ang paglipad ng kulay ni Mahal sa interbyu (Mahal’s flying colors in a work inteview)

The pic's a little too nice, but the store where Mahal applied looks a little like this.  Thanks to for the pic!

The pic’s a little too nice, but the store where Mahal applied looks a little like this. Thanks to for the pic!

[Note :  Just thought you might want to know how a work interview in NZ is conducted. It's not mine, hope Mahal doesn't mind.  :)  I know "flying colors" implies that Mahal was no less than perfect, but with the last two questions asked below, her interview probably qualifies.]

Mahal’s thoughts provided in parentheses and in the vernacular.  Post-mortem of course.

MATHS, MATHS, maths.  Mostly involving computations of grams and grams of precious stuff, up to the 3rd decimal place.  Hear those numbers crunch.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

(Bakit bawal ang calcu?  Buti na lang nagpraktis ako, pati singit ko pinapawisan.) (hope that’s still GP content, blogwise.  Apologies to all if not.)

Q & A time, with the manager.  She is friendly and informal.  She is also Mahal’s first interview with a Kiwi.  Ever.

(After cursory, initial questions.)  What’s your experience with gold and precious stones been, R?  I see you’re quite familiar with the four C’s of diamonds.  Could you share those with me?  (nasagot ko yon.  Color, Clarity, Cut at syempre Carat.)  Ok, ok.  (small smile, but no-nonsense pa rin.)

Save your best for last, R, because the owner is here for your interview.  He flew down from Auckland just to see you. 

(Omg, omg.  tutoo na to ‘day.)

***     ***     ***

A well-dressed, well-groomed man with South Asian looks seats himself.  (Mahal is not surprised, as the store is frequented by customers from that region in Asia and the shop hints of South Asian decor, tasteful of course.)  

He states matter-of-factly with a polite smile, “you’re dressed smartly.”  

Flying start for Mahal.  For the record, she is dressed in smart pumps, flare pants, sleeveless blouse topped by blazer. Egyptian style choker (that’s the nearest term I can come up with), and for the occasion, Mahal didn’t pull punches with the gold and jewelry. 

What are the types of gold, and what are their commercial names?  Give me a list of precious stones you’re familiar with.  What’s the gold content of those types of gold you mentioned.?  Mahal enumerates the products with deadpan efficiency only barely disguising her nervousness.  The interviewer, who is now obviously past the first stage of curiosity, has moved on, and has asked his branch manager to give Mahal another battery of tests.

More numbers.  More computations.  Curiously, no more sweating this time.

   ***         ***          ***

15 minutes later, the owner is back with more questions.

This time it’s more probing, less on substance and product knowledge which Mahal’s already established and more on sales experience and technique.  This part of the interview ends with a mock sales presentation of 18k gold necklaces which, true to form, Mahal nails with a loud BANG.

To the most important question, Mahal adlibs with seconds to spare.  

Interviewer asks : I know we advertised for a part-time job, but if you were asked to apply for a full-time contract to include foreign-exchange work (the shop has a money-changer side business), would you accept?

Milliseconds pass…

Absolutely!  I just need to wind up my work and continue token part-time with my employer,while I train my replacement.   They’ve been good to me. 

(Mahal has no idea where she got the answer, but it’s a job she did with flourish back home, and she did not hesitate.)

      ***          ***          ***

So as promised, this is how the interview ended : I know you need to give your (current) boss notice, but can you start training tomorrow?  And can you tell me how soon you can start?  Because instead of a part-time job, I am thinking of giving you a full-time position.

Incidentally, this is how Mahal dreamed the interview would end.  Doesn’t hurt to dream diba?  

Congrats Mahal, and thanks everyone for reading!


[Note : Thanks to Sita Adhikari for the video, this is what it looked like, but the hailstones in Wellington were a bit smaller. ]

IN HINDSIGHT, I should’ve probably followed my gut feel after holding a wet finger up and smelling the air.  I very rarely leave early for work, but the radio said that there would be a short spell of bad weather  in the afternoon, sandwiched by good weather the rest of the day.  Unfortunately Facebook games intervened, and I left as usual around 45 minutes before my shift would start at 3.00 pm.

