THE RISE OF THE NATIVE BRETHREN the subic-clark
Volume 1 Issue 4
OUR PEOPLE, OUR STRENGTH
Photo by PLTayao
OUR PEOPLE, OUR STRENGTH
Focused. Female sewers of Smart Shirts concentrate on their work. Smart Shirts is a foreign manufacturing company inside the Clark Freeport Zone that thrives because of reliable Filipino workers.
There is perhaps more than a grain of truth in the yarn that the economies of many countries will crumble if the Filipino workers they host will suddenly pack up and go home. The overseas Filipino workers have truly become an ubiquitous force in the globe, and their influence from home to office to factory attests to the fact that their skills are indeed worldclass. By Rommel De Jesus
hat makes a Filipino worker a valuable asset to a company? More than anything else, a dedicated work ethics matched with resourceful talent provide the edge that has convinced employers and human resource managers to consider them as arguably the best in the world. Filipinos are known to be industrious, organized, cheerful, and trustworthy. Other countries will claim the same traits for their people. In fact, the tools of labor may be the
same everywhere else: proficiency, training, experience, expertise. But what makes Filipinos stand out from the rest is their empathy, their ability to internalize common goals and own the objectives of their workplace. They have that humanity that can be heard in the voice of a call center agent, in the soothing touch of a nurse, in the handiwork of a construction worker, in the focus of a technician, in the smile of a tour guide. While we cannot hide our pride in the qualities of migrant
Filipinos, we also find exemplary workers in the Subic-Clark Corridor who give their best in whatever task they are presented. Thousands of them strive inside offices and factories. Industrious people wipe their sweat outside, on agricultural fields, golf courses and eco-tours. If there is an excellent strategic advantage that highlights our freeports, municipalities and cities, it is none other than our workers. Inside the Subic Bay Freeport, there is a monument dedicated to volunteers who faced the challenge of resurrecting a devastated workplace. Without pay, they dug through volcanic ashes, enduring almost discouraging difficulties. Today, they are reaping the fruits of their perseverance as Subic continuously redefines itself as an employment and investment magnet. They are testaments to the truth that to
But what makes Filipinos stand out from the rest is their empathy, their ability to internalize common goals and to own the objectives of their workplace. a Filipino is to be ready to respond above and beyond the norm. Filipino employees have long been catching the attention of investors here in the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Corridor, not because of the labor costs, but of the quality of work that they
can accomplish. They have always been known to exceed company expectations. Moreover, they have that ability to find a better way of doing things through resourcefulness and creativity, has always been their hallmark. They are polite, smart and proficient in written and oral English language. Best of all, there is no other in the world that can light up a workplace with a special sense of humor that transcends drudgery and difficulty. From a philosophical viewpoint, work gives dignity to a person. Done with love and positive attitude, it gives meaning to life and further enhances it. To a Filipino, work is an expression of dedication to oneâ€™s family, a measure of worth to the community, and an access to a more fruitful existence. As a fitting recognition, we celebrate the valiant Filipino workers everywhere, and we feature our home-grown workers inside the Subic-Clark Corridor as worthy examples of their world-class aptitude. Our pre-eminent national hero Jose Rizal once wrote a treatise on the perceived indolence of the Filipinos. Perceived, because he magnificently refuted the deprecating notion by stark examples of industriousness in the midst of environmental and socio-political realities that would rather promote fear and lethargy. If there is anything that and best motivates our workers, it is the noble desire to be persons for others, enduring and sacrificing for the sake of parent, spouse or child. Truly, they are what makes our nation strong.
Straight ahead. A Filipino driver pulls a load of United Parcel Services (UPS) usingAgent his mini truck City inside the Diosdado MacapaCall-Center of Cyber Teleservices, Clark Freeport Zone gal International Airport, Clark Freeport Zone.
OUR BEST KEPT SECRET Everybody dreams of becoming part of an organization where growth in every aspect of life is allowed, enabling the person to attain self-realization. Though a lot of organizations make this promise, only a few are really able to keep them. By Mabel Roman
n employee will find happiness in a job that can provide professional growth while giving personal development. Itâ€™s a fact that a discontented worker must exert twice the effort it takes to get the job done: once for getting over the dissatisfaction, and another for the actual work performance. Holiday Inn Clark continues to be the leading hotel in the region. It is the only deluxe international hotel in North Luzon. But what really makes the hotel the best? In the service industry, the most important element is the teamwork of people who make every guest experience the finest. Each new employee starts with the hope that the company will provide the knowledge and skills needed to be succesful in the chosen profession. Holiday Inn Clark makes sure that a newly-hired employee would immediately feel welcome and at home. Each is equipped not only with the tools that would help to get the work done but also with the right orientation to assist him in adapting to his new environment. The company believes that if an employee is given a great start the likelihood that he will be staying with the organization will be greater. More than half of the present Holiday Inn Clark manpower has been in the company for more than 10 years now. One wonders what makes them stay. At Holiday Inn Clark, talent development is very important. Each staff is given an opportunity for personal development and his progress is being evaluated by his superior. If he is able to demonstrate potential, he will be given the chance to develop further. Constant trainings and coaching sessions to ensure that each individualâ€™s needs are taken care of. Each employee upholds positive values that are demonstrated in actions. Staff do not hesitate to return lost items big or small because they know that doing the right thing always goes a long way. There are no big and small roles in the hotel. There is mutual respect for the differences, but appreciation is easy to come for any contribution of anyone towards the success of the hotel. After 14 years, newer hotels have sprouted and have tar-
getted former Holiday Inn Clark employees to become an integral part of their operations. Even they recognize that the skills and knowledge that Holiday Inn Clark employees gained make them highly qualified. Currently, some of the key managers of other hotels come from Holiday Inn Clark. It is an in-house joke of Holiday Inn Clark staff that the hotel exercises corporate social responsibility by transferring technology to competitors. So far, no complaints against former Holiday Inn Clark employees have been heard from their present employers. This speaks of how they have grown professionally in the business. Holiday Inn Clark is far from perfect. There are issues left and right. However, there is always a place for compromise. Management genuinely cares for the welfare of the staff. The basic needs are provided to ensure that employees are able to perform daily tasks and duties. The company also takes care of the employees and their families when they are
The ‘S’ factor. The smiles at the doorsteps of Holiday Inn Clark is just one of the reasons why guests keep coming back with satisfaction.
