Bill’s Update #16 – It’s All About the People
When meeting people for the first time, the most asked question of me is “Why Yap – what is it about this place that made you make it your home?” The answer to this question, at least for me, is very simple – the people. The Yapese people are the nicest people I have ever been associated with and every day I am on this island, surrounded by my family, friends and co-workers is a blessing. Life has been very good to me. This brings me to today’s main topic – Graduation Season.
Although my wife and I are presently in the Philippines and not on Yap, our daughter Numie has been keeping us up to date on this year’s graduation season. Our North American friends are familiar with these events but I am not sure if my European friends know what school graduations entail. Basically, when our kids and grandkids go from Kindergarten to elementary school, from elementary school to high school and from high school to college, they receive a diploma and are honored by their parents, grandparents, teachers, extended family, fellow students, and the community.
Our son and daughter-in-law, OP and Pattie had a son and daughter, OO & TT, graduate from kindergarten and pre-kindergarten this month. Our oldest granddaughter (Numie’s daughter), Bubu also completed her 8th year in elementary with an impressive finish on the A Honor Roll. This was a cause for celebrations in honor of the moment. While some schools started to adapt to the American-style graduation gown, most schools let their students dress up in traditional Yapese dress which is a thuw for the boys and a grass skirt for the girls. While the graduates get overwhelmed with leis and gifts, the other students perform a traditional dance in honor of the graduates.
Apart from my own grandchildren, I consider our staff’s kids to be part of my family. There are several who graduated and I will get to them in a moment but there is a special one in my heart – Tilo Trux. What makes me single out Tilo? We share a birthday; I have known his mom’s family since I was in the Peace Corps in 1976-1978 and I have become very close to his dad since he “washed ashore in 2001”. Tilo’s Mom worked with us at the Manta Ray, his dad is our Food & Beverage Manager and has been with us for the past 20 years and I watched Tilo go from a newborn to a decorated high school graduate. We all know that kids grow up, and that we have to let them go at a certain point. Tilo graduated from Yap Catholic High with honors and will move to Guam to enroll in the University of Guam on a merit scholarship. His dream is to pursue a study and career in Management & Tourism, and I’m more than confident that he will be successful in pursuing that dream. I know he will visit his parents from time to time, so we’ll see him during those breaks, but nevertheless, it tells me again, that time goes by too quickly. We all hope Tilo will return to Yap with a degree in the field he wants and lead the island to the next phase of development and progress. I want to congratulate Detlef and Ruth Ann for raising such a fine young man.
Other members of the Manta Ray Family to graduate this year are Josh and Dylan Falow, sons of our concierge Richard and his wife Jamie. Callista’s son Jacob Gamow. Carmen Dugwen’s niece, Liberty Laatmol who graduated with Josh, Dylan and Tilo from Yap Catholic High School. The youngest graduate from our staff was AJ, our dive guide Kintu’s son, who graduated with TT from kindergarten. Each of these young people is very special to me, my family and all our co-workers. We are a tight-knit, family-owned and operated dedicated dive resort, and these are “our” kids. Congratulation everyone! Pops and Nen send their love and best wishes for your futures.
Learning New Skills
As you might remember from my blog post in September 2020, I told my staff “if you want to learn a new skill or get an extra diploma, or certificate, this is the time to do it.”
Despite the fact we don’t know when we’re reopening again, we have begun cross-training our staff.
Some of you may know Gordon from the days when he was a Yap Diver’s dive guide and boat captain, while others will know him from his time assisting our Brewmeister Mr. Fredy Gull in the brewing of our award-winning beer. Recently Gordon took on the challenge of learning to bake. It’s our intent to promote Gordon to the position of Head Baker and he’s doing an awesome job! From our famous stone money cookies to the pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, dive snacks and our new hoagie sandwich bread, he’s proving to be able to handle it all with ease and aplomb.
JP, who pre-pandemic was working at the dive shop, showed that he has a feel for maintenance as well. Together with our regular maintenance team, he’s making sure that the pool stays clean, and the property is maintained allowing us to be ready when we can welcome you again.
Callista, who you may know from the Front Desk will also be crossed trained in the F&B department while maintaining her role as a receptionist.
If you have been on the Mnuw for Happy Hour or dinner, you will know Erin. She is always smiling, cool calm and collected, and ready for a chat while also ensuring your order is being taken care of. Since our floating bar and restaurant is not open yet, Erin has been training in the Taro Leaf Spa operations and becoming an expert in massages, pedicures, and manicures.
Not many of you will know Cecilia as she works in the back-of-the-house doing our laundry and cleaning the public areas. With very little laundry these days, Cecilia is showing that she has a “green thumb” and is maintaining our grounds.
As soon as we are sure of our reopening date, we will be bringing back more of our Manta Ray Family and begin cross-training them. We plan to return to our roots and operate with a small, highly motivated staff and this cross-training will not only make the job more interesting and rewarding for our staff, but it will also allow us to become even more personal with our guests.
I want to share a few pictures of the progress, Detlef, Larry and Boogie are making on the new Crow’s Nest bar and our breakfast buffet. They are doing an amazing job. All that’s missing is you!
Peeing on my Flowers
A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 bill fell out onto the sidewalk.
Noticing this, a policeman stopped her, and said, “Ma’am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”
“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me, Officer.”
“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. “Where did you get all that money? You didn’t steal it, did you?”
“Oh, no, no”, said the old lady. “You see, my back yard is right next to a golf course. A lot of golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, ‘why not make the best of it?’ So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, ‘O.K., buddy! Give me $20 or off it comes!'”
“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing. “OK. Good luck! Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?”
“Not everybody pays!”