So you’ve recently graduated from university. Life is one beautiful blank slate ahead of you. Like the guy who invented the iPad, you’re one foolish and hungry individual.

You’ve decided to flash your middle finger to boring corporate desk jobs. You’ve marched to the beat of your own soundtrack. You’ve embarked to become a Freelancer—graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer, cook, musician or (gasp!) writer.

Congratulations, man. You have gonads.

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8. Being the CEO and janitor at the same time

You might as well be an octopus if you’re a Freelancer. Two hands cannot achieve a workload purposed for a cubicle farm’s worth of people. This, of course, includes being a humble messenger who delivers cost estimates to faraway offices.

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7. The absence of someone who will discpline you

The greatest thing about being a Freelancer is you are your own boss. Sadly, that is also the worst thing.

There will be no one to tell you that waking up early is good, that animated GIFs don’t make great PowerPoint presentations, and that Spider-Man neckties don’t charm the Ayalas.

You are your own parent. Which can be unfortunate at times, especially, if you’re one who thinks vegetarian chicaron and beer as breakfast of champions.

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6. Being mistaken for a bum during family reunions

There are nice titas; there are bad titas. And what are family reunions for, but an audit on who’s dating who and who’s making more money, by relatives you see twice every 365 days?

The Freelancer is the easy victim of such events. Aside from being complimented on how much weight one has gained, the question is often followed by: “What’s your job now, hijo?”

Upon which, a great existential storm will brew inside the Freelancer’s stomach. The Freelancer will try his best to flash some metrics of success. After which, he’ll go out to the village basketball court and puff his Marlboros to soothe his frayed nerves.

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5. The conundrum that is filing taxes

Freelancers and taxes make strange bedfellows. The Freelancer treats taxes like it’s the White Lady of Balete Drive—“heard of it, not real”—while the BIR often have bigger fish to fry, like the butanding that is Solenn Heussaff’s income report.

What’s the BIR to do with a mild-mannered graphic designer who lives in Bo’s Coffee, right? True enough.

But when your friendly neighborhood BIR collector comes a- knockin’, your heart will be a-palpitatin’. You vein out. And gasp! You start fantasizing about a gorgeous cubicle somewhere in Eastwood City, where nearby are Majors in Finance who take care of this stuff for you.

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4. Langaw months

Badly put,a langaw month is a month where the Freelancer has no clients. It’s also the month when the Freelancer revisits his torrent folder and fattens up his thighs by watching seasons and seasons of Breaking Bad on a steady diet of Sky Flakes and mineral water. It’s also the month when depression can set in as the Savings Account gets closer and closer to the maintaining balance. It is when one resorts to eating the groceries bought by Nanay, so as to save one’s finances from utter ruin.

When a langaw month extends to a whole year, the Freelancer may go mental and do barefoot running towards the nearest job fair.

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3. Getting paid in gift packs

What could, at first, feel cute and touching –“At least, Mrs. Chua baked these brownies herself…”—will eventually make you want to shove Mrs. Chua’s head in the oven.

Getting paid in gift packs and gift certificates will eventually lead to a pride-swallowing epilepsy. You convulse on the floor in sheer disbelief that your client is being shrewd again and still you fell for it.

Your room is teeming with sachets of moisturizing lotion, your skin has taken the texture of a fetus. You have one too many gift cards to the spa, but your wallet’s as empty as Manila on a Pacquiao fight.

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2. The Ninth Circle of Hell That is Securing A Check

A poor little Freelancer has no accountants at his beck-and-call. Most times, chasing a check payment can feel like you’re Wile E. Coyote to the infernal Road Runner.

The tremors never end. Check will come after one hundred years upon magazine’s publication. Cashing Office is in Tawi-Tawi and name’s misspelled on the check. Check for two hundred pesos cannot pay enough for parking in The Fort and ruptured artery caused by event.

Securing a check is a mystical skill privy only to ninjas from a Tibetan mountain. And yes, Freelancers are no ninjas.

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1. Seeing fellow freelancers more successful than you

You’ve smartened up. You finally sold your indie film equipment and bought yourself a nice set of clothes in Rustan’s. You’re ready for a simple 9-to-5. You smile, a lot wiser this time.

And then boom!You see your freelancer friend in an Eraserheads shirt and ugly cargo pants. He goes to his Hummer, where his PA and his driver help carry his photography stuff. Beside him is Anne Curtis.

You assume a fetal position. And you turn into a ball, knowing in the pit of your stomach, that you’ll never be a rockstar.

Wincy Aquino Ong

Wincy Aquino Ong is a writer, musician, filmmaker, actor, and comic book illustrator. His works have been published in The Philippine Star and Esquire. His horror fiction was part of Neil Gaiman's Expeditions anthology. He is best known for the indie film San Lazaro, which was released in 2011.

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