SINGAPORE - Auxiliary police officer Isaac Pandian learnt Spanish more than two decades ago but never thought he would ever use it to help another person in trouble.
The Certis Cisco aviation security officer was on duty at Changi Airport last November when he used his language skills to help a passenger who had lost her passport while in transit, leaving her stranded in Terminal 1 for two days.
The 44-year-old is one of 3,209 people from 132 companies to receive an excellent service award this year from the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA).
A total of 935 star awards, 1,027 gold awards and 1,247 silver awards were given out at a ceremony held at the National University of Singapore's Cultural Centre on Monday (Nov 26).
Mr Pandian, who has been with Certis for 21 years, assisted a Peruvian citizen who lost her passport while in transit in Singapore.
While detained in Terminal 1, Ms Mariluz struggled to communicate with the officer in charge as she could speak only Spanish.
She felt lost and afraid, until Mr Pandian, who has been posted to Changi Airport for the past 11 years, stepped in to act as translator.
He even managed to contact the Peruvian Embassy here during a weekend, and helped to arrange a temporary passport and a new flight home for Ms Mariluz.
The former seaman picked up the language while interacting with locals during voyages to Latin America before joining Certis in 1997.
"It felt meaningful that a language I learnt so many years ago could unexpectedly be put to good use to help the lady," said Mr Pandian, who received the star award, along with a letter of appreciation from the Peruvian Embassy.
"I always believe in helping people in need without expecting anything in return. This is what motivates me to provide excellent service to anyone I meet."