What followed was like walking into a sucker punch turning into a blind corner. One of the more brutal, coldest and windiest hailstorms pummeled me halfway to work.  Making it worse was the fact that I was on a pushbike, pedalling like it was a summer day.

***     ***     ***

And my bike ride DID start like a summer day, cuz the sun was out, so bright in fact that I even had shades on and only a light sweater on, laughing at all those motorists who had to buy petrol to get to wherever they were going.  Sure I had cold hands and it was hard biking up those bridges and overpasses, but the task at hand for the moment was to focus and get to work on human leg power.

Somewhere halfway to my workplace something abruptly went wrong, as the clouds started moving so fast it reminded me of those scary movies where since the scary parts only happen at night, daytime goes by in fast motion, and the wind started to chill every exposed part of my face.  Having been biking to work a handful of years, this didn’t faze me too much, but the next thing did.

It was starting to rain, but the raindrops were starting to pinch my face and nick my nose, almost like the drops were trying to squeeze (in fast time) oil out of my blackheads.  NOW I was starting to worry.  Against my better judgment I slowed down to check around me despite the fact that every second I was away from shelter was going to be crucial, and sure enough rain was falling down on the asphalt, except that I could see the rain, and it was in the form of white peas and grains.  The road remained dry, but was turning white fast.  And my face was hurting.

When I got to Port Road, supposed to be only a few minutes away from work in normal time, I might as well have been an hour away as the wind and hail was pushing me back.  My helmet was torn away from my head, I was completely drenched (the hailstones were melting of course), and the brutal wind chill factor had pulled the temperature down a few degrees, which was already in single digits to begin with.

It was at this point that I realized that for the first time in a long time, I would not get to work on time.

With the wind, hail and abnormal cold (even for winter) pushing me back, I walked around 100 meters in around 10 minutes, every step a challenge.  I saw that even the cars passing me by were having a hard time, and I wondered if there was anyone as stupid as me out in this ungodly weather.  There was none.  I had begun to fear being blown out to the nearby sea, and considered seeking shelter.  There was none.

It was at this point I realized that I didn’t care about being on time anymore, and just wanted to get to work at a reasonable time.

My face and hands were numb, so numb that I couldn’t even use my phone.  Thankfully, the hailstones and wind had gone down a bit so it was OK to bike, but it was still very cold.  I was bundled up, but inside was drenched.  In my six years in Wellington I had experienced bitter cold, even snow and torrential rain, but never winds and hail.  And certainly not at the same time.

It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t care about getting to work anymore, and just wanted to survive.

          ***         ***          ***

When I finally got to the factory, after what seemed an eternity (actually around 20 minutes only) my workmates couldn’t believe that I had ridden through that kind of weather.  The superflash bundy clock that required my fingerprint (at presumably body temperature) wasn’t accepting my finger, because the latter was icy cold, as was the rest of my body. An electrician on top of the silos had to come down because it was too dangerous, and wheat containers from the port were most likely to stop coming as the port was closed down temporarily.  It was THAT kind of a day, so unruly that even urgent work had to be halted.

My bisor told me that if this incident still wasn’t going to stop me from biking to work in inclement weather, nothing would.

I said that we would have to wait and see. :)  After all, I DID go through the worst, and was still ready for work, after a hot cup of kapeng barako.

Thanks for reading!

Mork, Patch Adams, Mrs Doubtfire, and once a Pinay’s hubby: how could you not love and mourn for Robin Williams?

YOU WOULD have to be a cold-hearted Scrooge and Sad Sack not to appreciate the humor of Robin Williams.  Not only was Mork and Mindy a part of my weekends for so long growing up, his astounding body of work produced trailblazing, off-the-wall and side-splitting comedy that captured the hearts and minds of people the world over.

This was why a great sense of emptiness and sadness overcame me when Mahal greeted me good morning with the simple news : “Robin Williams is dead.”  A whirlwind of memories rushed through me, but no single moment stood out.

