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Getting a Job

November 21, 2011

A few weeks ago, I spoke with an ignorant man from another country who commented on the sorry state of unemployment in the Philippines by saying, “Well, if the Filipinos would just get up off their lazy asses, their lot in life would be better.” To be sure, there are some lazy people here just as there are in other countries, however jobs are not only few and far between in the Philippines, it takes more effort to get one. If all you want to do is to obtain the position of cashier at a fast food restaurant, you better have a college degree. Those places don’t even want to talk to a person without one. Because the employers want to avoid paying any benefits, workers must sign a six month contract knowing that they will be laid off at the end of the contract. You see, benefits kick in after six months of employment. The employees must work for free during training which could be up to a month and they have to pay for their own uniforms. Right now, there are nearly a quarter of a million fully trained nurses who are out of work and if they ever manage to snag a job at a hospital, they will be required to work for almost no pay for two long years of on-the-job training before they are put on the permanent staff. If a job seeker has no education to speak of, they must settle for low wages and intolerable conditions. Sitting in my living room and looking out the window, I see men and women struggling with the heavy weight of fish buckets suspended by ropes attached to a wooden pole over their shoulders. They walk the streets selling their fresh catch from dawn until the bucket is empty. I have seen men carrying 5′ x 5′ pieces of furniture strapped to their backs as they trudged steep hills outside of a city near my home. If they don’t sell the furniture, they try again the next day. Women young and old get up before the sun rises to work as “tinderas” at little cafés called “carinderias” in the city market. The pay for these jobs is literally pennies an hour. Take a stroll down any street in any neighborhood and it will reward you with quite a few entrepreneurs who set up small stores and food stands. They take what little capital they have and try to scrape out a living close to home. You can see for yourself that most Filipinos are definitely not just sitting on their lazy asses.

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