I started working for my first job in May 2003 — 2 months after I graduated from college. I was still living in the rented townhouse near Ateneo de Manila and wasn’t completely over being a student yet. But one thing was for sure: my parents had stopped giving me an allowance from the day I marched to the stage and said goodbye to my beloved Loyola campus. Since not eating wasn’t an option, I had to look for a job.
It turned out that I didn’t need to look for one, Etelecare Int’l found me. They called me while I was crying during my grandfather’s funeral and I promised to go for the interview. I ditched the first interview, showed up for the second one, and signed the contract after they promised to assign me to to the sales office in Ayala, Makati. What convinced me was the HR girl’s statement “they have a red wall”, and I said “Cool!” without thinking of such trivial things such as work hours, transportation and money. After the interview, I went home and tried to figure out my budget. I had very little left and my first paycheck would be coming in two weeks. All I needed to do was survive until then and everything would be fine.
The first three days was spent training in Eastwood City, Libis, which is fairly close to Katipunan. It felt like school orientation and it wasn’t hard to feel cheerful if you’re traipsing around Eastwood during lunch hour. After that, we were told that we would have an intensive 2-month long training in Ayala which would start at 6:00 am every morning. Every day, I would wake up at 4:00 am, leave by 4:30, take a tricycle, then a jeep and then an ordinary bus to EDSA-Ayala intersection. And because I have no money, I would walk all the way from the intersection to the offices at the PB Com Tower. Seems simple enough, right? But one has to include the following factors:
- It was rainy season in the Philippines and the slippery, muddy roads made the already bad traffic worse. Often, I would forget to bring my umbrella so I would have to walk in the rain.
- I had to bring my nice office clothes and heels in a bag as I had to go to and leave work in shorts/jeans and sneakers.
- I had a strict budget of 50 pesos a day. That’s about $1. Most of it went to my transportation which meant that I had to make do with a tiny hotdog sandwich for lunch. At the end of a workday, you would find me standing on the Ayala sidewalk, trying to figure out the cheapest route to home.
- I am not a morning person.
That was almost 7 years ago. And I’ve learned since then that…
- If you want something, you have to work hard for it yourself. Asking your parents for handouts or for a new iPod is downright embarrassing if you’re over 20 and have a college degree. Take pity on your parents, they work hard, too, and they deserve a break.
- Being poor is not a joke. I only had to get through my first year alone of living paycheck-to-paycheck with barely enough to cover what I needed. A lot are far less lucky and have to live with poverty their whole lives.
- Value your work. It doesn’t matter if you’re sweeping up trash outside or pushing foodcarts the whole day. If you’re doing something, you may as well do your best!
And, most importantly…
If my future children think that I’ll be providing for them after I’ve done my duty and provided for their education, then they have another thing coming. They can live at home, but they will definitely share the bills. Mwahaha!
So, how am I today? I have a job I love, working with people who I like, and I no longer worry if the contents of my wallet would cover my commute from work to home. Dad and I share an apartment in a country far from home, his company pays for gas, car and the rent (whew), we split the groceries, he does most of the cooking and coffee-brewing (I tend to food poison people unintentionally), and I pay for the phone and internet and call Mom and the rest of the siblings everyday. I still need to learn so many things, like how to do my cleaning, laundry and ironing on schedule.
Perhaps in another 7 years.