This is because Robin Williams has sustained his comedic brilliance almost throughout his career, starting from stand-up to his big break on TV, and his outstanding movies where his skills were brought to the fore : improvisational, drawing from the unlikeliest sources, and imitating accents, voices and mannerisms with intense accuracy.

The funny thing is I can visualize the specific pleasure of laughing at Robin Williams but I can’t picture in my mind a single film where he outdid himself.  Patch Adams, Mrs Doubtfire, Hook,  all consistently churning out the brand that is the genuis and improv of Robin Williams.

Admittedly he appeared in some lemons in recent years, but this never diminished my respect for him as a serious actor, which he hammered into our collective psyches with Dead Poets Society, What Dreams May Come, Good Will Hunting, and so many more.

The world lost a great man today.

PS.  And there’s the inevitable Pinoy connection too.  He was once upon a time married to a Pinay.  How could you not love and mourn for him?

guess who’s coming to dinner (with pinoys)?

Chris and Lauren our Wellingtonian neighbors are on the left.  Mielko the friendly Slavic cabdriver is on the right.  The lovely host is in the middle.  Somebody had to take the pic, so Your Loyal Blogger is nowhere to be found :(

Chris and Lauren our Wellingtonian neighbors are on the left. Mielko the friendly Slavic cabdriver is on the right. The lovely host is in the middle. Somebody had to take the pic, so Your Loyal Blogger is nowhere to be found :(

THERE IS a delicate dance between neighbors that seems awkward at first but later becomes second nature on both sides of the fence.

You want to ask about the goings-on of your next-door bestie, but you don’t want to be perceived as too nosy lest they think you’re a busybody (actually you are), so you strike a balance.

You want to drop in or at least make an appearance every weekend so you don’t come across as suplado (haughty), but you don’t want to be too visible cuz your neighbor might think you’ve got too much time on your hands, so you’re both ever-present and invisible, if that can be possible.

You want your neighbor to know enough about you so that they can convince themselves you’re normal, but you don’t want too much of yourself exposed because that’s when your weirdness starts to show, inaykupo.

I know I’m beginning to sound OCD-paranoid, but such has been the reality of living as a neighbor in highly urbanized New Zealand, at least for as long as I’ve been a migrant.

Mahal and I have been lucky in our present incarnation as laid-back, Asian and eager-to-please semi-detached neighbors.  We have equally laid-back and almost eager to please semi-detached neighbors, just that they are not Asian, and obviously aware of our migrant status or at least not being here for too long, have been quite welcoming of us both as neighbors and as New Zealanders.

Not only did we exchange the obligatory hellos and wassups whenever we chanced across each other on the driveway, but we also inquired about our weekends, our jobs, and what we did with our vacation leaves (they went to the Gold Coast, while we slept through our long weekends), what we did on our respective holidays (they went to Auckland, while we stayed at home pretending we were back in the Philippines celebrating a Pinoy Christmas), and our respective hobbies (the guy is a rugby fan, what a big surprise, while I usually sleep weekend afternoons or play Candy Crush Saga).  Before long, we acted like tight buddies (put your index and middle fingers together) and it was just a matter of time before we invited each other to dinners at our respective home.

Our other next-door was an Eastern European migrant married to an Korean, what a match right?  Turned out they, having been relatively newer to the compound than the rest of us, were ultrafriendly and invited us over every chance they got.  So it would’ve been poor form not to reciprocate and invite them ourselves.  (Plus, they had gorgeous Eurasian kids that inherited only their best features, think straight noses, high cheekbones and chinito / chinita eyes.)

Except that by the time we were able to invite both couples to our munting dampa, the first couple was already moving out, to a bigger home and obviously with a view to enlarging their brood.  We had only one chance to invite them to dinner as neighbors, and that was two Wednesdays ago.