sick. Activities such as summer outings, quarterly cocktails, sports fests and Christmas parties are organized to maintain a desirable work life balance for the employees. And when times are good, all the hard work and effort are rewarded with incentives. This attitude is quite infectious: our smiles are reflected in our relationships with our customers. It is quite difficult for front desk personnel to welcome guests heartily if they carry some unsettled grudge with the company or with their fellow workers. No matter what mask is put up, a guest will surely notice something amiss in the attitude. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. It is important in the hospitality industry that everyone, from housekeeping to administration, must carry out tasks with a light heart. And who could be happier in their work than us Filipinos? I have worked in this hotel for almost 12 years. I love the company because I am who I am today because of what I’ve
learned along the way. It was never easy, there were chalenges along the way but they made me a better person and a better manager. I’ve tried looking into the future, but I realize that I am today with the best company, and I will not settle for anything less. Most employees see themselves growing old with Holiday Inn Clark. The best rewards for working here are not pecuniary. Rather, they are the warm feelings brought out by satisfied guests. The word of mouth that goes around the world is how the hotel employees’ congenial greeting to a returning visitor speaks of friendship, and how the experience of an amazed first-timer of our uniquely convivial hospitality calls for another visit. Best of all, everyone in Holiday Inn Clark finds great job satisfaction. They work as friends, and at the end of the day, they are happy to have served the guests.
THE RISE OF THE NATIVE BRETHREN
Today, we find the Aetas as responsible members of the communities contributing their share in giving particular identities to Clark and Subic as vibrant freeports of the Philippines.
and still is a citizen of Clark and he diverse cultures that Subic. can be found among the During the operation of Subic islands of the Philippines and Clark as American military lend themselves to such a rich outposts, Aetas enjoyed a pritapestry of beliefs, practices, mus inter pares status among norms and art, that there is no the locals inside the bases. They single defining identity of a Filiwere not straitjacketed by many pino. However, out of all these rules and restrictions, instead, myriad colors, a few stand out they had free access to the serby their claim to chronological vices of dispensaries and hospiprimacy. Among these are the tals. In exchange, many of them Aetas, noble indigenous Filipinos became instructors to the special who once roamed the forests of branches of the US Air Force the land in tribes made up of exand Navy, teaching soldiers the tended families. survival skills to endure the tropiResearchers have identified cal jungles with just a knife and a complex socio-cultural system some common sense. that guides the lives of the AeIt was often said that innumertas. They have a language that able numbers of American solfollows its own syntax. Primitive diers survived Vietnam because astronomy is practiced, with stars of the knowledge they gained used as guides in their travels. from the Aeta. Even now, the A form of government is recskills that the American military ognized, with kings holding court had gained from our indigenous in a hierarchical structure. Their Filipinos continue to serve well religious values are hinged on their soldiers in jungle manoeunature as provider, protector and Danilo Tecson, 39, is an Aeta village chieftain who vres. Credit this to the Aeta atnow works as messenger at Clark Development Corpunisher. titude of accepting the forest as poration, Clark Freeport Zone. Photo by PLTayao When Mount Pinatubo erupta friend and not as an enemy. ed in June 1991, Aetas were among those who were painFrom the vines, branches and the ground, they find all the fully displaced; more so, in fact, because their way of life necessary items for living. Instead of iron pots, they use was rooted at the very foot of the volcano, which they called bamboo branches. A handful of dry kindling will provide Apo Namalyari. Suddenly, everything became different. for a hearty fire after a few minutes of patient rubbing. A Their transient ways had to be replaced with more permavine provides white sap that can be used as soap. nent houses. Loincloths gave way to pants and shirts. From Today, we find the Aetas as responsible members of root crops, their diet shifted to canned food. The can opener the communities, contributing their share in giving particubecame as a valuable home implement as a bow and arrow. lar identities to Clark and Subic as vibrant Freeports of It was proof that nature could radically change the lay of the the Philippines. With their knowledge and skills in jungle land and the culture of people. living, they have become indispensable partners in ecoThis resilience was also seen in the rebirth of the former tourism, guiding the city-bound to some insights into the military bases. Abandoned by the Americans through legal hardy life in the forest. They have also begun to learn fiat and by force of nature, Clark and Subic began to emerge entrepreneurial aptitude; where before they would baras economic centers of the Philippines, mainly due to the ter agricultural products for implements, today they have foresight and unsinkable spirit of the people. Volcanic ash extended their merchandise to native crafts such as bird was swept away by volunteers, destroyed structures were whistles, bamboo harps, bows and arrows. Tourists alrebuilt, damaged roads were repaired, and their military ways delight in bringing these uniquely Aeta objects back identities were repackaged into Freeports that could rival the to their homes, as well as crops like papayas, yams, avobest in Southeast Asia. cados and gourds that they have organically raised on the All through these changes, the Aetas held on, and in fact, mountainside. the best elements in their culture and character were assimiOne particular farming activity that the Aetas are trying lated in the development of the two bases. For the Aeta was to revive is the planting of upland rice, a high-value crop
that can provide them with another means to improve their lives. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo has changed the slope and chemistry of the land, but recent results are proving to be quite promising. Aside from farming and clerical work, some Aetas have been empowewered through formal schooling, including classes in vocational-technological courses. Education has given them an equal leverage when dealing with businessmen. This perhaps is the best confirmation that our native brethren may be small in stature, but they possess skills that can be improved. Danilo Tecson, an aeta village chieftain expressed hope that capable and competent Aetas be given a chance for training in competencies that can employ them in production lines and
offices. Perhaps the best Aeta success story in work would be Wyla Cosme, currently employed as a legal assistant for the CDC. She is striving hard to achieve a higher goal of passing the Bar one day. The young lady knows that she is a symbol of what can be achieved through assiduous and dedicated effort, a symbol not just for her community, but for all workers who would want to preserve dignity through honest labor. It is Aeta dignity that must be preserved, both through the celebration of their distinct culture and through opportunities for better education, housing, food, and most certainly employment, and allow them to stand shoulder-toshoulder with the best of our workers.
