Sunday, May 22, 2005


I remember my job-hunting days in the Philippines. I once came to an interview for a "marketing officer" position in Pasay. I passed the interview and was scheduled for a comprehensive training. You hear the phrase "marketing officer" and you are immediately filled with thoughts of more-than-normal salary and nice airconditioned office. Afterall, one isn't called "officer" for nothing. This over-imagination (a realization that came only on hindsight) brought out the santa claus in me. Beer flowed to the nth power. Buddies had their fill. I was in high spirits. I was, afterall, poised to become a "marketing officer". The day of training came. Imagine my horror when the trainor spilled the beans. We, the marketing officers (i was surprised by the numbers) were hired for the specific purpose of selling little portable water filters. As if that isn't already bad as it is. the contraption which seems to have come right from the jurrasic era sells for 3,750 pesosesoses!. Tachi ng buntis na matsing! Nalaman ko pa na sa SM, ala pang limandaan ang hinayupak na filter! Nagkautang utang ako sa pagpapainom sa mga hinayupak na lassengero kong mga kaibigan pati dun sa mga hinayupak na kaibigan nila at dun sa mga hinayupak na kaibigan ng mga kaibigan nila. Ngayon ang hubad na katotohanan - ang akala kong premyadong posisyon ay walang iba pala kundi isang tagapag benta ng water filter.

I may have digressed there a bit, pardon for the outburst. But see, the point is that these propensity to appropriate high sounding titles and positions for various jobs usually recognized thru their more common names misleads more that it clarifies. And more that that, it gives away some hints of the basic flaws in the collective filipino psyche. Impressions become a basic necessity. The reality of structural oppression and inhuman working conditions is masked in no simple ways by companies who lure prospective employees by high-sounding titles. And filipinos get used to this shit. They get cozy. They warm up to the idea until such time that they stop questioning the practice and start swallowing hook, line, and... err, let me rephase that. they start swallowing libag, hair, and semen. And when they do, they begin to appropriate it as "reality". The danger is that they begin to see the need to conform to the image of society. Mr. gives way to Dr. Ginoo bows down in favor of Attorney. The PTA president becomes Prez. Juan becomes Engineer Tamad. It wont be long that we will begin to see a proliferation of these titles because most colleges will just naturally "see the light" and follow the normal practice. Accountant Maria la del Barrio, Computer Scientist Marimar, Forest Ranger Joey de Leon, Nursing Aide Vic Sotto and so on.

Gone were the days when GRO refers to the pretty ladies in charge of hotel lobbies. It has now become the name of choice for opressed women of nightclubs and bars. Ever wonder how a change in the designation "legitimized" this otherwise abominable treatment of women? Go apply to be a costumer relations officer. Just dont forget to polish your telephone operating skills. Front desk officers are usually the receptionists. Maintenance officers are the janitors and manual laborers. Almost everybody is an officer nowadays. Ever wonder why that guy in Jolibee has remained a Management Trainee for five years already? He's not going to be a manager. "Management Trainee" is not a transitional position where managers are trained. It is a full time designation. How on heaven will he be able to become a manager when the regular manager doesnt have plans of quitting come hell or high water, for the next fifteen years or so. No sir! management trainees will remain management trainees.

This is not to demean these jobs and these workers as not deserving of "respectable" titles. The point is, its not the title that makes the person respectable or not but the structural conditions that define these titles. Janitor should be an honorable designation, if not for the fact that most janitors are so overworked and underpaid. Same goes for receptionists, and telephone operators and what-have-you's. It is not the titles that need to go but the conditions that make these titles short narratives of inequality and oppression.

Call me Mr. Janitor, just pay me what is humanely my due.



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