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Thursday, July 5

Working in the Senate

As I started working, I was tasked to receive, compile, and answer all letters/resolutions requesting for funds. I have to encode them using Lotus (now Excel). This would be our master lists, where the name of the sender, date received, town/province, name of projects, amount requested, political party affiliation (for mayors, governors, reps.), number of voters, and the boss' garnered votes in the province were labeled in each column. So it's not that simple to just receive the letters, compile and answer them. A lot of data should be gathered and encoded. Everyday, letters come, the minimum we received daily are about 30 requests from the local leaders. Their requests vary, usually asking funds for the construction of roads/ bridges/school buildings/waiting sheds/basketball courts/barangay halls/farm-to market roads/irrigation systems/solar driers/deepwells and other infrastructure projects, some asked funds for procurement of school textbooks, school chairs and tables, computers, laboratory equipments, medicines for their hospital or health clinic, etc. Ordinary citizens also send letters. I've read so many of them asking for funds for their kids' tuition fees, school shoes, cellphones, funds to start a business (which we gave one), payment for hospital bills, payment for their disconnected meralco bills, funds for repair of their homes, funds to bury their dead relatives, funds to buy fish/seafoods for their business, funds for chemotheraphy, funds for pocket money for representing the country abroad (my boss even gave his dollars from his own pocket), funds to get a visa, funds for boat/plane fare going to the province. The list is endless. Sometimes, I didnt go home just to finish the master list, so many back-logs from the previous staff. Imagine, in the middle of the night in our office, I was encoding these letters with our office secretary. I had headaches reading their stories. I was so affected back then. For the first time in my life, I have memorized all the towns/cities in every province in our country. Even the political party affiliations of every elected congressmen and governors. As I was typing this post, I can't recall anymore those details, I had 4 cs (anaesthesia took those away, he he). Thank heavens, me space na uli to store new, nice memories.
Anyway, we have a standard reply for the local leaders and for ordinary constituents. If my boss knows the letter-sender, his request will surely be approved. Or the if sender belongs to the same political party. While some requests were referred to other government agencies concerned. For some small requests, we either grant or deny them, depending on who my boss was. What I meant was, I had worked with around eight legislators. One would deny them, one would grant them. I have worked with one, who was so kind-hearted. He told us never to turn down small people, even offer them food/coffee when they come in the office and give them transportation money. I remembered, he instructed one employee to go to PGH to give the money being requested by the mother of a sick child. Our staff arrived in the hospital too late for the child had died. My boss really cried infront of me. I cried too. That was one reason why I think my boss gave millions of his congressional funds to PGH & other govt. hospital to cover for the medical expenses of the indigent patients. I was so fortunate having worked for him. He was one of the best legal minds we had in government (that inspired me to get into law school). And he was so generous. He shared his food to us especially when we're working overtime and even his books. We always have gifts from his trips abroad. There's always a fatherly advice if he thinks you need one (got one, when I was planning to get married). Really treated people equally. Too bad, he's gone now. But the wonderful memories will stay with me....
Going back to my office work, we have encountered people who think the office is like PCSO. They go there, give their letters, tell us their sad stories. We give them money. Then after one week, they're back again. We checked their files, we called the hospital or the doctor who issued the prescriptions for the needed meds. If they're real, we give help. One time, a women told us (she also has a letter) that her husband died. So we helped her. Two weeks after, she's back, asking money for her husband's sick of brain tumor. I got sick of her lies, I told her we knew her. That in her previous letter, she said that hubby died. How come husband is still alive now? Prior to that, on my way up, she was in the same elevator I took. I saw her laughing, talking with other ladies with her, she even powdered her nose. I felt they're conspiring with one another to get money from our office with their sad stories. So how will we know if the others' predicaments are true. I have encountered one couple asking for help to go back to their province, somewhere in Mindanao. I've asked a pilot-friend's help. Request was granted. They can ride the C130 plane. But the couple doesn't want to. They're scared to ride a plane. Oh my, they wanted money instead. I gave them money (for jeepney fare & snacks) to go to Villamor Airbase if they really wanted to go back to the province. One guy asked for the same, when I saw his release papers from jail (from a murder case), I instructed our staff to give him the transpo ticket (got discounts for the boat ride). How can one decide whom to give help to and whom to turn down. This is quite a dilemma back then. Following our boss' order, we give them food to eat and transpo money (for jeepney/bus rides). But the walk-in constituents asking for money grew. We set limits, we didnt accept them all in our office. We just asked them to give letters and call us to follow up for it. I think there's even a syndicate going around the senate offices with the same modus operandi. The real indigents, especially the ones confined in hospitals, we give all out help. These are the things we do in our office aside from the main task of our boss, which is legislation...

8 comments:

julie said...

Pinoys take advantage of things they can get for free. They makeup stories just so they can get what they want, for free. Some are really in dire need of these services but even if that's the case, people who are supposed to help them manage to get the booties for themselves. I may be wrong but this is how I view things. Kaka-frustrate at times.

HiPnCooLMoMMa said...

your boss has a big heart, too bad he's gone...si Senator Cayetano yata ex boss mo.

rowena said...

hi julie, yeah it's true that some pinoys can really be "enterprising". on the other hand, what we gave back then came from taxpayers' money so i think it's better to have shared it with the less fortunate ones than to the pockets of the very few.

hi girlie, my former boss i was referring to was the late Senate President Marcelo B. Fernan (the former Supreme Court Chief Justice). am really sad that he's gone. he would have helped a lot of people more.

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Rowena. You're lucky to have worked with someone with a kind heart. I'm sure you learned a lot by working for him. May he always be remembered for the great things he has contributed to the country.

I want to thank you for the wonderful advices you've given me on my blog. Yohan is doing much better today and I think we can finally go out this weekend to watch Transformers. haha! My lil' boy has been so eager to go out.

Maybe Bea and Yohan will cross paths someday. :)

Have a great weekend!

SASSY MOM said...

Oh my, I can relate! Our family is very new in politics... one day, I visited my senator BIL in the senate and I was surprised at how many people would want to be identified with him.

Good thing, my BIL has very strict discipline... he refuses to adhere to traditional politics and I really admire him for that.

Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

rowena said...

hi rachel, you're welcome. i really felt my former boss gave so much of himself when he was still alive. and i learned so much from him. btw, on your next EB, i'll come & bring my Bea. he he

hi salen, thanks for the visit. i'll be sharing more (have worked there for 10 years)...watch out for it ha...

Christina said...

Looks like you had some job back then. Iba't ibang klase talaga ang mga tao, pero sana, huwag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa na marami pa ring mabubuting tao sa paligid.

rowena said...

hi tina, sorry for the late reply. been reading other bloggers a lot than spending time with mine, he he. yup, some job huh. oh, i miss work..yes, i also believe there's goodness in everyone and there's still hope for our country...