There’s no such thing as a goal too high.
If there’s one man whose dreams have soared higher than the clouds, it’s Captain Stanley Ng, the president and COO of Philippine Airlines. Now on the season two finale of CHiNOY TV’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart, Ng recounts his journey of soaring through the skies, from training to be a pilot to now leading the country’s premier airline, and shares his insights on what it means to be a person of nationwide service.
Passion requires clarity
As a son raised in a traditional Chinoy family, Stanley Ng was raised with certain expectations in mind. He was meant to take on a proper job. He was meant to contribute to the family business. But what he chose to do instead was to attend piloting school — a choice that initially went unsupported by his parents due to its “unconventional” nature.
“My parents expected me to actually study hard, find a job, or at least do my own or continue the family business. But that was never my intention, even as a kid,” said Ng. “I was playing a lot of video games as well, so my friends actually encouraged me. Since I have good psychomotor skills and analytical skills, they suggested to me that why don’t I just try to become a pilot? That’s how it all started.”
Ng’s experience in the airline industry humbly began from the ground. He served as a customer relations assistant for a year before deciding to apply for the PAL Flying School in 2004. After completing his training, he proceeded to start his service as a second officer, managing responsibilities in navigation and radio coordination. Over the next few years, he then rose through a series of promotions, ascending to the roles of first officer and captain before finally assuming the position of the president and COO on May 26, 2022.
Notably, Ng is the first pilot to become the airline’s president since the 1960s. And it’s an experience that he especially values.
“I actually learned quite a bit later in my career, when I was promoted to become a captain. It was way back in 2014. So before that, I didn’t realize the responsibility behind being a pilot was so big that you carry so many lives inside the cabin. You transport them to connect them with their families or even business travelers to make transactions happen. And even transporting goods all over the world. There’s a deeper purpose [to] becoming a pilot, which I really want the younger generations of pilots to realize earlier in their career,” said Ng.
Given the high stakes involved, clear decision making is one skill that Ng has consciously developed over the course of his career. If there is one thing that he has learned while being captain, it’s that he needs to take care of his body and mind in order to properly accomplish his responsibilities.
“When you realize the responsibility is really high, that’s the time that you prioritize. You might not think about your flight tomorrow. You might not be that disciplined to actually still have enough rest for your flight. But the moment I realized that, [it] immediately became my priority to make sure I’m always in good condition because I’m carrying so [many] lives behind me. Their families depend on us as pilots to deliver or to bring them to their destination safely,” explained Ng.
“A quality of being a good pilot, I would say, is presence of mind. You should always be focused on the task at hand, so you’ll be able to make decisions that are crucial,” maintained Ng. “When you’re a first officer, you look to the left, [and] there’s your captain to guide you on what to do. But when you’re a captain, you’re already seated on the left side. You look to the left and see yourself [on the window], so there’s no one to actually help you make decisions any more. You will be the ultimate decision maker of the flight.”
With passion comes responsibility
After stepping up to his position as the president of Philippine Airlines, Ng has more than realized the scope and responsibility of his role, especially now during the pandemic.
“I realized I wanted to become a pilot so I could use my skills and see the world. Come to think about it, it’s actually quite a noble job because you’ll be connecting people from all over the world. With the pandemic, we saw that the airline industry is so important in [transporting] medicine, vaccines, PPEs, and face masks to actually save lives. [In] reality, there’s a lot of hard work behind it,” said Ng.
In a sense, being a part of the airline industry now means not only transporting people but saving lives. It means bringing Filipinos home to be with their families during uncertain times. It means contributing to the global fight against COVID-19.
“I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs since I joined the airline in 2003, but the pandemic is really unprecedented, and the challenge is really daunting, especially for the industry. During the pandemic, it was challenging, but you’ll be surprised [with] how many pilots and cabin crew actually volunteered to actually do the repatriation flights to bring our kababayans back home. We also did a lot of cargo flights, even to our offline stations — to places that we’ve never been before. That’s really a call of duty to everyone,” elaborated Ng.
“So first of all, this is really a service for the country. We will make the Philippines proud again through Philippine Airlines. [With] the heart of the Filipino, we serve our passengers with extra care,” stated Ng proudly.
Catch the final episode of this season’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart on CHiNOY TV’s Youtube channel. We’ll be back with more soon!