The way to the top. Tecson (second from right) with fellow Aetas who also work at Clark ascend the stairs of the Clark Development Corporation Main Building, Clark Freeport Zone.
THE FREE ENCYLOPEDIA The Aeta (pronounced as “eyeta,”), Agta or Ayta are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of Luzon, Philippines. They are considered to be Negritos, who are dark to very dark brown-skinned and tend to have features such as a small stature, small frame, curly to kinky hair with a higher frequency of naturally lighter hair color (blondism) relative to the general population, small nose, and dark brown eyes. They are thought to be among the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines, preceding the Austronesian migrations. History • One theory suggests that the Aeta are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines arrived through land bridges that linked the country with the Asian mainland about 30,000 years ago. Religion • The Pinatubo Aeta believe in environmental spirits such as anito and kamana. They believe that good and evil spirits inhabit the environment, such as the spirits of the river, sea, sky, mountain, hill, valley and other places. Clothing • The young women wear wrap around skirts. Elder women wear bark cloth, while elder men wear loin cloths. The old women of the Agta wear a bark cloth strip which passes between the legs, and is attached to a string around the waist. • Today, most Aeta who have been in contact with lowlanders have adopted the T-shirts, pants and rubber sandals commonly used by the latter. Music • The Aeta have a musical heritage consisting of various types of agung ensembles ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held, bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument.
â€œHELLO, WORLD!â€? At its most rudimentary level, communication is comprehension, the ability of a receiver to understand a message as the source intends it to mean.
t can be expressed through gestures, signs, symbols, and even chemicals. There are those who distill the delight in the deep attraction between individuals as the effect of unbridled pheromones. Contemporary thought has even define mutual understanding as nothing but compounds floating in the air. Perhaps, as long as there is a congruence of meaning between two individuals, any medium can be acceptable. In the workplace, effective communication can spell the difference between success and disaster. A clear example would be the simple misunderstanding that caused the destruction of the $327M Mars Climate Orbiter. While most of the programming and mission planning for the space probe had used the imperial system of measurement, the software had been written with metric units. This is quite surprising, since one presupposes that with such a community of geniuses, there was at least one who would have noticed something as basic as standardized measurements. The cost of products made inside the Subic-Clark Corridor is far less steep, but the demand for effective communication is as crucial. Whether to generate shirts or ships, all persons involved in fabrication must come to a meeting of minds, lest the outcome would be to shrink or sink. One can just imagine the product ending up like a subject in a Picasso painting! Fortunately, we do not engage the world
through abstractions, but through words and sentences that can be mutually comprehended. The facility of Filipino workers in the English language has been cited by investors as one of the primary reasons why they chose to locate in the Corridor. With millions of dollars at stake, they put a premium on the ability of the local staff to understand foreign technicians and managers through the accepted international language of business, culture and diplomacy. This common comprehension has led to the production of globally competitive services and supplies that follow the demanding standards of consumers and end users. Perhaps, the most telling illustration of how English proficiency has impacted on Corridor employment is the burgeoning Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in Clark and Subic. Filipinos have the natural talent for a neutral accent that can be comprehended by an Australian, British or even an American from the Deep South. But more essential than this linguistic facility is the patient, calm and composed manner Filipinos communicate. Often, clients would call and complain about a product or a service, and they can sometimes be far from circumspect in their choice of words. Counterpoint this with a call center agent who can soothe the heart of a savage beast, and much more an argumentative customer.
Linguistics scholars have identified “Philippine English” as our distinct way of expressing ourselves in this language. We tend to think in the vernacular and then transliterate the concept. This is best illustrated by words like “major-major” to describe something quite important, or “for a while” to put a phone caller on hold. In fact, there are such syntactic differences among Australian, American and British English speakers. What sets Filipino call center agents apart is their ability to communicate with all of them. In the assembly line, English is the bridge that transports ideas into execution. Given that some locators come from countries that do not speak that language, it still serves as the common denominator for interpreters to accurately express what each person means. There are many reasons why the Filipino workforce is comfortable in English. There is a learning environment in the country that practically makes it a native tongue. Unconsciously, Filipino homes are pervaded with English: ordinary conversations, music lyrics, popular broadsheets, instruction manuals, television and print advertisements, textbooks, broadsheets, product labels. Inter-office communication is mostly printed in English. Reference books in mathematics and science are similarly written. Official government correspondence is set in the same language. Foreigners may observe our court proceedings as quaint and unique: for the official records, there is always a court interpreter to translate into English the declarations in the vernacular from the witness stand. In straightforward language of the court, nothing is lost, and a legal counsel can always object to an inaccurate translation. Locally, communities around the former American military bases became more proficient with the language as a matter of course, having continuously dealt with US soldiers in their rest, recreation and labor needs. With a bit of expressive hand gestures, auditory patience and a general tolerance for grammatical missteps, a foreigner can adequately communicate on the avenues of Olongapo and Angeles, and receive that famous Filipino smile as an added bonus. Generally, our workers in the Corridor have finished a secondary or even college education, thus their communication skills are found to be above the street norm. In fact, they have begun to learn other languages, and being the quintessential citizens of the world, they have proven to be quite
adept at it. Currently, many Korean language schools are being established in the area, reflecting both the expanding Korean communities and their growing investment footprint within the Corridor. With the surge of the Chinese economy in the world market, it would not be surprising for both our businessmen and our workers to begin learning Mandarin and gain the needed strategic leverage. But trust in the Filipino worker to learn, and to learn quickly. Meanwhile, language schools predict that the teaching of English as a second language (ESL) will continue to grow in the next few years, and Filipino teachers have been widely known to be excellent instructors. An influx has been observed of Asians into Philippine schools, eager to learn the internationally accepted lingua franca, that ESL has become a small industry in itself, with each school developing its contextualized, functional, practical and relevant curriculum that caters to both local and foreign students.. Currently, public and private sectors have initiated programs that are designed to keep the lead of the country in English facility. in the country. In the BPO arena, 400,000 seats are expected to be needed in the coming months, and while the Philippines has gone head-to-head with India in this industry, it is commonly agreed that improvements must be implemented. The industry has shown itself to be relatively resistant to the adverse effects of global economic meltdown, since there will always be a customer or a client who will need some kind of an assistance. Once, certain nationalists considered the use of English as an affront, a denial of the beauty of the native language that we have been born into. But a casual glance at different media programs and periodicals today proves that the Filipino language is alive and well, and is in no danger of being overwhelmed by English. On the other hand, the continuing development of our linguistic skills in that language has proven to be an advantage that we have harnessed for our advancement. For example, we can count on the growing number of internet users to provide the backbone for the sourcing of English-proficient workers. With focused effort by different stakeholders, this advantage shall continue to be our means of being connected with the world for years to come.