Mahal made exceptional use of the occasion, selecting three classic Pinoy dishes that (she thought) would bring out the best of our salty-sour-sweet cuisine : adobo, kaldereta and pancit bihon, which the guests surprisingly took second and third servings.  (She was also going to be able to show off her new warmer-server she bought for a song at a K-Mart sale, which you might be able to spot if there’s a photo above… yes, there it is. :) )

During and after the repast, a funny thing happened : Chris and Lauren (the Kiwi couple) and Mahal and I knew each other a bit longer, so we expected to bond and chat a bit more freely, but it was our Eastern European neighbor Mielko who would be more gregarious and easy with conversation, stealing the show from right under our noses.

Maybe it was the libation he brought but while we were careful about tripping over our newly-minted Kiwi English accent, and the Kiwis were thinking of anecdotes to show how they loved their Asian friends and Asian takeaway (as if naman Pinoys invented takeaway), Mielko was regaling us with his day motoring his passengers around town in his Japanese hybrid.  A taxicab driver, he says, meets all sorts of people, but sadly the fares he remembers best are the drunks, the quarrelsome and those who refuse to pay.  Of course, we were transfixed by his vignettes on the seediest examples of everyday human behavior.

Before long, as with all dinners where participants come from different cultures, we had run out of things to talk about.  Truthfully, our only common denominator was that we had once upon a time shared a driveway and parking area, and that we had the same rubbish collection day and perhaps the same lawn mower.  But because we made the effort to become sometime friends, it made our little corner of the world a better place to live in.  And long after we’re no longer neighbors, at least there’s still Facebook!  Mabuhay to friendly neighbors and thanks for reading!

Sen. Miriam Santiago Jokes: The Unofficial Collection


brilliant! :)

Originally posted on The Pinoy Site:

Para sa mga naaaliw sa mga banat at patawa ni Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, narito ang collection ng mga jokes, pick-up lines, banat sa mga politicians (kagaya niya) at ilang mga quotes ng Senadora na hinango mula sa iba’t ibang sulok ng internet.

senator miriam santiago quotes


Anong blood type ang pwedeng motto? B-positive.

Matalinong babae + Matalinong lalaki = Romance
Matalinong lalaki + Bobong babae = Affair
Matalinong babae + Bobong lalaki = Kasal
Bobong lalaki + Bobong babae = Sexually Transmitted Disease

Gusto mo bang trabaho?

  • Meron sa PLDT, 10,000 pesos per day. Ikaw yung dialtone.
  • Meron sa DPWH, 10, 000 pesos per day. Ikaw yung speedbump.
  • Meron sa post office, 10,000 pesos per day. Didilaan mo lahat ng stamps.

A young boy asked his Dad, what is the difference between confident and confidential?

The father said, you’re my son. Confident ako doon. Yung best friend mo…

View original 2,323 more words

dodgy & pasaway answers to my men’s health questionnaire

thanks to for the pic!

thanks to for the pic!

MALE HEALTH AND FITNESS no longer remains the exclusive domain of health junkies, especially in our male-dominated workplace.

Just last week, Ma’a Nonu (an alias) was suspended for overexerting himself (is there such a word?), after being given specific instructions to stay on light duties in the light of his various ailments, mostly heart-related.  I don’t know for how long he’ll be gone, but it doesn’t look good for him.  Looking at the big picture, keeping him healthy and alive took precedence over any job issues that  might have been hanging in the balance.  It was a wake-up call for all of us, because New Zealanders are no different from Pinoys when it comes to health issues : we choose to ignore any potential problems until it becomes a gigantic elephant in the room, overpowering us and becoming a life-or death issue.

Just to make it an easier topic to discuss in the lunchroom, the office signed up for a male health awareness program half-jestingly called “Man Maintenance”, which focused on the health problems men were likely to suffer towards middle age and were likely to ignore until it was too late.  “GUYS, CHECK YOUR TOOLKIT” exhorts the flyer, which unfortunately I gave a second look in the lunchroom only because the black and blue color reminded me of a Domino’s Pizza discount coupon.  On the backside of the exhortation, which obviously compares our health and various bodily systems to the tools that help us go through life, was a short questionnaire, any of which if answerable by “yes” was a red flag that screamed at us to book a medical appointment super-ASAP.  Below are the questions, and my dodgy answers :

Are you aged 50 years or over?  Hmmm…  Next question please.  :)  Seriously the question seeks to establish my age range, which predisposes me to certain health conditions like hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers.  To be perfectly honest with you, before telling you my tender age, I’ve never subscribed to the belief that you’re only as old as you feel.  Age is a measurement, and it’s there for a reason.  How well you’ve taken care yourself by the time you reach a certain number of years determines how well you’ll live the rest of your life, for better or worse.  I’ll be half a century in a few months, but whether I’ve outlasted my use-by date, remains to be seen, hopefully in the next few questions.

