I woke up two hours earlier of my everyday schedule today. I need to arrive at my destination two hours before my official working time. My destination is the Lawton, Manila branch office of the Social Security System (SSS). I have to make a little sacrifice of waking up early to submit my salary loan application. It might be different in other countries, but here in the Philippines, we are allowed to apply for loans out of our Social Security contributions.
I arrived at the branch office at 7:24 am. I got a queue number, which read that I am the 23rd client to be accommodated. The queue machine reads that the teller is still serving the 8th client. This only meant that I have to wait for hours, considering the fact that there is only one teller attending to all the early clients.
While I was sitting and quietly waiting for my turn, I observed the different people who come and go the branch office. Each of us is coming from different places, professions and walks of life. As I was observing the people, my attention was caught on the section that processes claims for Sickness, Death and Retirement. I became more observant on the clients, who were likewise patiently waiting for their turn. The picture of the situation gave me some realizations.
The clients in the Sickness, Death and Retirement section are living testaments of the thousands rank and file employees in the country. After years of waking up early, reporting for work everyday, rushing to take the public transportation, dealing with demanding bosses and uncooperative coworkers, rendering unpaid overtime, getting tax deductions from a meager income, praying it would already be payday, lining up to the long pile of people on ATM machines; one would likewise end up filling out forms, gathering documents, seeking signatures from previous employers, taking the public transportation, waiting in line with other people, and praying to have processed and accepted papers. All in all, these long and tedious processes will hopefully provide a limited monetary support.
The more distressing of this situation is the minimal amount of retirement or sickness benefit which an employee will receive. After taking time and effort to submit and process your papers, the money is not really enough to recover expenses from sickness, support life after employment and reimburse death related expenses.
I may sound harsh, bitter and too pessimistic. However, my sentiments further intensified when I saw those elderly people patiently waiting for their turn. I felt pity, depression and to some extent hopelessness from the government.
I felt depressed because the situation clearly depicted to me one of the painful faces of life’s reality. A little comfort or just a minor financial support (which you have worked for years) always demands a certain level of effort and sacrifice.
I pity the elderly people, who have devoted half of their lives for working, and yet they still has to endure the burden of securing requirements, processing papers, waiting on long lines, and praying that the entire process will turn out fine.
I also felt a form of hopelessness from the government. As I have personally observed, the existence of the Social Security System is the nearest and decent assistance, which the government could provide for the rank and file employees, who have worked hard and are now constrained by the limits of time and age.
I am not demanding an immediate and drastic action from the government. However, I cannot discount the fact that the government can contribute in different ways to improve the welfare of every ordinary rank and file employee.
Rank and file employees also deserve actions and programs from the government. After all the tax deductions and service they have rendered for the country, they also have the right to become part of the government’s vision and advocacies.
At around 8:10 am, my number was finally called. It’s now my turn to submit my loan application form. I was hoping that everything will turn out fine. However, the teller told me that my employer’s authorized representative’s specimen signature had already expired. I was asked to get an ISL 501 form and forward it to my employer. I was told that my papers will be processed only when my employer submits updated specimen signatures. I went back to the office to report for work and informed the concerned office. Don’t anymore ask me what happened. I just gained two reasons to become disappointed in just one hour. So I thought that those applicants under the Retirement, Sickness and Death sections were the only pitiful rank and file employees in the country. Frankly, not really!