Progress by F. Sionil Jose

Progress by F. Sionil Jose

Government agencies are similar in many cities and countries. There are good and nice officials who can help solve your problems quickly and easily. And there are other officials who want money for their assistance. These are the majority. This method is very popular. Bribes have always been given. These things already became normal. Marina Salcedo is a senior lieutenant. She is preparing to go to Manila. The woman has been working for the goverment for twenty years. In recent years, life has risen in price and she needs extra money for her youngest son. He is getting ready to go to college. Marina is not the person who got rich on bribes and built herself a huge house with other people’s money. She has to work hard. Then in Manila she will receive an award that can make life easier. But what price it would cost?

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Progress by F. Sionil Jose

Government offices are much the same everywhere. Sometimes the officials in them are good people, helpful and kind; sometimes they are not. And if you need something badly, sometimes it is necessary to give little ‘presents’, maybe some money, which then disappears into a back pocket.

These are the ways of the world. People have been giving and taking bribes forever.

Marina Salcedo, Senior Clerk, second grade, hurried to her desk to open her pay envelope. It was the fifteenth of July, and tomorrow she was leaving for Manila, to get the promotion that she had been promised for five years.

Progress by F. Sionil Jose

She had worked in the Ministry for twenty years, and in the last five years the cost of living had risen greatly. Without the extra money from her promotion, her youngest son would not be able to go to college. Also, three years ago they had borrowed money on their house when her husband had had to go to hospital.

She checked her pay carefully. Two hundred and sixty pesos; this is what she would take to Manila. She walked down to the far end of the hall to the Chief’s office. The girls there were not talking. That meant the Chief was in. His secretary told her to go straight in.

The Chief was reading a dirty copy of Playboy, a magazine for men full of photos of women. He did not put the magazine away, and Marina stood in front of him, waiting for him to look up. He was about fifty, and going bald.

‘So you are leaving tomorrow, Marina,’ he said.

‘Yes, sir…’

‘Well, you can have the afternoon off, to get ready. You will only have three working days in Manila. Do you think that will be enough?’

‘I would like to have three more days, sir, if possible.’

‘No problem, Marina,’ the Chief said. ‘Oh, and when you are there, will you please buy me the latest gabardine material for a pair of pants? I will pay when you get back.’

‘Yes, sir. Thank you.’

Gabardine material – it must cost at least sixty pesos. Last time, the Chief wanted a pair of Levi jeans; they had cost a hundred and twenty pesos. When she returned, they had played this little game: he saying he must pay, she refusing to take the money. After all, he was not a bad boss – three days off with pay, for example. And he did not try to touch her in the way he did with the other women clerks…

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