Are you a smoker?  This is a tricky one, in establishing whether or not the question is a good indicator of my personal health.  No I don’t smoke, but I had been a pack-plus ciggy puffer (not the naughty type) for 24 years until I quit for good in 2007.  My fitness improved dramatically since then, in almost every aspect, but who knows if I’ve already picked up lifestyle diseases because of the quarter century of smoking?  A word to the wise in this area :  Better than quitting is not starting at all, and if you’ve quit, don’t start again.

Do you exercise on average less than 30 minutes most days?  Bar none, this is the one question I can answer unequivocally in the positive.  The physical activity in my work alone (I work in a four-storey factory with no elevators) requires me to go 100kph, most of the 8-hour shift and I stay standing or walking throughout unless I’m on a tea break or lunch break.  I also bike to and from work (unless it’s raining or I’m on night shift) around 30 minutes each way, so it’s pretty much a brisk 6-hour walk for me five days a week, 48 weeks a year less statutory holidays.  I appreciate the gift, but could I just cash that gym membership for a Wendy’s value card?

Do you have more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day?  Waiving my constitutional right against self-incrimination, I enjoy a brown bottle every now and then.  Recently though, I made an important, work-related discovery about alcohol.  If you can’t get to sleep after afternoon shift or night shift, and have to catch some zzz’s for the next day, a drink or two of the nasty will give you an instant visa to Dreamland faster than any tranquilizer can.  I try not to enjoy it too much, because inevitably I start to depend on it, either that or no more night shifts for me.  Otherwise, I’m blessed that drinking has never been a problem for me, so that all the alcohol-related ailments that follow a lifetime of drinking is something I won’t worry about in old age.

Are you overweight?  Here’s another tricky one, and I’m not trying to flatter myself by saying I’m not sure if I’m overweight (or not), but even though I’ve always been a bit over my fighting weight of 65 kilos most of my life, it’s never been too much of a problem, I’ve more or less been able to keep fit and spry, never mind the love handles and pilyegis on the side.  But for every pound of fat that you keep attached to your torso after 50, you incur a corresponding number of percentage points regarding the likelihood of you dying by cardiovascular disease.  Mahirap talaga kapag di ka magbawas ng timbang, and there is no other way except via diet and exercise.  I don’t want to say that I’m losing the war against fat and more fat, but at my age it’s a daily struggle.

There, the first five questions asked and answered.  Tell me if you want to hear about the next five questions, they’re just as compelling.  But of course, that’s just me.  Thanks for reading, and here’s to aging well and gracefully!


lost in translation [pause] found in translation

[ Thank you mpytacct for the video! ]

MOST LIKELY it will be fodder for another blog, but the learning curve has been steep the last few weeks for Lakay and me.  Lakay (with a capital L) I forgot is the newest character in my blog universe, referring to my brand-new workmate who happens to be as Filipino as I am (SuperBisor sez I am mocchacino, while Lakay is cappucino), and is learning how to do the job I’m doing, who better to be his training buddy than Your Loyal Blogger?

So we showed him the skillz, the way to do things, tips and tricks and above all, the nearly-human machinery that we had come to know and love so well.  Never forgetting the personal element essential in all work environments, I also told him a little about most of the people we would be working with, actually most of the people he would be working with, since work would be mostly a two-man shift, and he would not be enjoying my Pinoy company for long.

