My everyday commuter story has never been the same since I stared working in the government. Every morning, I ride a bus going to work. While the news program is flashed on TV, I try to observe the passengers’ reaction on the headline, especially if it concerns the government. Typical scenarios of the public like the side comments about the news and complaints about the traffic in EDSA and how lame the government is on dealing with it. Inside the FX after work, I hear citizens talking about the long process they need to undergo whenever they will get a government-issued document. The general idea is that not everyone is pleased with their government.
Since the day I commit to the service, my lens on these issues is never the same. Since that day, I had that .01% of understanding the government and the knowledge that it’s not easy inside.
It could be a jaded thinking for me to have a typical impression that government work is stagnant and boring. I still get comments from friends who are yuppies as well, that they don’t see government as a good jump start for a career, which at times offends me of course. But if only they would give government work a try, maybe their perspectives will change. As for me, I consider it as a great avenue to know myself better and dig my passion deeper.
The Brighter Side of the Job
Being a student leader in college, I know that my heart is driven by my love for country. I know that the reason why I am doing things is because I want to contribute something significant to my Philippines. Maybe that’s the reason why I love mentoring younger student leaders in campus, why I enjoy training students on public speaking, and why my first job is teaching. I have this belief that whenever I share a part of me to others, there can be a spark of inspiration that can ignite their hearts to do the same for other people and for the country. After college, I know I want to make a change outside the walls of the campus. At first, I thought it was easy. Then I realized, change doesn’t happen overnight.
On my way home everyday, I contemplate what my work is trying to teach me. I extract every wisdom I can get from that day, and I think that’s the brighter side of it, I learn everyday.
The Lessons from the Job
I always tell to myself that most of the things I am encountering now are things that I didn’t learn in school. My professor didn’t orient me that in the government:
1. It is a team of young, energetic, and purpose-driven people.
I have that conventional thinking before that young people are not that much welcome in the government. Obviously because I thought experience-wise, there are still a lot to invest on. But it’s a different story now. My workplace trusts young people. When I entered the office on my first day, I was surprised that there are a lot of young people in the government. When I asked a few of their reasons, I knew that I am surrounded with like-minded people whose heart is dedicated to the nation’s betterment. I must say that the bunch of young people in the office is a great factor why I enjoy working. Their dedication and sacrifice to their calling inspire me to do more.
2. It is a constant battle for what you believe in.
As they say, there is always resistance to change. We deal with different types of people everyday. They come in different levels, perspectives, and motivations. This is what I think is the greatest challenge — engaging people in change. Along the way, there will be tons of discouragements, stress, factors to consider, and countless significant points that you want to explain to the people. It’s not easy but I think what government work is teaching me is to focus on the reasons why things are worth fighting for. The very main reason why we serve is our people, what’s better for them. Emotions should be compartmentalize. As long as it’s for the better, it’s always worth the fight.
3. It is a continuous journey of defining one’s values.
Back in college, I’ve been in a lot of panel interviews, the question “what are your values?” was asked to me countless times. I have my default answer back then. When I entered government work, my values are slowly being refined by my everyday experience, and wisdom that I get from people. Values that I never recited in grade school, but only discovered in the real world. I discover important values everyday which I think in the long-run will help as an upgrade in my identity as a person and as a Filipino. In government work, it’s not enough that you only know how to do things. You should know WHY you do things. For at times that you feel like the lines are blurring, you will go back to your Whys and be reminded of the reasons why you chose the job and the impact that you can do to the people.
Government work might not be one’s dream job. We might not be enjoying a grandiose office in a high-rise building nor be recognized often for our kind efforts. But my Why is that, the greatest fulfillment in this job is when you know that you are able to touch lives and create a significant impact to the nation. I consider the experience as something worthy to look back and reiterate to my grandchildren in my hospital bed years from now.