This is what life of average Filipino working class looks like

Thursday, August 15, 2019

On a regular work day, you need to get up as early as possible, maybe 4 or 5 in the morning depending on how many hours your morning ritual normally takes. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that starts later than the usual 8 or 9, good for you – you’re saved from the rush hour curse. You may or may not skip breakfast but it’s strongly recommended that you should not, and this is to prepare yourself for the monstrous traffic you’ll encounter as you leave the house. The usual forty-five minute commute takes about two hours. This is if you do not want to stand in line that snakes all throughout the station to be able to get on a dignity-all-forgotten train. That meme “pumasok ng prinsesa lumabas na mandirigma” is scarily and disappointingly accurate.

You’re a college graduate, but the scarcity of available jobs for your skill is proven true because what you do at work is nowhere relevant to your field of expertise. Or maybe it is, but the pay is too indecent to the point of insult that’s why you’re probably on the constant lookout for a job abroad. Your boss is a slave-driver, and he has the right to do this because he’s either a foreigner or the company owner is. And it doesn’t matter if they appear to be using you for the success of their organization that might or might not be paying the right taxes to your own government because hey, a job is a job and it’s better than nothing. Your colleagues are misogynists, have superiority complex, and acting like they own your life despite the fact that your salary is much higher than theirs. You continue working with them though, because again, this is better than no job at all.

During paydays, your calculator is ready so you can budget your money properly. There should be enough payment for electricity despite the questionable amount on your bill. Water bills should be settled in time and in full despite the poor and always interrupted service. A chunk of your money goes to rent, because it’s too damn difficult to avail benefits from the housing program that mandatorily takes your contribution every month while some informal settlers are easily granted shelter just because they had enough nerve not to give up the property that’s not theirs in the first place. You may or may not be a slave of consumerism, and it’s really a challenge not to be when there’s a department store near you every ten minutes. You’d go to the same grocery store even if you’re too tired to do so, and buy the cheapest possible things to put in the cupboard and in the fridge. You try to haggle in the farmer’s market even though you know you’re both victims of giant capitalists. You bring packed lunch to work, because it’s more economical than fast food, and hygenically prepared compared to the eateries where you and your friends would sometimes eat while waiting for paycheck. You live in an archipelago whose primary resource is agriculture, yet healthy food is expensive. Speaking of health, you have to make sure you’re always healthy. Access to the best healthcare system means money, the price of medicines are skyrocketing, and the only thing left is for them to tell you to die of whatever it is that makes you sick.

You’d render overtime if you need additional money, and that’s fine. But then you have to keep yourself from going home way too late. You’d want to go home as early as possible. The streets are not so safe at night – there are criminals lurking in the dark. It’s either you’d be their victim, or you’d become collateral damage when the police conduct their manhunt operations. Remember we don’t have death penalty because the country’s justice system sucks plus many believe that life is from God and only God could take it away but still you won’t understand why people are getting killed by the authorities when you watch news in the morning. Those scumbags resisted, they’d say. That teenager fired a gun back at us, they’d say.

Oh yes, maybe this is a little bit above the average. Because we’re not talking about those who are bound by 5-month contracts and have the potential to wake up one day with no job to feed their families. We’re not talking about those underpaid factory workers who may or may not have been offered wholesale jobs. Or the construction workers who don’t normally have health insurance but are willing to erect skyscrapers just to send their children to school.

No, I’m not complaining. This is statement of the problem. There’s a difference.

This is Metro Manila.

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