From jeepney barker to call center agent

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By Danny B. Dangcalan

A Walk in the Park

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

“I WAS born poor,” begins 25-year-old Mark Joseph Escora, in recounting his journey in the three-minute video that won in the 1st Tatak TESDA Video Making Contest last week.

“Worse, I am a person with disability,” Mark adds. He is a polio victim.

Growing up, he experienced a lot of social discriminations. He was bullied by his classmates because he was “handicapped.”


Mark grew up in a squatter’s area in Barangay Alijis in Bacolod City. His father is a jeepney driver and he has five siblings.

They were so poor that he had to work at 12 years old to help his family. He worked as a computer shop attendant for two years, and a jeepney barker (one who calls passengers to ride the jeep) for seven years so he can help his parents feed his siblings and send them to school.

“Despite all the challenges I’ve been through, I never stopped dreaming. I needed dedication to be successful in life,” he adds.

After graduating from Mansilingan Agro-Industrial High School, he started to look for a decent job. “But being a high school graduate, I find it real hard to get a decent job,” he lamented.

He mustered enough courage to apply online at Panasiatic Solutions, “but I failed, because I’m just a high school graduate.” The company advised him to enroll in a short course for call center agents at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC).

He then went to the NOLITC Office at the Paglaum Sports Complex building, where he underwent an assessment, and eventually passed.

It’s a 100-hour Finishing Course for Call Center Agents under the Training for Work scholarship of TESDA.

NOLITC is a training center operated by the provincial government that provides out-of-school-youth and high school graduates with opportunities and trainings to be able to work in business process outsourcing companies (BPOs).

“At NOLITC, I was given the opportunities to empower myself, to have self-confidence, and learn the necessary skills to get a job in a BPO company,” Mark says.

After completing the course in November 2012, he again applied at Panasiatic Solutions. This time, he got hired.

“It was a tough challenge for me to be a call center agent at Panasiatic. But I was never discriminated (there), I was accepted for who I am,” he recalls.

Mark says after a year, he got promoted as an Escalation Supervisor. “I’m now happy with my job.”

Mark thanked TESDA, the provincial government and NOLITC “for giving me hope, for empowering me to get a stable job to help my family, and build a career in a BPO company.”

Mark did the voicing in the video, and listening to his modulated voice with good diction and enunciation, I am just amazed that he was once a jeepney barker. Seven years of shouting in the streets certainly did wonder to his voice.

Mark’s story was very inspiring that this NOLITC entry won in the Best Video school category of the 1st Tatak TESDA Video Making Contest.

Mark and NOLITC head Dr. Ma. Cristina Orbecido accepted the award at rites at the PAGCOR Grand Theater in Paranaque City last May 1. The video was made by Don Arado of NOLITC.

TESDA director-general Joel Villanueva awarded NOLITC a trophy and check worth P250,000 for its Training for Work Scholarship Program, and a trophy and a Samsung tablet for Mark.

Villanueva congratulated all the winners of the competition and emphasized the contribution of tech-voc graduates in providing world-class workforce.

“Saludo po ako sa dalawampung pinakamagagaling na mga tech-voc graduates, na buong pagmamalaking ipararatingang kanilang istoryang tagumpay,” he said.

Villanueva told Mark that his video was seen by President Benigno Aquino and the president was really amazed with his story.

Tina says that during the awards night, Mark became an instant celebrity and the crowd's favorite and got a lot of media attention because of his success story.

For this achievement, Mark learned three things: “Always expect the unexpected, remain humble despite your achievements, and it is always never too late for people who got goals in life.”

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 07, 2014.


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