Inspiring Stories from the Gokongwei Group Heroes, Part II

Leading by example, they show us how to dream big, make the right choices, and get things done

Through the stories of the pioneer Gokongwei Group Hero Awardees, more and more people – both within and outside the conglomerate – have been inspired to live by the group’s core values of Entrepreneurial Mindset, Integrity, and Stewardship.

In the second installment of our coverage of the 10 Gokongwei Group Heroes, we draw attention to Leny Tomas of URC Packaging Group, Arman Palmis of Cebu Pacific, and Eleazar Hermida of 1Aviation Groundhandling Services Corp., whose stories tell us how to dream big, make the right choices, and get things done.

Leny Tomas - The Courageous Hero of URC Packaging Group

Being a hero involves integrity, sacrifice, and a deep sense of purpose and commitment. Leny Tomas, the Human Resources and Administrative Manager of URC Packaging Group has consistently demonstrated these qualities since her first day on the job. Her top priority is employee well-being, which has infectiously rubbed off on her colleagues and teammates.

"I'm a people person at work. My purpose is to ensure our people are happy working at URC," shares Leny.

When challenges arise, Leny is always up to the task, as exemplified by one particular incident.

A few years ago, Ronnie Sauro, a finishing operator at the Simlong plant in Batangas, was on his way to work on the night shift when he became an innocent victim in a shooting incident. Lamination supervisor Napoleon Tenorio, Leny's colleague and friend, called her up in the middle of the night to ask for help.

Though she was about to turn in for the night, Leny quickly made her way to the Jesus of Nazareth Hospital in Batangas to assess the situation and ensure the safety of the affected party. With Leny’s help, they were able to get Sauro admitted and operated on in a timely manner. In a recent interview, Sauro shared his belief that Leny’s actions helped save his life.

"The first thing that came to mind was this is a life, which is beyond my control, but there are things around in that incident that are within my control. So, I did what was necessary," shares Leny.

With her brave heart, Leny became a symbol of inspiration to her colleagues. Her calm, measured response in a time of crisis showed her unwavering dedication to the company's core values, especially integrity.

Leny is a model of consistency, no matter how big or small the task or responsibility given to her. She always strives to be transparent, honest, and accountable, embodying and valuing integrity in all aspects of work. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining a good professional reputation, Leny said, "Once integrity is compromised, it will be forever tainted."

Arman Palmis - The Relentless Hero of Cebu Pacific

The continuing career journey of Arman Palmis, a ground support equipment (GSE) mechanic and trainer at Cebu Pacific, stands as a testament to the enduring pursuit of excellence. His commitment to improvement not only merits recognition, but also serves to inspire others, motivating them to steadfastly pursue their own dreams and aspirations.

Formerly a third-party employee, Arman made his way into Cebu Pacific fueled by his dream of wearing that famous yellow uniform one day. As soon as he got in, he focused on investing in himself by joining company training programs, reading relevant industry materials, and learning from experts. His dedication to self-improvement and love for his work empowered him to move up the ranks and deepen his involvement in Cebu Pacific, which he lovingly calls "5J" – CEB’s flight designator, for those in the know.

Arman's story demonstrates the importance of perseverance in the pursuit of better opportunities in life. It wasn't always a smooth ride, he shared. "I started at the lowest position, but I always had diligence, openness to learning, and patience." Although he lacked industry knowledge and experience at first, he strove to stay focused and inquisitive. But more important, “I also always pour my heart into everything I do," he said in Filipino.

Jennygilda Gonzales, CEB’s GSE Manager, recalled a critical moment when Arman reported to work very early during a heavy storm in order to support his colleagues in the group. Explaining his mindset, Arman said, “If one tow tug breaks down, you can imagine the impact. It can cause delays. But if I’m able to service it quickly, it will help our team.” 

Arman remains eager to not only improve his skills, but to generously share his learnings with others, as a Cebu Pacific GSE Trainer of Trainers. Truly exemplifying a person with an entrepreneurial mindset, his journey highlights the endless possibilities that come with hard work and a determination to grow.

Eleazar Hermida - The Hard-Working Hero of 1Aviation Groundhandling Services

When it comes to maintaining safety in the workplace, hard work and the determination to get things done are absolute musts. The role also calls for consistency, forward-thinking, and passion. Eleazar "Eli" Hermida, 1Aviation's safety specialist, has these qualities in spades and has demonstrated them time and again in his 13 years of service in the Gokongwei Group.

One of the pioneer employees of 1Aviation, Eli's heart to serve fuels his daily pursuits. His keen attention to detail is his strongest asset, ensuring safety and security across the board for colleagues, clients, and partners.

In the ground handling team’s daily operations, safety is a top priority, even above on-time performance. This was on full display during a destructive weather disturbance in May 2023. While at a meeting, Eli and the team were made aware of a yellow lightning alert that worsened to red. In their line of duty, all groundwork must stop when a red alert is raised. A few minutes later, safety marshal reports showed that various aviation equipment had toppled over, with some even falling over the airport fence.  

After the red lightning alert was lifted, Eli's team immediately assessed the situation and strategized a plan to resume operations as soon as possible. Despite being already off-hours, the team hit the ground running and tirelessly carried out the grueling task of recovery at hand.

Giving full credit to his team, Eli emphasized that everyone on the team worked with an entrepreneurial mindset, enabling them to find innovative ways to remedy the situation, minimize damage and loss, and take care of company resources.  

As 1Aviation’s lead safety investigator, Eli is quick to spot potential issues that may arise and result in safety concerns later on. He understands that every tweak in the operations and introduction of new processes and equipment requires a thorough safety assessment to avoid injury or harm to its staff or future losses for the company. 

For Eli, the big picture is all about ensuring a safe environment for everyone, where people can go to work safely and return home safely. In being named a Gokongwei Group Hero, Eli has been inspired to dig deeper and do even more, guided by his life principle, Amare et Servire (to love and serve), in all things possible.

Just like the previously featured heroes – Robinsons Bank’s Edwin Allarey, JG Summit Olefins Corporation’s Matet Matalog, and Universal Robina Sugar Milling Corporation’s Lito Burgas – Leny, Arman, and Eli echo the core values of the group, which every member of this growing conglomerate and professional should aspire to live by.

Visit this website again in the coming weeks to learn more about the next set of Gokongwei Group Heroes.