Poor Boss Juan


“Kayo ang boss ko, kaya’t hindi maaaring hindi ako makinig sa mga utos ninyo.” – President BS Aquino III*

Poor boss Juan. Noynoy hasn’t been heeding him lately. In addition to his increasing recalcitrance and adamant refusal to apologize, Noynoy also seems not to have noticed how Juan has been getting along. Well, Mr. President, while you’ve been dodging various allegations from hypocrisy to treason, your boss Juan dela Cruz has been struggling to get by.

The recent P15 wage hike was meant to cheer Juan, but it hardly made a dent in his flinty demeanor. Yes, the daily minimum wage is now up to P481 from P466, but the labor sector found the meagre  increase “insulting and disrespectful” and merely “pampalubag loob.” What will an additional P15 do when the daily “estimated family living wage” for a brood of six is P1,088, according to the IBON Foundation?[1]

Back in the heady days of 2010, PNoy said at his inauguration, “Sa tulong ng wastong pamamahala sa mga darating na taon, maiibsan din ang marami nating problema. Ang tadhana ng Pilipino ay babalik sa tamang kalagayan, na sa bawat taon pabawas ng pabawas ang problema ng Pinoy na nagsusumikap at may kasiguruhan sila na magiging tuloy-tuloy na ang pagbuti ng kanilang sitwasyon.”[2]

Juan took him at his word, and hoped. But the challenges haven’t decreased, as promised; for many, they have increased.

The Social Weather Stations recently reported in their Fourth Quarter 2014 survey that 27.0% of adults nationwide are jobless. That’s an estimated 12.4 million adults, quite a lot of unemployed Juans. The SWS report adds:

This is 4.1 points above the 22.9% (est. 10.4 million adults) in September 2014. This brings the 2014 annual average to 25.4%, or close to the 2013 annual average of 25.2%.

Joblessness was at a record-high 34.4% in March 2012. It has since then been between 21.7% and 29.4%.[3]

For the Juans who have a job, getting to it daily is like running the gauntlet. In Metro Manila, traffic is hell on earth. Juan usually gets up at or before dawn but finds the sun high in the sky when he arrives at work. The MRT fare increase has exacerbated Juan’s woes, and the constant disrepair of the trains causes a daily dilemma, not to mention a safety hazard.

The impending power crisis is another problem. If the Senate has its way, Juan will carry the cost of the uninterruptible load program. Never mind that we’re talking only centavos per kilowatt hour; it will still be centavos less for Juan. Isn’t he entitled to spend those funds on little luxuries for himself and his family instead – a halo-halo or samalamig to stave off the heat, perhaps? a small trip to the airconditioned mall? Doesn’t Juan deserve to enjoy what he earns instead of constantly parting with his income to make up for government misplanning and inefficiency?

And there is now talk of the proposed privatization of the motor vehicle emission testing centers to prevent the rampant fraud now occurring nationwide. (The LTO insists that this is just a proposal, so I am careful to say so too.) This move will potentially increase the cost of the emission test of private vehicles from P350 to P2500, but do not guarantee the eradication of corruption at this level.

Where is the ideal presented to Juan five years ago, the oasis Noynoy said was within reach? Juan sighted it from a distance and thought it a mirage; Noynoy said it was real and indicated the “straight path” that led there. Eyes a-shimmer, Juan said “lead, Noy, and we will follow.” Why is Juan now seemingly on his own?

Noynoy also said at his inauguration: “To those who are talking about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice.  Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala, sinisigurado mong mauulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito.”[4]

This is probably Juan’s biggest issue with his star employee today. There is a clarion call for justice ringing throughout the land, a call that resonates through the Palace halls and penetrates the very character of President BS Aquino. Poor, disillusioned boss Juan has distanced himself from Noynoy and is calling him to account for Mamasapano. After all, as Noy himself said, there can be no reconciliation without justice.

Even so, not all Juans are out for his head. Many only demand that he bow his head in humility and commiseration and empathy because once – it seems aeons ago now – once, he made them believe it was his style to do so and because of that, they thought him a class act. Once, they put their faith in him; once, they trusted his words. But no longer.

Noynoy ended his inaugural address by saying,“Hindi ko makakayang harapin ang aking mga magulang, at kayong mga nagdala sa akin sa yugto ng buhay kong ito, kung hindi ko maisasakatuparan ang aking mga binitawang salita sa araw na ito. …Layunin ko na sa pagbaba ko sa katungkulan, masasabi ng lahat na malayo na ang narating natin sa pagtahak ng tuwid na landas at mas maganda na ang kinabukasang ipapamana natin sa susunod na henerasyon.”[5]

This is an aspiration poor boss Juan shares. And this is the torch he carries: that his employee Noynoy will somehow remember his mandate and find his path; that he will recover his wits before it is too late; that he will forget his dreams of prizes and posterity and instead attend to the plight of his bosses; and that he will recall he is President and lead! Juan expects that in June 2016, life will be easier, the load lighter, and that there will indeed be a bright future in store for the next generation. Juan longs with ineffable hope and an aching yen for that day.

I know. I am Juan.

*You are the boss so I cannot ignore your orders. 

[1] “P15-wage increase meaningless amid rising cost of living,” IBON News, March 18, 2015 (http://www.ibon.org/ibon_articles.php?id=473)

[2] “Through good governance in the coming years, we will lessen our problems. The destiny of the Filipino will return to its rightful place, and as each year passes, the Filipino’s problems will continue to lessen with the assurance of progress in their lives.”


[3] The Fourth Quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey, fielded over November 27-December 1, 2014, Social Weather Stations (http://www.sws.org.ph/)

[4] “To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again.”


[5] “I will not be able to face my parents and you who have brought me here if do not fulfill the promises I made…My hope is that when I leave office, everyone can say that we have traveled far on the right path, and that we are able to bequeath a better future to the next generation.”


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