Dagupan graduate dreams of better opportunities in home province
(Editor’s Note: In light of the last presidential debate before the 2016 elections being held in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, members of the Inquirer Volunteer Corps from PHINMA-University of Pangasinan have written articles on the pressing issues their city and province are facing, in the hopes that the next president of the Philippines will listen and take action.)
First of a series
Ann Dorothy Ballesteros, 20, dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist.
She has always wanted to be in front of the camera, delivering information vital to the public. And so, when she graduated in 2015 from PHINMA-University of Pangasinan with a communication arts degree, Ballesteros applied to different companies in Dagupan City and neighboring towns in the province.
But job opportunities within the locality proved to be few and far and in between. Today, Ballesteros works at a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Metro Manila, where she earns many times more than the P253 minimum wage in her hometown.
She still has plans to chase her dream, not only for herself but for her family, who see her aspirations as a leap of hope for a better fortune
“Dream on, hold on to it. It’s the only thing you’ll reward yourself with [in the future],” she said.
Working at a BPO
Life in Manila for Ballesteros is challenging–different from the simplicity of her usual life in Pangasinan. Traffic alone, she quipped, is a daily misery.
The young communication graduate works the night shift at her company, taking calls from all types of customers. Sometimes, she is obliged to work on her rest days and is even required sudden overtime.
“It’s what the job demands. I’ve got no guts to complain because I affixed my signature and submitted myself to meet the requirements of my job contract. I literally can’t afford to lose it,” she said as she iterated her day-to-day experience as a call center agent.
Going back to Dagupan could mean earning only P253 a day, the mandatory provincial minimum wage of locals. In Metro Manila, the minimum wage is an average P900.
“I wonder why does it have to be like that, since all over the country the prices of goods are the same,” she added.
Ballesteros is also dismayed with the present situation of fresh graduates and young professionals like her, who also often have to leave the city to forge a career outside of agriculture.
“I realized that life in Dagupan City is stagnant,” she said. “There’s a slower pace of progress compared with what people of the Metro [Manila] are enjoying.” she said.
Ballesteros thinks it will be good if Dagupan City invests in more types of industries, as “opportunities here are very limited to agriculture, fisheries and the usual industries of retail and other sorts of businesses,” she said.
Dagupan is dependent on its agriculture and aquatic resources, and is also famous for its milkfish or “bangus” industry.
“I truly believe that people of Dagupan City are highly skilled. We have good engineers, nurses, teachers–you name it, we’re good at everything,” Ballesteros quipped.
“The government should… open new doors of opportunity for young professionals seeking different kinds of jobs. More than that of developing fisheries, too, because there’s still a thousand more skills that Dagupeños are good at, that are wasted with the lack of better opportunities,” she added.
But the young communication graduate continues to dream that, one day, she will be a successful citizen of Dagupan, in Dagupan.
“As a young citizen, I am still pursuant to achieve my dreams, and still eager to make my parents proud without going away from them be it on Manila, or even abroad,” she said.
Ballesteros is also still counting on the possibilities of the future changes brought by the rising Philippine economy.
“If the progress [economic] will continue, hopefully it will be felt by small-time Filipinos like my family and not only for those who are rich,” she said.
Keeping faith with that the future might bring, she is still praying that the “traditional” way of governance of the city be more modern, like other countries. Maybe then, Dagupeños will be given the chance to show off their skills and take over the world.
Until such time, however, Ballesteros has one message for the next President of the Philippines and local leaders of Dagupan City:
“Just eradicate corruption and I’ll be happy. As a hopeful millennial, it will satisfy me as a Filipino citizen to see and experience how the high taxes I’m paying are being allocated to something funded by Filipinos and for the greater good of every Filipinos.”
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