Serving Beyond Expectations

Serving Beyond Expectations

Volume XVII NO. 50 (October 4-10, 2014)

If members are dissatisfied, call the service head since this is what  public service is all about. Service above  self. This is what the Social Security System Baguio is bolstering to improving long ques of thousands of members being administered to by hundreds of employees of the government system to the public sector, for the Filipinos- both here and abroad.

This is one of the advocates of Mr. Luis V. Olais, the Assistant Vice President of the North Luzon Division of the SSS in Baguio.  Mr. Olais, who considers himself a Baguio boy, was born on June 21, 1956 in Baguio City with his parents coming from La Union and migrated to the City during the pre-war times, “My mother was a housewife and my father was a mechanic at the Benguet Auto Line during those days. After the war, my father put up his own auto repair shop where we got our daily expenses. We are eight in the family. Two are nurses; one is an accountant; one is working with the National Telecommunications Commission; one with the Bureau of Internal Revenue; one who is sidelining as a mechanic; and one who is a college level”, he narrated.

Mr. Olais entrance at the Social Security System in Baguio started on June 21, 1981 after a car of the system was delivered for a repair at their auto shop.

“They told me that SSS Baguio is need of a driver so I applied myself for it’, he said.

This in spite of him being  a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City and his elementary and high school education in public schools. He did not expect to had topped the 65 item math right minus wrong I.Q exam given by the SSS Baguio for one hour. “I took and passed all the qualifying exams given by SSS Baguio”, Mr. Olais said. After this, I was trained as a head of members’ assistant. I was a scholar of the Civil Service Commission who sent me at the University of the Philippines Baguio for my Master’s in Public Management, he added.

From being a driver of SSS Baguio for two years, Mr. Olais rose form the ranks. Through dedication as a public servant, he qualified himself to had became a head of computer division’s chief, to a cluster head and now as a Vice President of SSS Luzon North Division.  Before becoming the Vice President, he served as a filed inspector officer in La Union for five years and as a supervising computer operator.

“Working at the SSS presents challenges and opportunities”, said Mr. Olais. I do my job beyond expectation and do lots of innovations to improve operations in the system, he added. As an Assistant Vice President of SSS Baguio, Mr. Olais oversees the totality of operations by meeting expectations from him. He is constantly improving services for members by calling attention to and addressing inefficiency, dissatisfaction, and improving services. He was offered other equally challenging positions and can work anywhere but he declined them and prefers  to work in the North Luzon North Division.

The system is giving its best. It’s giving training to young aspirants by passing qualifications and exams who will soon replace retirees and to be assigned to additional branches that will be opened in the near future.

“For now, we have six supervisors who are undergoing branch officership training program at the Ateneo University starting this October 14”, said Mr. Olais.

In starting a career, Mr. Olais said that there is no substitute for a person to  having  completed his education. Accomplishments are there likewise with frustrations, this coupled with a fervor in faith. “It happened to me many times. Adversities came but prayers create miracles. In life’s ups and downs, look ahead and never look back. Address your problems forward”, said Mr. Olais. I am Biblical and equate everything with Divine Providence, he added.

Mr. Olais loves sports particularly basketball. He once sponsored a sports feast in invitational basketball tournament in 2005. He loves music and has a musical group in Baguio for North Luzon Division. As proof, he composed the “Alkansya” of the SSS Baguio theme song entitled “Pagpupugay sa mga Miyembro. He writes poems and songs, too. When his mother passed away at 94, he wrote a poem entitled, ” A Legacy of a Beloved Mother”. Mr. Olais draws inspirations from the people he loves  which includes his family, friends, and relatives. He is married to Mrs. Aurelia O. Olais form La Union who is a financial accountant for the past twelve years. They have a son and only child named Gerald Alan Olais who is a Nurse by profession. Both of them are in the United States of America.

“Do not do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you”, said Mr’ Olais. This is his philosophy his life. He humbles himself and does not espouse himself as a boss. He does not consider himself as a boss but as a leader. He is open to suggestions from his colleagues because he sees them as an asset of the office. Thus, avoiding shyness to stem in the workplace and seeing themselves as equal in all things. He goes out with his employees and treats them as his friends,  he tries not to maintain any gap with his employees, from the janitors whom he considers as his peers and solicits ideas also form them.  Mr. Olais likes adobo and sinigang for both fish and meat dishes. “I like goat meat”, he  expressed. He likes reading about management and leadership books and reads  more on good entrepreneurship. “I want to put up a business once I  will not be connected with SSS already”, he said. If it pushes through, I will go abroad and open a laundry shop in the US. For now, mechanics and feasibility study were already conducted. If not, I will put up  a home care for the aged in the US, all these with my wife, he added. Aside from being the Assistant Vice President of SSS Baguio, Mr. Olais is also a member and the chairman of the  North Luzon Division Multi Purpose Cooperative

