The Good Old Days

*** submitted this write-up to a community paper but it didn’t see print so it will now fill a space in my blog ***

The Good Old Days
Neliza Marie E. Dakoykoy

Ever had one of those days when you tell yourself the good old days are always better than today? You reminisce about the days when prices of commodities were cheaper, jeepney fares were not as high, and coffee was just plain coffee – not some fancy status symbol? Sometimes I have those days when I think of how the old songs made more sense and was not just composed of random ramblings or squeals; or those days when kids really were kids and still played in the streets and bathed in the rain. But this day is not one of those.

Because today, I do not reminisce of how it was better during the good old days rather how difficult it was for us who lived those times.

If I were a historian, I would refer to the good old days as the Pre Call Center and today obviously I’d call the Call Center Era.

I was one of those fortunate who lived thru the Pre Call Center Era and I witnessed the “shift.” When I graduated in college, I took the Civil Service Exam because my mother told me I needed it to get a good job in a government agency. (I passed but never got a government job.) I printed off gazillions of my resumes, checked the classifieds ads for job postings and walked around under the sun to submit my application to companies. I got my first job as a PR Person for an Optical Company and was paid a thousand every 2 weeks, sometimes given in installments. (Yes, back then, I was happy to get a hundred pesos for a day’s job; I was a fresh grad, I had to grab what was there.) After 2 months in that company, I got accepted in one of the leading Department Stores as Leasing Officer and I stayed there for five months before I got a job as a writer for an Advertising Agency. This time, I was bringing home at least two thousand every payday and yes, it was meager but ok then.

Then one of the first few offshore businesses sprung up in Cebu and I worked for an American Awards Company; first as Telephone Operator then as Customer Service Team Lead. That was when I first got a bigger pay and then all then all the shift happened.

People were drinking coffee that was more expensive than 2 value meals combined; they were having smoke breaks; cellphones and mp3s became a must-have and one need not graduate to get a high-paying job. Somehow it was now easy to bring in the bucks without slaving over assignments and projects in school.

Things have become totally different…

I am not saying it’s a bad thing of course, in fact I am saying that the Call Center Era is a good thing and that those who’ve been fortunate not to experience the Pre-Call Center Era should be thankful. Their lives are much more convenient nowadays, thanks to the Call Center Industry. These things might seem little yet there is much to appreciate about them, their lives are a lot better now and here are only some of their conveniences:

Resumes can be submitted via email or thru websites – beats all the walking
Initial interviews are done over the phone – no travel, no formal clothes, no expense!
Walk-in applications – you can enter a building jobless and come out with a sign-up bonus and a free movie pass
You can work while studying – and you’re not limited to just fast food chains
You can be an undergrad or a fresh grad and you still have an edge over those who’ve graduated – which was never heard of before
You could be earning more than your seniors – so true
No age limit – way to go grannies!
Your first job and you’re earning not less than 12K a month – imagine mine with only 100 per day?
You can wear slippers to work and not get in trouble – Havaianas anyone?
You can easily afford a cup of coffee worth 150 pesos and all other perks – sky is the limit for you plus you have a credit card too!
Best of all, you get the prestige that comes with saying “I work in a Call Center.!”

I would say to you though, enjoy it while it is still here and take advantage of it. And then later on, if and when the Post-Call Center Era does arrive, you can say “those were the good old days and I enjoyed it!”

August 3, 2010, Tuesday
@ 6:40PM

Road Kill

Call me melodramatic and mushy but I again cried my heart out last dawn while heading for home.. Why? Because I witnessed an event all too common in the Philippines – – a dog getting hit by a car. For a self-confessed animal lover like me, these events are just something I can’t bear to see. I have 2 turtles, a pair of love birds and have had a lot of dogs and I consider them family – its painful for me to lose them, especially if it was due to a brutal way.

This is not the first for me though, I once witnessed the death of a helpless kitten in the middle of the road once and that got me all torn up and I literally cried a river. I am not sure if I ever wrote about that though but that was a very sad episode. We were walking the sidewalk of Jones Avenue when I heard the faint voice of a kitten. I searched for where the sound was coming and it was from the middle of the street, a kitten was in the middle of the street probably looking for it mama. I was about to go and fetch him when suddenly a taxi swerved by and hit it. I saw it whirl around in disorientation and then I broke down into tears. (I act like such a hard person but I am really just a sissy deep down inside.)

My thoughts were I could have saved it but it was too late. I was right there and I couldn’t do anything. I was crying all the way home and I was totally messed up. I hated that I was too late, I hated that the kitten had to experience such a brutal fate, and I hated that that just happens here like it was normal! I hated that I saw the whole thing and that there was nothing I could do! I blamed myself and I cried for the poor kitten.