Not the least of my discussions focused on the Kiwi accent, the spicy vocabulary that peppered the effectively all-male milieu, the sometimes raunchy humor therein, and the diverse personalities that promised to make Lakay’s first adventure in blue-collar New Zealand an exciting one.

***            ***         ***

I admit that it was a weak spot in my training performance when I told Lakay about Genghis, who I must’ve told you about in a previous blog.  Genghis is not the easiest person to like, but he is probably a model worker who has excellent work ethic and attitude.  Literally he is there not to make friends in the workplace, but if you ask him directly and sincerely, he will give you a hand in your time of need.

Apart from his stoic and workmanlike demeanor (and I’m not exaggerating), he has a quaint Eastern European accent that makes him a moving target for impressionists and jokers like me.  I never imitate his way of speaking in front of him, but I admit that I get a lot of laughs when I do so.  Imagine the Count in Sesame Street, complete with the ah-ah-ah chuckle, and you probably will get an idea of what I mean:


As it turned out, my description of Genghis as a curt, unsociable and indifferent co-worker fell short of telling Lakay what was essential : that people like Genghis (who are congenitally incapable of normal human interaction) have little or no inclination for small talk and for them, everything is about work, work and work.  Nothing personal, but  it’s always about one-upmanship when it comes to work product, work output and academic credentials.

I didn’t expect Lakay to get exposed to Genghis’s charms so soon, but on only the second night of their shift together, it happened.  Not even waiting for Lakay to introduce himself in the Quality Assurance lab, Genghis started posturing and asked him : What are your educational qualifications?  What was the nature of your last work environment?

To his everlasting credit, Lakay didn’t flinch, and answered in his best Ilokano accent : I hold a Batselor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, prom di Saint Louis University in Baguio City.  He even braced himself mentally just in case Genghis challenged him to solve differential calculus problems.  Fortunately, Genghis seemed satisfied with his answers.

Later the next day, SuperBisor tried to explain the incident as best he could, but the questions in Lakay’s mind remained unanswered : Was it just Genghis’s way of acquaintng himself with a new colleague?  Was there any malice or intent to intimidate?  I couldn’t answer these questions since I myself was clearly ticked off with Genghis.  So I couldn’t blame Lakay for his dark mood.

***   ***  ***

The next night it was my turn to be paranoid.  I was asked to do a test for a special product the factory was turning out as there was no quality officer after regular office hours.  I had done the test before, but it had been a while.  The test was very involving, required more than a dozen steps, each of which had to be done quickly and efficiently if an accurate result was expected.  I was therefore a bit apprehensive while waiting for the sample and wasn’t expecting Genghis, who matter-of-factly asked if I needed help.

In a matter of minutes, he took me through the entire process, explained each step clearly and pleasantly, and waved away my offer to do the test, explaining that I could do it next time.  He also dismissed my perfunctory offer to clean up tubes and bottles after the test, and left me both grateful and impressed, something  that hardly ever happens with any interaction with Genghis.

Lastly but not leastly, he left me with a cryptic last word : It is part of my job to teach you whatever I know, but if you want to do it your way (and come up with the same results), it is up to you.  I am just here to get the ball rolling.

It was the closest thing to a friendly personal statement from him, but later on, after a bit of analysis, I realized what he meant to say :  I am here to help you, and you only need to ask. 

Needless to say, after the shift I told Lakay what happened, I had to because (1) it was quite unexpected, and (2) there was nobody else around.  It’s fair to say that Lakay still feels a little out of sorts, but the vignette made him feel a little better.

Between cultures and languages, something inevitably gets lost in translation, and you know you’re Pinoy when you take the extra effort to find whatever it is that gets lost, and return it to the sender with a smile.

Thanks for reading!


twin visits from the exam fairy in 72 hrs


[ Thank you very much and acknowledgment to Ms Eva Kaprinay for the use of your magnificent picture in our blog site! ]

TO BE as frank as the Senator who loves her pick-up lines, exam preparation is in universal terms a crap shoot, or throw of the dice.  You can go through the widest gamut of studying for your big test, including cover-to-cover readings of the course material, do all the exercises and drills after every chapter, and compile comprehensive reviewers that leave no stone unturned in culling all possible exam questions. . .

and STILL come up short on exam day, via a combination of entirely new exam questions, an examiner who’s been in the worst mood of his/her life, or just a mental block that prevented you from answering questions sensibly for two hours.