For almost three decades of serving at the  SSS Baguio, Mr. Olais is supposed to retire but his services are still very much needed up to this point in time. For now, he plans to expand offices by next year  at  La Trinidad, Appari, and Cagayan. This is for services to be improved and delivered at the members’ doorsteps. If everything is OK, then that’s the time he will retire and then for SSS Baguio to hire a deserving applicant for the position that he will be vacating in the future.  Mr. Olais carries with him simple living. He likes to help others more than he can and he always does this in spite of him being the  boss at SSS Baguio, he can still be commanded to do favors. He enjoys traveling to places and other countries. He travels to the US every year to see his family, to Canada and Asian countries. “That’s why I don’t have money but I enjoy life apart from working”, he said.

He is also an environmentalist. When he visited the Grand Canyon in the US, he was amazed with the naturalness of the place. Commenting on Baguio’s urban planning, saying, it should be evaluated thoroughly and development should not  be focused on the Central Business District but likewise to its adjoining vicinity as well. Still, he considers Baguio a progressive and developed City under American pioneers and innovators and it still is the best place for a vacation. Mr. Olais is frustrated with the negative happenings that are taking place and the not so beautiful things around. But, he delights himself on his achievements as a staff, a boss, and a leader at SSS Baguio. In 2007, they won third place during the float parade when they represented SSS. They pioneered SSS’ participation to festivities and soon other branches in the country followed in joining festivities, too.

While in office, SSS Baguio’s main component is based on deliverables where they exceeded given targets of collection, service and delivery. Luzon North Division has been top performing among the four divisions. “And this time around, we want to duplicate the same accomplishment,”, said Mr. Olais, who is the steward. His ultimate goal is SSS’ efficient service through online services and utilization. 

My career at SSS Baguio has  been beyond my expectation”, said Mr. Olais. During the earthquake in 1990, I was at the then old Nevada Office when after a couple of few minutes my jeep shook and the buildings’s door fell to the ground and the building crumbled to the ground. I was the supervising computer operator that time. Without formal instruction form the higher ups, I boldly stepped forward and went above the normal  process having considered the chaotic situation first at  hand and set aside  normality of operations system.  I  generated checks for loans and benefits and addressed complaints of affected members immediately after the earthquake struck. When the head asked who did the action way beyond the normal process and why this was done without prior notice from them, no one talked. But I saw the catastrophic situation unfolded and ignoring peoples needs first was impractical. This served as an opportunity for me  to have rendered service above all pending the supposedly standardized processes. After all, I was able to release the funds to clients through representatives and borrowers who were hardly hit and affected by the earthquake, he narrated. 

Immediately after the earthquake, the office was temporarily transferred to the  Justice Hall where it was called the “action center” since many perished and that funeral and loans were the most provided services. Then to Insular Life Building  form 1990 to 2000 and then finally to the SSS Building along Harrison Road from March 2000 up to the present .

Mr. Olais advocates for all young constituents covered or informal members to be vigilant  with their membership and be active in paying their monthly dues so that as they grow old, they have something to depend upon. Counting of twenty years from now, good benefits to qualified pensioners and retirees giving them comfort as life ages.

SSS Baguio was established as early as 1960 with its office at the old auditorium in Burnham Park. SSS North Luzon division has 11 branches in Candon, Ilocos Sur; CAR; Cagayan Valley; Batanes; Santiago and ILagan, Isabel; Agoo, La Union; and soon in Lagawe and Ilocos Norte. The SSS performance is measured through “deliverables” which includes accomplishments, correct collection, coverage, electronic submission of list of enrollments through the web. The “Alkansya” system of SSS- literally means itself is used by associations, vendor, transport groups, gob order contractual under LGUs among others. This is done through coordination with the local government units by mayors and other officials and head of associations. After which, the program is launched with a memorandum of agreement with LGU and association heads through payroll box alkansya where members of this system that belong to the said categories drop their daily basic contribution.

The SSS is a government controlled system that provides public sectors benefits such as short term benefits which includes sickness, maternity, and partial disability and long term benefits which includes death, retirement, and permanent disability and funeral benefits for its members. SSS  also has offices worldwide in all continents catering to overseas Filipino workers. As of June 2014, there are 18 offices overseas and soon in the US and Canada; 141 branches offices nationwide; 33 representative offices; and 65 Philippine service offices; these under the supervision of Chief Executive Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr.  Those below fifteen years of age who want  to apply need an endorsement letter from Department of Social Welfare and Development and those above fifteen years of age and are engaged in a job can apply for themselves at the SSS Baguio office at Harrison Road./By: Ezequiel D. Banas-e



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