

On March 15 of 2020, the entire country went on lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Only selected branches of the food chain opened when protocols were relaxed, which were limited to deliveries. Those branches operated on a limited basis with skeletal staffing. New hires like MJ, understandably, had to be benched. At that point, it seemed like there was no end in sight for the global pandemic, the only point of agreement among health experts worldwide was it would take years. Everything depended on how fast a vaccine could be developed.

When others would have given up, MJ hang on. Resilience. It was tough going, but the country and the economy eventually reopened, and JT’s Manukan opened its doors once more. MJ was back, none the worse for wear, it seemed. The night MJ was interviewed for this article, the JT himself was there, entertaining a group of friends from Bacolod. Asked how JT is as a boss, her brief reply was: “Very warm and friendly. Palabati, laging siyang nagtatanong kung kumusta ka na.”

Some would consider this as a nice gesture on his part, and think nothing more of it. However, this was exactly what management guru Simon Sinek pointed to as a trait that highly successful businesses and organizations have in common. “People perform to the best of their potential when they feel safe, when they know that their leaders have their backs.” And this was exactly how MJ felt.

Asked what her workplace meant to her, MJ replied without skipping a beat or pausing to think: “This is my second home. Working here has been a blessing. There are no dull days, and we are here for each other.”

With the interview over, MJ went back to work. She had this “lightness of step” as she exchanged pleasant banter with diners, especially the regulars. She moved around – more like glided – taking orders, bussing tables and serving JT’s namit bestsellers.

MJ definitely looks happy. Darys must be smiling down from heaven. No wonder. She’s finally home.

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