Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Age Quod Agis

- do what you are doing

Ever since I started working, the very first question that people ask me is "How much are you earning?"; "Is the pay good?"; "Does La Salle pay well?" or a host of other questions along that vein. I refuse to answer those questions, simply because it illustrates quite clearly how many define what "a career" is and/or the goals and objectives associated with being in the working world. Frankly, I am getting a little tired from having to fend off income-related questions, simply because I actually love what I am doing.

Income vs. Experience
The first question that came to my mind when people ask me this is whether or not they value the experience gained from their work as compared to the number of digits (and the subsequent values of those said digits) they are earning. I know for a fact that many a call center agent earns more than I do. This is in absolute terms. I for one understand that call center agents play an important role in the economy of the Philippines, and yes, they are important as a medium in modern business transactions and vice. However, the money earned cannot compare (or for that matter, buy) with the life experiences that I get when I have the opportunity to rub shoulders - sometimes, almost literally - with admired and respected leaders of industry, education, and politics. The conversations and the subsequent wisdom and out-of-the-classroom education I reap from these individuals are worth so much more than mere cash. These cannot be bought. So perhaps the question that I should ask in response is "How much are your experiences worth?". Then again, that would be stooping down even lower.

Income vs. Enjoyment
How many of us enjoy waking up knowing we have to attend a class that we absolutely loathe? I disliked my very first Filipino language class; not because of the teacher, who was more than qualified, but simply because I didn't enjoy it. While my grade may reflect an adeptness at the subject, it did not reflect the grudging feeling that I have every time my timetable said it was time to attend that class. The same with my work; I wake up every morning excited to be in the office. I like my colleagues - one even got me a coffee mug out of the blue, as I probably seem to have set up camp near the coffeemaker - because they also perform their jobs enthusiastically. I have not heard a single job-related gripe or complaint. I like my work, which is writing and researching when necessary. Research? "Bah, humbug!", you may say. In fact, digging up old records and searching obscure but specific websites have piled on even more knowledge in my knowledge stock room. Who doesn't enjoy learning? Well, perhaps the process can be a bit tedious, but at the end of the day, knowing that we know a little bit more on something should be very satisfactory. If I had a dollar for each time that I enjoyed writing an article, a message, a speech, or a report, I'd have a house. And a couple of cars. And a boat. You get the idea.

Income vs. Employment
Everybody starts from the bottom as a fresh graduate. That's a fact of life for the most part (does not apply for those born in royalty, family business empires, organized crime, or a combination of the three). However, it must also be understood that there are millions of fresh graduates around the world who are sitting on their thumbs and presumably on Facebook or reading blogs like these because there is very little opportunity available for work. Of course, there are those who are unemployed by choice, and are just too choosy for their own good and want to start on top immediately. That rarely, if ever, happens. I've instilled that in my head already, hence why I am drawing salary just a couple of months after finishing my last day in university. In this day and age, it is already an achievement in itself to be legally and regularly employed. At a time of "take it or leave it", it is much more practical to be on the "take it" side of things. So how much am I earning? That's confidential :) Do you even have a legal and regular job? :)

Income vs. Individuality
If there is one thing I just cannot stomach, it's the idea of us Filipinos becoming job fodder for other countries. It may pull the dollars in, but it results in boatloads (and airplane-loads) of unhappy and disillusioned educated members of the society. I have a background in science, and yet I ended up becoming a specialist in International Relations. Most people I know here in Manila do not even an idea what International Relations is. Sad but true. I ask myself, why is that, and it was partly answered by my undergraduate thesis: migration of Filipino nurses. Basically, we studied the main reasons why Filipino nurses leave our country to work abroad (for your information, it's the prospect of earning a lot more money), but we also learned something else: many of these nurses never wanted to become nurses in the first place. What happened? Their parents will only support their tertiary education if "they did what everybody else is doing", which is nursing at this point in time. Some wanted to be engineers, architects, artists, singers, even musicians.. dreams long gone because they were forced to follow the herd. What do we have to show for it? Thousands of unemployed but educated nurses. Yeah, the demand overseas isn't that high anymore. Really sad. So instead of doing something they could be good at and like (which I am blessed to be doing), they are victims of the job-needed-right-now current. It is highly unfair and very impractical use (or rather, misuse) of our educated youth.

After all that, I am doing what I am doing.
Why? Because I know I can, and because I am excellent at it.
The literal compensation for the work I do (financial rewards) can never ever even begin to compensate for the experiences, the sights and sounds, and the enjoyment I face day after day at the office :)

So how much am I earning?
A whole lot of fun :)

"Age Quod Agis"



  1. Well, this is a lot to think about. I guess the only important thing is, you enjoy what you do, right?

  2. I won't deny it; money earned is important too. However, our society seems to forget that loving one's work is also a reward in itself.

    Passion doesn't literally put food on the table, but it sure makes you feel good :)

  3. It's an Asian thing to ask people how much they earn; it all stems from our Asian obsession with money.

    In Britain, it is rude to ask someone how much they are earning xD

  4. I agree with you, jie; so many here study what can "earn more" right now rather than something they would be willing to do even into their twilight years. Very sad..