(Metro Manila, Philippines) Every individual has their own purpose to find fulfilment in life—some by fostering social connections and relationships, others by overcoming their own “giants”, or by leaving a legacy.
For Alexandria Bergado, a labor officer at DOLE-NCR Quezon City Field Office (QCFO), it’s about making a positive impact on the lives of others.
Alexandria or dearly called “Alex” by her family and colleagues, discovered such purpose at a young age.
An only child raised in a traditional and conservative family from Cagayan De Oro City, Alex’s journey to finding her life purpose was inspired by her parents who have a heart for public service.
“It became natural for our family to talk about serving the public, even during simple meals. We usually talked about government projects that my father had managed and events that my mother’s office organized for their clients,” she said.
Alex’s mom is a government employee at the Philippine Consulate in Italy and accompanied by her father who is a retired agricultural engineer at the Department of Agriculture.
While she had the option to be with her parents abroad, Alex chose to stay in the Philippines to learn how to live independently—a life changing decision she had ever made at the age of 15.
“I realized that I had a very sheltered childhood. Living alone, I learned how to support myself financially and emotionally [but] my parents [have] always assured me of their support even as I tried to test my own capacity to survive on my own,” she said.
Alex’s purpose was not only driven by her parent’s dedication to serve. In fact, such interest developed throughout her high school years when she began immersing in various community services of their school.
“I went to a conservative Catholic high school. It was managed by Hijas de Jesus congregation, so it was heavily oriented towards outreach, charity, and catechism programs. [At that time], I also edited a school paper and participated actively in the school choir and outreach programs,” she said. While at it, Alex also took the opportunity to hone her leadership skills which later earned her the Gerry Roxas Leadership Award—a recognition given to outstanding graduating high school students from public and private institutions who have shown exemplary leadership and dynamic spirit in both academics and extra-curricular activities.
“I did not expect the [Gerry Roxas Leadership] award at all. I was very active in extra-curricular activities because they kept me busy. But I didn’t care about any awards. I just wanted to cultivate my sense of purpose,” she said.
By the time she reached college, Alex was determined to enter government service, particularly in foreign affairs because of what she personally witnessed from her parents’ work.
“I was exposed to the challenges faced by Overseas Filipino Workers because of the nature of my parents’ work. That’s when I started to wonder if there was something I could do to make a positive contribution to the lives of the people in my community,” said Alex who then decided to take an economics degree at the University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman in Quezon City.
“My mother, who also took economics, inspired me to take the same degree. It was a familiar discipline for me. It was also my favorite class during senior year in high school,” she said.
Although she completed her bachelor’s degree in 2011, Alex was still determined to return at UP Diliman to strengthen her academic background. Keeping an eye on this goal and to fund her personal needs, she succeeded in finding a job—in a BPO company—near her school for more than two years. Eventually, she was able to pursue another bachelor’s degree in European Languages in 2015 and started a master’s degree in International Studies in 2017.
“One thing I’ve realized about myself is that I will [always] feel the need to learn more. I will probably never stop studying [because I consider myself] a student for life,” she said.
After she started her master’s degree in International Studies, which by far her most significant moment, Alex suddenly hit a fork on the road—discerning about the career path she was called to do.
She knew she wanted to enter the government service but was uncertain of where to begin.
Until she came across DOLE-NCR’s Foreign National Labor Inspector (FNLI) job opportunity in 2019.
And the rest was history.
Working at DOLE
As an FNLI, Alex became one of the frontline services personnel at the Alien Employment Permit (AEP) section under DOLE-NCR’s Technical Support & Services Division – Employment Promotion and Workers Welfare (TSSD-EPWW).
It was a baptism by fire for Alex, having been trained in a corporate set up. Determined to succeed, she dealt with some personal struggles because she wanted to adapt in a more service-oriented workplace environment.
“Everyday we would provide assistance to hundreds of stakeholders,” she said, who found the task challenging being a reserved person herself.
“It was a challenge for me to talk to clients from all walks of life on a daily basis and having worked first in the private sector, I realized I need to make major adjustments [and] go out of my comfort zone [to] help me grow in my chosen career. I know I have grown enough to embrace bigger tasks,” she added.
With her diligence, humility, and excellence at work, Alex was transferred to DOLE-NCR’s Field Office in Quezon City on March 2021 and became part of the Labor Standard’s Technical Working Group (TWG). April of the same year, she got promoted as Labor and Employment Officer III—serving as QCFO’s Labor Inspector, Single Entry Approach (SEnA) Desk Officer, administrative support staff, and still part of the Labor Standard’s TWG.
“Damang-dama ko ang pagiging service-oriented sa DOLE,” said Alex who feels most rewarded whenever representatives from the labor and management thanked her for attending to their concerns—be it during the conduct of labor inspection or helping clients reach a settlement during a DOLE hearing or conference.
“[My work at DOLE-NCR] is a reminder for me that public service is not something everyone is given the chance to do. Given the unique responsibility and opportunity to speak directly with our clients, I feel that I have contributed my part in maintaining industrial peace. It is an immensely gratifying feeling, and it constantly reminds me why I am in government service,” she said.
Pursuing a career in the public service is hard work yet a noble calling. So asked about her secret to performing better at work, Alex strike a healthy balance between her career and personal priorities.
“If you want to be a public servant, you also have to take care of yourself because we need to be at our best when attending to the needs of the public,” Alex said who spends time on her hobbies on weekends such as traveling with friends, attending arts and cultural events, watching UAAP games, and mountain climbing, to name a few.
Alex could have pursued further her interest in foreign service but with all the dedication and commitment she put into work at the Department, a sense of purpose finally kicked in.
It made even more sense especially during the pandemic.
“The pandemic surfaced the importance of DOLE. During that kind of crisis, people tend to ask: ‘how do I sustain my livelihood?’ or ‘how do I provide for the needs of my family?’ National emergencies such as the pandemic would always call for the government to step up and DOLE did,” she said.
“I will always be grateful that DOLE provided me with a home and an opportunity to grow. DOLE has changed me for the better. I was a very sheltered person then, but it is in DOLE that I first met the people outside of my small circle. DOLE provided me opportunities to help me fulfil my dream of serving the people and assist to their needs—especially the workers. I know that any form of service that I do makes a great impact to the lives of others.”
END / Eilaine Lou L. Manaog