Look who’s talking. Filipino call center agents of Cyber City Teleservices inside Clark Freeport Zone accept calls from around the globe.
Face To Face ALLIANCE: Let’s begin with the most basic question. What would be the steps do I have to take in order to get hired in Clark? ERVYN RIVERA: Here in Clark, recruitment is basically free or open. It’s not regulated, although we have a Manpower Pool and a Placement Assistance Center under the Customer Service Department. You are free to apply with any company directly. However there are companies that would require that you pass through CDC as a matter of internal policy. We then undertake paper screening, rather than a validation or background check. In the future, CDC would want to explore the conduct of Pre-Employment Orientations for applicants and locators. A: What are the available trainings for prospective and newly-hired employees? ER: CDC operates the Clark Polytechnic as a subsidiary. The trainings there are mostly aviation-related. The companies, on the other hand, have organized themselves by pooling their resources and partnering with government or private organizations to provide for specific trainings or seminars, but they have not yet reached the stage to provide a year-round training calendar. The need for continuous training is in the thrust of most of these organizations. They want sustained educational tie-ups specifically for vocational skills that are in greater demand but less available. Some of the companies are venturing into dualized training program by recruiting directly out of the school. They tap into various universities for On the Job Trainings, then eventually hire them after they graduate. Others have focused more on inhouse apprenticeship training that serves also as the newlyhired employee’s probationary period. A: Do we have Filipinos who have been promoted to higher ranks? ER: Most of the managers that we deal with are Filipinos. For Japanese companies, it’s typical that technical people would be foreigners, but people handling their Finance, Human Resources or Administration are typically Filipinos. A: Have the Human Resources managers organized themselves? ER: We have already formed the Clark Human Resource Council last year. It’s composed of representatives from 60 companies, and the directors are from major firms like Yokohama, LNT, Texas Instruments, and Smart Shirts. The HR Council approximates what would be Personnel Managers Association of the Philippines, or PMAP, since most of them are PMAP members. Through the HR Council, more collaboration is now possible with bigger organizations. On our part, we also assist the Council in whatever way we can. A. Are there organizations with whom you have been networking? ER: Lately we’ve been establishing several industry associations in Clark, such as the Clark Garments Manufacturing Association, Nihon Kaisha Group which is group of Japanese companies, Clark IT Industries Association, Metro Clark ICT Council, and just recently, the Clark SemiCon And Electronics Industries Association. As a proof of how highly regarded our Filipino professionals are, Mr. Herrie Rivera of SMK was recently elected as President of the Nihon Kaisha
ERVYN J.C. RIVERA Asst. Manager, Industrial Relations, CDC Customer Relations Department
Group, as well as the Clark SemiCon and Electronics Industries Association. A: Do you have a mechanism for ensuring employee benefits? ER: We have a Social Welfare Coordinating Council composed of representatives from the Social Security System, Philhealth and the PAGIBIG Fund to ensure compliance of matching contributions for employees’ benefits. After the two destructive typhoons last year, we found out that some employees were not eligible for calamity loans due to many reasons. That was what prompted us to contact the three agencies, so we may be able to validate the compliance of companies. A: How do you maintain industrial peace? ER: I’m not saying that there are no disputes in Clark.On the average, we have 90 cases being filed with us every year that affects about 2,000 employees, but we are able to mediate without having to proceed to the filing of formal cases. Part of our advocacy also is to make employees and companies know that we are deputized to perform mediation services, as per the Memorandum of Agreement we signed with the DOLE. Our job is basically to facilitate both parties to come to a mutual settlement.
