Minority Report

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This is a picture of a young woman doing her job, seriously and with concentration on the task at hand. This is somewhat unusual here; what’s unusual about it is that she has a job, and that she takes it seriously. She has to be serious, it’s the kind of job where you can’t make mistakes; if you do, other people suffer, sometimes seriously.

Although the work is fairly routine, mostly filling out forms, transmitting and receiving documents, the job itself is very important, vital to the economy of Dumaguete. She’s a wire service operator. Most of her job consists of sending and receiving money– for people who need it badly, for people who need it right away.

Many people need it right away, and are even desperate for it: to prevent.

Their electricity being turned off, their motorcycles and appliances being seized, to buy medicine for their sick children, or sometimes just to eat.

They can go to any wire service office and get hard cash across the counter from anywhere in the world, from anyone kind enough to send it to them: relatives in Europe or America, OFWs from Saudi Arabia or Dubai. But of course the company keeps a piece of this money before they pass it on. Wire service is not a charity.

Wire services are big business in Dumaguete. Through them, an enormous river of money flows into the city every day; on some days more money than is generated in the city itself. And it’s money badly needed. Even people with jobs here often do not earn enough, or save enough, to survive without outside help.

Wire service companies were not formed to transfer money. They were started to send and receive messages and packages. But since the population has grown beyond the ability of the economy to support it, cash across the counter has become their main function.

The people who work for Western Union, Or LBC, or any other wire service, are very important; they are working for the nerve center of the local economy. Hundreds of people depend daily on what they do. One error in a control number– and some sick child goes without medicine.

This young woman in the picture seems calm and collected. In spite of the boredom and occasional stress that her job brings her, she does it well: without complaining, and without mistakes. Good for her.

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