BPO Perceptions

by Marijoe Antoinette C. Banzon

It’s no news that the BPO industry has been and will continue to be a burgeoning enterprise in the Philippines in the near future. Articles all over the internet expound on why our country is such an enticing venue for other countries’ patronage: An “attractive” compensation to us would be but a dime to them, we have this maaruga or hospitable (almost borderline subservient) signature trait which enables us to let irate customers cuss and let out their frustrations while we suck it up and still maintain a professional and objective mindset, and talent here is abundant. No, not everyone is cut out for the BPO industry, but most of us are employable given that companies would be willing to invest and give comprehensible training.

That is from the investors perspective. Meanwhile here in our homeland, it seems that the average Juan is just beginning to shed some prejudice about this young industry. A trail of conventional wisdom seems to have been left on the parenting style that adult millennials have experienced. Some of us have been raised like our parents — brainwashed with ideals like landing “proper” and prestigious jobs like that of a doctor, lawyer, nurse, architect, etc., but sadly the economy couldn’t seem to keep up with those unrealistic goals. Wide-eyed fresh graduates would briefly remain intoxicated with the triumph of finishing a degree program, only for it to be washed away with the reality that it takes an arm and a leg to land even a decent job nowadays. Some may have it easy because of their connections, but what about those who don’t have any? So we turn to the place where LOTS of jobs are waiting: the BPO industry.

Do not be fooled. Just because there are a lot of seats to be filled here doesn’t mean anybody could just take it. Of course we Filipinos would always like to put our best foot forward especially for foreigners — in this case, foreign investors. Then again, they expect a lot from us, and we (some tbh) Filipinos work like carabaos to make sure we definitely deliver — but I digress. We have to be practical. Sure, some would never stop chasing the dream of fulfilling their parents’ wishes (disguised as their own), but while they’re not quite there yet and since we have siblings to send to school, bills to pay, and lifestyles to maintain, we try our chances in getting a job that would offer a little bit more than the minimum, and more importantly, one that is not as elusive as those “prestigious” jobs aforementioned.

Now this is where misinformed prejudice enters the picture. It’s so difficult to let go of idealism especially when you just came from some sort of celebration — like that of a graduation — plus, the parents I have mentioned above would be egging their children to fulfill their own frustrations instead of letting them choose what they want and give them a hundred percent support. This leads us to the puzzling question as to why we have this inherent lowkey disapproval of the BPO industry. Of course, this prejudice was stronger before but has now watered down as more of us realize that it’s not so bad after all.

A possible explanation could be fear. We fear what we don’t know. Since this enterprise is relatively new and untested unlike the trusty “stable” jobs, we treat it with caution. People have this tendency to think about what we could lose if we gamble; but what if we GAIN something? Like a broader understanding of things? Meeting globalization? Learning more about others’ cultures? Sharpening our communication skills, people skills, and other soft skills? Perhaps it isn’t just out of snobbish disregard that the parentals would want us to take a chance in the BPO. Perhaps they are scared for us, and they just want us to face the world with one less worry that is job stability; but the numbers don’t lie. The BPO appears to be a promising and rapidly growing market, and if the naysayers would just listen and be open, they’ll understand.

It’s time the stigma is ended. It’s 2019, everyone.

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