Press Releases
“ONLY RICE FOR LUNCH,” A LAGUNA LABOR DAY STORY

Fifty-two-year-old Mang Jun has been restless in his sleep since the day his boss terminated him two months ago. Mounting water and electric bills push him harder to find another job. “Siguro ayaw na nila sa matanda” (maybe they don't like to hire old guys like me”) he would whisper to himself every time he gets rejected. A photo of his youngest child saved on his mobile phone is his only consolation in his times of despair. He has to leave his family behind in Muntinlupa and try his luck in Laguna to search for a job. It was his sibling who accommodated him.

The jeepney ride while going home after another day of looking for a job provided a moment for him to erase his worries. He got preoccupied with the thought of the life he had before going jobless. He worked in Saudi Arabia for almost two decades as an Aircon Technician. It was a decent-paying job that he was able to provide for his siblings when they had financial difficulties. Still, his contract has to end and he had to work again back here. Soon he got into a precarious job that did not last long. He was terminated by the employer who considered him a casual employee.

 



A tarpaulin hung on a street corner caught his attention. It advertised a Job Fair On Labor Day at Camp Vicente Lim in Barangay Mayapa, Calamba, Laguna. This was made possible by the partnership between DOLE IV-A Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman and PNP IV-A PBGen. Antonio C. Yarra.

On 1 May 2022, Mang Jun woke up early full of hope. His mind was focused on the job fair. “Hindi na ako mahihirapan maghanap kasi marami job hiring sa iisang lugar” (It would not be difficult finding a job since there will be a lot of employers in one venue), he told himself as he prepare for the job-hunting. He packed away his resume and made sure he had ballpoint in the side pocket of his backpack. Now to save money for lunch, he had a cup of rice in a plastic bag. With one last look at the mirror on the wall, he wished himself Goodluck.

DOLE Laguna Provincial Director Guido R. Recio arrived early at Camp Vicente Lim on Labor Day. Bigkis Lahi Event Center, the venue, was an open-air facility inside the camp. Tents were set up outside the structure to accommodate applicants to start the process of hiring. As the sun steadily provided the summer heat, applicants from Laguna started filling out registration forms.

When he arrived, Mang Jun felt apprehensive and nervous. He already saw a large crowd at the job fair. “Would a company be interested in hiring a 52-year-old applicant? He silently asked the question as he registered at the entrance. He is an aircon technician by trade but he decided to apply for any available job opening.

 



Perhaps the message of DOLE IV-A Regional Director Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman would cheer the spirit of Mang Jun. The regional director, in his message, appealed to employers saying, “Hinihiling ko po sa mga employers na sa araw na ito ay magkaroon ng hired-on-the-spot ng sa ganun ay magkaroon ng pagkain sa hapagkainan” (I am calling on employers to hire applicants on the spot so that they, in turn, can provide sustenance to their families). In the same way, he reminded the workers to be good employees by following company rules and regulations.

Mang Jun agreed to the challenge. He understands the responsibility of every Filipino worker. He was perspiring as he looked around. He was one of the seven hundred eighty-two registered applicants that day.

There were thirty-two companies and agencies offering 4,570 vacancies. Senior Labor and Employment Officer and Employment Focal, Ms. Daisy R. Ramos, was keen on monitoring not only the registration but also the recruitment. Sets of data were gathered in the morning and in the afternoon.

The venue was not only occupied by applicants and employers. Outside the venue, labor unions from Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. such as South Luzon Coca-Cola Beverages Logistics Union, Free Labor Union of Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, and Sta Rosa Rosa Coca Cola Plant Employees Union provided free snacks and soft drinks. Members of PNP Units were busy, as well. The NHQ/NSU TC provided free haircuts. The Field Medical and Dental Unit was on standby ready to provide first aid and medical assistance. Elements from the PNPTI distributed pandesal while troops from the RSSU distributed fliers for recruitment. Toward the end of the job fair, representatives from PNPA distributed 90 pieces of five-kilo rice packs, wall calendars, and table planners.

Fair enough, luck was on his side that day. He was hired on the spot by the second company that he approached with his resume. The lady at the other end of the table told him that he is a priority applicant and gave him a list of requirements to submit. It was answered prayer after whispering his intention at the start of the event during a mass offered for the success of the activity.

 



As soon as his mission was accomplished, he decided to have lunch outside. He went out on the side entrance and chose a cool spot near the shade of trees. He opened his backpack and retrieved the rice placed in a plastic bag. That was all he had for lunch. The DOLE Laguna Labor Information Officer happened to pass by and inquired about his day and how his lunch was.

“Tanggap ako sir pero hindi ako unli rice sa tanghalian ...Only rice lang!” (I got the job sir but I have only rice for lunch not unli-rice!”)

Mang Jun can now make fun of himself. He was part of the 376 applicants hired on the spot at the job fair. The usual dull conversation with his wife about his job-hunting turned merry as he told his other half about the good news.

A few days later Mang Jun happily informed the Labor Information Officer in a phone call that he is already working in a candy factory. He can now sleep sound with sweet dreams knowing that a job awaits him the next day. Also, his wife and son in Muntinlupa can rest assured that the head of the family will have a steady income stream.


By:
Rudyboy R. Sinay
Senior LEO
DOLE Laguna Labor Information Officer

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2022-05-26
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