I turned 21 last August and decided to work as a call center agent. I was lucky to be accepted to one of the most prestigious outsourcing companies based in Makati.
One of the requirements for employment is an NBI clearance. So at 6 a.m. last Aug. 31, I was on my way to the NBI satellite office located at the Quezon City Hall. When I reached the place, I was surprised to see that a long line had already formed. I estimated that more than 1,000 people were there to get their clearance.
At about 7:30 a.m., they started handing out number stubs. I felt lucky to get one since we were told they could process only a limited number per day.
At 8 a.m., the line started to move, but very slowly. Twenty minutes later the sky started to turn dark and then the rain came pouring, accompanied by strong winds. Those at the back of the line ran for cover, and soon all of us were packed like sardines in the covered part of the office. But the tent overhead was full of holes. People started to open their umbrellas, even as I started to wonder why nobody in the office ever thought of something so simple as having the tent repaired. After all, each applicant was being charged P115 for a clearance.
Then water from the canal started to creep into the covered court. Shoes and slippers started to get soaked, but there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Once I got the application form, I hurriedly filled it up and joined the queue in front of the cashier. Then the rain started pouring again, forcing everyone to seek cover and messing up the line. Many people took advantage of the confusion to move in front, and in the process two lines were formed.
At 12 o’clock, an announcement was made that the staff would be taking a one-hour lunch break.
When work resumed, the cashier ordered the applicants to form a single line or else she would not process any clearance. I called the guard and suggested that the two lines be merged by making people in each of the two lines take their places in a single line alternately. But the people at the back refused to cooperate, so that I and those behind me were forced to go to the end of the line.
After another hour I was almost at the cashier. The guy in front of me submitted his form and he was told to complete filling it up. When the poor fellow began asking for help, the cashier started yelling at him and insulting him.
I stepped forward and told the cashier we are their customers here and she didn’t have the right to yell and insult any one of us. I said she should treat everyone with respect regardless of their background or which part of the country they came from.
She turned to me and screamed that it was none of my business. I demanded to speak to her supervisor, and she shouted that she was the supervisor. I yelled back at her saying she ought to be fired because she didn’t know how to treat people with courtesy. By this time everyone was listening to our heated exchange of words.
Finally she called the guard and told him to bring me to another cashier. I got my clearance.
I will be working as a customer service representative and no matter how stupid or how illiterate my customers may be, I cannot think of cursing them or showing them any disrespect. After all, they are the ones who will help pay my salary. That cashier who insulted that poor guy ought to be ashamed of herself.
What lessons did I learn from the experience? First, that our country will never prosper because we lack discipline, with everyone wanting to get ahead of everybody else. Second, there are people in government who let power—no matter how small—go into their heads.
Justin Flores, 21, is a college undergraduate who will soon be working as a call center agent in Makati.
By Vky Dio Mendoza
After six and a half hours on the road, I find myself inside Jollibee Baguio and writing this while waiting for my breakfast. It’s 6:56 a.m., and in less than two hours I am off to Sagada.
This is the first time I am traveling alone. I am a sucker for travel, but all of my previous trips—both local and international—were either with family or friends. “The more, the merrier” it is true, but I really fancied setting foot on some place new with no one for company. While some people fear the unknown, adventure and surprises keep me alive and wanting for more.
I originally wanted to check off this item on my bucket list in time for my silver birthday late last year, but heaven had something special in mind. A week before my birthday, I was offered a new job, so I had to junk my planned solo adventure. Even the costume party I had long been planning for did not push through because of my new work schedule, plus the fact that my finances were low. That was what four months of being a “bum” and travels to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with my sister and an Ilocos invasion with ex-officemates did to my savings.
An Indonesian escapade with college friends came three months after I started working again. My piggy bank had recovered by then and I did not mind emptying it again for another worthwhile voyage.
My work was going well until I had to give it up last July in order to give way to an academic journey. Full-time work does not complement a full-time school schedule. I needed to prioritize and focus, and I chose studies over labor.
Yesterday was the end of our first term. Admittedly, it was one hell of a ride for me. I did not expect it to be so grueling. College was a lot more manageable. I had nobody to rely on but myself. (Although I thank heaven for classmates-turned-companions, especially during food trips after classes and group studies.) It sucked all the physical, intellectual and emotional energy I had. Right now I feel dehydrated and badly in need of a “refill,” and tranquil Sagada seems to be the perfect refuge for my spirit.
The desire to get away from it all as well as a personal roller-coaster ride pushed me to pack my clothes inside my trusty purple Jansport backpack and head for the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao last night and buy a P450 ticket for a Baguio-bound bus that left at midnight.
Now I find myself inside Jollibee Baguio writing this and putting a check on the “Travel alone” item on my bucket list.
Sagada, here I come!
Vky Dio Mendoza, 25, is taking up Master in Business Administration (MBA) at UP Diliman.