The Philippine bureauCRAZY

by Evans Yonson

I used to work with the Department of Labor and Employment in the Philippines. For 12 years, I helped in conceptualizing, designing and the promotion of several projects of this government agency. One of its major projects was increasing the productivity levels of all medium- and large-national and multinational companies in the country. We were conducting seminars and trainings for engineers, technicians and laborers to help them increase their productivity. In order to make the movement successful we created local, regional and national organizations of productivity practitioners. These people were very eager to join the organizations because they were sharing their experiences in the workplace to other engineers, technicians and laborers in their own industry or with the other fields.

The Filipino nurses. Photo courtesy of Ben Sobrino.

I was travelling around the country for three years at the same time taking my Masters. It came to a point that I started to ask what my personal motives were after all these travelling, training and speaking to many people. Will increasing their company’s productivity helping them personally and individually? Or were these technicians and laborers aware that increasing the company’s productivity meant suicides by themselves? As their companies slowly increased its productivity, the demand for higher quality output started to increase too. These companies started purchasing bigger and faster machines to address the demand of foreign investors. There are so many ways of seeing and understanding what the effects of these highly innovative and productive machines on all the parties involved – the workers, their families, the capitalists, the management, the government, and so on.

Is the bureaucracy working for the common tao? Is it fulfilling its moral obligation and mandate to address the needs of the majority? Or is it just increasing the productivity of the few?

Sad it may seem but it is always the workers – the engineers, the technicians and the laborers – who are always at the receiving end of these technological and productivity changes in the workplace. No matter how many consultations are done with these workers, they are always likely to suffer later. Another consideration that people have to think about when investing in newer technologies, are these beneficial to humans ecologically, humanely and socially? With all these advances in technology, I believe that man has become the slave of the machine even more. Man continues to be a slave of the industry.

An overseas Filipino worker calling home. We are losing so many of them to the world. We need them at home, too. Photo courtesy of Ehmz Untalasco.

While many have gone to specialize in certain fields, but this does not help at all because one field can only take so much specialists and not everyone else. In order not to bring himself/herself obsolete, the worker then results to personal development which may be costly at the present but will be beneficial later on. The more one invests on his/her personal development the more the value of work increases. But not everybody can go in this direction. What are we to do about this phenomenon? We can’t simply take away the hands from the workplace because there are way too many minds now working in the office.