A hero is a person who can make a positive difference in the lives of his or her loved ones, co-workers, customers and the community at large. In the Philippines, there are thousands of such heroes—and they don’t even need to leave the country, according to the country’s largest private employer, Convergys.
The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry continues to grow. As a result, a million Filipinos now enjoy rewarding jobs and rising careers within the country while they contribute to the nation’s economy and help in improving quality of life.
As we celebrate National Heroes’ Day, we find examples of five modern-day Filipino heroes—diverse BPO employees who inspire with their exemplary stories of bringing positive change to others’ lives as well as their own.
Mikee Malig, 25, was a sophomore at UP Diliman when his studies were disrupted by family and livelihood misfortune.
With their finances in disarray and his mother’s health worsening, he was the only one left to support the family. Mikee quit school, but found work as a call center agent.
“As the eldest, I took responsibility. When Mama got sick, I knew I had to step up,” he explained.
His earnings, first as an agent and then as team leader, enabled Mikee to care for his mother’s treatment while putting his brother through school. Thankfully, his mother’s health improved, and his brother earned a scholarship, also in UP Diliman.
Mikee also resumed his studies, benefiting from Convergys’ educational assistance program and now just 18 units shy of graduating—all the while excelling in his work.
Successfully managing his own team and delivering outstanding performance since he joined the company, Mikee for several times was named top team leader in the Convergys MDC 100 site in Quezon City, becoming one of the “Best of the Best” in his program.
“I couldn’t have accomplished this on my own. My family inspires me and my supervisors and colleagues have always been supportive and understanding,” he shared.
Mikee always sees the silver lining in every dark cloud. “Your situation might not be what you wanted, but it is what you have now. Just turn the equation around.”
Maria Theresa “Peachy” Ong Sichon was a registered nurse working in a US hospital when the US financial crisis struck in 2007. As opportunities declined, she found herself on a plane back to Bacolod, wondering how she would provide for her two daughters.
This was yet another one of life’s U-turns for Peachy, who had recovered from a failed marriage and tried her hand at entrepreneurship before taking up nursing which, in the early 2000s, seemed like the key to a better future.
“I was considering what to do next when I heard that Convergys was opening here in Bacolod,” Peachy recalled. “So, I gave it a try, and the rest is history.”
From starting out as an agent in 2008, Peachy consistently grew in leadership. She is now an operations manager and program head of an almost 150-member team.
“I believe the drive to succeed is greater when your inspiration is your children. It’s important that I set a good example,” Peachy shared. “I’m proud of how responsible my children have become and the efforts they make to help out in their own way. My eldest daughter was a scholar throughout her college life in the University of St. La Salle. She also joined the Convergys recruitment team so she is now helping share the job opportunities to others.”
Peachy and her daughters indeed found greener pastures and are touching lives in the process, right at home in Bacolod.
An indomitable spirit
Commuters taking the Sta. Rosa, Laguna-Alabang route every day might have encountered a bespectacled lady, usually with a ponytail and a sunny smile. She would carry herself with a dignified bearing, helped along by a walking cane in her hand. She is Mildred dela Cruz, a mother, widow, and top-performing agent at Convergys Alabang.
Mildred was only about a year old when she was stricken with polio.
“As a little girl, I felt a pinch in my heart when people looked at me with pity or curiosity. But my parents told me not to mind it. They told me, ‘Mildred, when they get to know you, they would appreciate what you can do,’” she shared.
Indeed, she has shown the world what she can do. In the late 1980s to 1990s, Mildred was in the civilian staff of the Armed Forces where her work included writing speeches for the chief of staff.
She moved on to corporate work afterwards and found the love of her life—Levy—with whom she shared many similarities. They were both left-handed, born only a month apart, and he, too, had been stricken with polio as a child. In 1996, the couple was blessed with a healthy baby boy.
Joining Convergys was actually her husband’s idea. He told Mildred about a great place for her to work that was closer to home.
“He even picked my outfit for my job interview and drove me there, making sure I was early,” Mildred reminisced.
Five months after she started work at Convergys, she got a phone call at the office. Her husband succumbed to a heart attack.
“Needless to say, I was devastated.”
Slowly she picked up the pieces, all the while continuing work and transitioning to the life of a single mother. Her son, now 18 years old, keeps her going.
“He’s the living memento of my husband. I tell him that ‘even if I have to crawl on the ground to support you, I would do it.’”
“It helps a lot that at work, it feels like you’re part of a family,” she said. “This is what’s good about the company. We don’t discriminate against physical abilities, age, appearance or orientation. What we see is your ability to do the job well.”
Mildred diligently comes to work each day and is a high-performing agent. Her advice to those facing life’s challenges—“never give up.”