OR, you could cram and crib barely a few days before the big day, hardly cover the course content, and arrive harrassed and sleep-deprived, not even recognize the topic of half the exam questions, and still manage to scrape by the passing mark, and making the grade by half a whisker.  You produce the same result as someone who’d been diligently studying for the last six months.  Unfair, but passing or failing might be determined by as little as sleeping (or not sleeping) an extra hour, or grabbing an exam question from a previous exam.

For my recent guild exams, I was somewhere in between.  I started reading up on the text as early as a few months ago, but leveled off a month before the exam and held off absorbing the material until it was almost too late, with procrastination and laziness a potent cocktail to dull my post-shift inertia.

The last 10 days before the test, I was reminded of very good reasons to at least pass the exam.  Gaining another credit towards certification would help me in my permanent residency application.  Because someone else had started the next step of training ahead of me, I was no longer considered a training priority and further (subsidized) exams were no longer assured, meaning if I had plans to take the last module after this one, I had to pay the hefty exam fee.  And lastly, passing would mean another 50 cents to my hourly wage rate.

So I had all the good reasons to make good on the test, and I used the few remaining days to, like I said, cram and crib, using all the memory aids, tricks and gingko biloba available.  Plus, a kabayan brother-in-arms in Auckland told me where to look up sample exams in previous years.

[Don't forget the three C's of exams : cramming, cribbing, and coffee. ]

Remember what I said about late-minute heroics, a good night’s sleep, and the right questions ending up on your exam paper?   Yup, an alignment of all these planets produced an astounding result for me: an extra-high mark that went a long way in making me look good with work, my peers and of course, my boss.  A little extra effort indeed, goes a long, long way.

***     ***     ***

Towards getting ready for her full (no restrictions) driving license exam, Mahal’s plan was simple: by not telling me she was taking it a second time, she would be saving herself the stress of hearing me ask about it, and the trauma of having to tell me if she failed.

Great plan, except that in retrospect, if she had failed, she would’ve cried her eyes out, giving the result away.

Happily, as you obviously must have surmised, she didn’t, getting it a second time.  The irony was that she was battle-ready for the first time, engaging the services of a tutor, practicing a dozen hours exclusively on her weak areas, and getting a good night’s rest.  Not all of these preparations gave her a successful result.

Diagnoses : she didn’t make a full stop on an intersection, didn’t point out all the driving hazards, and could’ve shown more care on her turns.

This time, because she kept her re-take under wraps, she had no opportunity for another tutorial session, and almost forgot that she had the test scheduled until  the day before.

Miraculously, everything fell into place, the examiner asked her all the right questions, she showed the right technique, and got her full license the same day.

The best part was, we got our results within 2 days of each other.  Thank you God, and thank you exam fairy!

birthday thoughts for bunso

always looking to the future.  happy birthday pogi!

always looking to the future. happy birthday pogi!

ON MY 30th year on this earth, a young boy came into my life.    Among all the pictures of him that exist in early childhood, there are around one or two that show him crying, but otherwise all the rest, scores and scores, show him flashing his famous brilliant smile, radiating warmth and charm three hundred sixty degrees around, and twenty-four seven. Yes, From the very start, there was something special about him.

He’s always had the easiest time with words and phrases, better than average with graphs and figures, and creative as anyone with a brush, mouse or pen.  Early on, he showed a remarkable ease being with children and adults much older than him, but was likewise able to bond with children his age and much younger.  His gift was in expressing himself, in understanding the world around him, and as a logical consequence, in relating to all sorts of people.  Almost everytime, he would leave you feeling that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do, anything he set his mind to, and he had the rest of his young life to do it.  Such was this young boy as I saw him.

