Editorial Abstracting

A month have past since I got into this job. The moment I learned, from one of my facebook contacts, that it does exist, I grabbed the opportunity to get to know more about it. I just love writing and so it didn’t take much time before I signed up. Few weeks later, I attended the training.

During the training in one of the buildings along commercial avenue in Alabang, I was surprised to see that there’s a lot of people, who are actually interested to be in this program. Our batch was composed of retirees, teachers, event organizers, freelance writers, ex-call center agents and even those with current jobs and not surprisingly, several bums just like me. There was even one complete family who attended.

So what is this job all about? It’s a form of business process outsourcing (BPO), and basically, it’s the call center’s non-voice counterpart. It’s a bum writer’s dream as it entails one to work at home without the nosy bosses and ill-tempered co-workers, not that they existed before. Hahaha. Anyway, despite those attractive perks, until now I find it an odd job.

As much as I love writing, I soon realized that editorial abstracting is a different discipline from plain blogging. It requires a lot of reading and comprehension to form an acceptable, if not good, abstract. It starts with having what they call a journal that is accessible through the company’s website. This journal contains files that may either be articles, book reviews, news briefs, instructional articles, and photo essays just to name a very few. These files in pdf format should then be read, identified if what article type it belongs and finally, an abstract should be written out of it. The abstract length ranges from one sentence to 300-500 characters maximum, depending on the article type. Once done, these abstracts are then emailed to the company and which they then send it back to whoever (and wherever in the US) customer in abroad requested the abstract to be written.

The customers abroad are actually publishing companies who outsource these writing jobs here in the Philippines. These companies send articles that ranges almost anything under the sun. Yes, you read it right. It’s anything under the sun. Proof of it, the first journal I got was actually about GLBT. And I learned just then, that GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender, so imagine my surprise when I saw pictures of male caucasians tongue-tied in a bar and that I’m expected to write about their events and experiences. What’s funny is that I’m writing it for a fee with the highest being P16. And yes, once again, you read it right. 16 Philippine peso ($0.35).

But don’t retreat yet, unless for reasons of receiving a GLBT, the P16 fee is per article. Each journal may contain several articles and as you get the hang of it, the more abstracts you can write and the more journals you accomplish in a day. Soon you’ll be earning according to your phase and will be surprised how much you’ve actually accumulated and received as payment.

So far I’ve written abstracts about law, sports, treasure hunting, agriculture and lately, Russian-related articles. I’m expecting they’ll soon assign what I’ve listed as my topic of interest – economics, business & industry, religion, education. But then again, they say that it’s unlikely to be followed and that journals will be assigned according to availability. Well, I’ll take anything but no more GLBT please.

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (survived half-day of being home alone with the hyper Marcus)

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Am I in the telco’s Twilight Zone?

 

They say that customer satisfaction is a combination of good products plus good service. If that’s the case, then my recent (and thankfully my latest) transactions with the phone company Digitel is anything but. It all started when I tried to inquire regarding our phone subscription’s disconnection. Here’s what transpired:

Customer service hotline. Agent entertained me obviously while using a scripted set of dialogues with me being asked of several account info but when I asked if they process disconnection, he said, “Sir, we don’t do that. Call our office instead.” Just before I hung up, I asked if he knows what might be the requirements for disconnection. Valid ID lang daw. Immediately after the conversation I checked our phone directory’s yellow pages and saw a list of numbers for Cavite. Great.

I tried 2-3 numbers and all I got was a recording saying, “The number is not yet in service” or something to that effect. Feeling hopeless, I called their office of area manager‘s number with the intent to report the problems with the listed office numbers. She wasn’t around, daw. So I asked the person at the other end of the line, if she knows any available and working number. She gave one. Then I asked if she knows what the requirements for disconnection are. Valid ID lang daw.

Directory assistance hotline. After failing to contact the number that the good secretary gave me, I remembered about the directory assistance hotline. And guess what? They don’t have an updated list of working numbers for Cavite! And that’s coming from a directory assistance hotline? Goodness. What could be more ironic than that?

