callwork, a call center life by hazel manzano

Posted on October 11, 2009


See, whining is useful!

“Most of her comics are centered on the agent’s perspective. It is a good resource because it shows what the bigger population is thinking. All are true and though it is presented as being humorous, it is being used by management as basis to improve processes and employee satisfaction in the centers.” –

callworkNgii! Isn’t this a nice way of saying the comics writer let the cat, so many cats, out of the bag? Did the call center life become easier—or more difficult, now that the cat owners can’t get away with certain things as easily as before?

From training stage to call center operations like average handling times, from dealing with irate agents to office affairs, from night shift issues to absenteeism, from demotivation among agents to call center gimiks, from call center angsts to managers’ bad habits, this comics seems to have covered the most important concerns of call center employees today.

Written with wry wit, Callwork presents us with the inside jokes in the call center industry, helping us  understand better the culture that is helping drive the Philippine’s economy forward. So help us, despite all that you will read here, this culture has a major role in whether we sink further in the muck, or rise like the Philippine eagle.

The drawings are as if done by a high school girl, but better composed, and are inspired by real people and situations from the cartoonist’s years in the industry. The childish drawings actually highlight the workplace environment the management of many call centers is said to practice: acting like petty tyrants, treating agents as if they were unruly kids instead of the professionals that they are (or should be). In fairness, sobrang pinakita din ang mga kalokohan ng mga agents (agents’ foibles and fumbles are also spotlighted).

Though not an agent, I am in the BPO industry, and can relate to that life. I have encountered many of these issues, told to me over cups of coffee, or tears of frustration triggered by bottles of SanMig Light. Though not an agent, I am as easily vulnerable to the fact that, as an employee, I am just a cog in a machine, easily replaced, easily lost. And this is why I appreciate this work, on top of the obvious appeal, the ka-kwelahan (riotous humor) and light reading material.

Where indifference is the status quo and where connections or office politics allow rusty cogs to remain, silence is often the slow-acting acid eventually killing the machine. Loud and funny, Callwork is a fast-acting neutralizer. Who knows, seeing ourselves cartoonized, pretensions stripped, true lines revealed, could wake us up into looking into the mirror, to see someone who can still make a difference, by treating our jobs like the blessing that they are, deserving our full commitment, not derision.

I believe that we can only succeed to put ourselves down if we only have contempt for what we do. Do something to make our job life better—or get the hell out, is what I think.

English translations can be found on the author’s blogsite.

Posted in: filipino, graphic