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  • Writer's pictureArmand

Ronald and Ronnie: A Deep Friendship Forged Through a Shared Journey (Part 3)

Ronald, Ronnie and the entire staff were exhausted. Yet they were also euphoric as they realized they had accomplished an extraordinary feat, something they never imagined they were capable of. In retrospect, they also witnessed on their first day at work a demonstration of genuine leadership by the owners, Joel and Cristy. The kind of leadership that inspires people to show up every day and do their best because it tells them: “It’s ok, I’ve got your back.”

The experience had turned out to be a blessing. Things would be hectic at Granada St., especially on weekends, as more diners discovered the delectable spread offered by the small food place tucked away at a quiet part of the city. Thus, it had become second nature for the staff to fill in at an area that was short-handed so they don’t fall behind on the orders.

Ronald would spend the next three years at Granada St., working his way up to being a waiter, cashier and eventually supervisor. Ronnie would man the kitchen for the same period, before both transferred to the commissary. Ronald eventually became head of admin while Ronnie headed up the central kitchen. Before they first met twenty years ago, Ronald and Ronnie were going through their own struggles, and both were yearning and praying for a better life. Both their prayers seemed to have been answered.

Ronald admitted that over the years, he would at times wonder what could’ve been if one his job applications to the continental United States and Canada yielded positive results. But he has no regrets and is happy how things have turned out for him. He has even realized his dream of travelling to a foreign land. In 2019, He was sent by JT’s Manukan Grille to open its store in Guam and has also been on a visit to friends in the US mainland.

Ronnie is grateful for the life that he now has. It is certainly a long way off from that makeshift roadside barbecue stall in Bacolod City. He has also grown professionally, having been responsible for developing the recipes for many of the dishes on the menu of JT’s Manukan Grille. His latest was the “Batchoy,” which remains a bestseller.

They now also view the struggles they went through two decades ago in a positive light – a learning moment. The painful putdown of Ronald by those he looked up to for his decision to work at an “ihaw-ihaw,” and the hand-to-mouth existence that Ronnie had to endure, had inspired both to empower the younger people they now work with. They had become mentoring partners.

Ronald would at times tease Ronnie of his gentle handling of their younger colleagues by always prefacing his advice with the caveat not to take offense. Ronnie’s playful reply would be to point out that Ronald was equally guilty for occasionally cooking for the younger staff.

Before they met, they didn’t have much in common except for having their roots in Bacolod City and were both in search for their place in the sun. What they have now is so much more. They had shared a journey to a better life, a deep and life-long friendship and a common desire to empower their younger colleagues for their own journey through life.

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