ATTY. SEVERO C. PASTOR JR. Manager Labor Department Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
E HARMONY ALLIANCE: What do you see as the most difficult task of the Subic Labor Department? Atty SEVERO PASTOR: The unpredictability of the economy is always a great concern, not only for us, but also for the whole Freeport. For example, the Asian economic crisis, viruses and diseases preventing travel and tourism and the recent global recession have made projections irrelevant. Under our watch, we should always be prepared for any eventuality. A: What specific measures have you implemented to address this? ASP: Our department has a two-tiered approach to the unpredictability of the future. First, we have initiatives that can retool and retrain our people as a quick response to the changing labor demands of a fluid market. We have been very fortunate that we have been fully supported by different stakeholders in the Freeport. For example, we have an annual region-wide labor matching congress, where personalities from the academe, the local government units and agencies, locators and Freeports gather to discuss ways of stopping employment gaps in the face of current developments. A: And the second? ASP: Recruitment initiatives have been taken to strengthen
labor pool. We have gone all over Region 3, all the way up to Northern Luzon to beef up our potential work force. At any time an investor would ask for available local skills, we should always be ready with a positive response. A: Is it difficult to get hired in Subic? ASP: One of the efforts of our department is to assist applicants. We even teach them how to comport themselves during interviews, and how to fill out their resumes. Our Employment Orientation Program guides applicants to the policies, rules and guidelines related to environment, safety, labor laws and such. In the orientation, we clarify their rights as employees, but we also explain to them the rights of employers under the law. I believe that through this understanding, we have been able to practically eliminate labor problems inside the Freeport. The decision to hire is left to the companies, of course, and their Human Resources managers have implemented a trade referral system under the auspices of the local Personnel Management Association of the Philippines chapter that allows the rehiring of displaced but highly recommended workers to other firms. A: How do you raise worker morale in Subic? ASP: At our gates, we have signs that say, “Here Pass the Heroes of Subic,” and “I am Proud to be a Freeport Worker.” Also, we have our annual search for Ten Outstanding Freeport Workers. It is a special honor to receive this award because figures in the national scene are the final judges. A: What about cultural differences between employees and employers? ASP: We have been helped by the College of Anthropology of the University of the Philippines in crafting a module for bridging cultural gaps. Cultural understanding must go both ways: local workers must learn to adjust to the particular nuances of their employer’s work attitude, while the foreign locators must appreciate how we relate to our work environment. A: Did you personally learn from these bridging programs? ASP: If there is one thing I appreciate about Filipinos is the way they regard work. From my immersion with anthropological studies, I learned that their attitude is reflected in language. We call work “hanap-buhay,” which, when translated in English would be “a quest for life.” Filipinos do not treat work as a burden; rather, it is a means of uplifting or giving meaning to existence. This is why we do not place work above families. We place them on the same level, because we believe that one animates the other. A: What is your management style? ASP: I believe in empowerment. Labor management is a 24/7 job, because problems can erupt any time, and we would like to settle matters judiciously. Our programs are not only crafted to maintain work ethic, but also to develop personal and professional skills. I treat my division chiefs as links in a chain; if one breaks, then all the rest will fall apart. This is why my division chiefs are now project managers. I give them autonomy and expect them to multi-task. But I keep an open line with the locators, so that I will be able to get feedbacks on their performance. A: Does this also reflect your attitude towards work? ASP: I simply believe that work should bring personal fulfilment. As long as my work allows me to be of help to others.
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Your lifestyle destination, offering a host of unique delights and attractions for every visitor, young and old alike.
AN OWL-EYED BUM
(The author is a 21-year old male call center agent in one of the established call center companies inside the Clark Freeport Zone)
hanks for calling, my name is Consultant #1, How can I help you today? Please do call us if you have further queries on the matter. We are more than willing to help.*Beep* Logout. Proceed to locker.Take the shuttle. Get a ride home. Enter the bedroom. Zzzzzz. And so ends another day just as the sun is about to heat up. The tasks of a Customer Service Representative(CSR) are not really different from regular day jobs. Its the graveyard shift that changes everything and which makes others frown at the thought of being awake all night working and hitting the sack as the world begins a new day. The night differential compensates for all the trouble of tweaking one’s schedule. The “night diff” is an additional percentage to your pay just like probably a hazard pay. Usually its 30-50% or even double the regular rate of a regular day worker. With notable communication skills, integrity, flexibility, perseverance and without necessarily having a degree, your best opportunity for employment may most likely be the call center industry. Call centers usually provide hope for those who would have these qualities in them. And you’re assured of being rewarded with the precious time you will be sharing with the call center. There is a 12-hour difference from where we work and where customers are calling from. Well, it still depends on which state in America they are in. As most people in this part of the world are about to sleep, we start receiving calls from the side of the globe where the sun is up. Most of the time, a shift starts at night, and you then as a CSR must adjust your body clock and turn yourself into a modern-dayvampire. Reversing ones body clock is not taught in any school, nor is it na part of any degree in a university. Working in the industry makes us realize that there are things we never thought we can do but could. I used to go out and have a couple drinks way back in my college days. CSRs do this too, but early in the morning, since this would be the time they get out from work. Just like any stress-relieving activity, an early morning beer would be a wonderful way to cap the day err.. night? An ex-bum that I am, it made me aware that sleep indeed is priceless. A CSR usually spends a day-off wallowing in the privilege of a deep SLEEP, or Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan. It can be deemed truly valuable for those who engage themselves in tasks that exert energy while doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity. No, I did not come up with that acronym and definition while being a bum. The painful transition from being nocturnal to being a day-walker comes during the shift of schedule. Bereft of the privilege of having the same work schedule, you are not assured of a chance to live a normal life.
