Words by Marga Buenaventura
The harder you wanna play, the harder you gotta work. We dress in our pressed chinos, we slip on our trusty sweaters, and prepare our baon to become the polished professionals our mothers have always dreamt of.
To shed light on the highs and lows of being career folk, we snuck a peek into the lives of a few local weekday warriors to see what they do to get the job done. More importantly, now that 2014 is coming to a close, we ask our sample labor force just what they think a job well done actually is.
Through the eyes of a public school teacher, an investigative analyst, a pubic servant, and a sales associate, we learn that it takes more than the thought of payday to succeed at work.
24, Public School Teacher – Highway Hills Integrated School
Hey, Dave. What have you and your students been up to today?
Actually, nagbigay ako ng report cards kanina. Okay naman, walang umiyak. (Laughs)
Do you enjoy teaching third graders?
Enjoy… well at first iniisip ko, “Ano ba ‘to, sobrang stressful ng mga bata!” May nagsasapakan doon sa likod, may tumatakbo. Bigla nalang may dumudugo na or something! Sometimes kailangan mo umeffort na, “Lahat, upo! Isa, dalawa… ganyan.” (Laughs) Kaya medyo lumakas yung boses ko dahil sa kanila.
Have you thought of teaching at a private school?
If ever, babalik ako sa CSB (De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde) para magturo ulit sa Deaf School. Pero dito kasi, two years yung contract ko. Nakakatawa lang kasi dati, ayaw ko maging teacher. (Laughs) Pero feeling ko I can always share something I’ve learned. And buti na rin I’m good with kids. I get to know them, I get to know their families more. More grassroots experience yung habol ko. It’s something that really scares me in a sense. I feel inadequate to teach rin. It’s something very challenging on a daily basis.
What are the things you worry about as a teacher?
Mostly yung mga kids na hindi nakakapasok. Like this week, I went to some of their houses to see bakit ganito yung condition nila, bakit eight out of 20 days lang sila pumapasok. May mga families na walang nagbabantay sa anak, kaya kung ayaw ng kapatid niya pumasok, hindi na rin siya papasok. Or dahil wala siyang baon, hindi siya papasok. Siyempre hindi mo rin magagawa lahat, so I just try to share my passion and encourage them to come out of their shells. Nakakatuwa to see them progress, even with something as simple as reading a few words or gumagawa ng homework sa bahay.
Now that the year is ending, what are the things you’d like to improve on job-wise?
I guess I’d like to research more and try more progressive styles of teaching. Ngayon naman I think pina-practice ko siya. More pa sana next year. Ayoko na puro lecture-based lang. I try to make them move more, go out more. Pictures are not enough. I teach Science, and it’s really about exploring.
Mahirap ba maging gwapo teacher? What do you when students have a crush on you?
(Laughs) Grabe naman. At least inspired sila mag-aral, diba?
26, Due Diligence Analyst – Makati-based risk assessment firm
So, Adam, what is it that you do exactly?
I mostly do reports for enhanced due diligence. We’re requested to do research on individuals and companies. Basically we’re trying to reduce business risk across Asia for companies that want to do business with local parties. So for example, if a North American client wants to do business with a Filipino company, then they would ask us to investigate the company, the shareholders, the directors, and any employees that we could find.
Are you guys like spies or detectives, like in Veronica Mars?
Isn’t that the cute blonde one? Then yeah, I think I’ve heard one of my colleagues refer to us as that.
You’re originally based in Canada—why’d you move to the Philippines?
Actually, I have family that lives here. So after I graduated from university, they offered for me to live here and find a job. And so that’s exactly what I’ve done.
What don’t you like about your job?
I guess it would be sitting in one spot for like, eight hours a day, and not doing a lot of physical activity. ‘Cause the jobs I had before were really physically demanding and not office-based. I used to plant pine trees. (Laughs) So I guess that was the biggest adjustment for me. But I make up for it with sports. I play hockey. And I get to walk about 50 minutes to work every day.
