The Grey Chronicles


I Came, I Saw, I’m a Millionaire

When they came to the Philippines, several expats were offered salaries beyond their wildest imagination. Here are few examples of what they were hired to do:

One former quality inspector in the Middle East was hired as a manager in one of the production department. His job is so crucial that what he does is just roam around the plant and report those that are sleeping on the job. He did only find three out of almost two thousand personnel. He once admonished another supervisor, hired by the Liquidator [meaning another company], to report to the expat’s boss after the supervisor displayed a news clipping for the benefit of the supervisor’s crew. The expat claimed that it is forbidden to display such news clipping on the plant premises due to its confidential nature!

Another was hired to resuscitate the Plate Mill operations. After four years of roaming around, conversing with people, browsing and chatting on the internet, emailing three teary-eyed goodbye letters to most Lotus users, went home to India a millionaire.

One department head, this one still on the rolls, apparently enjoys being here! His job is very peculiar: testing the resolution of the weighing scale every morning for the last two years! Also, he walks around the plant sporting a sock-with-slippers! He was also assigned to do a revision in one of the mills’ equipment but after delays in actual filed measurements, ocular inspection of the equipment for revision, insisting on quality maintenance activity . . . nothing came of this plan. So, he reverted to what he does best: weighing scale third-party calibration [by his own weight]!

One supply officer, who when he came in . . . his first official order: “make me a requisition for my very own laptop and printer.” Spoke Hindi to his subordinates, then ask “You didn’t understand me?” His job: surf the Internet for porn, which infected my computer which he used about twice a week before he got the requisitioned laptop, with various adware, spyware, pop-ups and popunders and took me three days to clean and exterminate! He also posted a classified ad in one of the website advertising that the company is selling plant equipment and rolls rather than coils, strips or scrap.

Classified Ad with annotations

Classified Ad with annotations

One system engineer, an expert he claimed to be, his job: secretly smoked Marlboro lights in the hidden parts of the plant, roamed around the plant for five hours each day [sitting and smoking for most of the four hours], instructed a line supervisor to make a design on the transfer of the pinhole detector to another location [which is basically the system engineer’s job], asked a list of critical spares but did nothing with it.

Another system engineer, an expert in PLC he claimed, took a stint in one of the production lines. He insisted on doing experiments on the processes and controls, burned one equipment beyond repair but without repercussions, yet received a commendation for a job not entirely his own doing [he was the one who drafted the recommendation]. When a supervisor asked for help in a training on programming for the line’s process computer, he delivered a rather too-simplistic introductory lecture on the parts and their function; and held no lecture on programming, which he claimed that it was reserved for  the likes of him: system engineers; that any change of programming was to be course through ONLY to him.

One manager, who insisted that he was the boss, but did not prove he was one; insisted on buying low quality spares then blame it on the operational crew when the purchased spares when installed did not do as good operationally; insisted on using a out-of-specifications catalyst which nearly blew the gas generator up to the clouds. He couldn’t even pronounce correctly “dump truck” which he corrected others that it was rightfully called “drum truck”

One maintenance planner when asked for operational spares, would instruct the shift-in-charge to just withdraw the spares from the shop [which is officially part of his duties and responsibilities]; repeatedly scheduled maintenance jobs while no purchased spares were on hand; issued the same maintenance work schedule [MWS] while only revising the date of implementation, for the whole of four years. When one supervisor pointed out that MWS usually rotate the maintenance activities for each week, he became agitated, and started nosing around on operational activities which were the official duties of the supervisor while neglecting his very own job. He complained to his own boss once that he feeling useless as he was not getting special assignments which he insisted that he is capable of doing. His boss answered: “Do your job first!”

One shift-supervisor, who insisted on making his own shifting schedule then not sticking to it; his main job was to look for missing coils around the plant to reconcile with those on the production monitoring program. He was also has the habit of only selecting good materials for processing then boasted that the shift production yield was higher than that of his colleagues!

One adviser was hired but apparently doesn’t even know the different types of works-in-process in the plant. He once asked a supervisor what one production line was processing: “Is it soft or hard?” meaning annealed or fullhard. Then insisted that the line processed some coils which was impractically impossible due to corrections were needed but heat was necessary. He once boasted that in India they have several annealing bases on continuous annealing. I thought continuous annealing was a processing line rather than the modular base and furnace-bell types!

One production planning manager was hired who claimed that it was not the Production Planning job to know which coils are planned to be processed in one processing line, when one line supervisor complained that  Production  Planning should know this and charged delays due to poor planning . The manager rather insisted that this was not the milieu of Production Planning as he planning is not part of his job!  When his attention was called regarding the rising trend of no materials to process, he immediately blamed Marketing for the poor marketing! When one supervisor suggested that Production Planning should at least devise a weekly schedule on that days the production lines were to operate subject to available works-in-process, he claimed this was not what he was hired to do.

