Everything is meaningless.
It was a Bible verse looping itself and filling my mind as I boarded a high speed bus on the way to Laguindingan Airport. Prior to that, I listened to a a struggling Visayan jeepney driver stretch his Tagalog to explain to me that Tambo Terminal is the place I must go to and I should choose the Rural Bus over the High Five one for safety reasons. Before he took me to the terminal, he stopped for gas.
I chuckled because I realized that in this life, most of our money here in this country goes to TAXES and GASOLINE. More than half of my salary is spent paying for gas or taxes.
Makes you want to laugh. Makes you want to cry. I chuckled but I had tears in my eyes. A madness. How can you not be insane at the sorry state of this country’s remaining workers?
You engage yourself in a project and it will take ages before you get a decent computer and nobody moves the deadlines for what you can deliver. Instead of providing more people, they provide you with more tasks and expect you to live in the office to the detriment of your personal life. And then they expect you that you should be thankful for having a job.
If you are in Metro Manila, on average you will spend 3-4 hours of your day travelling because the roads are as clogged as the minds of those who abuse this country’s resources.
There was this Iligan driver who hardly utters a Tagalog word but strains for my benefit, and there was me the passenger. But there are no dividing lines anymore.
WE ARE ALL LIKE THIS. Even if you are an engineer or a driver, it does not matter. It does not matter if you graduated from UP or some hard to pronounce foreign school with a humongous tuition fee. It does not matter. EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS!
We are all slaves, some residents bitches of a capitalistic or power hungry person at the top of your respective working food chain.You only choose who to bitch for but the structure is all the same anyway.
We trade our freedom and our free time in exchange for an ability to pay for taxes and for gasoline, maybe a hint of travel just to say that our Instagram account has some value for liking.
To succeed, you either content yourself with the pervasive mediocrity or become a monster for your very survival.
Eat or be eaten.
My heart was breaking in different places when I left Iligan. There are certain things in the last few months that I stood for firmly. I was convinced that all my hard work is something that will benefit people. I nurtured the belief that whatever tiny thing I do, it positively affects or can potentially save a flood-ridden community in the country. Even just one life.
But there are so few of us left here to do the work. There is so much work left to be done. So the very few who are left behind to do the work are stretched over and above their capacities for peanuts’ pay. Overworking people is the norm now in an already underpaid environment.
This is the plea of the working professional in a third world country. You can be better than your contemporaries in other countries but there is a ceiling to what you can put in your pocket because there are sharks who are out to get the initial cut out of your labors. Even before your money reaches your ATM machine, some opportunistic shithead has already pocketed some of your cash.
And what’s worse, paper entitlements and titles are more important than the actual capacity to deliver the job. That you will get your equipment not based on the urgency of your need, but based on who is closest to the organizers and who has the best bidders.
No matter how you organize your shit to deliver on time, shit will still happen and other people will suddenly railroad or overhaul your efforts.
When you try to rise above the complacency and mediocrity, you will find people who are feeling threatened by the amount of effort you put in. They will ask you to taper it down. “Wag kang bibo para hindi dumami ang trabaho namin.” “Talagang nagpagawa pa kayo ng maganda…” etc.
This crab mentality is so common. It’s as if you have to apologize for doing your best, like you have to stay silent in the midst of all that useless chatter.
Instead of being happy at what is being done, they ask you to diminish your outputs so that they can stay asleep, relaxed, and in their self-manufactured imaginary place where they can consider themselves “competent” and their outputs “good enough relatively speaking”.
When you are being abused and when you are poor, you would certainly wish to be the DUMBEST person in the planet so as not to have a clear picture of the oppression, of the pain, of the unfairness of the world, of the greed of other people, of the self-serving interests that cripples everyone’s overall progress.
Because if you had any IQ in you and you see how you are being oppressed as you remain helplessly unable to catch those who are mercilessly stealing your youth and your money from you, you will be driven nuts.
You will feel the need to hang yourself on a noose. You will want to die because it’s so fucking hard to stomach and accept these realities. You will need medication to numb yourself from the pain. You will need psychiatric help because you will not stop thinking about how much pain you are under.
And then, for convenience, those complacent and self-seeking douchebags will call you “CRAZY” without knowing that their very putrid existence is the cause of many a crazy episode in any well-meaning and passionate person.
EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS. I can be selling vegetables on the side of the road or cracking equations but this is the sorry lot of people who live here. You will find the technically incompetent commanding technical projects, comic jokes getting elected, and really skilled workers doing an EXODUS because they could not stand the pain and they wanted reprieve in the form of Instagram posts of prosperity in another land.
For us who remain here. There is really literally nothing in here except the will to survive this ordeal without completely losing your mind.