My Yuppie Story 3 – First Job, First Salary, First Phone, and Other Firsts

I graduated with a degree of BA Political Science from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, back in 2003. I started working in June 2003. That means, I’ve been in the workforce for 11 years. So, I decided to look back at my yuppie story and share it through this blog. This can be a pretty long series, so I hope you join me in this ride.

Part 1 is here: Into the Unknown
Part 2 is here: Into the Province

Three weeks after I went home from Quezon City, a lot of my boxes sat unopened in my room in San Mateo, Isabela. I was still high with idealism: I’m going to change the world. And I’ll start in that town, somehow.

Beyond that vague feeling, however, I had no idea what I would be doing next.

Still, it felt good to be home. (Cue music: Home by Daughtry)

Mama’s cooking is definitely miles ahead of anything that Jollibee or UP’s Lutong Bahay could offer me. My younger brother, who was then in Grade 2, was always there for me to tickle and play with. Papa was very busy with church work, but he was a strong and steady presence in my life at that stage that I was figuring out what I wanted to do.

Writing Down My Plans

Back in my second semester in College, I decided to keep a journal. I realized the importance of doing that, thanks to my Comm 1 teacher who “coerced” us to write 5 pages of loose leaf paper daily! I hated her that first semester. But after that sem, I changed my mind and thanked her, instead. (But that’s another story for another time.)

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My Yuppie Story 2 – Into the Province to Change the World, Or So I Thought

I graduated with a degree of BA Political Science from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, back in 2003. I started working in June 2003. That means, I’ve been in the workforce for 11 years. So, I decided to look back at my yuppie story and share it through this blog. This can be a pretty long series, so I hope you join me in this ride.

Part 1 is here: Into the Unknown

UP College of LawAs early as my second year in College, I knew that Law School wasn’t for me. My personality and temperament didn’t suit it. Besides I heard a joke somewhere that there was only one slot for lawyers in heaven and somebody has probably beaten me to it.

I told that joke to some of my classmates. They didn’t buy it. After all, most of them already knew what they wanted to do after College graduation. It was easy, really. Go to Law School. A lot of them already took and passed the UP Law Aptitude Exam. Those who didn’t, planned to go to San Beda. Still, there are those who planned to go elsewhere then try their luck at the LAE again after a year or so.

But that didn’t prevent me from at least trying my hand at the UP LAE. Towards the end of 2002, I filed my application for UP LAE, although it was already late. I had to know for sure if I had any chance of taking law. Problem is, I was halfhearted in taking it. Not surprisingly, I didn’t pass.

The door to Law as a career closed forever in my mind.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

After graduation, while packing my clothes and putting my books into boxes, I found myself considering my options.

If I stayed in Manila and looked for a job, I had a better chance of landing a job that pays well. I’m from UP Diliman, after all. Yeah, we’re mayabang like that.

But what kind of job?

You know the problem with BA Political Science?

If you don’t proceed to take up Law, or get into policy and politics-related work. It is a pretty useless degree.

Don’t get me wrong. The training I had in terms of research, recitation, and even the defense of my ideas in class do matter. But it is not a one-track degree. Unlike Computer Science, Engineering, or Accountancy, it’s difficult to know what type of job you’ll do with a degree like mine.

In the lull periods between last minute reunion with friends and endlessly chatting about our options, I knew that I wanted to change the world. It was nothing earth-shaking, really.

The plan was simple. Go back to our province, make my mark and change the world.

I’m not really an activist. I joined a rally only once when I was a freshman. My desire to help change the world stems from the perspective of faith. I am a Christian and helping others is an expression of that faith.

Becoming rich and aiming for lots of money just didn’t occur to me at that point. Thankfully, my sister was studying at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. There was no pressure for me to help out with the family finances.

Unemployed, but not for Long

I bid goodbye to my University and Quezon City, which became my home for the past four years. I’ll miss a lot of things — isaw, fishball, the pot-pot monay with a small piece of cheese inside, the hallowed halls of A.S. aka Palma Hall, the afternoon walks at Sunken Garden, late night stay at the UP Main Library, and most of all, friends and acquaintances who made college life bearable and fun.

Thankfully, mobile phone usage was on the rise and Friendster was on the rise. Somehow, it was easier to keep in touch with friends. But I knew, too, that my friends would pursue their own goals and calling in life. Back then, I thought that it would be years before I saw them again.

