Eighty Percent Of Filipinos Are Supported By Twenty Percent Of The Population. Part 1.
Overseas Filipino Workers are numbered at about eight million or so. The actual workforce of the country, not counting these “lucky ones” is about the same, according to an article I read in “The Expat” newspaper a few weeks ago. This suggests that out of a nation of 86 million or so, once you take away the over 65 retirees and the under 18 school age citizens, that means only 16 million or so are actually employed. Close to 70 million Filipino’s are out of work or not eligible for work or past their working prime! 70 from 86 as a percentage is 81%.
Eighty One percent of the country are living off the efforts of the other 19% and half of these are not even working within our borders! I just finished reading the Sunday issue of The Manila Bulletin and worked my way through the job ads. Page after page of jobs listed for the Middle East, KSA, UAE, Qatar even Azerbaijan and the Sudan. What is it with these Arabs, can’t they wait on their own tables or train their own people to staff their hospitals? Surely not all of them are busy barrelling up the oil their kitty litter countries float on? In fact I would say none of them actually work as the list of jobs encompasses just about everything you can imagine a society needing to be performed.
Add to this the numerous ads for caregivers for the USA and Canada, nurses for the UK and domestic helpers for Hong Kong, entertainers for Taiwan and teachers for China and you can see why so much of the workforce is heading to NAIA! Those who are left compete tooth and nail for the still numerous jobs available, at least that is how it seems on the surface.
There are several major full page ads asking for call center operators. I even saw one ad offering training in improving your “American Accent”, which apparently would guarantee a better salary and successful placement. Since the course was offered by “expand-your-mind.com” I have my doubts as to its’ validity! It is an indicator of the lengths people will go to to get decent work here, though.
You can’t blame them when the top few get to go overseas and study and then the next tier grab the best local jobs thanks to their education and what remains is fought over by the third tier. Below them are the poor “masa” who are lucky if they can swing a job instead of having to go on “standby” or work a sidewalk stall until moved on by the MMDA. Half of the problem, I believe is easily blamed on the attitudes of the employers.
Every ad for a position includes the criteria of age. Few jobs state they will accept anyone over 30. I rang a few of them up and asked why the candidate had to be under 35 or 30 or whatever age was stipulated. The average, mindless, mean nothing answer was “company policy”! I asked what happened if someone got the job and then a month later had a birthday and thus was no longer within the age range specified, would they be fired? I pressed my luck with a couple and asked them to define “pleasing personality”. I also asked if the lucky job seeker would be penalised if they had the odd day where their personality was perhaps less than pleasing?
Despite what I, a foreigner, might think of the hiring practices in this country, the reality is this is how it is! They can define everything they want in an employee, from looks to height to even waist measurements! Personality, sex, marital status, everything can be included in the criteria! It isn’t fair but then at least it is “honest”. Back home we aren’t allowed to list such discriminatory criteria but of course we apply it. Look how difficult it is for a 52 year old executive to find work after retrenchment. He will go for job after job and fail, but he knows it is because he is “over qualified”. That means the company can hire a kid half his age for half the money and there is nothing he can do about it, they just can’t say as much in the job ad!
Working here is a lot tougher than back in Australia. Employers really do expect a lot more loyalty from their staff and this has to be demonstrated in various ways all the time. Staff call the boss Sir or Ma’am, or Sir Perry, Miss Milet etc, nobody is on first name terms. Staff expect to work overtime and not be paid, it demonstrates their willingness to work and do as they are told. Nobody likes it. Filipino’s get as upset as anyone at being exploited, they just hide it better than we might. A tight employment market and a hungry family will do that to you! The employee is supporting four others at least, remember? (see figures above)
THE EIGHTY TWENTY RULE!
Eighty Percent Of Filipinos Are Supported By Twenty Percent Of The Population. Part 2.
The employment practices in the Philippines promotes the very annoying “Out of Stock” syndrome that drives most of us foreigners at least slightly mad from time to time. It is not the staff members’ job to re-order, but they can’t remind the manager whose job it is that stock needs re-ordering as that would make them appear to think they are smarter than the manager.
The manager should know when things need to be re-ordered and bringing to their attention their failure to have done so invites wrath and revenge, usually in the form of dismissal. Filipinos can be very (to us foreigners) childlike in their behaviour when slighted and many wouldn’t hesitate to be spiteful and wield their power to fire for such an infringement as telling the manager basically that they aren’t doing their job! I know, to us it would make sense to advise the manager as the manager is human and can’t be expected to know everything, but it doesn’t work like that here!
Once a woman is 25 or 26 it is presumed she will be married and if she is married then of course she will want only to breed, so why advertise for anyone older? Certain professional women may be available for hire into their 30’s, but it is presumed they have a YaYa looking after their children and thus are free to focus on the job. Or the job will clearly state the incumbent must be single! What happens after 35? In three years of monitoring the job ads I have only twice seen ads for someone aged 40, one was a senior accountant and the other a senior chef. Both were for men, of course!
Perhaps one possible explanation for this age-ist mentality is that many Asian families expect that once the children graduate college they will support their parents. If you have four or five kids all handing over most of their pay cheque each month, you can live very well without looking for another job. You make sure you keep control of this income source so that as they marry, they bring the new spouse into the family home or compound and then you exert your influence over the new spouse and strengthen your position using the grandchildren. The alternative to that is that the employee stays with the same company up until retirement age, but often this is only possible for those lucky enough to be in professional positions. They probably enjoy some security from inherited wealth also so they are again more advantaged than the average Filipino.
Regardless of whether they are employed at home or abroad, the Filipino with a job is a happy soul! Even happier it often seems is the Filipino without a job! Somehow they always seem to get by, one day at a time and they have a smile on their face and a ready laugh. Perhaps we can take a leaf from their book and choose to be happy, no matter what life might throw our way. After all, those of us too young to have a pension or retirement income can always fly back to the States or UK or Aussie and get a job. For the Filipino that is often not an option. Even those who do win a coveted place as an OFW know that their income producing years are limited, and the clock is always ticking!