A JOB THAT WAS: How I Wholeheartedly Treasure My Low-Wage Venture

I AM AMBITIOUS, YES I AM! And my simple yet my greatest dream when I was 17 years old (circa 2002), is to be a Service Crew in a fast food chain while studying. I applied to different companies but unfortunately, I ended up being rejected. Luckily, there was this one company which accepted my application, the KONICA PHOTO EXPRESS. They hired me as a Runner/Customer Service Assistant. This job was in demand during the pre-digital photo era, wherein people can still buy camera films, manually load it in an analog camera, and submit it for printing through photo express hub.

My responsibility there was to take the unprocessed films that were subject for photo printing, from one branch (without developing machine) going to the other branch (with developing machine); waited for the films to be printed, then delivering it back to the branch without the machine for distribution to the customers. Hence, as part of my job, while waiting for the photos to be printed, I needed to accommodate the customers in the hub depending on the type of service they inquired: picture taking and printing of photos in 1”x1”, 2”x2”, 2.5”x2.5”, or Passport sizes; or accepting photo print jobs; or even distributing promotional flyers along the crowded corner of the street.

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This was a photo of me before going to the other branch. I was with our branch manager and two officemates.

Meanwhile, this “Analog Camera” era has answered a lot of questions in my mind like how does a dark room look like (of course it’s dark, as in total blackout because the negative film is sensitive to the exposure of light) – this was the area where we were blindly checking whether the film was loaded correctly in a camera and where we were also loading the film to the SLR camera that we used to take photoshoot. Another one was how the pictures were printed from the film into a photo paper: the unexposed films were being soaked first in a solution through a machine, then once the film became negative, the formed image on the negative was being positioned on the plate where a light beam could stroke it and captured the image from the negative, and exposed it on blank photo papers that were housed in a big cartridge.

This was also the first time I operated an SLR camera used by professional photographers. Moreover than that, I also learned on-the-job, the correct way of taking pictures in different angle for different sizes.

I was only earning Php20.00 per hour during that time (that’s around P160.00 per day for 8 hours; just enough amount to purchase one cup of Tall Starbucks Coffee). They also deducted from my wage, the minutes I incurred as late, including the uniform that I used to perform the job.

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My very first payslip in my entire life from KONICA PHOTO EXPRESS.

On the other hand, this was an opportunity for me to find ways in budgeting money and adding it to my daily expense. Here’s how I did it. Since I was going back and forth for 3 times a day from one branch going to the main branch, they were providing me transportation allowance. To maximize the fare they were giving to me, instead of going to the other branch in two rides, I was able to find a shortcut by just taking one ride with a minimal walking. As a result, I have saved almost 50% of the fare, which I added as part of my daily expense.

With the said compensation, I was able to buy grocery items, alot money for my transportation/food allowance until the next pay period, and contributed at least some amount of money for the household expense. As a bonus (this is what I really love), I was able to purchase my first ever fruit of labor, a new Konica Analog Centuria 10 (Manual) Camera which costed Php699.00.

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My first ever fruit of labor: a new Konica Analog Centuria 10 (Manual) Camera which costed P699.00.

I keep on sharing this story of mine to my students at the start of the class for every semester, so that they could learn something from it. And until today, I always believe and tell myself that life gets tougher as we move up. There is no shortcut to the ladder of success because I know for sure that it is made up of small successes that you need to accomplish along the journey. (AAP)

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About Aleks

Engr. Aleksandre Pates (a.k.a. Aleks or André) is an I.T. Professional and Electronics Engineer by profession, but it didn’t hinder him to enrich his skills and broaden his experience in theater and literary. He is also a College Instructor/Professor, Playwright, Artistic/Creative Director, Singer, Songwriter/Composer, Resource Speaker/Lecturer of Campus Journalism, Editorial Writing, Creative Writing and Leadership Empowerment for Youth. He is a Palanca Awardee, and he was the Editor-In-Chief of The Philippine Artisan (official student publication of TUP-Manila) from 2003-2007. He is a Certified Oracle Partner Expert since 2010, a Certified Harvard Connected Manager, and a member of the prolific playwright organizations in the Philippines, The WritersBloc. He also holds numerous positions in socio-civic and professional organizations like Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines (IECEP – Manila Chapter), FEU Institute of Technology, and De La Salle Araneta University Alumni Association, Inc.
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