Reporting for duty

Since living here I’ve been asked so many times if I worked at call center or a DJ in an FM radio station. It’s been going on for sometime. At first I was puzzled and just didn’t think about it. Just a few days ago the question resurfaced again.

I went to a fast food restaurant early int the morning. I ordered something for breakfast. I gave the lady my order, we had a pleasant talk in between my order, just a simple chat.

We pretty much conversed in typical Mindanaoan way mixture of  Tag-Ce-Lish (Tagalog-Cebuan0-English). After I finished up telling her my order, she then asked me if I am a call center worker. I told her, sorry I never worked there. Awhile later after I got my take out food, it got me thinking. What makes people say that to me. Do I sound like the people working at the call center? How would those people there talk? Really too many questions tagged in my mind now.

A call center agent.. not me!
A call center agent.. not me!

I’ve heard people and some friends who worked at a call center. They told me that they make pretty good money especially for a Filipino standard way of living. I think you guys that live here or used to lived here in Davao are familiar of the place called “The Venue” before? Just across the Central Bank over on Jacinto Extension. The Venue now turned into the big call center place here in Davao. Sometimes when I go to the bank early morning, I’ve seen the agents there at the next door restaurant and the sari-sari store drinking early in the morning. They were just out from their shift of work. Just looking at those agents with the nice and expensive cell phone in their hand, the clothes, the other gadgets, they look so expensive. They would not work there if the paycheck’s not good. It shows there they had fun doing what they are doing. I’ve heard and knew nurses that work at call centers. They said  it’s better to work there than abroad, the plus is not to be away from the loved one. I can understand that. Hmmm, that could be a job to think about for you ladies out there, just to ease the boredom of nothing to do.

Call Center in Davao
Call Center in Davao

I remember a few years ago, a foreigner opened a call center here with his wife. He just put that business while waiting for his wife’s papers to migrate to the US. Plus the lady was finishing up her studies here before going there too. Anyway, one day he wanted to meet Bob and I. So we did, and he was telling us about his new business that they opened. As the conversation going, all of a sudden he said he wished he could hire me to manage the business. He said I know how to speak properly and I could help train his people how to speak English and I pretty much understand if somebody on the other line with some accents, he said. I was flattered he said that. I can speak English alright, but sometimes with the hard Southern accents I could be in trouble though.

For now I don’t think I have time to report for duty though. I’ve got so many things to do here in my house. I don’t have the stomach to work for those long hours too. 12 hours shift is way too much for me. That would be an exhausting job, plus dealing with the complaints and the miscommunication from the other end. That will drain me at the end of the day. Now it got me, this job might be just for the young people, is it really though?


Post Author: Feyma (353 Posts)

Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Toti says

    Hi Feyma, My name is Toti. A reader of Bob’s magazine for a few months now. I am originally from Southern Leyte, been in the DC area but want to go back and enjoy our country, though it’s not perfect. I wonder if your friend (call center owner) is still looking, maybe I can apply, (joke but it can be true in a couple of years). Keep on writing. You all write good stuff. Sometimes it’s frustrating because I can’t do it yet. I’m full of envy. Maajong buntag ninjo diha. Ajoajo mo.

    • says

      Hi Toti – Happy to see you here. thank you for reading our site. I don’t think that guy owned a call center anymore. I think he already left the Philippines. Hopefully you can retire soon than you think. You will fulfill your dream in no time.

      Ajoajo pud… Maajong buntag!

  2. says

    Feyma, I think no one is too old to work for a call center, as long as your English is impeccable, no accent and you have a pleasant personality on-line. I have dealt with call centers from the Philippines, India, and Miami, Florida and with places whose employees have Latin or Spanish accents. I enjoyed my interaction with call centers in the Philippines, because of the attitude and personality of the call center employees. So, if you want variety in your daily routine, why not try working for the call centers. Just a suggestion. Cheers!

    • says

      Hi David – I agree. If you feel like you can handle the long hours of working why not. I think that’s one reason why call center in the Philippines keeps on growing because of the good attitude of the employees that works there. Just looking at the people that works at the call center near the bank that I always goes too, it seems that they enjoyed what they are doing. So its not too bad to work there. Just be open to long hours of work though.

      Is call centers growing too in your part of the area? Good to see you here again David.

      Have a wonderful day!

  3. chasdv says

    Hi Feyma,
    Interesting post.

