Sunday, May 18, 2008

The War of the Words

The war of the words has begun. I’m not referring to the pitiful display of escapist eloquence in the farcical senate hearings we are often painfully subjected to. I am referring to verbal hostilities much closer to my turf. It’s the Filipino online writers vs. foreign clients (Ting. Round one. Fight.).

I suppose that Americans have known for quite some time that a lot of the expert technical assistance or the annoying telemarketing pitches they so often get on the other end of their phone lines don’t come from fellow Americans. They come from Filipinos or Indians who have had their dictions mutilated just so they could sound less like Asians and more like some of their clients who can neither tolerate nor understand English spoken in another accent. I wonder though if the westerners know the truth about website contents. Many pieces of information in countless websites are provided too by floating Filipino brains chained to makeshift offices in their provincial homes. 

Before the trend of hiring non-American ghost writers became popular, the rates offered by American clients were part of the stuff Filipino dreams were made of. Articles with 500 words in the good old days fetched a whooping $10 each. There have been however some shocking new developments in recent weeks. A brief look at, where writers and clients converge to buy and sell services (or to rip each other off), have revealed that many American clients now only offer $1-$2 per article. What happened? 

I’m not sure but I have a theory which I will not share. It is enough to say that perhaps the Americans have finally realized that they have been fools to offer so much for articles that others pay so little for. Indeed, why should they pay a premium for Filipino skills when these skills sell for less than a kilo of fish in our own native land?

Seasoned Filipino online writers have taken offense. Some of them have banded together and have vowed never to give stingy clients in Craigslist any peace. Their preferred mode of attack is the dreaded flagging! Beware oh clients. Offer to pay very little and your job advertisements are guaranteed to reap generous harvests of red flags from offended freelance writers so other writers can quickly give you the middle finger and look for greener pay. 

Naturally, American clients have in turn taken offense. They have retaliated by pointing out the gross grammatical boo-boos of Filipino non-native English writers and the Filipino’s lack of understanding for American culture and internet writing. This is why these clients think Filipinos don’t really deserve to be paid $10 for all the keyword rich trash they are asked to produce for unsuspecting readers on the internet. 

I don’t want to take sides but I have been writing in English since I lost my milk teeth. I do know that hard, manual, hernia-inducing labor is easier than writing. If you want to be in constant mental and physical agony you should try writing. 


  1. Your closing statement reminds of a passage from Pamuk's novel, My Name is Red:

    "…another essential virtue: To avoid disappointment in art, one must not treat it as a career. Despite whatever great artistic sense and talent a man might possess, he ought to seek money and power elsewhere to avoid forsaking his art when he fails to receive proper compensation for his gifts and efforts."

    I certainly agree with you, Miss.

  2. little tikla, thank you for visiting and reading. i visited your blog too and left my footprints on a post that was particularly striking to me :)

  3. well, that just sucks.

  4. yeah UP girl it does. hehe

  5. my mother, who is an english/literature/research always reminds me that i will never be rich by being a writer.. i'd rather be a pretty boy for money. hahaha!

  6. totoo talaga yan vern. sa bansang ito medyo cheap ang bayad sa talent natin. kahit ang mga sikat na writers natin kailangan pa may side job para mag survive.

    ay, pretty boy for money ha. interesting yan. hehe

  7. It got that bad, huh? I'm a freelance writer, too, but I will never accept anything less than $1 per 100 words - and that's the cheapest I'd go. I sometimes charge $3 per 100 words but only to clients willing to fork the cash. It's a matter of principle. If they want to pay only $1 per 500-word article, then they're better off hiring Indians who in turn wouldn't have qualms giving them cheap work for cheap pay.

  8. sad thing isn't it chin? well i guess from now on, writers just have to be better at bargaining :)


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