As I boarded my bus bound for San Mateo, Isabela early in May 2003, I remembered a friend of mine complain about our identity as new graduates: “We’re no longer students preparing for the labor force. We’re not employed, too? So what are we? We’re unemployed.”

I was unemployed. I didn’t know what kind of job awaited me back home. But I knew that I’m gonna use my training and make a difference in the world.

And so, as the bus moved out into EDSA and into the North Luzon Expressway, I closed my eyes and anticipated the trip through the mountains of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, and into the valley and endless rice fields.

I’m going home.

Save Time by Scheduling Your BPI Transactions via BPI Express Assist Online

I’m a big, big fan of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). I’ve been with them since 2006 and I didn’t have any cause to leave them. That’s why I’ve kept my deposit accounts with them for the longest time.

Not only that, I believe that BPI is one (if not THE) of the most innovative banks in the Philippines. I love a lot of their products and the technologies they come up with. But for the sake of this post, I’ll only share one particular system I use a lot: the BPI Express Assist or BEA.

How the BPI Express Assist system works

If you go to the branches of BPI, you’ll see about 3-4 touch screen terminals where you input the details of our transaction. You just enter your account number, the nature of your transaction and the amount involved. Your information will go directly to their system and you get a number.

But did you know that if you enrolled in the online banking system of BPI (BpiExpressOnline.com), you can also schedule your transactions online!

Here’s how it works:

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My Yuppie Story 1 – Into the Unknown: Graduation Blues

I graduated with a degree of BA Political Science from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, back in 2003. I started working in June 2003. That means, I’ve been in the workforce for 11 years. So, I decided to look back at my yuppie story and share it through this blog. This can be a pretty long series, so I hope you join me in this ride.

As a Political Science student at UP Diliman from 1999-2003, I amassed hundreds of pages of photocopied books, journal articles, and other readings for my subjects. This was several years before the iPhone, or the iPad, and the powerful laptop computers. Facebook was still a fledgling project of a would-be Harvard University dropout.

I remember our org-mate Ackey who laughed maniacally as he burned his photocopied readings one by one. At least, that’s the story he told us. He was obviously relieved that he no longer had to camp at the UP library. No more sleepless nights just to cram one paper after another. No more Rizal readings, no more exam preparations and certainly no more terror Professors.

But that was the world I knew. The world of ideas, of countless readings, of pounding at the keyboard trying to translates thoughts into words, words into paragraphs, and paragraphs into our grand contribution to this body of knowledge.

Who was I kidding?

PalmaHall

Thankfully, my degree didn’t really require a thesis project. All we needed was a thesis proposal. And boy, was it difficult. On that last semester of my stay in UP Diliman, I contemplated filing for a Leave of Absense, not once but multiple times! I thought I’d never graduate that sem.

Graduating on Time

And I needed to graduate on time.

That was why I didn’t shift to Creative Writing on my third year in UP. You see, I fell in love with poetry, with Tolkien’s Middle Earth universe, and countless other books. I wanted to write beautiful stories, too.

Alas, I also had an agreement with my parents; a contract, if you would. I had to complete my degree within four years.

Our family wasn’t wealthy. Far from it. My mother was, and still is, a Public High School teacher–a stereotypical one, if you don’t mind me saying. She didn’t sell tocinos or vinegars and the likes, but she was riddled with all sorts of loans. My father is a preacher, and he doesn’t really receive a lot of money.

By the way, I’m also a certified Promdi: prom di province. Going to UP was the only way for me to complete a college degree in Metro Manila. When I was in college, tuition fee in UP was still P300 per unit. We ended up paying around 6,000 to 8,000 per semester in tuition and other fees. Add to that my boarding house and my allowances, and it was definitely a struggle for us.

My sister got accepted at Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta Mesa, so that was another blessing. It made college more affordable for us.

But still, family income was barely enough to cover all our expenses. As the eldest child, I knew that I needed to help out with our family finances.

So there, I couldn’t afford to file a Leave of Absence. I had to complete my studies and get my degree.

Not an A-Lister

I was an average student. Maybe even below average. Not that I was lacking in intellectual rigor or interest in academic stuff.

Maybe I was just interested in other things.

