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The Working Pinoy

Working In The Government: Stories From the Frontline

By Daniel Olivan on January 1, 2016

Working in the government is not an easy task. Listen to the stories of these dedicated civil service employees (and the success story of one government worker hired through Kalibrr) and be inspired by what drove these people to dedicated a significant part of their lives to serving the public.
Heeding the CallReg Onglao
When I first entered college, I never imagined myself to choose government as a career option right after graduation. It started with something as human as soul searching—a desire to find my vocation, my calling, my home.

What guided my search during the last few months before graduation day was an article shared by our Theology professor during senior year, aptly called “The Calling of Voices” by Frederick Buechner. It spoke of the reality that throughout life, we would all be overwhelmed by a multitude of voices—made even more pronounced today by the rise of social media and advances in information and communications technology—each pulling us into different directions. But to cut through all the noise, one needs the endurance to listen, the resolve to discern, and the courage to decide on which voice to follow.

My decision to work in the government was based on a personal discernment that this would be the place where I can help the most and yet learn the most. I have been blessed with a loving family, supportive friends, and a holistic education focused on my passion for mathematics and philosophy. But I also acknowledge that I lack grounding in the deep social realities that our country faces, and that there is also a need for passionate workers in the government in spite of—but more importantly, because of—widespread prejudices regarding its inefficiency and corruption.

After about two years in government, I realized that I have gained more than I have given. I’ve learned about public service from my colleagues who have ingrained that in their lifestyles through volunteering in orphanages and homes for the aged even outside work hours. I’ve learned of the tenacity of field implementers who, despite being overworked, still find the time and the strength to volunteer during disaster relief and response operations. I’ve learned about real hope from program participants who, despite their crippling situation and poverty, have striven to change for the better for their family.

I hope that you permit yourself to be still, listen, and discern which voice you will follow—whether to work in the government, to start your own business, to join a non-profit organization, to teach in a public school, among others—for there is much yet to be done. But there is much more to learn and be joyful about, if you allow yourself to follow that voice which may not be the loudest one, but is perhaps that faint whisper that leads you to the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Michelle GaurinoAccessible Government Jobs
It was in 2014 when I decided to join government. After I got my civil service eligibility, I submitted applications to the few government agencies that I knew of. This was around February. I left my job in the BPO industry to review for my comprehensive exams in grad school and was in between jobs while waiting for updates on my previous applications and also searching for other government jobs online. Unfortunately, online platforms at that point only had a few posts under public/civil jobs. I finally got hired in August as a project assistant under contract of service status in a government attached agency. While I was happy in my first government job, I still hoped to have a permanent appointment and have a lasting career in government.

One day my colleague reposted the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines’ Facebook post on 3,320 government job vacancies. That’s when I learned of Kalibrr. I tried to know more about the site and read related Rappler articles. I created a Kalibrr account and applied to Administrative Officer jobs in Department of Budget and Management on May 17th. I got a call from DBM HR for an interview on June 30th and got a job offer on July 14th.

At least in my case, the Kalibrr-DBM partnership shortened the time from application to job offer, from five months to two months. The process was easier and hassle-free. I did not have to be absent from work just to submit my application. I saved time, money, and commute effort.

And it did not matter that I had no connections inside DBM. I am proud to say that I was hired based on my qualifications and competencies, not any backer. I am now part of HR and help ensure that the hiring and promotion of employees are based on merit and fitness.
I’m glad that more government agencies are partnering with Kalibrr. This makes civil service jobs more accessible to the public.

Had the Bagumbayani Initiative and Kalibrr existed ten years ago, I probably would have joined the civil service earlier. I’m hopeful that more young people will be interested in joining government.

Elsa AgustinFortunate Fall
Right after college, I, too, joined the more popular route into labor force, and marched towards the streets of Makati to look for a job at the wealthy corporations whose offices lined up Ayala Avenue.  It was blessing in disguise that the rich businesses did not find me interesting because I ended up in a much better place. I never had the chance to work for mere corporate profits.

At the Department of Finance, my main responsibility is to formulate tax policies and provide technical advice to Department of Finance officials and to represent the DOF during congressional public hearings and inter-agency meetings on tax-related matters.  I love the challenge that comes with my job. Now, I consider myself part of the elite group that moved the economy. It is most rewarding, hand on my heart, that I can contribute to society while, at the same time, earn a living.

My job inevitably requires continued learning to keep abreast with advances in tax policy and administration. The DOF never fails to provide me the best capacity-building programs available both here and abroad. I had my Masters in Economics, under a full-time study leave arrangement, and I was sent to the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. to see, up close and personal, how a multinational organization works and gives policy advice to its member countries. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity that had a lifetime impact on me as a policy advisor.  It honed not only my capabilities but raised as well my self-confidence.

And finally, government, with its flaw and misgivings gives the better pension benefits. What’s not to like?

Giving BackAaron Letaba
It is commonly assumed that people laboring in the bureaucracy and serving the country and its people through government are making such an unnecessary sacrifice, and as some others would view it: an actual waste of time and talent.

Of course, I can't blame people who have this perception because there is a legitimate basis for this frustration after alI. However, I wouldn't automatically accept this perspective. As I see it, to work in government, to pursue the interest of our Motherland, and to concretely build and aspire for a better life for our countrymen is a beautiful privilege. I find it difficult to believe how a person can immediately regret or dismiss such genuine effort to meaningfully contribute to our country's developing narrative of progress.

Yes, it is and will be burdensome; it will be difficult and at multiple times, disappointing but when has anything easy ever been worth it?

Your Iskolar ng Bayan is now your Lingkod-Bayan. It's now my turn to return the favor. #GobyerYES!

To read more about what it's like to work for the government, read more stories of working in civil service at Bagumbayani Initiative.

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