SM Immersion Day 1 – “Libreng Mangarap” (“It’s Free to Dream”)

The SM immersion is one of the most anticipated programs for senior students. A lot of us seniors look forward to this opportunity to get away from the classroom and be able to experience what it’s like to be an SM employee. Going into the first day, my expectations were quite vague for I honestly wasn’t sure how things would go. Turns out, Day 1 in itself was already an eye opening experience that really was an immersion into the lives of SM employees and what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter.

The day started of with the usual orientation and learning how to segregate and box the different items. Afterwards, we got to tour the SM supermarket itself and understand the different types of goods SM supermarket sells. After going through every aisle and trying our best to familiarize ourselves with all the products, we headed to our lunch break where I got to strike my first conversation with an employee.

The first worker I got to talk to was Leo when I sat beside him during lunch time. He looked like a really reserved and quiet person but I took this chance to get a sneak peak into the life of an SM employee. Leo has been in SM for 5 months now with his contract about to end. He previously worked in Savemore for 2 years and has to constantly search for jobs in order to earn a livelihood for his 2 kids. Unfortunately his wife doesn’t live with him anymore and his daughter stays with his mom.

He talked about the hardships of life especially where he came from. He emphasized how life in the province is even harder since there are even less opportunities and it’s even harder to earn money there. He was actually thankful to be working in SM and accepted the fact that sooner or later his contract will expire and he’ll have to apply to another job once more. Despite all that, he was still able to keep a smile on his face as he talked about how he must work hard in order to feed his kids and send them to school.  

The second employee I got to know was Carla who was a cashier on her 2nd month after spending 6 months in French Baker. Carla took up a vocational course on public services before applying to French Baker. Her stories about French Baker were really striking especially how at the end of everyday, French Baker disposes of their food instead of giving it to the employees.

Aside from being a cashier, Carla also works for the accounting office and she told me how complicated the process was of organizing all the bills and paperwork of SM supermarket. Being the curious me, I took this chance to ask her if SM was making a lot of profit and she answered with a resounding YES, then she followed up, “There may not be many people now, but every now and then and on weekends, there are big time customers who buy a lot of products and sometimes have up to 8 carts.”

After our conversation about the SM business, she talked about the hardships of finding a job and the job application process. She emphasized how for a lot of them, it’s quite tough moving from one job to the next since their contracts only last for 5 months.

The third employee I got to talk to was Cezeny. Talking to Cezeny was really interesting because of the fact that she also knew how to speak a bit of Chinese. She learned Chinese because she majored in tourism and Chinese was one of the electives she took. It was really cool hearing her speak Chinese and how enthusiastic she was about learning. Unfortunately, she told me how the quality of the education she got wasn’t so good and because of her not so well to do background, she doesn’t have that much opportunities even up to now.

I jokingly asked her to give me a list of must see places in the Philippines since she took up tourism and her answer was really touching to say the least. She answered by saying how when she gives advice on tourist spots, she wants that she has been to the place already for the advice to be sincere. However, she hasn’t really been able to go around the Philippines because she doesn’t have much money so even if she really wants to travel around not only the Philippines but also the world, she can’t. I really felt sorry for her and didn’t know how to respond. At the same time, I really felt fortunate that I’ve been able to go to quite a lot of different countries already. It really place things into perspective.

One day, she hopes to still achieve her dreams to become either a flight attendant, tour guide or a member of the army. Like she said, “Libre naman mangarap.” or in english, “it’s free to dream.” I loved how optimistic she was and this is something that really inspired me. After my conversation to her, I just had to smile and repeat her statement, “Libre naman mangarap” over and over again to myself as I thought about my dreams of changing the world for the better someday! Without a doubt, we may be poor or we may be rich but no matter what, it will always be free to dream!

With a few of my classmates after the first day of the SM immersion :D

With a few of my classmates after the first day of the SM immersion 😀

With everything that happened in the first day of SM immersion, I simply can’t wait to see what else this immersion has in store for me!



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