In this podcast, Derek is joined by Angie Alesco, a BPO worker who shared her story of grit, energy, and commitment. Angie’s story is common here in the Philippines and she symbolizes the energy of the Filipino people.
- Angie shares that she is the sole provider for her family which includes her parents, three children, and a niece.
- She juggled two jobs just to provide for her family and put her three children through school.
- After working as a government employee and a nurse, she then ventured into the BPO industry after her friends told her about outsourcing opportunities and benefits.
- Working now in the BPO industry, Angie shares that she is earning more now and has a lot more rest compared to when she was still working two jobs at the same time.
- She shares that she has more peace of mind working in the BPO space because she and her family are covered by health insurance.
- Angie’s story of juggling two works at the same time to provide for the family is common among Filipinos.
- Working in the BPO space has more benefits for their employees such as higher salary, paid vacations in a year, and health insurance for the employee and the family.
- A mother’s love is unconditional.
- Outsourcing opportunities are taking the Philippines by storm, but its growth is stunted by lack of awareness of Filipinos and slow internet service in the country.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode 81. Today, I am joined by Angie Alesco. Angie is now a friend of mine. We’ve known each other for some time now and we met through a mutual friend. I am inspired and I was amazed when I first heard Angie’s story of grit, energy, and commitment. I think I work hard, but then when you hear quite how hard Angie works and just brushes it off, I’m really inspired to actually do a few more hours work today.
Angie is a proud Filipina and I think Angie’s energy symbolizes the energy of this country. There’s quite a lot of hardship in this country and I’m just inspired and in awe of her efforts. I hope that I have done her story justice by my presenting it and my question asking. I suppose that’s interview skills if I could speak that. I hope you enjoy this. I certainly am inspired by her story and I hope that that comes through and you enjoy also.
If you want to get in touch with Angie, if you want any of the show notes, then please do. You will find those at outsourceaccelerator.com/81. Enjoy.
Derek: Today, we’re joined by Angie Alesco. Hi, Angie.
Derek: I want to have a chat with Angie and just share Angie’s story because when I first met Angie and heard your story, I had nothing but admiration and super inspired by what I think is your endless energy and motivation. I don’t know how you do it and it’s something that as you tell the story, I think it’s something that few of us in the west could really relate to, certainly on a personal level. Just set the scene for me, Angie. You were a sole income earner of your family.
Angie: Yes. I was a sole income earner for a family of probably six, my mom and dad, my three kids who are all in uni and my niece sometimes. I was a sole provider for everyone.
Derek: Is that, just to give a bit of context, is that normal? The Philippines is quite community based, yeah?
Angie: Yeah, it is. Yes, we’re what we call a close-knit family, so even at the age of 45, I would still stay with my parents with my kids. Even if I had them, I stay with them. I also have that ob- it’s part obligation and love for my family to stay there and support everybody.
Derek: So the family unit is super strong and there are huge amounts of benefits to that, yeah? You were then staying within your parents’ home with your three children, which is fantastic, but then you found yourself in a position of being the sole income earner for that entire unit, yeah?
Angie: Yeah. Well, one, my dad was already retired at that time. He is no longer working. they are getting government pensions, but that wasn’t enough. It was about P2,000 in a month, but that’s not enough just to keep for their medications and I have three kids going to uni that I have to support, costing me probably P120k twice in a year, and so that’s how it was.
Derek: Right, right.
Angie: And then of course allowances, food at the house, it’s okay…
Derek: How do you feel? Was this sort of life is normal or was this a like a financial crisis? Were you freaking out or is this just life?
Angie: I wouldn’t say freaking out, but I was thinking like I swore to myself that I would do everything to have my kids put to school, so no one would be stopping even if my parents were saying, “One should stop or two should stop so that one can finish ahead of them. You won’t be working yourself too hard,” but I wouldn’t like to do that. I wouldn’t want to break the drive of the kids. If they stopped for one year or just a couple of months, you’ll lose the drive to study.
