Hands That Dare To Move: The Unseen Heroes

By Arnel A. Pacquiao

Have you ever wondered how a bag of Atlas Fertilizer is produced? How about the principles that govern its formulation? Did you ever come to think of the hands that move these bags from our warehouses to yours? Has it been known that in every negotiation that brings profit to the company and its business partners drop pennies of hope for those people who are literally “nagbabanat ng buto” to complete our selling endeavor? That in each and every truck load of fertilizer leaving the warehouse will leave them smile and the hope to live thru the day and the rest of the week? These are our unseen heroes as we move forth in the industry and reach for excellence, the “yagyag” or “kargador”. They literally move our products as we set foot in moving the country with our technologies.

“Life is never easy”, is a sentence I often heard from people usually older than me way back my young age. As I have grown to see and appreciate what this life has to offer, I would pretty much say it really is. As we have all been taught, the basic needs of man are food, clothing and shelter. It is true. These needs are really the tools that can surely make man live and survive. But, we no longer live in the olden times like the nomadic days, back when people just roam for food to feed themselves. Now, we are living in a very fast pace. Even this article comes at a fast pace.

We tend to be very particular on the time and things that we need to have done in a day to feed ourselves. Nowadays, the term job has been added to the lineup. Food, clothing, shelter and a job now brings a new chapter in our daily living. As supposed, this job should be stable. Every day, we strive to live and make our dreams come true. Day by day we work hard for these dreams one by one, or maybe, work hardly a bit, sometimes. But, nonetheless, each and every one of us is geared up for the challenge of chasing and fulfilling those dreams.

One day, as I was chasing mine, I ran over a man who was resting, tired for the day of chasing his dream. I was about to go out and buy something out of the compound where our warehouse was. My pick-up truck was parked in the middle of the warehouse wall and a parked trailer. To go out, I need to back my vehicle up, make a full right turn and eventually turning left going passed the back of the trailer parked earlier on my right side. As I engaged the reverse gear, slowly I stepped on the gas and as I slowly let go of the clutch, I was moving backwards already. Just within a second of doing this I suddenly felt the back of my truck went up going backwards. Upon feeling it, I released the gas and there I was back down in my original spot. “Aaawwww!!!” A loud scream followed from behind the truck. Alarmed, I immediately went out and checked with the security guard what might have caused the incident. Surprisingly, I happened to have “half”-ran over a sleeping man. If I had stepped on the gas without letting it go for quite longer, the truck’s wheel could have fully ran over him and the underchasis could have hurt his upper extremity, big-time.

I learned that he was a “yagyag,” moreover known as a “kargador,” personnel that carry the bagged fertilizer products that we sell, stacked in our warehouse going forth the trucks of our distributors. His name was Chong, a long-time stevedore who has worked most of his years with AFC. As we assess his injury, he only had scratches and he said “Sir, marami nang barko ng Atlas ang napalutang ko! Wala ‘to.” He’s one heck of sleeping man. One could easily recognize that he is not that young of age anymore. With the wrinkles in his face and those dry-looking eyes, he looked like he could use a shot of alcohol after a day’s work. And yes, that was where he had been earlier and had just fallen asleep behind my truck afterwards. With the nature of the job that he engages himself in, age and vigor play important roles for him to be efficient. To be efficient, he needs a lot of strength to carry on with his working day. To have the strength, science says that he needs to supply his body with the right nutritional requirements on a per day basis to get thru the day.

Typical stories behind becoming a yagyag root down to poverty; of families that have not sustained to put their children thru formal education, which could have been due to financial constraints, etc., wherein such instances are passed thru generations. Men here are a mixture of single and those with families, carrying within the same cause of working – to feed themselves and the people they care for.

I happened to ask a random person on what comes to his mind if he hears the word “yagyag”, and he says “mahirap”. True. Basically because it pays low and is labor-intensive. It is a clear reality that people mentioned above would most likely fall on to this job since it does not require much of formal education. Possibly, if you are willing to learn and have the healthy body and a strong drive to survive, then you are likely good to go. As I have asked a yagyag how life is living this way, he said, “Mahirap sir, pero kailangan eh, di pwedeng magutom ang pamilya.

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Chong (center), the “yagyag” featured in this article

In reality, these types of men hardly eat a complete meal three times a day. They hardly even drink water at the minimum of eight cups. They are those that have the patience to wait outside a warehouse for an empty truck to come by for them to load up, to source an income for them to sustain their daily needs. Others even travel to different places to provide such service, as clearly manifested in some ports of the country. Some of them are young, young-looking, old, and old looking guys with body builts obviously implying their engagement with lifting not light objects. They are the ones staying outside the warehouse, sometimes with no shirts on, “mukhang-madungis”, smoking, playing “kara-krus”, chess, or “dama” with truck drivers and often times, “nag-uungguyan lang”. They are the men that capitalize on their bodies as walking carts of the bagged fertilizer product that we are continuously providing our farmers. At fifty kilograms per bag, their backs bend and become instant couches where Atlas bags lay momentarily for a connecting trip either from our warehouse or from another carrying vessel to the truck of our business partners. Come to think of yourself becoming one right now…it definitely would be no joke, especially if you’ll be spending most of your life like it.

As the trade flow moves along, let NOT their efforts be forgotten. May it be seen and appreciated all the while as each and every one of us, traverse this endeavor towards what we long for. As the company together with our business partners reaches for its dream for the industry, a brave team of men creates that bridge of hope for us to get a shot of what and where we aim for in the future. They “move” us.

Yes, it has low pay and labor intensive. And yes, satisfied for the work that transpired for a day, for they have chosen to work with nobility. As one yagyag said, “Bukas ulit, tsaka sa mga susunod na bukas pa, kahit nakakapagod basta ba’t ‘di masama, larga”. Life may never be easy, but at each day that we triumph over it, we live.

To the men whose backbones initiate the action for the backbone of the country. A salute!


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