Job-hunting in the Philippines is bad for my nerves

“Looking for a job in the Philippines is very bad for your sanity,” – this is the unfortunate conclusion I came to after intense job hunting.

While working in the social media industry at Lithuania, I had found content development extremely interesting, so after moving to the Philippines, I decided to look for a job in the video creation sphere. I checked out all the production studios in Makati when I was still in Lithuania and, after coming here, I sent my CV and cover letter to all those companies. Days eventually turned into weeks and I got no answers. I started feeling a bit anxious. I pestered Robertas with woeful thoughts about my unsuccessful attempts at finding a job here and I was just about ready to give up when I suddenly received my first reply. One production house’s owner apparently decided to take pity on me and agreed to meet. Woohoo! Super excited, I went to meet him after a few days. A young hipster welcomed me; he asked a great many questions but didn’t seem to be actually listening. In the end, he told me I had to wait because he needed to talk to his partners as it was their first time to consider a clueless foreigner. He promised to write to me in a couple of days which, naturally, he didn’t do.

Our Australian friends who had been working here for quite some time encouraged me to be patient: “He will write you, don’t worry,” they told me, “just after a few months, not weeks.” I wrote some more emails to the agency, but my efforts proved fruitless. I actually got desperate enough to try contacting the owner through Facebook, but that didn’t help either.

“He will write you, don’t worry,” they told me, “just after a few months, not weeks.”

All right. I got really, really, really annoyed (okay, mad). I went back to my original list of Makati’s production houses and contacted them through Facebook as well – maybe they were paying more attention to Messenger than their emails. And voila – one agency replied to me! Overjoyed, I was clapping my hands while already thinking about what to wear to the meeting the next day. I rushed there in my Sunday best and met the owner, who was very kind and swore to make his decision after one week. “Do you really mean that?” I asked, and he repeated his promise. True to his word and quite surprisingly, he did write to me after a week to let me know that I needed to take a few months of internship first. If everything went well, they would hire me. It sounded like a golden opportunity. Yes! Yes! Anything was fine. I’d do their dishes, clean the toilets, make them wonderful coffee – do absolutely anything they asked as long as they accepted me. It took more than a month and, during that time, I received a message from the first production house owner. He had finally decided to grace me with a response on Facebook and it only took him two months. Without even mentioning how he seemed to have dropped off the face of the Earth, he asked me if I was still free… after which he simply disappeared again.

So after yet another month, I finally started as an intern at the second production studio. My first week was… interesting, to say the least. On my very first day at the agency, my reception wasn’t exactly as warm as I expected, and the HR lady told me it was because my colleagues were too nervous to speak to me in English. She then came up with the absolutely fabulous idea that I learn Tagalog. Of course, it was clearly too much to ask that they speak in English since they already knew it, so I told her I’d look into it.

<…> the HR lady told me it was because my colleagues were too nervous to speak to me in English. She then came up with the absolutely fabulous idea that I learn Tagalog. Of course, it was clearly too much to ask that they speak in English since they already knew it…

The good news was that I had already been assigned to a project and was asked to attend the technical meeting. Wow. It’s really happening. Everything went so quickly at that time. They asked me to be at the office by 10 AM the following day, so the project manager could give me more information about the client and the project.

The next morning at 10, however, that very project manager barely had the time to tell me that she’d just see me at the 2-PM technical meeting. All right, so why was I here at 10 AM then? I ended up just sitting there, all by my lonesome, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for an eternity (or about four hours). Finally, 2 PM came around, and I was the first to arrive at the meeting place. When the others arrived, though, they politely told me that the meeting would be in Tagalog. Of course. And so I wasted yet another hour, just sitting there, expertly smiling and nodding, while mentally going through all the swear words I knew. I was truly baffled about why I was even asked to be there but tried to keep telling myself that everything was fine and kept on smiling.

When the others arrived, though, they politely told me that the meeting would be in Tagalog. Of course. And so I wasted yet another hour, just sitting there, expertly smiling and nodding, while mentally going through all the swear words I knew.

After the meeting, they were kind enough to translate all the important bits for me in very fluent English, again making me wonder why they didn’t do it that way, to begin with. Have I mentioned that English is the second language here? Just saying.

Despite all that, though, I was still very excited to finally be working again and happily took part in all of the shootings. I didn’t even mind when the production manager asked me to come in at 5:30 AM for a shoot a couple of days later. The shoot itself wasn’t actually until 7:30, but they included travel time to the venue and breakfast in the schedule.

To begin with, I found it really weird that people would wake up extra early just to have breakfast at work, but I have since learned that it’s very normal here in the Philippines due to the traffic.

Now, I wasn’t worried about the traffic at all, since Robertas could drop me off on his way to work and save me the time it would take for me to take a Grab from the house to the office and then from there to the venue. Moreover, I preferred (and still do) to have breakfast at home, which would also save me another hour, at least. Just to make it clear, I’m definitely no slacker, and I was really just like to be efficient with my time. I wasn’t just trying to get another couple of hours of sleep. Really.

So I negotiated with the production manager to be allowed to just be at the shooting venue by 7:30, and I gave myself a couple of pats on the back for saving myself two hours. I did arrive just a couple of minutes before the agreed time, expecting everyone else to be just about ready to shoot, but I guess that was just wishful thinking. Even at a quarter before 8, breakfast was nowhere in sight. And from the looks on everyone’s faces, I learned that delays like this were pretty much par for the course here.

Eventually, things did get underway, and all my annoyance vanished because I was just thrilled at being assigned tasks to do. I finally felt like I was doing something productive… and it almost lasted a whole two hours! The rest of the time, around 10 hours or so, there didn’t seem to be anything left for me to do, so I spent it just hanging around, trying to learn more about production by watching–or so I was telling myself at the time. At one point, one gay designer even came up to me and if I had a boyfriend. I told him that I did, which turned out to be a grave mistake because, after seeing Robertas’s photo, he kept on asking me if I could lend him my ABSOLUTELY AMAZINGLY HANDSOME AND GOOD-LOOKING boyfriend. I wasn’t really sure whether he was serious, but I apologized and assured him that Robertas wasn’t exactly into men. Later on, it was clear that many of the designers had too much free time on their hands, a few of the more tired-looking ones apparently decided to play a little game called Let’s Teach Raminta Dirty Filipino Words. I was pretty sure they were having fun at my expense, but I figured it was a more amusing way to spend my time than simply standing around.

At one point, one gay designer even came up to me and if I had a boyfriend. I told him that I did, which turned out to be a grave mistake because, after seeing Robertas’s photo, he kept on asking me if I could lend him my ABSOLUTELY AMAZINGLY HANDSOME AND GOOD-LOOKING boyfriend.

I know all that sounds like a lot to take in on a Monday, but the day flew by very quickly, and the HR lady told me that there were no more projects for me for the rest of the week. I thanked her, of course, but she did leave me wondering – If everything went that “fast” here, would I be able to get a job after a few months?..

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