Candy is 21 years old with a 4-month old son.
Her boyfriend left her after he found out that Candy was pregnant.
She was finishing up her studies at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines when she conceived, and stopped her studies because of her growing belly and worrying financial future after she found out that she was pregnant.
Her mother was a housewife, and her dad, a construction worker, earning below minimum wages. She had 6 other siblings.
Candy lived in the outskirts of Manila but forced herself to venture out and find a job here in Metro Manila, as it meant a higher salary, despite a longer commute.
The baby was 4 months old when she applied, left at the care of her mother, who still had to care for her siblings, the oldest of which was 18 years old, and the youngest was 7.
It was not easy to be Candy.
I hired her on a probationary basis despite not being a college graduate because I liked her spunk and the fact that she was serious about finding a job to feed her baby.
At four months old, there was the problem of buying disposable diapers and milk formula. A newborn can use up to 8 diapers in a day. Formula milk does not come cheap, so it’s unimaginable what type of financial burden Candy carries at such a young age.
Everyone liked Candy because she was young and had spunk. It takes a lot of guts and desperation to force yourself to work because you have mouths to feed.
Imagine going to work early in the morning, readying yourself for the harrowing Manila commute. Then after work, commuting back.
When you are home, you’re too exhausted and tired to even take care of your own child. Your mom cries she doesn’t have enough money to take care of 6 children plus your baby. Your father’s income isn’t enough to spread around.
Her story of being a single mother is common in the Philippines. Many of our staff assigned to us are single mothers.
Old data dated 2008 from the Philippine Statistics Authority cite that about 38 percent of 1.8 million babies born in the country—or at least 666,000—had unmarried mothers. Based on the number of single mothers coming in interviewing at our office, this ratio is very true. It may even be worse today as most of our women are single parents.
You want to sympathise with them and help them.
But there are just too many of them to help. Their cases too dire to take on.
How can you work and reach your highest potential if you have so many financial burdens to carry around?
When I was 21 years old, I was graduating from university.
At 22 years old, I was in Taipei living my best life. I was working part-time and playing the rest. Sure, I fell in love the first time at 22 years old, but children were the furthest thing on my mind.
I found a stable job in my early 20s.
Went overseas. Had tons of fun. Traveled.
No worries or problems.
I was paid the highest I’ve ever been paid in my life at 28 years old. The salary I made was more than 20x than what Candy earned.
Kids are a blessing.
But they are burdens too.
And it’s tragic when women have to carry the burden alone.
I am happy I hired Candy. It’s one single mother off the streets. Hopefully if she worked hard, she can provide a better future for her son.
But today, Candy didn’t show up to work.
No inform, no nothing.
Just didn’t show up.
When we called her, her phone was unattended.
Tragically, Candy has become another statistic. Unfairly burdened by life, another cycle that never ends.
And yet, I hope.
I continue to hire single mothers in the hope that one would rise up and actually find a stable job. I cannot control the way they think or do things. All I can do is hope.
Hope is all I have.
This is the story of Candy.
And this is my story too — My frustration of hiring so many Candys, only to find myself frustrated because all the Candies can’t manage to get their life together.
This is how managing people in the Philippines can be like.
Sometimes, life is good.
Sometimes, life can be challenging like today.
Have a great week everyone!