Derek: Of course the love of your children, it’s an international thing, isn’t it, but you are facing putting these three children through university and then also supporting your parents.
Derek: Amazing. What did you do for that? You have a full-time job. Most have full-time jobs. What were you doing during the day?
Angie: Yes. I had two jobs at that time. I used to work with the tax agency in the Philippines which we call as Bureau of Internal Revenue. I worked in the morning until 5 PM and on my travel, that’s where I would be taking a nap and get to my next job. I’m actually a nurse so believe it or not, I start from 10 PM until 6AM. I would have friends still call me as “the girl who doesn’t rest,” in which we call as “babaeng walang pahinga.” That’s what they called me before, but I didn’t mind. It’s not I don’t mind…
Derek: So you’re working a 9-hour job with the BIR, which is the government body for inland revenue and then you were commuting to your next job and then working as…
Angie: As a nurse.
Derek: As a nurse in a sort of 8, 9-hour night shift, yeah?
Derek: Wow. When did you start working your first job or what time in the morning?
Angie: 8 AM.
Derek: And then what time did you finish your nursing job?
Angie: Nursing job?
Angie: 6 AM.
Derek: Wow. You literally slept on your commutes back to the office and then back to the hospital?
Angie: Yes, that’s how I lived for a couple of years of my life.
Derek: How long exactly were you doing this?
Angie: Probably with the nurse and the tax agency work for about three years that I started to feel the toil in my body doing two works in a day.
Derek: You were doing this five days a week each job?
Angie: Seven days a week you could say with the nurse job. With the tax agency work, sometimes six days because I still do overtime for them too.
Derek: How were you feeling? What levels of exhaustion were you dealing with?
Angie: Well, I don’t know. You could probably say, I cannot feel that exhaustion. I have to work. It’s that I have no choice. If I don’t work, the kids won’t get to school. My family won’t have any food to eat, so I have to do it.
Derek: Could you think clearly? Were you…?
Angie: Yeah, I could think clearly, but then it was hard because I cannot have any mistakes in life. That’s in a turning point in my life that I really cannot think any mistakes.
Derek: Amazing. Okay. I cleared this with you before, so can you give us a little bit of insight into what you’re earning? What were you earning at the government position?
Angie: I was earning P12,000 at that time in a month.
Derek: And that is around about $250-$300 a month.
Angie: Yeah, I believe so.
Derek: What were you earning in the nursing job?
Angie: I was earning about P7,500 in a month.
Derek: P7,500 yeah?
Angie: Yes, P7,500.
Derek: Which is, that’s about $160, $170. You were working about 16-20 hours a day for three years and you were earning about $400 per month.
Derek: Amazing, yeah? I just have sort of absolute admiration for you. So the next stage, you did that for three years, which I find absolutely incredible, and then you moved on. You got a new job. What was the new job?
Angie: Oh, I tried BPO or the call center because a lot of my friends will say, “You’re doing two jobs in a day when you can earn what you’re earning in a day in a call center.” So, I did that one,
Derek: You were working these two jobs 20 hours a day and you were earning around about P20,000 per month, which is about the $450. So you went and got a job in the BPO and what were you doing? What was the role?
Angie: I started from customer service and then shifted to being a fraud analyst.
Derek: Okay. What were you earning there?
Angie: I was earning around P25,000 in a month.
Derek: You were earning for one full time job within outsourcing. You had jumped from P20,000 for two jobs to P25,000 per month for the one job, yeah?
Derek: Incredible. Were you amazed by that that outsourcing was suddenly this jump up for doing…?
Angie: Yeah. It was in a lot of ways, a better opportunity for me, 1) I’ve earned an additional P5,000. 2) I’ve always worried about my kids getting sick and me getting sick, so the kids had a medical insurance as well as me.
