Published August 19, 2020, 7:06 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

3 Pinoys put careers on hold to survive unemployment

Many people have had their lives upended, lost opportunities, had careers and livelihoods set back or even written off by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But no matter the situation, Filipinos have time and time again proven that they are resilient enough to slowly pick up the pieces and bounce back despite the many challenges they are facing due to the crisis.

‘Laban lang’

CJ Arambulo was among the first to face pay cuts when enrollments have dropped in a private school in Bulacan where he taught Oral Communication.

“Sobra pong naapektuhan ng pandemic ang career ko. (The pandemic has greatly affected my career). Teaching is my passion and it’s been part of my world,” Arambulo shared.

CJ Arambulo

“Nakasalalay ang laki ng aming sahod sa dami ng enrollees. Kaya nung nagkaroon ng pandemic, bumaba ang sahod namin at ito po ay hindi na sapat sa aming pangangailangan. (Our salary depends on the number of enrollees. So when the pandemic occurred, our wages were reduced and it was no longer enough for our daily needs),” he said.

Arambulo said the current situation has also negatively affected his mother’s livelihood selling chicharon. She used to have a regular work schedule before the pandemic but she is now working on shift basis, translating to lower income, he added.

CJ Arambulo

“That’s why napilitan po akong mag resign at sumubok ng ibang trabaho na malayo sa tinapos ko. (I was forced to resign and try another job that is far from what I finished),” he said.

Arambulo now sells fried chicken in the morning and pork meat in the afternoon at a market in Santa Maria, Bulacan.

He said his current job will help his family with everyday expenses, noting that his employer decided to match his salary to what he was being paid before.

CJ Arambulo

“Actually meron po akong prof sa PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) na may-ari ng isang school, kinukuha niya po ako kaso tinanggihan ko po ito dahil una na akong nakapagcommit dito sa amo ko sa palengke. (I have a professor at PUP who owns a school. He asked me to work there but I refused because I have already committed to my employer at the market),” Arambulo said.

“Babalik pa po ako sa pagtuturo pero hindi muna po sa ngayon. (I will return to teaching but not for now),” he said.

Arambulo encouraged others who are going through the same challenges not to be ashamed of trying other means of employment or livelihood.

CJ Arambulo

“Wag tayong magpapadala sa nangyayari sa ating paligid. Wag ding magpadala sa takot bagkus tayo ay magtiwala sa ating Diyos at patuloy na maniwala na malalagpasan natin ang bawat pagsubok na meron tayo sa tulong Niya. Laban lang. May pag-asa tayong matatamo sa Panginoon. (Don’t be dissuaded by what is happening around us. Also don’t get sidetracked by fear but let us trust in our God and continue to believe that we can overcome every trial we have with His help. Just fight. We have hope in the Lord),” he said.

Better tomorrow

Chef Christian Emil Sereño was fresh off from college and just starting his career as a kitchen supervisor in a Baguio City gastropub a year ago.

“The place was always alive and busy especially from the start of Christmas season until the Panagbenga (Blooming Flowers) Festival,” Sereño said.

Emil Sereño

While he was working at the restaurant, Sereño was hired as a chef on a cruise ship. 

“I have finished all the required documents, submitted them to my new employer, and was only waiting to embark, until the coronavirus happened,” he said.

“The company needed to disembark all of the seafarers thus I was put on waiting list again, leaving me jobless during the pandemic,” he added.

He was hoping that he could still continue to work at the gastropub, but was informed that both branches of the restaurant have closed their original location.

“To continue their business, the owners have transferred to a smaller place for take-out orders, letting go of some of their employees,” he said.

For Sereño, it is a challenge to find a job in an industry that has been severely wounded because of the coronavirus pandemic

“Now I am thinking of selling food online and catering food to some offices. It is hard for me to find a regular job especially now, and knowing that I only have a few job experiences,” he said.

Sereño however still considers himself lucky as his former employer calls him from time to time whenever they need an extra hand at the restaurant.

Despite his plans being delayed by the pandemic, he remains hopeful that cruise ships will soon restart operations and that he and other seafarers will be allowed to board.

Pushing potential

The coronavirus crisis has grounded aviation crews in many countries. But one flight attendant has never looked at the situation as limiting what she can do and achieve.

Em Enrique is five years into her dream job as a flight attendant for a local airline. She used to fly five days a week, from early morning to afternoon, before flight restrictions were implemented in March.

Em Enrique

Enrique is unsure if and when she would be called back to work but said that she is on the airline company’s list of volunteers “in case there’s a sudden need of crew.”

“This pandemic/crisis is the most humbling experience ever that will leave nothing but your character,” she said.

She explained that the difficult situation has given her the opportunity to unlock her potential. 

Em Enrique

Enrique decided to sell variety of fruits like avocado and dragon fruit online to have a steady source of income, even if it is lower than what she used to earn.

She said she has a supplier of fruits who does the delivery twice a week.

From selling around 80 to 100 kilograms of avocados in two days when she started, Enrique now sells around 150 to 200 kilograms of avocados, dragon fruit, as well as sayote, during the same period. 

Because she has more buyers now, she is already planning to sell other variety of fruits and vegetables.

Em Enrique

“We should learn not to solely depend on one source of income because this pandemic proves that we cannot be sure of everything,” she said.

“We can lose our bread and butter in a snap. I’m not an expert but having multiple sources of income will save us in the future,” she added.