Give me a Fantasy book and I’ll stay up and devour it in three days or late. Give me a chapter of Political Science reading, and I’ll find ways to procrastinate, dally around, clean my closet, and play Battle Realms or Baldur’s Gate II just to avoid it. Except, maybe, if the PolSci reading was all about Gramsci, whose story and ideas fascinated me. Even back then, I tend to be one of those “Suplado sa personal” types. LOL.

In one of my PolSci classes with Prof Tinio, I believe it was, we were divided into groups and had a group quiz about that particular reading. A pretty classmate didn’t read the assigned reading so I ended up answering much of the questions. She was so thankful for me that she hugged me even though we weren’t even close. I mean, we weren’t even on speaking level.

But yeah, I wasn’t a PolSci A-lister. My grades are as colorful as they could get. I got every imaginable grade there was. I probably deserved them, too.

Well, maybe not all of them. I certainly didn’t deserve the 1.25 grade I got for ROTC. I probably deserved a 3 or something.

Perseverance Pays Off

Since I didn’t have the option to transfer to another degree program. Neither did I have the option to file for a Leave of Absence. I probably had the option to go AWOL. But under the circumstances, I didn’t know how to feed myself or pay for my boarding house, if I did that.

So I had to place one foot after another. Drink one cup of coffee after another. Burn the proverbial midnight candle just to complete my thesis proposal and turn in all my other degree requirements.

Towards the end of the sem, my parents sent me money to pay for the graduation dues, including the money for my Graduation picture, my College ring and for the yearbook, too.

By the way, CSSP Batch 2003, what happened to our yearbook? Did it simply disappear into the nether?

So, towards the end of March 2003, I knew for sure that I would graduate. With that certainty came the one dreaded question for most graduates, So What’s Next?

I had a month to think about it before our graduation and before I went back to our province.

A Slap in the Face

Most of my block-mates attended only the College Graduation Commencement Exercises. They didn’t bother with the University Graduation. For a lot of them, only cum laudes bother with the full UP grad. Cum laude or not, I decided to attend the full UP Grad. I’m a UP graduate and I deserve to feel the send off of my beloved University.

I had my sablay (you know, that piece of cloth that new graduates hang on their shoulders), and my parents bought a barong for me. My very own barong! Throughout College, I never remembered wearing a barong. Heck, I don’t even remember wearing black shoes while I was in college. Combat boots don’t count! I had my trusty brown steel toe shoes, a couple of cheapo sneakers, and my tsinelas. Nope, they’re not flip flops. They’re my tsinelas. (Which reminds me of a song by some rap artists back then: “Ang aking tsinelas, hindi nadudulas…)

There was only a handful of us in the area for Political Science students under the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Besides, the Summa cum Laude who was delivering the Valedictory Speech was from our Department. Yay! (For some reasons, after graduation, he went to La Salle and took a degree in Accountancy.)

I saw several familiar faces there, thankfully–some blockmates, and a couple of classmates.

cumlaude

Then I saw one particular classmate, Atheni. She came over.

“Hey Mighty,” she said, “kumusta? Ano cum laude ka?”

“Ako? Asa pa.” I replied with a chuckle.

“Ikaw talaga,” she said, “kung gusto mo lang, kaya mo naman eh.”

I smiled back at her.

Or at least I tried to. But I felt a metaphorical slap to my face.

 

Thing is, she was totally right.

I wasn’t an A-lister, right? So I didn’t really have any expectation about becoming a cum laude. But why did it still sting?

I recovered quickly and congratulated her for being a cum laude. With a pensive mood, I lined up at the processional area to wait for the program to start.

So What’s Next?

While waiting for the processional, that chance for us to march and go to our seats, my batch mates and I turned to the topic of graduation and what the future brings. Some of us contemplated going into government work, others wanted to go to the private sector, earn money, help family, have a good time, that sort of stuff.

Those were the early years of the BPO industry in the Philippines. It was a booming industry and while the lure of money was strong, a lot of us, me included, didn’t want to become part of it. I remember saying that I’m gonna use my UP training to good use and not for some mere “call center.”

I didn’t know that I would end up eating my very own words a couple of years later.

And then the graduation march began.

Under the heat of the sun, in the Amphitheater of UP Diliman, with the Oblation ahead of us, I found myself marching with a host of new UP graduates, eager to take our place in the wider world beyond the hallowed halls of the University of the Philippines.

up oblatiom