Sometime back in 1998, I had to be rushed to the hospital. I didn’t have the money to get my gallbladder removed, so I had to put that on hold. I thought about it. I cannot get sick. I need a health card for my kids and myself for when that happens, at least I’ve got that backed up, and that was a relief that the outsourcing or offshoring have done to my life.
Derek: Not only you had a bump in increases but your original two jobs, they didn’t offer you any health insurance.
Angie: No, they don’t. You can. We have the Philhealth or the Medicare, but it’s not, it’s a very basic Medicare. You still would need to shell out at least 80% of the cost.
Derek: This is amazing. You would have normally got your gallbladder out if you could afford it. What did you do instead? You just took antibiotics?
Angie: No, I was recommended to have it taken out, but I had to put it on hold so I’ve been doing, not antibiotics, like herbal, not really herbal, just there were studies of drinking apple juice every day.
Derek: That must make you worry, yeah, because you’re the sole income earner, you need to be at work, and you can’t be sick.
Angie: No, I can’t.
Derek: Wow. So, you got to the BPO. You then have health insurance. You’re then earning about P25,000, which is about $500 per month for working full time, but you didn’t just stop there. What did you do?
Angie: I still worked 16-20 hours in a day. We had the shift like what we call as 4×12. I shouldn’t be working 11 hours but I would work 16 hours for an additional five hours overtime.
Derek: Okay, so you were working in a place where they had the teams work 12-hour shifts, four days a week, which is the 48 hours effectively, but you weren’t just leaving it there. You were doing extra five hours.
Angie: Yes, extra five hours and then the remaining three days would still be overtime.
Derek: So you were working seven days a week, 16 hours a day?
Derek: Incredible. How long were you doing that for?
Angie: Well, probably three, four years of my life.
Derek: Wow. Where did you sleep there? Was that the commute or did you manage…?
Angie: Well, I still get to sleep that time, more this time either at the sleeping quarters that the office have.
Derek: Because again BPOs, they provide bed facilities so you can sleep on site.
Angie: Yeah, I can sleep there if I wanted to or sleep at home, but most of the time, it would just two, three hours probably and then prepare again.
Derek: Wow. So that was about six, seven year journey. How often in those six, seven years would you get an eight-hour undisturbed sleep?
Angie: I can’t remember. Oh yeah, probably I had 15 days in a year because we are required to have a vacation leave, a holiday, and that vacation leave cannot be canceled. I cannot work on overtime so I had no choice but to do it. I’m forced to rest.
Derek: I’m surprised you didn’t go and get another part-time job.
Angie: I actually did sometimes. It depends because I am still on call at that time to take care of critical care patients, so whenever I would tell my supervisors that I won’t be taking overtime today because I’m no vacation leave,” they will let me and they would be applauding me. “Good, now you rest,” because they know I’m always there.
Derek: Wow, incredible. So you’re a critical care nurse and then you went into this BPO and you went into effect the new skill set, a new area, but then you built up seniority as well. You were pretty effective person. What role were you doing?
Angie: Again, with what role in the…?
Derek: With your outsourcing. Yeah, you were doing?
Angie: I was with the fraud analyst. I used to be like, I said, I was in the customer service. Being a fraud analyst would be a promotion or a higher category or work, so we would be engaged in making sure that clients who uses credit cards would not be getting charges that they didn’t get, they didn’t make, something like that and make sure that their card would be working when they need it.
Derek: Amazing. Your story, I’m amazed by it, but is it common? Is it unusual? You work a lot of hours. I can’t imagine most people do that, but do you come across this a bit?
Angie: Yeah. Actually, I still have some friends you will say like the “overtimers” that I still see when I look at Facebook that they would do overtime. I think a girl, two, three friends of mine have about four kids of their own and they are doing overtime with me the same time. They were on the 8-5 shift and then from 7-12 to do overtime.
Angie: We’re a lot. There’s a lot of people like us. It’s, well, I guess the main thing there is we’re mothers. We’re a daughter. That’s it.