Trying to be composed and convincing myself that maybe I have to go to their office indeed to process the subscription disconnection, I left home with a valid ID on hand. I arrived at Digitel’s office finding just one customer. Great. A few minutes later I was already talking to the customer service agent and politely said, while hiding any hint of previous frustrations, that I wanted our line disconnected . He smiled back, checked his computer, scribbled some notes on a piece of paper, handed it over to me and said, “Sir, here’s what you need…valid ID, phone, modem, and splitter.” Ti abi. Of course, I erupted, albeit controlled, but sarcastically replied back, “So it’s just indeed about time, I get our line disconnected…”

I was back home in no time, furious. Took the phone out and the rest of the Digitel items and I was back again to their office within a few minutes. This time, my anger is showing up even if I still tried to contain it and trying to be subtle as much as I can. My sweet revenge came soon, when he handed me a form to fill in and I was suppressing my evil smile while I wrote in front of him the comment: “Customer service is poor.” I could have written “sucks” but then again I did not – still trying to be civil despite all that.

Well, finally it’s goodbye Digitel for us. Hello, PLDT. In fact, I was there this morning to have our NDD activated. I was entertained by two well dressed employees…who doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing…and I eventually found out about them when my wife read the remark on the copy of the service request form at home. They’re OJTs. Man, am I in the twilight zone of the telecommunications world? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

 

 

 

 Mood: 3/10 Honks (back to dealing with GoDaddy.com. registered a new domain. hopefully this one will do the trick.)

Spiritual day: Christianity, Angels and Demons

 

Thursday. It has been years since I’ve been so spiritual and what makes it more odd is that it happened during a job application. No, it’s not because I prayed that I’d get hired – though I always do for every job application. But it’s because the fields and questions in the application form contained the most unlikely and unanticipated items. Other than the usual infos being required by most employers, this one has such things as: Who is Jesus Christ? How often do you pray? What do you think of the poor? Yes, you read it right. And No, I’m not applying to be a priest – do I hear sighs of relief?

I was at TSPI Development Corporation’s head office somewhere in Makati with its size that isn’t even half of my previous company’s canteen. In short, it’s small. But what lacks in size, it makes up with its mission. TSPI which stands for Tulay Sa Pag-unlad (Bridge to Development), Incorporated which is a non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) and a Christian value-oriented group and caters to helping the poor by integrating micro financing and individual transformation. This company has several offices all over Luzon and is now expanding to the rest of the country (they’re currently building a multi-story office just across their current humble location).

The first time I learned about TSPI was when I was with my family vacationing in Bolinao and while I was expecting SMS notices from companies that might have taken interest on my posted online resume. At first I thought that the text from TSPI was just a mistake because after I asked for its address, it didn’t reply back, well, not until two weeks after – last Tuesday. This time a contact person is indicated along with its address. That got me curious enough. In fact, that night I researched again but however I re-do the typing and clicking on the Internet Explorer’s search field, the results are all the same – it all lead me to TSPI.org’s website. It became apparent that it’s neither a semiconductor nor a call center company.

Although I find it weird after confirming it’s an NGO, it didn’t deter me from leaving home before six in the morning just to be at their office by 8 am as advised. I arrived 30 minutes earlier and soon after I was in one corner of their office along seated on a monobloc chair beside other applicants who try to answer the exam while at an ear shot from the ongoing office routines, employee discussions and what seems to be a staff meeting held in one of the low-walled cubicles. And while I sort of worry about the supervisor inquest exams I kept worrying more if I answered the previous religion-related essays. I wonder if not answering the field, “Do you have a life verse?” would have a significant impact.

Just like the last call center application, I got interviewed. But unlike it, the interview this time was more casual and also during this time I felt I got it in the bag. Unfortunately, the HR personnel said I will be assigned to the CALABARZON areas rather than in Makati which in the first place is the reason why I got interested in pursuing my application since it’s just a few minutes away from Ateneo Rockwell. So once again, my studies got in the way. Another opportunity cost (and loss?) for me to deal with. I was close but still no cigar.

***

The TSPI HR personnel was good enough to grant my request to adjust my application exam day to Thursday instead of the texted Wednesday. I requested it so I can make one trip to Makati to also meet my Managerial Accounting classmates for a group activity meeting in the afternoon.