It is as I continue to see him, despite all the challenges and obstacles that he has run into, perhaps because of all these same challenges and obstacles.  The past year has seen milestone after milestone that he has declared for himself : first job, first term in an NZ university, first participation in a uni varsity team, first stint as a class representative, and so on and so forth.  That he has produced above average academic results while doing all those firsts shows that he is thriving in the whirlwind, and that he is a natural under pressure.  From babyhood till today, the eve of his 19th birthday, he continues to amaze his awestruck father.

These small tributes are of course natural from an admiring parent, so I temper it with a token enumeration of his adolescent faults : he burns both ends of the candle, he is an unabashed admirer of looks and cleverness in people, usually his own, and unsurprisingly suffers from intervals of overconfidence.  But look at yourself in the mirror Noel, and pay yourself a hundred  pesos for every fault of his that you didn’t have at his age.  That’s right, better start looking for those pesos elsewhere.

The day he came into my life will be exactly 19 years ago tomorrow, but he still gives me the same gift, besides the honor of being a proud father.  And that gift is the ever brightening hope of a kinder, smarter and gentler generation that comes after mine.

From Papa and all the rest of us, happy birthday Bunso, and thank you for being in my life.  As always, you make me proud.

“sorry i’m late” no more!

thanks and acknowledgment to!

thanks and acknowledgment to!

[ Note :  With permission to repost from publisher Didith Tayawa-Figuracion and editor Meia Lopez of  Kabayan newsmagazine, for and of the members of Wellington Filipino community.   Thanks again Didith and Meia, and sorry for not participating in the presswork! This blog also appears in issue no. 6, now out in Catholic parishes and Pinoy stores throughout Wellington.  Please catch other magnificent Kiwi-Pinoy human interest stories by clicking on this link, mabuhay po tayong lahat! ]


I HAVE been lucky enough to be invited four times to functions at either the Philippine Embassy in Wellington or at Ang Bahay, the official residence of the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand.  These were four different events, with different kabayan in attendance, and diverse weather conditions and number of people attending.


The singular common denominator at the four shindigs?  Each event started on the dot, regardless of how many among the invited had arrived, with the Ambassador herself among the earliest attendees.  No Filipino Time observed here, obviously.
Parallel to their Government’s efforts, OFWs are doing their darnedest best to be exemplars not only of efficiency, honesty and cheer, but are also becoming quite reliable in punctuality, which as you know Filipinos are not always famous for.
According to research done by (many thanks for the data!), Filipino time finds its origins in the colonial tradition requiring indios to attend parties only after all the Spanish masters and lords had been seated.  Accommodating or even feeding Pinoy guests was definitely not a priority, and over the next few decades this set-up solidified into the institution known as Filipino time.  In so many words, to be late was to be fashionable.
But the modern milieu abhors a vacuum, particularly where it is caused by waiting for someone who should be there, no matter how important that someone may be.  Life nowadays is divided into slices of neatly scheduled hours, minutes and seconds, all spent doing worthwhile endeavors.  Wilfully breaching these schedules shows a general disrespect for the time of everyone else, while believing that one is not bound by rules of courtesy followed by all others.
How many times have we heard overseas guests arrive at the appointed time in our beloved homeland, only to be made waiting for 10, 15 and upwards of 30 minutes by  our kabayan, who act like as if being late was the most natural thing in the world?  Or how events are held up by an embarrassing amount of time because of the guest of honor was fashionably late?
Ask a random number of expats or dayuhan married to Pinay wives and a strong majority will give you at least one anecdote concerning Filipino time.  When everyone else scorns the appointed time on the invitation, almost like the latter is an RSVP if you will be inexplicably early, you can expect almost no one to be there on time.  Pinoys are early in discount sales, opening day premieres and A-list concerts, but not to parties.  Sadly, if you want peple to attend your affair at a certain time, it is practical to schedule it an hour earlier.  Only in the Philippines.
But there might still be hope for us.  Remember all those events I mentioned at the Embassy ?  Because each started on time, each also ended promptly, with enough space for all of us to catch the late-edition news.  Filipino time won’t last forever, as long as we keep fighting.  Sugod, mga kapatid!