Creatures of the night we may be but still we reap several rewards. One, we don’t have to fight our way through cramped and crowded bars since we get our share of liquor when mortals have gone to work. Two, we’re spared of the household chores since we need to slave ourselves in bed. But an important career related rewards would be the trainings we are given. This becomes an advantage for those who wish to take a different career path afterwards.The experience of serving people from a different side of the world is awesome and the training we go through makes us perfectly fit to speak to them. And since we work with computers that need to be in a well-cooled room, we get to wear clothes with spunk, flare and totally radical fashion. Well, some of us do have the guts to do so. Just like any other work, we need to do our best to be kept in the industry. A quote I learned from one of our trainings says: “Knowledge of the subject is everything. Act as if you’re the President of the company, act as if you know what you’re taking about. And when you do, either way, you’re a winner.” Keeping this in mind makes us motivated to work until you realize that you’re doing it in the wee hours of the morning. Nevertheless, we do aim to achieve and exceed the mission of the industry. But its not every time that we get to receive calls when we are on-board. There would be times when we have to battle with sleep as we wait for our customers to call and be able to serve them. Loading up on caffeine and nicotine during breaks may help keep us awake for the time being but it does not help as we also try to preserve our life. Chair exercises in the work area downloaded from the internet are truly helpful but most often the unending story swaps keep us up and about. The camaraderie between CSRs is outstanding. Besides trying to keep each other awake, you share so much about life. Why, you may ask? They are the only persons awake at that time! I was hoping to say “sane persons” but sometimes we’re not sure if we are. We are grateful to meet friends whom we share the same passion with and being with them working in this ungodly hour is more than luck. Honestly, I am having a wonderful time working as a CSR but I also need to check time and again if my body can take such grind. If there is anything this freaky schedule has taught me, it would probably be the fact that after serving for a couple of years I was able to prove: I CAN! Living this “Twilight”-like life is indeed awesome but not everytime. Much as I wish to be a daywalker once again, I am still having fun with both career and lifestyle. But it won’t be long now as I pine for the yearnings of normal people. But as of now, as the sun sets, it’s still: Wake up. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Go to work. Go home. Sleep. Repeat.
BRIDGING THE GAP For the Filipino worker, there is no better symbol of success than in owning a home. It may be a petite bachelor’s residence in a lowcost housing development or an elegant dwelling in a gated subdivision, but a permanent address will always be seen as the most evident measure of success from the sweat off one’s brows.
t is no wonder then that Filipinos will take the best effort in keeping their homes beautiful, no matter how humble. A typical abode is a monument to cleanliness and orderliness, inspired by the owner’s gregarious sense of hospitality. One may even venture to say that a Filipino’s home is a measure of one’s pride and self-esteem. This sense of ownership is the motivating factor that Herrie Rivera, Human Resources manager of SMK Corporation in Clark, is always banking on when communicating the company ethos to the workers. As the highest-ranking Filipino officer of the Japanese touch screen and panel producer inside the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ), he provides the linkage that smoothly connects the differing cultural value systems of the foreign management and the local workforce. At first glance, Herrie comes across as a regular man-onthe-street, with his denim pants and his leather sandals partnering with a company uniform. His eyeglasses add character to a likeable face, and his soft voice is almost avuncular. Outside the workplace, it is probably very difficult to recognize him as a manager of one of the largest Japanese locators in the CFZ. A survivor of the volcanic mudflows that submerged his hometown of Bacolor, Pampanga, he knows how it is to lose almost everything and he understands the value of work in overcoming difficulties in life. Herrie breaks the false impression that Filipino workers in the Freeport only occupy the lower rungs of the organizational chart, while foreigners enjoy the rarefied air of superiority. Moving within an accepted system where investors must necessarily put their own experts in the upper echelons of management, Herrie exemplifies the capable Filipino professional who expresses concerned stewardship of those under his watch, while simultaneously mindful of the company growth and profit margin. Herrie sees himself as a bridge between cultures. “In some ways, the attitudes are in reverse of each other,” he notes. “The Japanese treat their job with seriousness, while Filipinos tend to use humor as a coping mechanism to overcome the stress of work.” There are other differences, some of which are so deeply ingrained that conflicts seem inevitable, but our he can always conjure a common ground by which everyone can be satisfied with reasonable expectation. “The key is always dialogue, and the challenge lies in making one side see the problem from the other person’s perspective,” he adds.
Aside from meaningful dialogue, Herrie sees the home as an environment that can sustain the workplace. “Beyond the difficulties of working under an unfamiliar work process, we have a very strong support system in our families,” he remarks, “after a particularly tiring day, we can always count on them to relieve us from stress. This by itself gives our Freeport laborers a psychological advantage.” He cites the importance of proper cross-cultural orientation in keeping peace in the workplace. “We have discovered that one of the main reasons of high employee turnover is culture shock,” he relates. “For example, we have differing ways of expressing correction.” He credits this strict culture of accepting mistakes and making great efforts to improve as the most evident reason for the rise of Japan as a world economic power. He himself had some difficulties during his initial employment with his foreign principals, but he later realized the wisdom of the distinguishing work style after he saw the positive results in the efficient production of materials that demand extreme precision. SMK products are used as components in cell phones, cameras, car navigation and tablets manufactured in Japan and Europe. The sensitive method of manufacturing touch screens requires cutting edge technology, and Herrie’s responsibility is directed towards the capable maintenance of a working environment where highly motivated people operate the production line, as well as towards assuring management that company targets are being met. “The Japanese follows the principle of kaizen, or continuous improvement,” he remarks. “They are not satisfied with what is good enough, but rather would challenge themselves to achieve greater outputs. If you can produce 100 products in eight hours, try to produce 200 products next time.” It appears to be a draconian concept, but Herrie endorses its uplifting effect on personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Herrie actively espouses the Japanese “5 S” workplace methodology. “5 S” stands for Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, roughly translated as “sort, sequence, sweep, standardize and sustain.” It is a system that aims to build a sense of ownership in each employee, transforming a cavalier attitude of looking at the company as a mere workplace, to treating it as a home that must be maintained and improved. “If