I was out of TSPI before lunch time and that gave me so much gap until the planned 6 pm group meeting. And so despite the guilt that I’m killing time in the Power Plant mall while my wife and kid are probably bored to death inside our home in Cavite, I can’t help but give in to the call of the cinemas. I picked the movie Angels and Demons over Terminator Salvation.

Angels and Demons is one of the few movies which I’ve read the book before it became a film and this by far I have to say is the nearest to its paperback counterpart. Ron Howard did a very good job directing this movie almost by the book (pun intended). I find it so eerily close to how I imagined it during the time when I’m reading page after page of this great Dan Brown fiction (or not?). It was like my own imagination of the story has materialized to my own liking. I love how the CERN lab scenes (esp. the formation of the anti-matter), Camerlengo character depiction, Ambigrams, Rome statues and artifacts, conclave rituals and almost every thing written by the famous Da Vinci Code author came to life.

The main casts of this another controversial film were of course key to its success. As usual Tom Hanks is just perfect for his role as Robert Langdon and Ewan McGregor although appearing so unrealistically young did portray the role of the Camerlengo so well. Even the supporting actors, especially the Illuminati hit man, get my thumbs up. I just wished though that the movie could have shown more of the CERN scenes according to the book as it is where Ayelet Zurer (who played Vittoria Vetra) could have displayed more of her acting skills.

Of course the movie has some flaws like lousy special action force moves and Vatican crowd acting but then again these are very very minor and easily forgiven and forgotten especially when one gets so engrossed to the whole plot that’s filled with deception, mystery and fast-paced action. It’s like as if one is just about to say, “hey, that’s wrong…” and then the appearance of the branded ambigrams erases all criticism (behind tightly bitten lips) and gets one back on track thinking almost ahead of Langdon and wondering what might come next.

Now, I can’t wait to see if Ron Howard can do justice to Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress novel. I have a strong feeling though that he will.

 

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (cold and rainy outside)

 

Of bad job interview and bad neighbors

 

I woke up today with a hope of a very good day but it just wasn’t meant to be I guess. I was supposed to bring my car to Makati for an exam in one of the companies I’m applying for. And one of the compelling reasons is just about being paranoid about the recent confirmation of an AH1N1 case here in the Philippines. The morning show on TV though answered my dilemma of bring the car or not. It said not – one part of the already confusing Makati streets is close for a celebration. Bad sign number one.

Anticipating worse traffic I was already on a bus by 6:30 am. Just a few minutes later it was jam-packed worse than sardines and worst, the person standing right behind me was coughing as if he’s the only one inside the bus – this is why I really would want to avoid public transport. But then again do I have the choice? A couple of hours and some sore butt later, I was already in Ayala avenue and true indeed, the jeepney terminal has a very long queue of mostly mean looking passengers. Bad sign number two.

Realizing that I still have more than an hour to spare, I decided to walk going to my destination as traffic then was at a crawling phase. Ganito nga sila sa Makati (This is how they are in Makati) – an irritating line of the info commercial which is clearly a plug for a presidential candidate. The nerve. The leather shoes I was wearing making the long (more than 2 km, if I’m not mistaken) walk tiring. The thick polo shirt plus a white t-shirt inside completing the torture.

More than thirty minutes of brisk walk later, I arrived ahead of time; more than enough for me to grab a quick McDonald’s hotcake; and still more than enough for me to get me back to the right elevator inside the PBCom tower. Soon enough, I was among the eTelecare hopefuls waiting in their comfy lobby – while trying to get the feel of who’s the closest competition. Hahaha. By past 10 am, the two part examination took place. I think I can confidently say that I aced it. I was among those few who passed. But wait.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared that the interview will be done past lunch – I was already hungry the moment I finished my exam by 11 because the view of the Krispy Kreme donut shop is right below me from the tower’s 12th floor. We were made to wait back in their lobby but it doesn’t feel cozy this time. My hunger and the strong air-conditioning making the anxiety worse. The interview didn’t happen not until 1 pm.

Good thing that the interview was quick. Bad thing is that my answer in the application sheet seems to have worked against me (although I expected it). I answered the question, “are you willing work on rotation?” with NO. Because I just really can’t especially now that I’m getting serious with my first two MBA subjects. So once again, I heard the ever familiar line, “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Bad sign number three.

I immediately walked out of the building with only one goal at that moment – grab some Krispy Kreme; and grab I did – I got an assorted dozen to go.

