Musings of the Undervalued

Slander – Noun: The action or crime of a false spoken statement damaging a person’s reputation.

Verb: Make false and damaging statements about someone.

– From Merriam-Webster


Let me rant here, okay?

For the last three years that I’ve been working at what people believe to be a “prime” institution due to being part of the government.

If not everyone, majority of the populace seems to be convinced that working for the government is a convenient and grand experience. And why shouldn’t they? It IS said that working for the government entitles the lucky employee with a lot of benefits and the security of tenure. Who wouldn’t want that, right? If you were asked to work in one of these agencies with the promise of great pay and a better tomorrow, it would be very hard to say no, right?

Well that’s what happened in my case.

I’ve gone through numerous jobs. From writer to BPO agent to data transcriptionist…I seem to have done quite a few jobs before finally ending up in my current work as a government agent. When I was being prepped for this job, it certainly was a promise of an amazing experience and definitely of something more worthwhile than what I’ve been currently doing with my life. It was a bonus that there were talks of benefits. No one explained that this was something that ONLY the regular employees had.

No one said the same applied for us agency hired souls otherwise known as contractuals.

As a contractual, you do not EXACTLY have the same perks. You do the same kind of load given to those with regular positions, but the pay greatly varies. Since we’re contractual employees, our salary is of course lower than theirs. In a way it feels a little unfair, don’t you think? Same amount of work but different compensations. Bonuses hardly come by, but I think both regulars and contractuals feel this. The main difference of course always falls on how much is given to all of us when the time for it actually comes. Mind you, even that is adjusted. Truly a joy.

There’s also a matter of the work place. I do believe that some people have the misconception that government offices are well maintained with high-tech facilities and high-speed calculating programs, that with one press of a button everything would be up and over. And maybe something of a really cold place where you’ll need a jacket to combat the freezing hours you have to spend cuing up in line.

I have been to a few offices before and let me tell you, that’s really not the case for most. Every work place has their own set of programs that they use in order to process transactions in a fast and timely manner. For us, we rely mostly on our Excel and word programs, devoid of all those nice things due to systems not being compatible with one another. Everything is done manually and with so many transactions coming in day by day, it’s actually a miracle we’re able to process anything within a week. Also, to be perfectly honest, we are often situated in a place where it’s literally too hot to function. Being in front of the computer and simply having its fumes swirl around in our little back-door office does not do anything for the infernal heat. It’s like a bloody oven in there.

What I think remains to be rather annoying is that despite all these setbacks we, contractuals and regulars alike, are really undervalued.

There’s a belief going around saying that government people work slow or that we work at a leisurely pace and that everyone is so lax.

Majority of the clients often complain about how slow the process for one transaction is without knowing how the system works. There are those who, after a simple explanation understands, and we are very thankful for them…but most…MOST (I’m saying most because this is how my everyday life from eight to five plays out) will not even listen to reason. They would always force what they believe is right and what they feel works for their convenience. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that  we’re catering to the masses and not just a singular person alone. What’s worse, Attorney-in-Facts/Proxies/the people who are not actually members are the ones who have the audacity to complain.

Day by day we get slandered. Whether it be over-the-counter or through the phone, we normally get bad-mouthed and threatened. We’re often being cursed at, or berated. We’re always taking the heat from someone whose applications have discrepancies and lacking requirements and people who DO NOT WANT to submit requirements…then they harass us either by saying they’ll report us to the media or they will tell the president about it; often even going as far as threatening to go to Malacanang just to make us move faster. In fact, we are moving and doing our best to meet their expectations. They simply do not see it or refuse to see it in order to prove themselves right.

Everyday, it feels like we’re being degraded, belittled and disrespected.

Surely it’s not far from the truth if I state that we government employees, contractual or not, are undervalued as human beings.

No one seems to realize that just like every one else, we are alive– breathing, thinking and feeling. When our clients talk to us in that kind of derogatory manner, it hurts us too. I know that as public servants, we must have the absolute patience that’s needed to cater to the ever growing masses; but unlike machines and tools we too have feelings because just like them, we are in fact, ACTUAL people.

Working in the government has more liabilities than it has advantages and not a lot of people can see that. Just  being in it we are already categorized negatively. People would often say, “Gobyerno kasi” (Because it’s the government), and that alone lumps us with the corruption that amass that runs amuck within the Philippine government.

There’s also the mental burn and psychological trauma that most us are hiding because we keep to our code of being a friendly service oriented institution. It’s always the customer who is right even at the price of a public servant’s dignity being tarnished.

Our slanderous clientele have the luxury of protectors because they feel oppressed while we who suffer the blows of their sharp-tongued words remain unprotected. Everyone protects their rights but not ours. I believe that we are all people here, but the distinction of importance is much too far apart.

When I entered this kind of service, I had hoped for a better life where the work I do for others would be met with kindness. What I received on the other hand was the malevolent rage of the uninformed and babied masses.

Ah, this truly was all that I have ever dreamed off and more.