If you are familiar with the terms “QA,” “Queu-ing,” “EOP,” “ACW,” “Avail,” then you are one of us, the thousands of ”kolboys” and “kolgirls” in the Philippines.
We belong to the sleep-deprived, nicotine-in-hailing, cab-riding new breed of Filipino youth. We infuse our anemic, caffeinated veins with ferrous sulfate everyday so that we won’t be “NCNS” (No Call, No Show) for our next shift. Ginawa naming araw ang gabi.
Glamorous? Well, if your idea of glamorous is staggering down Ayala Avenue wearing Paris Hilton shades at 8 in the morning, looking “dog tired” while everybody else looks fresh and new, then we are the kings and queens of glamour.
Bohemian? Ha ha!We follow a very rigid schedule. we cannot go on extended breaks. we cannot hang up on cursing customers. we cannot refuse to take calls. and we have to ask permission to answer nature’s call. we are like prisoners in our stations for eight whole hours. ours is a spartan life.
I cannot help but be catty and melodramatic about it. we say “Good morning” when we all know that everybody but us (at least in the part of Pacific) is in their deepest sleep. We say (with an audible smile), “I’d be glad to assist you,” never mind if we had to leave a feverish son under the care of his yaya
We can afford to miss family occasions and national holidays because we know we will be well compensated. Every birthday of a family member that we miss means PhP700.00 more to pay the bills, rent and tuition. The added pay for every national holiday that we had worked helps pay our taxes. Yes, my friends, we are paying for the streetlights along the avenues and highways that we must be brave very night.
Contented cats we are not. “Laway lang ang puhunan,” some people say, but we are in one of the most stressful and draining jobs you can find. and like the rest of the working class, we are overworked and underpaid.
We are forced to defend big banks, superstores, telecoms or any account we are handling. Just like any member of the proletariat, we are alienated from the giants that we work for. We apologize for the things that we do not have anything to do with. we fix problems we did not create. we are the cheap, apologetic and docile answering machines at the other end of the line; the receiving end of the frustrations and ire of the customers who feel shortchanged.
Apolitical? I have to disagree. we are tax-paying citizens like most working Filipinos. Yes, most of us get the news from Libre (while riding the MRT/LRT on our way to work), but we are also appalled by the PhP500,000 “cash gift” congressmen got to kill the Arroyo impeachment complaint last year. we are also furious with this government for spending half of the national budget on debt servicing so that it can borrow some more. and we are enraged that some people cheated their way to high offices.
We may speak in English for more than half of our waking hours, but it doesn’t make us less of a Filipino we are. We share the sentiments and burden of every landless farmers, very laid-off factory worker, every out-of-school youth, every hungry Filipino mouth. We find time mourn slain activists, priest 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.