“QA”, “queuing”, “EOP”, “ACW”, “AHT”, “avail”… If you are familiar with these terms, then you are one of the thousands kolboys and kolgirls in the Philippines.
We belong to the sleep deprived, nicotine inhaling, cab riding new breed of Filipino youth. We infuse our anemic, caffeinated veins with ferrous sulfate everyday just so we won’t be ‘NCNS’ (no call no show) on our next shift. Literally, ginagawa naming araw ang gabi.
Glamorous? Well if you consider swaying down Ortigas Avenue wearing Paris Hilton shades at 8am in the morning looking dog tired while everybody else is fresh and new as glamorous, then we are the kings and queens of glamour.
Bohemian? Ha ha! Fat chance! We follow a very rigid schedule; we cannot go on over breaks, we cannot hang-up on cursing customers, cannot refuse calls. And be still my complaining urinary tract, have to ask for approval first to answer nature’s call.
We are like prisoners in our own stations for 8 whole hours. To shed some light into this, it is not in any way Bohemian; I’d like to call it Spartan.
I can’t help but be catty and melodramatic about it. We say good morning when we all know that everybody but us (at least in this part of the Pacific) is in their deepest sleeps. We say (with an audible smile) “I’d be glad to assist you”, when we left our feverish son under the auspices of his yaya.
We afford to miss the family occasions, national holidays because we know that we will be compensated. Every birthday of a family member that we miss means P700 more to pay the bills, rent, and tuition fee. Heck and the pay for every national holiday that we worked for are allotted for the high government taxes that we are paying. Yes, my friends, we are paying for the supposed street lights along the avenues and highways that we brave every night.
Contented as cats are? No we are not. Laway lang ang puhunan, so they say but we are in one of the most stressful, brain cell draining jobs. We are just like the rest of the working class, overworked and underpaid. We are forced to defend the big banks, superstores, telecoms or any account that we are handling. Just like any proletariat, we are alienated from these giants that we work for. We apologize for things that we do not have anything to do with. We fix problems that to start with, we did not create. We are the cheap, apologetic and docile answering machines on the other end of the line. The receiving end of the ire and rants of shortchanged customers.
Apolitical? I beg to disagree. As I’ve very well stated above, we are tax paying citizens like the rest of the Filipino population. Yes, most of us only get the latest news from Libre (while riding the MRT on our way to work), but we’re also appalled on the P200, 000 bonus those solons got last Christmas, we are also furious with this government spending half of the national budget on debt servicing so that it can borrow more.
Much more, we’re also enraged when this shameless woman cheated her way to Malacanang.
We may be speaking in English more than half of our waking hours, but it doesn’t make us less Filipinos. We share the sentiments and burdens of every landless farmer, laid off factory worker, out of school youth, every hungry Filipino mouth. We give time to mourn over slain activists, priests, journalists and innocent civilians.
Most importantly, we share the aspirations of the Filipino people to build a just society where we can say “I’d be glad to assist you” and actually mean it.
(article written for January 08 issue of Pinoy International)