Who is responsible for whom PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 July 2014 11:30



An officer of one of the sardine canning companies in our city was quoted in a news item that the industry has the capacity for 30,000 workers and currently is in need of a few thousand. It was also mentioned that previously acquired skills relevant to the work are not necessary since all those who are hired are given training. That is one of the brightest news I have come across for our city in a while.

I am not sure that people who go to the shops in our city center have noticed that the “main drag”  is awash with people particularly in the afternoon.  The shop aisles too are tight with people, not all of whom are buying but just walking around. Let us also visualize  the many who are engaged  in micro-micro business ventures of their own – driving pedicabs, running sidewalk  businesses selling sunglasses and watches and bibingka and other items,  repairing shoes and such.  Now think of all those who are simply sitting around who lead us to wonder what they are waiting for.

Factor in as well all the people who we refer to as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of the September 2013 attack on our city. Include in this group too those who came to our city from other places to enjoy the “welcome” of the social welfare services  and other civic groups.

Put all these people together and from the look of things there should be no shortage of workers for the prime manufacturing  sector of our city.  So why is there a shortage of workers?

Is it because of poor pay?  The industry spokesperson said that the mandated regional daily minimum wage is the going rate, and with 4 extra work hours workers can earn as much as P411 a day.  That is not Makati rate but that is better than not earning anything at all. How else can one legitimately earn that amount in one day?

Is it because people feel they don’t have the educational training that is called for? But it was mentioned that this is not a crucial requirement. So what seems to be the cause of the worker shortage?

Perhaps we need to look into attitudes that are fostered by our cultural background.  Take the case of begging or mendicancy.

was told by a Norwegian field researcher I met casually here in ZC that many of those who beg do not think of themselves as beggars. They are simply members of the community who look upon the luckier members of that same community to exercise the responsibility to take care of the less fortunate — by giving a peso here or 5 pesos there.

This was the Norwegian’s interpretation of the many beggars who come primarily from an ethnic group  in this part of the country.  “Tribal communities” and their corresponding culture have broken up  but some community members still  have  that outlook of community members being responsible for the welfare and well-being of other members.

I do not agree with this interpretation of things. But even if I did, it is about time we move on from here and instead make people realize that all of us have to take responsibility for how our own lives turn out.