OTJ: Everyone’s Dark Thoughts in a Filipino Film

There have been times when I feel the urge to write something about the criminals in the news. While I neither condone nor even sympathize with fallen menaces of the society, I always have these thoughts that there is an interesting story behind each crime. However dark it may sound but that thought lingers as I sit on our comfy sofa while the TV shows activity inside the yellow ‘Police Do Not Cross’ line.

What sets the precedence behind a hit? What are the motives? Who are these people caught in a blur by CCTV cameras? How do they live their lives? Or do they have one?  Are they really as calloused as the media portrays them to be? I have so many questions, everything left unanswered, every bit an element of a good story waiting to be told. But as I strain myself to compose and gather the loose ends, someone has beaten me into it. And I willingly concede, it’s no contest.

Eric Matti had it on film. His latest movie On The Job or simply shortened as OTJ was spot on. It has the plot that I wish in a thousand years I would be able to form myself.  Its raw settings and the powerful cast—who played various roles from a lowly jail guard, struggling police officers, gun for hires and intel authorities under a system of deceit and corrupt politics—justified the release of an action film that finally gives everyone a break from the boring Filipino love stories and lousy comedy movies.

The film’s sound reproduction could have been better though. It would have been more striking if the gunshots were as loud and if the other effects sounded clearer. But other than this I have nothing more against it. Eric Matti got my respect. Wifey and I had a great movie date.

OTJ is said to be based on actual events and I bet that nobody who tunes in daily to the news will ever doubt it. The movie fills in the missing pieces of what we already know. OTJ has everyone’s dark thoughts (and paranoia) coming from watching the evening news combined into one great Filipino film. It shows us that in the midst of It’s More Fun In The Philippines campaign and the continuing economic development is an underground world that we all wish does not exist. We can all be in denial and dismiss everything as fiction but until such time corruption in the government prevails and crime rate stays steady, the fact remains that there are protégés out there learning on the job. And no one knows when, where, and who they will hit soon.


Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I smell leftover kare-kare.)

D-Day: Job Interview

“Those who failed to prepare, should be prepared to fail.”  By coincidence, these words popped out on the noontime TV game show that my wife was watching yesterday–a day after my doomed job interview.

The new job adventure started out of curiosity and boredom one good Sunday morning while browsing through the newspapers. The ad states: “40minutes pre-qualifying assessment.” It’s from a call center agency.

It was this year when I started hearing all about this job. Based on the news, it has been the hope of most people seeking local employment as they say that most Filipinos are still speaking fluent English than its Asian neighbors—at least for now.

But just like any other things, there is a good side and bad side of it. The good: it is high paying. The bad: it is routine, and so therefore I conclude as boring.

Being optimistic, however, the good part attracted me into it immediately even if I know deep inside that I am not the type of person who can handle phone calls easily, not to mention receiving complaints from the other end of the line. It would be like challenging me to answer my own complaints over the phone.

Anyway, on that lazy Sunday, I took the 40-minute assessment both over the phone and online. Proudly, I aced it. From that moment on, it felt like I could be on my way to a call center job. A couple of days later I received a call telling me of the scheduled interview—it’s a week later.

D-day came and, with my wife, I went on early to the place as instructed but things started getting topsy turvy.

Firstly, we took the wrong way. We were supposed to take the shorter route but got stuck in traffic thus missing the exit. Despite this, my spirit remained high.

Next, a traffic enforcer flagged us down and said that I just did a swerving violation. At this point I was praying to God to show me a sign that this job interview is still for me. Lo and behold, the enforcer gave me a verbal reprimand and let us go in a jiffy.

Soon after, we reached our destiny ahead of time–at least, we thought so. We were already sitting in a pizza restaurant and waiting for our orders, when my wife asked if I am sure that we are in the right place.

To confirm, I checked the notepad in my portfolio and scribbled on it is another address. Damn. I can almost remember the Amazing Race’s desperate scenes on TV. Once we got our orders, we had it packed to go and headed straight to the parking lot and to the right place. By this time, I was almost giving up.

But again, I prayed that if it this is for me, then I should expect to still arrive on time and luckily, there are still good people around who helped us find our way. My hopes got back up.

Thirty minutes ahead of the scheduled interview, we arrived at the office. I skipped lunch, had coffee and Smints instead.

My wife left me with seven other applicants (she waited and kept herself occupied in the mall). To my surprise,  I soon learned that there will be further exams prior to the interview proper. So with empty stomach but with full spirit, I took it.The timed exams were actually easy. Most of it were English proficiency and a little math.

The interview happened and then the unexpected question came. “How do you deal with difficult people?” If there was a camera inside that room, I knew, one would find me almost sweating just to answer it. It was not my forte. I wasn’t prepared to answer.

“Don’t call us, we’ll call you” was the last line I heard. And I have read that whenever it is mentioned after an interview, one can actually expect no call at all. I blew it.

Although I still have my current job, this event tells me things I need to know. It’s been 10 years since I have applied for one and got accepted, and it may have given me the false confidence that I pass this one again. And I was wrong. Next time, I’ll come prepared.

Driving home, I ate the lunch I missed–the Charlie Chan pasta. I was disappointed but not really down. I still got my job, still got my wife. I was humbled.