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Does Your Boss Define Hard Work The Same Way You Do?

A restaurateur and a server. A watch retailer and a tinkerer. A bespoke shop owner and a tailor. We ask all of them about hard work.
IMAGE Jilson Tiu
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EMERSON YAO, 51

Managing director of Lucerne for 25 years.

HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU WORK IN A REGULAR DAY?

I work in a family business, so we don’t really have a fixed work timetable. Some days, work could end at around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Since we are in retail, we work during weekends—or until we get the job done. In the early days, work was spent mostly in the store, attending to the customer. Today, with a larger organization, our time is spent most often in meeting rooms and answering emails until late at night, and even over the weekend.

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BUTCH BAUTISTA, 55

Watch repairman for 30 years, now working in a small kiosk on the sidewalk near the LRT station at Blumentritt.

ON THE SCALE OF ONE TO TEN, HOW GOOD ARE YOU AT WHAT YOU DO?

Hindi naman ako magaling eh… marunong lang ako gumawa. Walang [magaling] eh—hindi natin pwedeng [sabihin] na nandoon na tayo sa [level] nine. Minsan kasi, mayroong mahirap gawin na ‘di mo talaga kaya. Matsa-tsambahan na, ‘yung madaling gawin na iniisip mo, minsan ang tagal mong gawin. Hindi pwedeng magaling. Basta marunong lang ako.

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MARGARITA FORÉS, 57
Chef, restaurateur, and Filipino cuisine advocate; in the food business for 30 years.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?

Eat! Eat, buy books, and travel. [It] enriches my work at the same time. In the end, the work is under my skin. And I think that that’s the thing about working: when the work does not feel like work, you’ve chosen the best profession. And it’s been that way for me for 30 years.

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EMMANUEL MABAO, 37

Server and head bartender at Lusso for seven years; has worked with Chef Margarita Forés for 15 years.

WHAT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT OR STRESSFUL PART OF YOUR JOB?

Lahat din, mahirap. Kasi depende din, sa ibang araw, may mga guest na talagang… ‘di maiiwasan, may mga complaint. Dapat mong alamin kung ano ‘yung sitwasyon, dapat mong alamin kung ano ‘yung gagawin mo sa sitwasyon na ‘yun para ma-comfort mo ‘yung guest. Saka sa service natin, kailangan lagi kayong naka-smile, kahit na sabihin mong nakasimangot na ‘yung guest natin. Talagang may nangyayari na, pag nagkasabay-sabay ‘yung order, masyadong matagal ang paglabas. Ngayon, siyempre, hindi maiwasan na sisimangot ang guest, pero dapat ang ibabalik mo pa rin sa kanila, smile.

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EDIE LIM, 38
Retail buyer and part owner of Signet for three years.

WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOUR WORK IS IMPORTANT TO OTHERS?

I think what we’ve done for the style and fashion industry, for menswear in Manila, is significant. Most of the retail outlets here play safe. You think that people here dress safe— but it’s really just that they don’t have a choice. You just have to [offer] them something different, or something out there that they haven’t seen before.

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LEE CABIDA, 62
Tailor for 45 years, currently a coat maker at Felipe & Sons.

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED OTHER LINES OF WORK?

Noon, nag-try ako sa pagseaman—magkarpintero sana sa barko. Kaso, hindi na ako pinayagan ng misis ko, kasi buntis siya noon. Sayang nga eh. Nakapag-medical na ako, paalis na lang, hindi pa ako pinayagan.

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This is an excerpt from the article "Working Class." You can find the complete version in our April 2017 issue.

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