When opportunity knocks, open the door and offer it a drink. Take it from ID119 Janelle Frances Ang—the first female bartender of The Great Room of Manila Marriott Hotel. In an official interview with The Benildean, she recounted the beginning of the journey and the challenges that molded her to be who she is today.
Where it all began
Life is full of serendipitous moments, and for Ang, bartending was one of them.
Entering the industry was never part of her plan, but she decided to take a leap of faith in Whisky Live Manila 2022, where she was chosen to represent the College in the Whiskey Live Meets the Academe Competition. This opened doors for her in the industry and her interest in bartending grew.
Cocktails are not a simple mix of juices but a well-designed concoction of flavors and components that proved to be a test for Ang. The overflow of ideas and unique characteristics were both a hindrance and cause for success as she experimented with raw ingredients and various flavor profiles. During the interview, Ang greatly appreciated her mentors who challenged her and guided her during the whole process. She also mentioned Manila Marriott Hotel as an integral part of her success.
Creative, complex, and technical are the three words Ang would use to describe the drink.
“During the competition, you'd wonder about the flavors of the cocktail because all I did was just put liquid on top of the other. But when you look closer, each ingredient, each aspect of the drink has its own complex flavors connected in technical ways,” Ang said.
The practicum experience
After Whiskey Live Manila, Ang joined Manila Marriott Hotel as a part of her practicum in the College. Her experience was difficult, especially since she started in December—the industry’s peak season. She struggled in the high-pressure environment as it was her first time away from her family for Christmas and New Year’s.
“It was also in this season where I saw with my bare eyes the sacrifices hoteliers give just to make other people's celebrations memorable and worthwhile. It was in this season when I realized that the industry is definitely not for everyone,” Ang remarked. The experience gave her a deeper respect for hoteliers who miss important holidays with their family for the sake of making others feel special.
Being the first female bartender in the Manila Marriott Hotel and landing the position straight out of college pushed Ang to be exceptional. She admitted that being female in a male-dominated field is challenging, especially when people question her capabilities.
“The bar industry is a male-dominated industry. So what they can do, I should be able to do as well. Being the only female bartender, it would definitely paint a question on people's minds about my capabilities and my skills,” Janelle noted.
Despite the difficult path she paved, she remembered that the journey can also be memorable—filled with tears, laughter, and, of course, fulfillment. She recollected her journey and never once regretted the experiences or hardships she experienced, believing that they were key factors to her success and life now.
Benilde as an integral part to success
According to Ang, “Benilde, together with my family, friends, mentors and blessings from God, is the sole reason I am where I am today.” She thanks her professors who introduced her to the industry early and who continue to support her bartending journey today. She affirms that they are a pillar in her strong foundation and continue to challenge her to be extraordinary. “To be able to feel and experience their support, it really drives me to do better with the opportunities that come my way,” she expressed.
“For those who are doubtful of what to do next, if there is an opportunity that opens up, even if there is only a small chance of you enjoying it, take it. Take it because you'll never know how life changing taking the opportunity can be,” Ang shared.
She encourages aspiring bartenders to take every opportunity as they may well be life changing. “Build your own road… Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out amongst the crowd.”
Take it from Ang—a proud Benildean and one of the only two representatives of the country in the ASEAN Bartending Championship 2023.