And that happened again, with the dog. We were driving in a motorcycle in the Banilad area, in front of the Grand Convention Center when suddenly a dog ran in front of us, Itoy was able to apply the brakes and the dog ran all the way to the middle of the street where a lot of other vehicles were passing by. We didn’t get very far when I heard the dog squeal in pain and I looked back at it, I saw it dragging half of its body to get away and I again broke down in tears. I couldn’t bear to look back anymore and Itoy just drove on because he didn’t want me to see it either. I was distraught and was sobbing because I took pity on it. I don’t think it was the dog’s fault; another dog was chasing him which led him to run away and towards what possibly was his brutal death. I cried all the way and Itoy was as always, calm but was angry at how the taxi didn’t even try to avoid hitting the dog.

I ask myself why some people are just so brutal to these animals? Do they think they are the only ones who have the right to live? I ask myself why in our country, we can’t prosecute people who do this? But then I realize, if justice is flighty to people, more so for helpless animals like stray dogs or cats. If some people don’t even value lives of people, how do you think they’d treat God’s little creatures?

I do hope our new president is able to do something about this as well. I am not a fan of his from the beginning but he seems to be proving himself in little ways so I really hope he becomes an instrument of change in our country. We really need it!

@ 12: 38a July 7, 2010 by nmed

Something for Nothing

Something for Nothing
By: Neliza Marie E. Dakoykoy

There is a familiar quote we like to use that says “the best things in life are free”; but are they really? The cynics would say that “NO, nothing in this world of ours is free anymore!” I beg to disagree though…

I am such a sucker for freebies. Who wouldn’t want to get something for nothing, right? Especially today when everything has a peso equivalent, to get something for nothing is a wonderful thing!

So to get the best of the “freebie” world, I have here a list of friendly, tried and tested tips.

Listen to the radio. Probably less than 50% of the population know this and put this to good use, but the radio is one of the biggest sources of free stuff. Aside from hearing your favorite tunes, you can get tons of freebies; movie passes, concert tickets, GCs, and CDs are only some of these things. You just need to answer a few questions and you’re automatically in Freeville! I am a certified music/radio junkie so I should know– I’ve even won something as unusual as free pizza! And just today, I won something for a Camera Event this Saturday.

Take time to read posters/ads in newspapers or posted on walls. Posters and print ads exist to give information; many people ignore these things but some are actually ads for free stuff or discounts! Years ago, on Mother’s Day, I was able to bring my mom and 2 of my aunts to a posh hotel-based massage parlor for an entire spa session worth only a thousand bucks. They each got massages, a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi, sauna and great pampering. It might not have been free but with what they got out of it – it was a steal! How did I bump into this information? It wasn’t by accident, I got it from a little ad in the newspaper – one I was glad I made use of.

Accept leaflets/coupons given by promotional crews inside malls or in the streets. You think it’s just a waste of your time, but ponder on this – those people are handing those leaflets out because they want to share information, it might not be a freebie, it could be a leaflet for a fly now pay later job or a sale for reading glasses but you can’t deny that occasionally these are actually discount coupons. Be it for value meals or buy-one-take-one burgers. If some of these leaflets are no use to you, hand it over to someone who could use it; at least now you know. Word of advice, make sure to accept those from Jollibee or McDonald’s crews because those are discount coupons. And if you are ever in the Colon area, do not (and I repeat, do not) ever accept from those that say free medicines because it’s a scam – they will give you “free” medicines and then another guy will harass you into giving him money. (Take it from me, I KNOW, I was victimized once!)

When you avail of services like salons, spas or massages – bring a friend/s with you, don’t go alone. More than safety in numbers and aside from having chat partners; tagging friends along can actually let you avail of packages. Some companies offer “avail-of-3-fourth-one-for-free” or other kinds of packages wherein prices are relatively cheaper than when you’re alone. Another good thing about coming in groups is you can split the money amongst yourselves and still pay a smaller amount in the end – no wonder they call it “cheap in”!

Watch out for openings of malls, boutiques and department stores. Two words – FREE TASTE! Admit it, free tasting is one of the best free things ever invented! You don’t have to buy anything or even act like you’re interested in buying it; just line up and get your free food/drink. Ofcourse this doesn’t apply to boutiques obviously, but ever heard of those “first 100 customers” phrase? Most, if not all, apply this promotional tactic so I suggest you take advantage of it, you just might be able to get something exciting. This goes for closing/everything-must-go or inventory sales as well – there are a lot of good buys during these times too!

Be on the look-out for occasional promos. Christmas, graduation, Sinulog, Mother’s day – if there is an occasion, there is a big chance there is a promo somewhere. Be keen on these things so you don’t miss out on real sweet deals.

Those are my tips to get the best of Freeville and increase your freeability. (Freeville – the hypothetical perfect world where all things are free; and freeability – the ability to source out freebies or obtain things for free.)

So, are the best things in life really free? Probably; but not all, however, there really are things one can get for free – if one just knows where to look! So test drive my tips and I’ll see you in Freeville!

March 18, 2010 @ 2:26am