Derek: Incredible, huh?
Angie: That’s our focus.
Derek: Just to give people an insight, when you were this fraud specialist, the fraud analyst specialist and worked up to a senior position, you were working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. So your base pay was P25,000, but what were you earning with all of that work then?
Angie: I think I went up to P50,000-P60,000 in a month.
Derek: Right, which is about $1,200 kind of thing?
Derek: How is that? That’s kind of big bucks then? I mean, it’s big bucks, but you’re working a lot in a day.
Angie: Actually, it’s still not enough, sad to say.
Angie: Well, I had three kids in uni so it was really not enough.
Derek: How were you feeling then? Were you under pressure, were you just doing your work?
Angie: No, it’s not, because back when I was still working with the tax agency, I have loans left and right, a loan for this one, a loan for this one. I would renew this educational loan this year then the other loaning government agency next year. They would be interchanging each other to help me.
Derek: Right, so juggling a lot of loans just to…
Angie: Yeah, but unlike with this one now when I worked in a call center, it’s just one agency that helped us if I needed a big bulk to pay the tuition. It’s not tedious. It’s not that hard because when I was working with the tax agency, believe it or not, the money that I take home at that time was around two P5,000 in a month, every mid-month, so it’s not enough.
Derek: Right. Sorry, about P5,000?
Angie: P4,000-P5,000 in mid-month or let’s say P10,000 in a month. That’s what’s left with me.
Derek: Okay. So that’s about $200.
Angie: Yeah. When I was in the call center business, at least I have like, more money to spend. I wouldn’t have to worry. At least a major part, let’s say 70% of my expenses have been taken care of. I have 30% to allot for the allowance that I still need to.
Derek: Yeah which despite working your 16 hours a day, seven days a work, you then started to have a bit of a safety net for back up.
Derek: Tell me the result of all this, your children, did they think you’re the best mom in the world?
Angie: I believe so, even my friends.
Derek: Are they aware of what you go through for them?
Angie: Yeah they do.
Derek: Are they aware of your undying love and commitment to them.
Angie: Yeah because I would often, before when the kids would need something in school, they would say, “Mom, when you have an extra, can you buy me this?” They know when they have to juggle with the funds. It was hard at times. We would have times before that every Sunday, we would go to church and have a barbeque.
Derek: Yeah, they must have cherished their time with you.
Angie: Yeah, most of it.
Derek: Just one final question then, Angie. You’re a highly skilled person. You working for the BIR which is the government kind of taxation department and you were a nurse working in critical care and then you’re also a fraud analyst in your BPO days, why didn’t you go and get a job on, there’s now a lot of outsourcing contract work on these things like Upwork and Freelancer?
Angie: I never heard of it really. If not for a few friends telling me, “There’s this thing. There’s a friend of ours doing this thing now.” “Oh really, how does she do it?” “Well, you need to have a high speed internet.” “Oh, okay.” Tick that out.
Derek: Right, right. Well, it’s amazing. I mean, it’s taking the Philippines by storm. Outsourcing is big but only employee is 1 million which is a big number but compared to 100 million in the country, it’s still…
Derek: The awareness isn’t great, but then there’s also a bit of a hurdle in terms of access to internet.
Angie: That’s true.
Derek: Interesting. Thank you, Angie.
Angie: Thank you.
Derek: Okay, that was Angie Alesco. I’m sure you’ll agree that that lady has a lot of energy and just amazing how she kind of brushes off the amount of work over seven years that she has done. She has successfully raised three kids, which is amazing putting them through university and also cared for her parents and supported her parents, which is incredible. It’s not an uncommon story in the Philippines. I’m just absolutely in awe of the energy here.
If you want to get in touch with Angie then please do. You will find her contact details at outsourceaccelerator.com./81 and if you want to ask us anything then please drop us an email. That is at [email protected].