Ronnel Basco: the patient IT Guy of Netopia-SM City/Bacoor

Ronnel Basco: the Patient IT Guy

of Netopia – SM City/ Bacoor

by Apolinario Villalobos

What will you do if you are at the end of your wits after four rejections from internet cafés that could not open the files in your USB? Without an umbrella on the rainy day of August 12, I had to run from one sidewalk to the next in an effort to prevent the raging rain from soaking me to the bones until I finally reached the SMCity/Bacoor mall where I tried to dry myself up. It was while I was pondering on whether to look for another internet café after the rain when I thought of trying my luck in the Netopia internet café on the third floor of the mall.

Without telling the attendant about the problem as he might reject my requirement, too, I outright asked his help to open the USB that I brought. He was Ronnel Basco whose cool countenance impressed me as he successfully opened the device after several attempts. I noticed something that he did as he inserted the USB to the port, as if patiently coaxing the computer to open it and read the contents which it finally did after several minutes. Actually, the USB was my friend’s, who just gave me the title of the file.

Mr. Basco went through the routine of assisting me look for the file that I wanted printed and transferred to another USB. Four painstaking attempts did the trick! The big relief, practically vanished my frustration, coupled by discomfort from my rain-drenched shirt. What was more striking in Mr. Basco’s attitude was his patience in attending to the calls of other customers, during which he would leave me for a while with apologies. The café was full at the time, and I was really fortunate to have been given the attention and assistance that I direly needed.

What I observed further, was the precision in the systematic actions and professional attitude of Mr. Basco and his co-employees toward all customers, be they browsers or just walk-ins who inquire for other services. Impressively, everything that they did was without a hint of haste. I also heard suggestions that they did not hesitate in giving to the customers, and who appreciated them.

The persevering and patient attitude of Mr. Basco was an immense contrast to the lack of sympathy and concern from the attendants of the four other internet cafes that I visited earlier, who gave me outright rejection after failing to open the USB with just a single attempt. Without even looking at me in the eye, they just said “sorry”… just like that, short of showing me the door.

The likes of Mr. Ronnel Basco, are what service-oriented business entities need. He manifested that good attitude of employees can never be overshadowed by expensive advertisements in selling a product or service. As I walked out of the Netopia café that afternoon, I decided to become their unsolicited “walking billboard”…because of Mr. Basco.

Fun and Fulfillment in Switching Jobs…just don’t be choosy

Fun and Fulfillment in Switching Jobs
…just don’t be choosy
By Apolinario Villalobos

This is about enjoying any kind of job that comes our way. I am sharing my actual experiences which may not apply to new snooty graduates, especially, those from exclusive schools and universities, who expect managerial position in their first job.

Contractualization is a big labor issue today as it smacks of exploitation. It practically douses the job applicant’s quest for job security. While all labor groups are moving heaven and earth to convince the government and employers to scrap it, those looking for jobs, in the meantime should not sulk, but instead, try to make do with any job that they may find, albeit, temporarily. They should console themselves with the thought that somehow, the stint could fill the space on their bio-data that asks for work experience.

I earned my first salary as a laborer in a home-based “factory” where I washed empty bottles to be filled with soy sauce and vinegar. When I was in first year college, I was a working student (today, student assistant), assigned to clean eight rooms and a playground. While in third year college, I was hired as a contract employee by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. I did the various jobs wholeheartedly – with fun. They became my strong foundation when I was hired by an airline company, as they prepared me physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I did not think twice when I was told that my assignment as a ticketing/freight clerk was in the far-flung Tablas island of Romblon. My colleagues in the batch of new hires were assigned either in Davao, Manila, Legazpi and Zamboanga. I did no stay in Tablas for long because I was relocated to Manila to edit our department’s black and white travel magazine. From that job, I moved on to do field sales. Much later, I was moved to another job, this time administrative management in nature, assisting the Vice President of the whole Philippines and Guam Region.

I accepted all assignments without complaint, not even scared despite my limited course which was Bachelor of Arts in English and History. I just enjoyed what I was doing and did my best in learning whatever was necessary to enhance my performance every time a new assignment was given. After leaving the company, I switched again to other jobs to keep me going. I developed operations and training manuals, packaged tours for travel agents, did editing and translation, composed poems posthaste for special occasions, wrote speeches, and accepted commitments as resource person in tourism seminars.

