Its time to raise the bar for the Filipino Paycheck

Nov 12, 2021 0 comments


Filipinos are known to generally be happy people. When there’s a calamity, someone smiling knee-deep in murky water is uploaded. Almost always, we see children running carefree, laughing like there’s no tomorrow, when a camera pans the landscape of urban poverty. And just recently, a misleading study title was published claiming that for Filipinos, their happiness is not dependent on their financial status. I agree that there are many things in this life that can be sources of optimism and satisfaction such as the joy of being with family and the inner spark ignited by conversations. Though I believe that this myth of unwavering resiliency and eternal cheerfulness is what keeps the majority of the country’s people trapped in a cycle of making ends meet.

Filipinos are underpaid, yet this is masked by the notion that everyone here has mastered the art of surviving so much so that it is equated to contentment. Recalling the debate in April on whether a fresh graduate’s demand for a PhP60,000 salary is justifiable or pure entitlement, everyone conceded that in the Philippines, both laborers and professionals are given a barely livable wage. The thread revealed monthly starting incomes of as low as PhP6,000. Facebook groups for freelancers go beyond sharing opportunities, but have also become a haven for professional advice when it comes to pricing their output and collecting fees. Writers share experiences of being low-balled to under PhP 1 per word or creating more than a 1000-word sample article without a downpayment. A few newbies even started offering their services unpaid to gain experience in the industry, to which veterans strongly cautioned against. 

This opens up the question of why we have to price our talents at par with the minimum. Every member of the workforce comes from a distinct background, level of experience, and range of achievements. Still, employers give the same offer based only on how long one has been working. This completely disregards employees’ efforts to boost their competencies and prepare themselves for the demands of the market. Most job descriptions also create multi-hyphenated roles, but the base pay seems to cover only one designation. But above all this, the most upsetting aspect is that those who are pressed to provide for themselves or their families are often left without a choice but to swallow an unacceptable rate. And who’s to adjust? I’m guessing that the solution is not to teach people to walk away and raise the standards. What we need to do is amplify our protest in increasing salary expectations until clients, agencies and companies can’t silence us any longer.

Receiving better compensation should not be a privilege anymore but a basic right. As long as the quality of work produced meets a client or employer’s expectations, then anyone should get what they deserve. More importantly, no one else should be able to dictate one’s worth other than themself. Are Filipinos happy? Some, yes. I believe most want to be, but as long as they are not given equal chances to earn decently, they will have to continue convincing themselves that wherever they are is the happiest they can be. 

━━ Written By  Melissa Tan
━━  Art By Metroscene Mag 


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