On the first day of his job, one expat called a meeting which even included the Division Head and all Department Heads. After a few minutes, the Division Head sensed that the meeting was nothing but perfunctory “getting-to-know-you” and adjourned the meeting. The Division Head would later find out that the expat who called the meeting was to report directly to him! He was a laborer in the Middle East, claimed one of his co-workers there, then was hired for a local managerial post.

One management initiative executive became too enamored with management, after being sent to Bulgaria. He vigorously defended management on the lack of spares to pursue the TPM activities, castigated personnel on not putting their hearts out to management and helping management pursue autonomous maintenance amidst lack of materials and supply. A month latter he was hired to become the TPM head of another local company.


Well, all of them came and went. Some resigned after a few years, saying goodbyes to Filipino colleagues and asking forgiveness from others whom they caused pain. Yet, in retrospect, most of these expats were hired at current rates in 2004: about $50,000 or more per month. Thus, in the four years stint of “relaxing” job, they could easily have amassed $2.4 million doing their expert-type of management! In return, what did the company got from them: NOTHING!


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  1. Miss Angeline, sometimes people’s hopes have expiration dates. Just look at the rate of employees who are leaving for “greener pastures”!. I saw ‘great’ people before, but sadly they left. Only a few “good” men preferred to stay, from top ranking officials to mere subordinates. If you have the time to interview the people working under your nose, indeed, they are willing to leave. The problem is timing and their age ‘coz if they are younger by bit, then they will gladly qualify for the age-limit qualification of certain companies.

    In my view, the company is somewhat likened to a very massive manpower agency where the company are the ones providing skilled workers for neighboring industries here and also abroad. I am saddened by this but it is the truth, no more, no less. But as what the management says, there are still more waiting to be “trained” (for abroad) outside waiting to be part of this “funny” family.

    Well, I just heard from one of the management that the workers are their last priority in terms of job security and professionalism and of course, proper compensation.

    I am asking Mr. Reyadel and you why there are a “chosen” few? Get what I mean? Let’s just see if that kind of actions by management would prosper a long time.

    Comment by d4rkside — 2008.August.7 @ 16:43 | Reply

  2. Hi Reyadel,

    Yes, I truly agree with you. The Filipinos just don’t merely “shrugged it off to their backs and putting blindfolds to their own eyes”. I believe that the Pinoy management team is also doing their best to put things into the right perspective. Yes, we may have the brains but let’s face the fact that these EXPATS are already the owners. I know everyone in the Pinoy Management Team are giving their best efforts to somehow enforce change. Let’s accept it, all of those part of the company still have high hopes that someday somehow it will return to its glory days, it may not be the same with the past but at least better than the present scenario.

    Comment by Angeline — 2008.July.25 @ 15:05 | Reply

  3. Well, d4rkside, thanks for your comments. In their own little ways, the rank-and-ffle Fillipinos in GSPI are doing their own battles almost everyday, even as subtle as marching to the Managing Director then demanding their salaries, once delayed for a full week. Don’t forget that all Filipino workers here have a family to feed, bills to pay, and dreams to fullfil, just like you and I.

    Some of the Filipino managers are on the verge of doing acts to antagonize the “powers that be” but I personally know a number who could say what they want to say directly to these expats’ faces, but these are a “dying breed” in GSPI, as most of the talented, fearless, and dedicated Filipino supervisors and managers are resigning because of intellectual clash or simply by getting a “greener” offer on the other side of the fence. And GSPI is continually hiring new graduates, without experience, for key positions. Why, you might ask? Because Filipino neophytes are prone to obey before asking questions, and it takes about a year or two before they rebel or went to entertain better job offers.

    Each of the Filipinos at GSPI are doing something to curb whatever clout or power these expats are have. I’m waiting for a volcano to erupt or similar events in the future. It is a documented observation that Filipinos are patient enough to understand the situation at hand, and once the “cup runneth over” they could be a powerful force to reckon and deal with, remember People Power?

    For my part, I am doing my own little way to document what is truly happening in GSPI , through personal interviews with people in the know and not afraid to talk, with the hope that what happened during the Malaysian Wing Tiek and Renong’s era will never be repeated in the former National Steel Corporation.

    Comment by reyadel — 2008.July.19 @ 17:43 | Reply

  4. I am greatly saddened by such actions of expats stated in your article and much more angered deep inside by the actions of our fellow locals who just shrugged it off to their backs and putting blindfolds to their own eyes to the mere fact that we are being “U-S-E-D”. I know that the company is selling billions of dollars annually and with hundreds of millions in profit. It is even stated in various international news and steel times articles. But why can’t we fight and just keep on murmuring and gossip it around our colleages?

    It’s the sad reality. Expats are dumb but got power. Filipinos got brains and have no control of the situation. Combine them and you got a super management team up that can make the rank and file employees work just like robots.

    The Filipino upper management are likened to those people who wear baskets over their heads during world war 2 and helping the Japanese invaders by pointing out those who have ‘sinned’. Just like the union-management dispute!

    What can we do about it?….

    Comment by d4rkside — 2008.July.18 @ 12:29 | Reply

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