you look at our office, everything has its own place. To a great extent, SMK is our Japanese home. We have regular exercises, green tea during breaks, and we even remove our footwear when we come in. All these are done toward a clean and orderly work area,” he explains. The inevitability of a clash in cultures is always Herrie’s concern. For the expectations to be clearly communicated on both ends, he serves as a channel to cascade and elevate them in a clear and amplified manner, thereby avoiding conflicts, and instead masterfully assimilating the best of different customs and traditions. “Through interactive dialogue, we set the standards for the production process and make it clear among our people how it should be done. But once a decision has been made, it will be resolutely followed,” Herrie remarks. Since Filipinos expect the same standard of their homes, making it easier for workers to understand how management thinks. He credits the ease of adaptability that Filipinos have been widely known for. “This is probably why we thrive in any country we seek to be employed,” he adds. “We have what the Japanese look in the worker: flexible with their time and way of thinking, multi-skilled, and best of all, pro-active.” Why did SMK choose the Philippines, and Clark for that matter? “We have an abundance of technically proficient workers, engineers, accountants, professionals, plus good golf courses,” he says with a smile. Herrie rose from the ranks at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to become an assistant branch surveillance officer. He then transferred to the Clark Premiere
Industrial Park as its General Services manager, where he began to learn the characteristic work culture of his Japanese employers. He has always occupied positions of trust, and Herrie takes care to keep a stable sense of trust with those above and below him in the organization. In 1998, he joined SMK, then a Japanese electronics manufacturer operating out of a small factory in Bulacan. Began in 1925 as Ikeda Denki Seisakusho, it was renamed Showa Musen Kogyo Kabushikigaisha before changing name to SMK Corporation in 1985, with 35 branches currently found all over the globe. Musen stands for its first product, the transistor radio. In April 2001, when the firm decided to expand their operations by locating inside Clark, Herrie joined its set-up team to prepare the spadework. Eventually, he was tasked as deputy manager for general affairs. Reflecting on his skills, his quick promotion as general manager transpired in just two years. He is currently the president of Nihon Kaisha Association, an organization of Filipino executives working for 16 large Japanese companies located inside Clark. True to the Japanese sense of common interest, the executives engage in benchmarking and share best practices, experiences, legal advice and protocols for improvement. He is also the head
For him attitude trumps skills, experience and education, because they can be gained by a highly motivated worker through proper instruction. of the Clark Electronics and Semiconductor Industries Association, proof of his leadership skills that blend well with human resource management. “The unity among the Japanese is quite admirable,” he said, “aside from consulting each other, they are also very nationalistic in choosing Japanese products like cars and insurance companies over others. Herrie sees himself growing old with the company. He is satisfied with the knowledge and skills that he has assimilated over the years, and he is particularly happy with the corporate social responsibility of SMK. It has scholars who undergo on the job training, and are then hired when they reach 18 years old. About 600 have already benefitted from this program. As an HR manager, he observes that applicants choose SMK because it is known to be a good workplace where knowledge can be gained through the years. He looks for prospective employees who have the positive attitudes of punctuality, patience, seriousness and independence to adjust to a foreign work culture, and so far, hiring has not been disappointing. For Herrie, attitude trumps skills, experience and education, because they can be gained by a highly motivated worker though proper instruction. Those who are identified to have a positive attitude are often sent to Japan for intensive training. The company employs more than a thousand local workers, and will expand its operations in two years, projecting two thousand more Filipinos to be employed. An increasing number of Filipinos are now occupying management positions in the Freeport. This is not to state that those who work in the production lines belong to a lower class of people, for even the tiniest gear in a watch has an important role in keeping it precise and accurate. Rather, their growing ranks are a testament to their capability to rise above the challenge of corporate life, that yes, the globally competitive Filipino can grow, wherever he is planted.
FENCED FOR SUCCESS
ack when we were young children, parents got normally uptight and frantic as we started growing up. It was crucial for them that we were fed well, taught well and secured well, somewhat similar to the function of a fence built around a house. Security is always an issue in any place, in any time. The environment should be free from harm to ensure maximum work proficiency and stability. Much like how we were raised by our parents, any business center would strive hard to give the best safety and security to any individual who enters its vicinity and Clark Freeport Zone does just that. Clark Freeport Zone boasts of its Public Safety Department highly-recognized with credentials of goodwill and excellent performance. Their secret: Strict implementation of traffic rules and public safety measures. For Public Safety Department Head Col. Nicanor S. Targa, the main goal of the Clark Development Corporation Police is to win the trust of locators who do business within the area as well as those who would want to invest in Clark. They have always been strict with traffic rules and public safety and it is evident that they ensure peace and order and security in the entire area. How do they maintain to be successful in their work? As Col. Targa unveils, they have to undergo multiple trainings just to ensure that they are instilled with the dedication to discipline motorists and be able to give them hospitable service. As they say, any place that has maximum security is a successful place. However, environmental security is only one of the many things that Clark Freeport Zone boasts of
as there are other components that fit with Security, namely, Health and Safety. Our mothers took care of us while we were growing up sometimes to the extent that it was becoming ridiculous. Now that we’re older, do we still have that kind of maternal affection? The answer is YES. Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. The Health Services Department has the responsibility of assuring the safety and health of workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. There’s an advantage to addressing health and safety issues in the workplace for it gives employers the benefit of savings that can add value to businesses. Also, workers need to know that they are taken care of. Give them that kind of assurance, then, you’ll surely see an increase in productivity. Simply put, protecting people on the job is in the best interest of everyone - our economy, our communities, our fellow workers and our families. Safety and health add value to businesses, workplaces and lives. Office and Industrial safety is very essential in today’s world. Not only is it essential but it is also very important to be aware of several workplace safety rules and regulations as this could hamper the smooth functioning of an office due to legal issues. PLT
Gatekeepers. Two members of the Public Safety Department of the Clark Development Corporation keep a watchful eye at the gate of the Clark Freeport Zone.