    I could never work in a call centre, couped up at a little work station for 12 hours would drive me nuts, lol. I thank God i don’t have too, but each to their own.

    I’m sure i read somewhere recently that “The Venue” is re launching on a ship.
    Party all night whilst sailing the Davao Gulf.

    • says

      Hi Chas – I can understand what you just said. The long hour of working there would be dreadful for me. Just like you said to each their own. We likes or dislikes in this world.

      I’ve seen “The Venue” boat a few times when I went to Samal. It was docked next to the ferry boat I was in. It looks fancy and really nice. Really a good party place.

      Good to see you here Chas. Have a nice day!

  4. Don says

    Working at a call center is tough work, don’t think many Americans could actually do it, thus the demand for setting them up in the Philippines. India has a number of them, but the accent was a big issue with a lot of Americans (just to obvious that the person on the phone was not from the US). Plus the hours are reverse cause you need to deal with US time zones (assuming its an American English) call center.

    There are all types of call centers, from incoming help desk types to outgoing marketing/telesales. The sales are the hardest to do as usually your calling during someone’s dinner time….

    • Cy says

      Don, I can assure you Americans can do call center work. I worked in one for two years. It was the most demanding job I’ve ever had. Imagine talking to irate customers all day long with no breaks in between phone calls. Many of the people I worked with were on medication for anxiety from all the stress.

      The reason there are so many call centers has nothing to do with American’s work ethic. It’s simply a matter of economics. It’s MUCH more affordable to pay workers in other countries lower wages than to pay the $15 per hour that US call center workers were making. There were some people from my former call center who had to travel to the Philippines and train our (eventual) replacements.

  5. mike cowan says

    Feyma, if this opportunity presents itself again, hold out for a consultant contract. Less hours, better money. I’ve done 12 hour shifts before, standing. You don’t want to go there. Though it is a good place to send a young loved one who needs to find out about the real world.
    Besides, we need your feminine input on LiP. Sugar can’t do it all by herself.

  6. marjorie says

    Feyma, I’ve worked in a call center here in England and it was hard work. I ended up supposedly getting people to have a brochure, but we were pushed so hard to get brochures out to people who just didn’t want one. I left before I was sacked, Its not in my nature to be pushy especially as the target group were older than me, and I was near to retirement age. I also knew from my Mums friends that most of them were not interested in this product. The Boss was only interested in making money. Neither cared much about his call centre employees or his potential customers. The staff are always leaving or being sacked.
    I used to get calls from a Philippine Telephone Company and enjoyed chatting to the caller.

  7. says

    There are different types of call center agents. If you are highly technical there are call centers which will happily employ you if you pass their tests. I did with DELL. I was supposed to be one of the few first hires for their Libis, Eastwood branch but I turned it down because I had to do something first in the U.S. I think they were offering P20K to P25K annually. My problem with working at night is I get reallllly realllly sleepy. And I don’t drink coffee.

    There are also call center agents called “transcriptionists”. I know of only two types of such agents:
    – medical transcriptionists (many unemployed nurses and doctors end up being one)…If you know medical terms this might be perfect for you.
    – entertainment transcriptionists – Is this even a job? hehe…what you do all day is watch TV shows and movies and transcribe the spoken conversation into texts. Ever watched some of those Chinese movies with horrible translation? It’s enough to give you a headache. hehe…

    There are also directory assistance agents for US residents.

    There are also call center agents who sell products and gift certificates.

    The agents who make the most bucks are those who do foreign non-US accounts. I mean if you can speak and write in French, Chinese, German, Italian, Spanish, etc this highly paid job is for you. They beat the techies even in pay scale. You can also work in the medical tourism industy and pretty much get paid like normal Americans. No need to go abroad to get the high salary.

    There are so many different types of agents.

  8. jackai says

    Nah! I try to work in the call center in Ortigas, good pay for the first time I worked in the call center, 15K my net pay. But I end up hospitalized for the 10 hours graveyard shift for almost 2 months working. It cannot compensate the money I spent for my hospitalization. I cannot tolerate the stress anymore. You feel so sleepy after work but when your at home my God I can’t sleep>>>>> You cannot describe how you feel. The other thing i observed, the lifestyle of the agents, after shift, either they smoke or drink. I can’t stand to that vices. It’s better to work in an office hours schedule at 8:00a.m. – 5:00p.m. , in a minimum wage rather than high pay but your health is at-stake.

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