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  • Writer's pictureArmand

MJ’s Homecoming (Part 1)

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Thirty-something Josephine Meraña – “MJ” to family and friends – is a single mother of two kids (a preadolescent daughter and a son several years younger). She has been part of JT’s Manukan Granada Dos branch in San Juan City, one of the staff at the “front” of the house, since it opened in December 2019.

The first thing one would notice about MJ is her sunny disposition. Though a face mask covered her mouth, her eyes exuded a radiant smile as she shook hands and said hi. Just a quick note: a smile is genuine if the eyes sparkle and wrinkles called “laugh lines” appear around them. MJ’s story is quite compelling, her simple and straightforward narration, oddly enough, made it more impactful. Perhaps countless others have had similar experiences, it’s still a story about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity that is unique to her.

Seven years ago, in 2016, MJ suffered a tragic loss. A lingering illness claimed Darys, her long-time partner and the love of her life. On top of having to cope with the pain of her loss, she and her young child faced the crisis of an uncertain future. Before he got sick, Darys earned a decent income working at – yes, JT’s Manukan, starting as a server then eventually moving to the grill station. That income, which amply provided for the needs of their small family, was gone.

As she shared how she dealt with that crisis in her life, one word immediately came to mind – Resilience. Over the next three years, she tried her hand in various jobs; catering staff, events coordinator, events team leader as well as other temp gigs in between. She never once mentioned how hard life was for them during that period, though one could imagine how extremely challenging it must have been. Setting aside her grief, she focused on what was essential, which was to provide for her child’s needs. Self-pity was a luxury she could not afford. What got them through this difficult phase was a combination of maintaining a positive mindset, tenacity and industry.

As 2019 came around, MJ felt the need to find a job that offered more stability. In June of that year, she saw online a job opening for a server at a food chain – JT’s Manukan. She immediately e-mailed her CV. Months passed, but there was no feedback. Then in November, she got a call asking her to show up for an interview. The call time set for the interview was 8am. It was a Wednesday, and she had to travel from Subic from a gig at an event, finally arriving at 11am for the interview.

On the road to the interview, MJ thought she had blown her chance. The people at the food chain’s HR department, however, were quite understanding and she felt the interview went well. She had two days to submit all the requirements, which she somehow managed. During the interview, she never revealed that her late life partner used to work for the food chain. She wanted to make it on her own.

(To be continued)

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