 

***

 

I arrived home by 3 pm and after having consumed 3 donuts while inside the bus. After a few chit chat with my waiting wifey and kid, I felt asleep. By 5 pm I woke up, eager to continue the attack on the Krispy Kreme, but this time with a well deserved hot coffee to go with it. And guess what, it wasn’t meant to be.

Just I was about to lean back on the couch and savor the steaming beverage, my good neighbor called out. He said he noticed that one of my car’s tires is completely flat. I got out, feeling bad about not having finished the coffee in the mug. The moment I saw the tire, I already had a bad gut feel about it. I changed it with the spare tire and headed to the nearest true vulcanizing shop. My hunch was right – its sidewall was intentionally punctured. Damn. Several things were already running inside my head. Bad sign number four.

After leaving the tire shop, I went straight to the Dasma police station to have the incident blottered because this time this isn’t just a mere malicious scratch which I had observed to appear every morning since the day I got into trouble with some of the board members in my intent to unify them. What makes me really feel bad is that it’s been months already after I resigned (trying to stay away from the worsening relationship) and until know some of the people here in our village still would like to make their views heard, sadly, through an unfair and cheap act – puncturing my car’s tire. Although, I have other thoughts why they did it. Hope I’m wrong.

I’ve already seek the help of some of my immediate neighbors and I’m just really hoping that the incident won’t happen again – and that whoever did this will come up and face me instead to talk about whatever they have against me. But until then, I just consider them cowards who would rather poke a defenseless tire. It’s bad, but the truth is, there are just some people who are worse than the poor butt hole.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll savor the remaining Krispy Kremes. Hopefully…

 

 Mood: 6/10 Honks!

One drinking session and Two phone calls later

 

Last Saturday was the one of those days that everything that has happened are in my favor. By lunch time we were in San Miguel, Batangas to attend the town fiesta at my in-laws’ place. And as usual the variety of fiesta foods were once again overwhelming and as usual, the promise to be on a diet has to be sidestepped – both to my delight and guilt.

Of course, fiestas here are never without a drinking session and this time, I’m all for it with only the thought of doing the tagay (a practice of passing drink to everyone around the table using only one glass) holding me back. But the gloomy and the scattered rain showers made the setting even more perfect and justifiable; and with the overused dialogue, “malamig eh, painit tayo, tara na inom (it’s cold, let’s get warm by drinking)” making the alcohol intake a definite go.

As expected the drinking session went on like an ever familiar routine: an ice-filled pitcher is filled with beer; a tanggero (one who distributes the tagay) religiously passing the drinks to one drinker at a time; and of course my favorite, other than having the beer, is eating the pulutan (finger foods) which is normally pork in any form. And among the pulutan that day was dinakdakan (recipe originally from Ilocos) which is made of pork meat, pork brain, spices and coconut milk. Yes it’s cholesterol-filled, but then again it’s one of life’s guilty pleasures.

My alcohol binge however was abruptly disturbed by two separate calls. The first one was from our time sharing company – RCI — and although the agent sounded a little bit apologetic for the news she’s about to deliver, I on the other end of the line was glad that there might be some cancellation on our resort reservation which my wife and I discussed a day before to delay just so I can attend my first two MBA classes in Ateneo (I didn’t know that it will start this May instead of June). The resort in Bolinao didn’t give any commitment yet if when they’ll be able to fix what was affected by the tropical storm Emong but I’m OK with the delay nevertheless.

A few hours and several rounds of tagay later came the most welcomed call. It was a phone interview from a call center company I’m applying for. I don’t know my alcohol level at that time, but if my judgment serves me right, I was at least within driving tolerance – I was thinking then that if I can drive sanely, then most likely I can accommodate and answer the phone interview and hopefully, pass. Well, several spoken English later, I was right. I was given an invitation for a written examination somewhere in one of the towers in Makati next week. If only personal job interviews can be done while under the influence of alcohol, I think I’ll be hired. Hahaha.