But the ultimate joy I feel is in doing a special kind of “field work” – in slums that some people fear to visit. Proudly, I can say that those I meet in these places which for some are God-forsaken, made me realize more, that indeed, life is like a book filled with diverse and colorful stories of struggle. I am not asking others to do the last mentioned that I am doing, though.
Each one of us has a different kind of advocacy in life which we can enjoy if we treat it as a continuing process and just have fun in what we do.

Giving Life a Twist to Forget Depression

Giving Life A Twist

To Forget Depression

By Apolinario Villalobos

Depression resulting from monotony in life can kill, literally. It can also result from misfortune brought about by loss of loved one, job, finances. We sometimes come across items in tabloids and broadsheets about people who commit suicide because of depression. Highly developed countries consider it as a disease. Well-earning professions have sprouted because of it. For third-world countries, however, it is merely equated to sadness, a feeling which is hoped to pass in time.

In the Philippines, few people go to Psychiatrists or Psychologists, who as doctors of the mind, are conceived to treat only the lunatics, this is aside from the hefty amount involved for every minute of consultation, much more for actual treatment. Those, however, who understand the real situation and can afford the sky-high fee of these professionals, never hesitate to run to them at just even a slight detection of signs of the mental illness.

For the ordinary Filipino, on the other hand, to check the downtrend of emotion is a simple rest, a new environment, or a new activity – something that will divert the focus of the mind from a misfortune. It is like adding a new condiment or spice to a dish to give it a twist, making it more palatable.

I have a friend who I met after two decades of interlude, and found him to have doubled in size. When I asked why, he simply told me that his family has had two deaths in a row in a year. I did not understand what he meant, until he told me that rather than wallow in sorrow, he diverted his attention to food. That’s my first lesson in how to fight depression. I thought, it’s better than drowning his sorrow over bottles of beer.

Another friend who was receiving six digits compensation as Finance Consultant has been vocal about his restlessness. He seemed not happy despite the big pay. Twelve years after, we met in a mall and found his already youngish face to have looked younger, and he was vibrant, no longer sporting a sullen look. He treated me to mugs of coffee and over them, he told me about his job – manager of a small dive “resort” in a far province. So, that is the reason for his glowing and healthy tan skin, as well as, slim athletic physique. As close friends, I did not hesitate to ask if he’s happy with the pay, to which he smilingly replied with a smile and an honest confession of a figure less than thirty thousand pesos, though with free accommodation and food for him and his family, which is a far cry from his former more than two hundred thousand pesos per month take home pay as Consultant in a well-known consultancy firm in Ayala.

Still another friend who used to work as a Vice-President of an Advertising firm now maintains a small vegetable stall somewhere in Pasay City, but he is happy waking up at three in the morning for a trip to Divisoria with his son to buy vegetables in bulk, and to be retailed in his stall at Pasay at seven, after which they would enjoy their simple breakfast ordered at a nearby carinderia.

I have other friends who have changed their direction in life before reaching retirement age or even beyond. Some even say that they took a risk, with the rest admitting that they did it deliberately. The common result however, is the contentment and happiness that they are now enjoying.

In my case, when I left the airline to which I owe so much gratitude, after twenty years, friends asked why. I told them that I wanted to try another field, that of writing which has been my passion ever since. Perhaps, that reason, they may understand, but there is one important passion that I could not share with them at first, as they will surely not understand…my reaching out to others who are less fortunate. This advocacy knows no time or day, so I will not be able to do it if I have a full time job. For the latter, I invested my sincerity as I know with all honesty that I am wanting, too – inadequate in finances like them. So, what extras I have, I share with them.

Resigning from my job for which some friends envied me, is a big twist that I gave my life. But since I was feeling the onset of depression which I knew would eventually affect my job, I had to do it. It did me good, as I was able to do many things afterward despite the meagerness of what was left after the government ate up a big chunk from my separation pay.

I made use of what I learned from my twenty years of stint with the airline, where I was able to hone my writing and office administration. Immediately, I got consultancy jobs at my own time, designing operating manuals for companies and organizations. I was also, able to finish my first book and be with my friends at depressed areas for as long as I wanted – listening to their happy and sad stories, eating with them. I also learned to blog and share what I feel and think through the hi-tech and intricate social network.

At the end, I am happy. And, that is what I am trying to say now. The twist I gave my life made me realize that I have many God-given gifts in me that I must share with others. I must not fail Him in what He gave me as His investment so that I will become worthy of his noble intention when He gave me life. Simply said, it is my way of paying Him back, but through my fellow creatures.