You walk to work everyday? How un-Filipino of you.
I’ve noticed that. (Laughs) It’s nice, you know, put the tunes in. Strut it out a little bit. You get to see pretty girls to and from work.
29, Sales Crew – BENCH, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
Hi, Myra! How did you find out about work opportunities for BENCH?
My friend helped my find a job here. This is my first job.
What do you do for the BENCH store?
I work in the men’s section of BENCH in Shangri-La Mall. I want to do my duties well, so I arrange, fold, clean, and welcome BENCH customers to the store. I also like arranging the clothes by color.
What are the challenges of your job?
For me, communication is hard so for customers, I show them my ID. It says that I am Deaf, so that people will know how to talk to me.
Is it easy for them to answer you when they find out?
Sometimes they understand and talk to me in sign language or do hand spelling. If they cannot, they write it down on a cellphone or a piece of paper.
Are there ever customers who aren’t nice to you because it’s hard to communicate?
No, when customers ask for a size they only talk with their hands to say L or M. Or they point to the color that they want. If it’s hard to understand, my workmates help me. They are very nice. I teach them how to spell in sign language also.
Would you ever want to explore another job in the future?
I have been working for two years in BENCH now. I just try to show my manager that I am hardworking and maybe my contract will be extended. I don’t know if I want to be in another company or stay in BENCH, but I’m very happy to be accepted as a Deaf person working in sales for BENCH. It is good to have a company like this for Deaf persons.
24, Airport Immigration Staff – Bureau of Immigration
Hi, Waki! What do you do exactly in your job?
I was hired as part of a project launched by the current commissioner. Because of the renovations in Terminal 1, it’s made a lot of passengers very inconvenienced. It’s been really hot, sobrang sikip. A lot of people have been irate. Immigration has no control over the airport’s infrastructure, so in a way to offset the troubles, the BI hired people like me to give assistance for customer relations. I answer departure or arrival concerns. I’m also an admin officer sa airport. Aside from what I do sa immigration, I also process papers for various purposes like airport to airport transfers and visas upon arrival.
You need a lot of patience for this job, I’m sure.
Oh yeah, you have no idea. Because we were the first hires for the project, we had no idea what to expect. As in, you come into a room and you know everybody hates you immediately. Immediately. Especially my shift, 3 o’clock in the afternoon to 12 midnight, yan yung peak time. Maraming pasahero sa airport. Siyempre, nagpupuno ang immigration areas, maraming naiinis. Even though it’s not your fault, ikaw yung pinaka-visible na entity ng government.
Does the job ever get boring?
Obviously, we have to rest. But at the arrival area, we stand three hours at a time. Sometimes four, depende sa tao. Especially pag nagbagyo. The worst that ever happened was during Glenda. It was also Ramadan, and I was fasting. All the flights were delayed. So you can imagine, ang daming tao stuck sa immigration area. And there were power outages. It’s not always a busy day, but most of the time it is.
Have you ever had to deport anyone?
Not allowing someone to enter the country is actually called exclusion. My first one was pretty memorable. So we don’t let sex offenders come into the country. Eh may dumating na ganoon from the US. I’m actually older than him! Kasama niya yung mom niya, but we had to exclude him. It wasn’t so easy kasi nakaka-konsensiya din. There a lot of people naman who want to leave the country for work, but they don’t have the right papers. And you see them, nagmamakaawa sila kasi they want to work for their families. But we can’t, ’cause that’s human trafficking. It’s hard, siyempre. Immigration officers have feelings too. (Laughs)
But you’re happy with your job anyway?
I’m proud of what I do. It’s not perfect, the system’s not perfect, but it’s important to contribute. Some people complain nang complain nalang without doing anything. Plus, there’s one thing I love about immigration officers. During peace time, diba walang giyera ngayon, this is where the war is fought. The battle against human trafficking, transnational crimes, it’s where stuff like that happens. Everyday. If you only knew the situations we come in.