Today’s Machining World Archives June 2011 Volume 07 Issue 05
Interviewed by Noah Graff
Edcel Ceniza is the computer science whiz who has maintained the back end of the Today’s Machining World Web site for the past year. He works freelance from his home in the Philippines for $4 an hour and communicates with the TMW staff exclusively via email and instant messenger. He also does work for a client in the U.K. and has several other local entrepreneurial ventures in his hometown of Mandaue City.
Do many people in the Philippines go to college?
EC: Yes, if they have the funds to do it, but a large percentage of people only finish high school. Lately, most students take only one or two years of college and then apply for call center jobs because you only need two years of college and no degree. You can earn a lot in the call centers. I worked in one for three years, but I eventually realized I needed to finish my degree in computer science—I’m on my fourth year in June.
Has the influx of outsourcing jobs raised the general standard of living in the Philippines?
EC: I’m not sure about the statistics, but I think it has raised the income of most families. Those who were considered poor may be considered average now. Normal jobs pay less compared to outsourced jobs like call centers. But in my past call center jobs, I only earned roughly $400 to $500 a month. Freelancing, I earn more than that, if I work.
How many different jobs and businesses do you have?
EC: I have two foreign clients—Today’s Machining World and a company in the U.K. I have one local client and I accept short-term projects. I’m starting a new business too; a photo booth people rent for parties and events. I also sell sunglasses, which I order from the U.S. using PayPal.
Tell me about some of the Web sites you’ve created.
EC: My first blog was for my personal ramblings. It’s called blog.tambayanbox.org. “Tambayan” is the Philippine vernacular for “rendezvous.” Then I started simplyblackandwhite.net, which talks about the Web and all its rules, and then I started armedandloaded.com, which talks about gadgets, technology, and games. My new one is a travel blog I maintain with my girlfriend, called thewanderingcouple.com. I also have some small sites about basketball, thekinglebronjames.blogspot.com and blakegriffindunkfest.blogspot.com.
I know you’re a huge NBA basketball fan. How do you watch the games from there?
EC: The games are on cable—Basketball TV. ESPN broadcasts two or three games usually, and if I’m lucky, maybe four. But I mostly wait until NBA Live to watch the highlights of the games, which normally comes on from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sometimes I’m watching it while I’m [working] with you.
Do most Filipinos speak English? How many languages do you speak?
EC: Most speak English. It’s a second language here. It’s a subject in school from elementary school to college. Besides English, I speak Filipino, which a hybrid of most of the dialects in the Philippines, and I speak Bisaya, the dialect of Cebu, [my home province]. The Philippines has a lot of dialects.
What are the biggest challenges you face when working with overseas clients?
EC: The first problem is the language barrier. I consider myself a good English speaker, but what a client may want may not be what you are thinking. The second problem is the time difference. I’m normally online if I don’t have classes, from 10:00 a.m. my time to maybe 5:00 p.m. In the U.K., they are normally awake from 4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. my time, so I need to work a night shift.
Do you have friends who do similar work?
EC: Yeah, I have colleagues that have gone freelance and they are earning well. Actually, a former teammate from a call center is doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and he was able to buy a car with all his earnings from doing freelance. Now he is managing his own team and I think he has five to 10 people under him.