Right in front of my laptop, I could see Steve Dailisan in his current office in AirAsia through Zoom. Seeing him was like talking to an old friend who I haven’t talked to for years. But instead of a friend, he’s like your colleague in another department you’ve heard great things about.
This was only my first encounter with him personally, but like many of us, I wouldn’t deny not knowing him at all, being a former TV reporter for a major TV network who says “Steeeeve” in the extros of his reports.
The “Steeeve” extro was probably his claim to fame, as it rang a bell in my memory. No wonder I was surprised when I learned that he was leaving the bright lights of television in a bid to soar high (literally and figuratively) as a pilot.
Fortunately, I was given a chance to interview this broadcast journalist-turned-pilot.
The love for flying
Before becoming a journalist in 2006, Steve applied to be part of an airline’s cabin crew, but was put off when asked, “What does it take to become an achiever,” since as a young fresh college graduate, all he knew about becoming an achiever was within the walls of his university.
Funnily enough, he was asked again a new question during his panel interview for his Master’s in Communications 11 years later: “What will this [degree] do to you?”
Steve spent his 12 years working in the broadcast news media. But even with the great experience and great reputation in the industry, he was still searching for something.
“‘Yung question na ‘yon parang it lingered. What will this do to me? Ito na ba talaga yung gusto ko? [And then] parang by accident I was able to read an Airbus A320 manual and then sabi ko, I know what to do next,” he said. Eventually, Steve took the leap and trained to become a pilot.
First Officer Steve Dailisan’s dream was already coming true, as his career of flying planes for Cebu Pacific was already soaring. Sadly, the lockdown forced him to clip his wings, as only flights were drastically decreased. Worse, he was given the pink slip.
He then felt that things were back to square one. But as someone who has skills up on their sleeve, it wasn’t long until he found a new job. It’s not another huge leap per se, but a wider scope nonetheless. Today, Steve’s job revolves around corporate communications and public affairs for AirAsia.
Still, I thought, being a former journalist must affect his job today. I asked him this because though journalism and public relations have similarities, they are still widely different from each other.
“I think I will have to strike a balance between the heart of a journalist and the heart of being a comms person. I’ve come full circle. I know how it feels to become a journalist who covers the transportation beat, a pilot, so alam mo ‘yun lahat how it works,” Steve shared.
Rightfully so, being a former journalist helped him build a network. Just like his career, his goals now shifted to give everyone a better perspective of what is happening in the aviation industry, especially now that there’s a pandemic.
“I think the challenge now is to make people understand that flying is safe and siguro doon pumapasok ‘yung pagiging piloto ko because I want people to understand that air transportation is the safest form of transport.”
As an airline spokesman, he hopes that he’ll be able to get the message across easily. To achieve this, he used his skills in broadcast journalism and incorporated it to the AirAsia’s campaigns. One example of this is its All Stars At Your Service, of which its first season recently concluded on the airline’s Facebook page.
“Gumawa kami ng news magazine show para mas maging informative [and] fun ‘yung learning para sa tao. Para siyang show sa media na pinasok ko lang sa aviation industry,” he said.
He also added that they are now incorporating corporate social responsibility projects in his company today to help locally stranded individuals to go home to their provinces for free. They also partnered with other organizations to help communities.
“‘Di ba dati sa GMA may mga ginagawa kaming [public service], siyempre lagi tayong tumutulong sa kapwa natin. So dito sa AirAsia dinala ko na rin ‘yun,” he said. “Ang laking tulong talaga nung experience ko as a [journalist] practitioner noon, ‘yung [pagkukwento] mas madali siyang gawin ngayon.”
Steve considered himself as someone who is a conscious “planner.” But through his experiences, he realized that without his knowledge or skills, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
The time he lost his job as pilot was the moment where he looked back to what else he is capable of. He accepted the fact that there are certain things that he will be able to do and there are things that he can’t do. But this didn’t stop him to persevere.
“Within the crisis we’re going through right now, you should feel na there’s no boundaries sa sarili mo because you have to be open to all possibilities, to new learnings, parang you’re limitless,” he added.
As someone who’s still lost as to where I will end up in the couple of years, the way he said it to me felt personal. Not only we came from the same industry, we also believe that being skillful is the most important thing. When you think about it, Steve Dailisan can still fly a plane, be a journalist, and also be in corporate communications. For me that’s inspiring.
“We can be fearless during this time, kasi ano pa ba yung mga hindi mo pwedeng kayanin? Ano pa ba yung mga hindi mo pwedeng gawin? Nothing is impossible for someone who’s really determined and constantly innovating especially during these challenging times.”
Photo screen grab from AirAsia Facebook page.