Why the Philippines Needs a Revolution

October 2006

Lately I’ve been observing (and helping) as a Filipina friend searched for a job. After a few weeks of trudging around in the hot sun delivering resumes and biodata forms, she was “lucky” to find her name posted on the employment board at the Metro Ayala Department Store, announcing that she would be allowed to submit additional “Pre-employment Requirements;” and that if these were submitted and approved, she would then be hired.

Metro Gaisano

This is the list she was given by Metro. I added the costs of obtaining each item (in parentheses, italics and Pesos):

Pre-Employment Requirements

Secure the following requirements and submit to:
HRD corporate office, 5th floor, Metro Ayala

1. 2 pcs 2x2 ID picture (colored or black & white) (P120)
2. 5 pcs 1x1 colored picture with dark blue background (P100)
3. Residence certificate (original copy) (P12.80)
4. Health certificate from Cebu City health center (original copy) (please bring chest X-ray and stool exam results issued by CUPSI or STANFORD Laboratory to Cebu City Health center.) (P40)
5. Police Clearance (original copy) (P80)
6. NBI Clearance (original copy) (P80)
7. Transcript of records for college graduate/level, or High School card for high school graduate (photocopy) (P10)
8. Birth certificate from local civil registrar (photocopy) (P2)
9. Validated SSS Form E-1 (4 pcs photocopy) (P8)
10. Barangay clearance (original copy) (P20)
11. Occupational permit from Cebu City Hall (original copy) (P20)
12. Application for TIN number from any BIR office (for new job holders), or TIN W2 (if previously employed) (free)
13. Any valid ID (driver’s license, passport, school/PRC/SSS/Voter’s ID) or E-1 issued from January 2006 to present (photocopy) (P2)
14. Uniform (P800)

Note: please present this checklist to HRD rep upon submission of documents as proof of hire.

During the lead-up to starting work, she made five trips to Ayala. 5 trips x 2 (back & forth) x P15 (P6  & P9) (she lives at a boarding house in Lapu-Lapu.) = (P150)

Next I received this text message:
“Hi chris maaung gabi I jst finish at ayala, they giv my adtnl reqremnts abt da job I must hav uniform and blk shoes same as cebu doc students, also makeup kit 12 pieces I don’t have makeup kit and 5 pieces pic on dark bkgrnd,for lamination of id.I kep a list of 4 my orientation.Monday sau sa buntag 8:45am until nyt.I hop u undrstnd.”
In other words, she needed additional funds to pay for the “adtnl reqremnts.”
Shoes (P400)
Make-up kit (P125)

Today she is spending at a mandatory, unpaid, eight-hour orientation during which she will discover where she will be posted: Ayala, SuperMetro in Mandaue, or Metro Gasiano on Colon Street (the other Gaisano stores are apparently owned by different members of the Gaisano family.)

This is considered a very desirable job for Cebu…most young female job applicants here would die for a job at Ayala Mall.

I totaled up her costs during this “pre-work” period leading up to when she actually starts:
Counting five trips to Ayala, her out-of-pocket costs to date are P1998. This is a substantial sum of money to an out-of-work Filipina. An applicant without access to the funds from parents or a spouse or a boyfriend would have the choice of borrowing it from one of the ubiquitous ‘5/6’ moneylenders (borrow P5 pesos, repay P6 one month later), or selling her body a few times.
My friend has been hired as a part-time salesgirl, so she will be working four hours a day at a salary of P110 per day. Her salary will be reduced by deductions for SSS and BIR of about P20, a daily round-trip jeep fare of P30; and if she has a small snack at the mall another P30, leaving her with a daily take-home pay of about P30 per day.
Like all new shop girl hires at Gaisano, my friend’s employment contract will have a duration of five months, after which she will probably be terminated and another lucky young woman who happens to be a high school graduate, at least five-foot three-inches tall and between the ages of 18 and 24 will take her place. Then my friend can start her job search process all over again, renewing most of her requirements because the documents typically expire in a few months.

I spent about an hour on the Internet today searching for the estimated wealth of the Gaisano family, owners of the Metro Ayala Department Store. I discovered that Henry Sy (SM malls) is worth about $1.9 Billion US, Lucio Tan (PNB, Philippine Airlines) about $1.7 Billion, and the Zobel da Ayalas (big landowners including Ayala Mall) have about $1.1 Billion; but I couldn’t find even a guesstimate of the assets for the Gaisano family. I guess the family plays their cards pretty close to the chest, and because their department stores are held privately by the family (non-stock corporations), there is no requirement for public disclosure of assets. The Internet did reveal that there are 20 Gaisano stores, so it’s safe to say that members of the Gaisano family don’t have to stand on Colon Street with begging bowls.

Gaisano logo

I have in front of me a newspaper clipping with the headline “Jose Rizal award for generous Gaisano patriarch”, announcing that Don Henry Sy Gaisano was posthumously awarded the Dr. Jose Rizal Award for Excellence for 2005 for his “magnanimous philanthropic contributions over the decades to Philippine society.” It’s safe to say that Mr. Gaisano didn’t earn this award because of his “magnanimous philanthropic contributions over the decades” to the sales ladies at his department stores, of whom there have doubtless been many thousands over the decades, all struggling to put a bowl of rice on the kitchen table.