Dec 13-17, 2017
Back to Loboc
Location: Fox and the Firefly Cottages, Loboc (municipality), Bohol (province), Philippines
Loboc would have been a 'been there done that' place after my recent 30-day stay. However, the good owners of Fox and the Firefly Cottages needed someone who can look after their resort/staff during their holiday absence. They asked if I could be that guy. I've lived in resorts and hotels the last 8 years of my traveling. I already know what works and what doesn't. I also have my own ideas I'd like to test. I said yes.
The bus trip from Ubay took 3 hours (P80) but otherwise painless including top-loading my bicycle which they charged P50! Disembarking at the Loboc market, I mounted my bike with all my luggage and rode to Fox.
Fox and the Firefly
It was good to be back at Fox and Firefly. It's one of the few upscale river resorts that keep to certain standards - food, facilities, service, etc. Things were busy as 3 luxury cottages were being rushed to meet the Christmas bookings. It was also good to see the couple, Fred and Joan again. I'm just glad to see Joan before she left the following day.
General Staff Meeting
My arrival was just in time to join a general staff meeting where I was introduced as the supervisor who will oversee the resort during the absence of the owners. I gave a brief talk explaining to the staff that my primary role is to be the owners' eyes and ears, and also to optimize things as I see the need. I also assured the staff that my role is not to police them but also to ensure employee moral is high and everybody is happy. I encouraged them to talk to me if something comes up.
World Peace Travelers
When I was told to stay in a dorm room with other travelers, I was a little unprepared. However, when I found out they were 3 beautiful ladies, I insisted on being in that dorm room and nowhere else! After 30 days in Ubay with practically no interaction, I relished being 'back'. I hung out with them - Charlene, Jade and Marlou. They also tagged me along to meet their colleague in Carmen, Merle, for world peace talk. Their crusade is all about a greener planet and empowerment. Along the way, we stopped to check-out the tarsiers in Bilar. In Carmen, we went deep into the interior to reach Merle's place. We were offered lots of healthy eats. The talk focused on the community development planed for the area.
When the 3 ladies left, another lady from Quebec moved into the dorm room - Marie. Initially, it was just friendly greetings, but ultimately, we found ourselves in long conversation about existential things, career and challenges. We also took a bike ride into town and ate traditional Filipino carinderia food. Like always, just as things were becoming comfortable, she had to leave. As a traveler myself, I've somehow gotten used to that. C'est la vie, as I would French it. Thankfully, there is Facebook.
On the first 2 days, I already identified a good number of resort issues that could be addressed. I had to write it down at once before they become familiar and unnoticeable. The issues invariably fall in the "not known by the staff because no one complains about them" and "too small to complain about but enough to be annoying for the guest". In short, they are the invisible or hidden issues no one is addressing - eg, the clanging metallic sound of a fan which is not too audible in the daytime, but loud enough at night to deprive sleep to the light sleepers.
I also had my first taste of HR trouble-shooting. It was the most interesting exercise for me. With my open invite for the staff to freely talk to me, one employee confided in me about a sticky issue. I talked to all parties involved and they were all saying different things. Like a lawyer, I had to cross-examine them to find out who was lying, who was telling a half-truth, who was rewriting the events, who was misleading me, who was manipulating the facts, etc. But ultimately, I put together the pieces and identified the liar(s) - who was crafty on being sneaky and evasive. The liar, already cornered, apologized. I warned them not to insult my intelligence again by trying to spin me around. Being the first salvo, I had to put my foot down and tell them point-blank not to manipulate me again. I was stern but not confrontational. All I wanted was to fix things so that employee relationships are harmonious and morale being high. It's difficult enough for the staff just doing their job, let alone dealing with festering internal bickerings. In the end, I think they appreciated the outcome and the role I played. Lesson: you simply cannot make a hasty judgement until you hear all sides and make sense of the conflicting versions.
It's interesting to think that given the small size of the resort, the staff still have their own micro-intramurals perhaps under the radar of the owners. If not addressed, it festers and decreases employee morale - which leads to unproductiveness, factions, absenteeism and alienation. I'm sure this kind of scenario is present in all establishments - the intricacies of the human factor.
I don't think I can be a fulltime HR manager - it will wear me out if I have to deal with human issues and all the baggages that go along with it. I have no patience with liars, abusive people and those who try to defraud a fair system.
Under the Weather
I wish I could be more active but I have been under the weather the past 3 days. My energy is low and I sleep a lot. When my strength returns, I wish to hold a karma yoga class for the guests and staff.
Even though I have long imagined being something of a resort/hotel optimizer, I'm still on new ground as this is the first time I'm doing this. I know I only have about 30 days so everything is all good. I'm learning a lot and I love it.
Reader Comments:Karen Huerte
(Dec 16, 2017) Christmas in loboc is everyday from the Dec 25 to Feb 2 we have this so called tradition 'suroy' you will be entertained by kids caroling and musicians good month to come back to Loboc!
(Dec 16, 2017) Might pass by soon
(Dec 16, 2017) Yan ang mga gusto ko bro
(Dec 16, 2017) Wow... wish to visit this place soon..
(Dec 16, 2017) My haven babes
Loboc, Bohol, Philippines
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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