TA R L A C
CORRIDOR BULLET NEWS
Subic fisherfolk launch artificial reef project
MEMBERS of fishing communities in the Subic Bay area, in cooperation with local government units and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), have launched a concrete artificial reef project designed to augment traditional fishing grounds in their respective localities. Spearheaded by the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (SB-IFARMC), the project consists of a total of 1,800 units of culvert pyramid-type concrete blocks formed into 60 artificial reef modules. The P2.3-million project was made possible through the Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF) of the SBMA, which has allotted a P4-million financial assistance to fishing communities affected by development projects in the Subic Bay Freeport. The concrete modules will be installed at various sites identified by fishermen in the towns of Subic and San Antonio in Zambales, Olongapo City, and Morong town in Bataan. The artificial reef project was designed to mitigate the effects of development in the area, as well as to rehabilitate fishing grounds destroyed by unscrupulous fishermen who employ dynamite, cyanide and other destructive fishing methods.
CDC,TESDA sign MOA
THE Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that renews their partnership in providing skills training and employment to job seekers in the province of Pampanga. Based on the MOA, TESDA shall be the center for the coordination and information dissemination to its graduates by establishing a centralized linkage for their graduates and trainees.
Angeles City Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan accepts a copy of the Subic Clark Conceptual Land Use Plan (SCCOLUP) from Subic -Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD) Chief of Staff Linda Pamintuan. SCoLUP is a conceptual land use framework for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Corridor. Photo by RDe Jesus
FOREIGN INVESTORS WELCOME DEVâ€™T OF SUBIC-CLARK-TARLAC CORRIDOR FOREIGN investors have welcomed the efforts of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD) to develop the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Corridor into a world-class hub of logistics, production, services, housing and tourism. In his speech before foreign investors during the first International Convention of Chamber of Real Estate and Buildersâ€™ Association (CREBA) held at the Venetian Hotel in Macau, China last October 25-26, delegates, which included overseas Filipino workers, members of CREBA and foreign businessmen, SCAD chairman Nestor S. Mangio underscored the ongoing development being undertaken by SCAD to transform the corridor into a business-friendly location. Mangio, also the current chairman of the board of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), even announced the modernization of the Diosdado Macapacal International Airport
SCAD Chairman Nestor S. Mangio as the premier gateway of the Philippines to the Asian-Pacific region. He also said that DMIA is the most convenient gateway for OFWs coming from Northern and Central Luzon Regions. These two regions combined contribute the biggest bulk of workers to foreign lands, thus impacting greatly on the local and national economies.
Clark starts online export permit processing THE Clark Development Corporation has started on December 1 the implementation of automated export permit processing called e-Export Documentation System (e-EDS) in the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ). Engr. Mariz Mandocdoc, CDC Assistant Vice-President for Regulatory Groups, said the computerized system will expedite application and processing of export permits to 3 hours, compared to the old manual system where
exporters have to wait for 3 days before permits are approved and released. Under the old manual system, exporters had to submit their export documents during working hours from Monday to Friday, while the e-EDS service is open online 24/7. The e-EDS will make it easier for both the CDC and the exporter to process documentation requirements, foregoing the tedious manual process of submitting voluminous paperwork.
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, PHILIPPINES
The worthy ‘COS’
Erlinda B. Pamintuan Chief of Staff Subic-Clark Alliance for Development
o reinvigorate a tired cliché: Behind every successful mandate is a woman. Okay, the jury is still out on the success part, since a mandate is usually a work in progress. But who can deny that the champions of the x-chromosome do share an equal footing with the distaff side? Machismo may vehemently deny this, but there probably lies the most potent secret of Woman: her ability to convince men to believe the illusion that they are the rulers of the world while her hand rocks their cradle. It’s really a partnership: moving the body ever closer to its mission, the rational head can only lead so well if it is comforted by a beating heart.
One of the better perks of working at Subic-Clark Alliance for Development is serving under, or more precisely, serving with Ms. Erlinda B. Pamintuan, Chief of Staff (COS) , and the Secretariat guiding light. At the helm, Ms Pamintuan manages with silent passion and unassuming dedication. Having previously served under diverse foreign and local styles of management, she brings to the table a wealth of experience that can be matched by a few, man or woman. An ordinary day finds her plowing through thick piles of folders, interrupted ever so frequently with phone calls and text messages of people who need her assistance. Then, laptop bag and purse in hand, she is off to a series of meetings, only to re-emerge late in the afternoon, perseveringly decanting the last drop of work from the remaining minutes. As Chief of Staff, she is responsible for maintaining an efficient and effective communication flow between the Council and the various operating staff and line units. She provides options on proposals submitted by various entities, as well as coordinates administrative support to the different Council committees. As Secretariat Head, she steers policy research and oversees the drafting of recommendations on issues relating to the harmonization and integration of strategies and resources for the development of the Subic-Clark Corridor as a competitive logistics center in the Asia Pacific Region. And yet, the demands of work have not created a tyrant empty of soul and sympathy. No one in the Secretariat can deny that she is always there whenever a staffer is in dire need, helping in whatever way she can, and even more than what is expected of her. She is always quick to defend, treating her subordinates not as employees, but as family. She is a woman of enthusiasm: given a set of responsibilities that would discourage mere mortals, she responds with a smiling “this is exciting!” At times when targets are not met, she expresses her disappointment with “I am not happy.” A few words, maybe, but those who have long known her drive for excellence can recognize the intensity concealed behind the brevity. She is quite articulate in fact, and can definitely speak her mind when provoked. Slender of frame, she has definitely been no push-over, whether handling the public relations needs of a national ballet company or setting up a network and technology corporation in previous work. Ms Pamintuan describes the SCAD Council as an enabler, moving that which needs to be moved, and refocusing that which wanders aimlessly. She performs best at connecting people and finding middle grounds: the intricacy of consensus-building as the essence of policy harmonization challenges her as much as it bewitches. Perhaps, the best compliment that can be accorded to her is, she is good at what she does. Even now, she remains an inspiration, determined to endure even when others have given up, forging on in the face of uncertainty, and inspiring others to continue with her, for she believes in the goodness of her mission, and she will not let all that has been accomplished go for nothing. Here then is to Ms. Linda B. Pamintuan, SCADC chief of staff, mother, wife, friend, woman.
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