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Ending on a Monday

 “Tell me why I don’t like Mondays” – Bob Gelfof and Johnny Fingers

“I hate Mondays” – Garfield

 

Yesterday was the weirdest Monday that I can recall…so far. Here’s why:

  1. On my way to work the discussion over the radio was about an episode of the Oprah show where she approved of her guest’s suggestion of having to introduce teenage girls to the vibrator – and to mention that several Filipina girls called agreeing to such. I now wonder what else I’d hear this morning.
  2. The parking lot was already full when I arrived. If my memory serves me right, it’s been months since it has become one of the deserted place in our company. For a moment I actually thought that our company isn’t closing after all. Hahaha. Wishful thinking, huh.
  3. I’m starting my first day of the week listening to one of my most hated things to do – selling (outbound call center account) – and which for some, weird, reason I ended up enjoying the simulation activity. Isn’t that great? So does this mean that I do have the potential to sell?
  4. Lastly, after reading one farewell email coming after the other, it has finally dawned on me that this is my last week at work, together with other identified employees. It now feels I’m starting to be sucked into the deep void of the bumhood black hole.

Well after conceding to the fact that this is really it, I had to excuse myself from our call center training just to compose my own farewell message. Here’s what I wrote in haste:

Friends and co-workers,

This is my last week at and I’d like to say the following: Thank you, Sorry and Goodbye.

Thanks. For the wonderful years I had with every people I work with. Thanks to my past and present mentors, colleagues and subordinates. Rest assured that every encounter I had with each and every one of you gave me experience and knowledge, and it has made me a better person than I was years ago.  Of course, I would like to thank my very recent group who welcomed me like I was already one of the experienced engineers – I really appreciate that. Thanks for the opportunity.

Sorry. I apologize to those whom I might have offended in one way or the other; it’s just some times the word constructive doesn’t come together with confrontation. And while I’m at it I’d like to say to those who have offended me (or at least they think so) as well that I won’t be leaving with any hard feelings.

Goodbye. I’d like to say goodbye those who are yet to leave – whether they like it or not. And lastly, I’d like to say good luck to everyone whether you’re continuing to Vietnam or be pursuing a different life after Intel.

Keep in touch. See you around folks.

Although I hate the fact that it isn’t a resignation letter (I’m still yet to write my first), I sent it out of course to almost everyone I’ve worked with; but like one lit up fuse flickering slowly towards a barrel of explosives, I became sentimental, somehow, about the whole thing while I was already on my way home. All of a sudden I find it ironic that at the start of this week is the beginning of the end of the long years working for what I’ve known as a great place to work. Hasta la vista Intel folks.

***

I figured later in the day that the reason why the parking lot was full is because some of my co-workers are already processing their clearances and some brought their car along with them.

There also was a job opportunity expo which was participated by a number of companies and probably the representatives parked their vehicles ahead of some of the employees like me; and this is one thing that will be missed by most because if there’s one company that doesn’t have reserved parking slots, it would be Intel. “Sorry boss, you’re late…go park somewhere.”

***

The sight and feel of yesterday’s job opportunity expo was unexpectedly great – may be because there isn’t much crowd unlike in the malls. The participating companies range from several business franchisors to cater to those who have finally decided be entrepreneurs; the ever familiar semiconductors were also present for those who haven’t got enough of the manufacturing environment; and of course there were call center companies which lately have become one of my interests. Well, Isn’t that great?

Ready for the call centers?

Ready for the call centers?

 

 

 

 

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

It’s all downhill from here

 

Photo by: Marielle

Photo by: Marielle

March 30. Thirty days from now, I’ll be among those leaving Intel for good. There will be no turning back. If a decade seems to zoom by, this one for sure will be very very quick. The only thing that will make this period drag is the absence of work but I’m quite sure that the daily interactions I will have with my peers, friends and even bosses in the next days to come will be cherished more than before.

Like someone on a bike, the sight of a sloping down road sends mixed feelings. There’s the feeling of celebration, excitement, anxiety, happiness and relief. Yet despite all that emotion confusion, it’s what and where you finally set your focus during the descent that will determine how everything around you will matter. It’s either you curse the rough road and quiver at the seemingly frightening speed; or you appreciate the rush of the wind and enjoy every beautiful scenery as you pass by. It’s all your choice. But whatever that is, it’s really all downhill from here.

See you all at the bottom. Hopefully, we’ll all be drinking lemonade by then.

 

 

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

 

 

Photo credit: Marielle