[ NOte : Just to be asked to contribute a piece for the Pistang Pilipino 2010 sa North Shore ( Auckland ) Labour Weekend event ( 22nd-24th Oct ) is certainly an honour for us ; whether or not it’s actually used we don’t know, but it appears below. We did our best to stay close to the theme of capturing what it means to be a Kiwi + Pinoy. Thanks for reading ! ]
THERE are many emotional highs and few lows when one contemplates what it means to be a Kiwi + Pinoy — or as more popularly known these days, a Kinoy.
Is it when one is granted, after a dramatic Work-to-Residence period, life-changing Permanent Residence (PR) status, the crowning achievement of every Kinoy migrant?
Is it when one receives the acknowledgment of both Kiwis and fellow guest workers in the workplace, crystallizing the overachieving role played by many kabayan in various fields of endeavor in the Land of the Long White Cloud ?
Is it the extended blessings enjoyed by every Filipino family whenever one of their own marries a Kiwi, who is only too willing to share the benefits and benevolence of a First World country with his new relatives?
Since the answer to all of these is undoubtedly yes, we can’t help but select instead a defining moment that links all who seek a second life as members of one of the most hospitable nations in the First World.
What captures the moment, as one searches through the personal adventure of heartaches, dreams and hopes towards being a Kinoy?
Again, it could be a thousand and one scenarios, too many to mention.
Attaining an NZ driver’s license, a first Kiwi home, or even a first child born on Aotearoa shores? Just three of the numerous benchmarks that indelibly mark our album of memories. But do they define one’s existence here?
Arrayed against the good memories are the painful ones : for every permanent resident status awarded are ten rejections, equals 10 kabayan going home starting from scratch.
For every work permit granted are probably a dozen expired and unrenewed, sending home our frustrated countrymen despite excellent work and an even more admirable work ethic.
And everyone knows that not every mixed-culture marriage between Kiwi and Pinoy ends in permanent residence. All the signs of love and commitment must be there, lest the institution of marriage be abused for less romantic ends.
Now that we have the wide-screen view, having witnessed the peaks and valleys of the Kinoy migrant experience, we ask anew what moment for us defines being Kinoy?
It’s a bit more abstract than all those previously described, and it can happen any point in the migration timeline.
But it seems to be this : when you discover that you are no longer just part of your homeland, but evolving into someone part of a new land; not merely Pinoy but not fully a New Zealander; not yet a transplant but no longer rooted in the land of your birth… this particular moment in time, whenever it may be, defines your existence as a Kinoy.
It is being part of both worlds, yet laying claim to none. For that is the blessing and curse of migration, of coming and going, leaving and arriving. More particularly, it is the essence of being Kinoy, a mixture that we don’t mind at all.
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The interesting part of our Kinoy adventure is that we have yet to reach our goal. For three years running, we have held a work permit, but not fortunate enough to deserve permanent resident status.
No rush though. Just as success is a journey and not a destination, so is migration. If being Kinoy means taking Life’s best shots and taking advantage of every break that goes our way, so be it.
There is a confident sign that aspiring to be a Kinoy is consistent with the Pinoy spirit of migration. This is the fact that despite the ambiguous policy adopted by the NZ government, our numbers continue to increase. Each of the 40,000 Filipino souls in the land of our hosts serves as an inspiration for more to come. Like an idea whose time has come, Kinoy growth is strong and for the moment, has no limits.
God bless each and every one of the 40,000 Kinoys ; may there be 40,000 more. Mabuhay !
[ Noel B is a work permit holder currently based in Wellington, but still holds out hope that some day, the permit will transform into a Returning Resident’s Visa. In the meantime, he thanks every Kiwi, co-migrant and kabayan who has taken time to enrich his life by showing him their personal version of New Zealand. Maraming salamat po! ]