[ NOte from NOel : Many many thanks for all the kind greetings from friends, relatives, brods, officemates, kabayan and everyone else who’s been a part of my dysfunctional world ; a safe, prosperous and healthy 2011 to all ! ]
Dear anakis :
LIKE many wonders of the 21st century, Facebook has a way of overtaking me far, far beyond what my myopic eyes can see. I initially thought that posting a few pictures of my recent happy event was just a courtesy I was extending to relatives, friends and people who’d been in my corner rain or shine, and been there through every joy and pain.
By recent happy event, you know what I mean. Sure I told you that I (or rather, we) had been planning to make the big step, but I would’ve wanted to tell you about every detail, show you every picture, and maybe tell you about the mementoes of our wedding.
There, I said it. Even if your Tita H and I had gotten married last week, I would’ve wanted to tell you that day, call you before we went to the Registrar of Marriages, and call you again afterwards during the modest gathering that we organized. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
But that’s what I mean about The Social Network. Barely a few hours after posting (which was previously done by Tita H on her FB page), it was all over, and you probably saw the pics before I did. I’m just happy I was able to tell you a little about it, tell you who were going to be there (your bro, Tito George my bro, Tito Eric my cousin and Tita Maya another cousin; Tita H’s bosses and workmates) and where we would be later.
I know it sounds corny, but I wanted you to know that I did not arrive at my decision spur-of-the-moment or without more than a little deliberation. Tita H came at a time when I had all but given up on love, and was ready to face the rest of my life solo flight.
I will say this only one more time, as if I haven’t said it enough times : Tita H is wise beyond her years, looks after my health and well-being (not that I’m too old to do it myself), understands completely that I have three almost grown-up kids, and is well aware of the realities of a 40something tying the knot with someone in her mid twenties.
That’s it. All I have to say about her is limited to the above, and I’m quite thankful that the few times you met her back home, you were able to spend some quality time and make a connection, even if it was on the not-so-serious things.
I probably need to say something about your mother at this point, and I need to tell you that there will always be a bond between your mom and me, and that bond is YOU.
Whatever happens, we will always be your folks, and neither of us ( or at least I ) will ever use you to score points or get back against the other. If there is one issue on which we will not argue, it is your welfare and future. I have to add ( and she deserves this ) that she has always been a good parent to all of you, something I wish I could, but honestly can’t, say for myself.
Well, that’s about it. This e-mail I should’ve sent you at least a week ago, but things kind of got in the way.
Oh, two more things. DETAILS. First, we got married in a place called the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, where as the term connotes, people go to have births, deaths and marriages registered, or where they announce the same to the world.
We got married in a room that seated 16 people max, and we invited 100% Pinoys, including your brother, uncle and my two cousins. The celebrant (the person officiating) was casting-wise, the unlikeliest sort of person, not a Yoda-looking, naphthalene smelling oddball, but someone who looked more like a Prince William-type of guy (blond, six-foot plus, and baby blue eyes) that the girls checked out more than once. The one time I needed to look dashing, I failed miserably, next to this guy.
But your Tita H more than made up for it, going above and beyond the call of duty with her shoestring budget, and looking every bit the blushing bride. After the simple ceremony where we exchanged I do’s and rings (hulugan sa alahero), we proceeded to a Chinese resto for a small reception.
We had to wind up soon as I had early morning shift at the mill the next day, while Tita H had her parttime job at the nail salon. But not before we had a few pictures taken near Parliament, a durable tradition for couples who don’t have much to spend.
PROMISE. Second : In advance I am allaying your concerns about me having a wife again. My priorities have not and will not change, and you may rest assured that whatever support (or lack of it) you have enjoyed from me, shall remain the same.
As to whether you will have a brother or sister in the future, there are no firm plans as of now 🙂
I love you both very much, wish you were here, and I hope you will enjoy 2011, if possible visit here later in the year.
Kaawaan kayo lagi ng Diyos.
- Able to Exhale (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Side Dish to OFW’s Main Course (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Unusual Literary Romance Novels and Unique Love Stories (suite101.com)
- The Amazing (Kiwi) Race to Bring Pinay Brides Home (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Unlikely Thoughts on Christmas (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Titaful Sembiring uses Twitter to claim Michelle Obama handshake was ‘forced’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Michelle Obama hankshake was ‘forced’ claims Titaful Sembiring on Twitter (dailymail.co.uk)
- Privacy tips for Facebook families (theglobeandmail.com)
- Trouble in Paradise (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- A Christmas Tree for All the Mothers Vanished (mothersarevanishing.blogspot.com)
- Number of asylum-seeker deaths may never be known: PM (theage.com.au)
- Christmas Island to reflect on tragedy (news.theage.com.au)
- “27 asylum seekers die as boat sinks of Australian Island” and related posts (online.worldmag.com)
- A year ago on Christmas Island (thepunch.com.au)
- Christmas Island shipwreck: 27 refugees die on rocks in tragedy (dailymail.co.uk)
- Heroics and heartbreak as Christmas Island toll climbs to 30 (theage.com.au)
- Boat crash forces look at Australia refugee policy (foxnews.com)
- Asylum seekers killed in boat crash off Christmas Island (aussiecriminals.wordpress.com)
- Amateur Video of Christmas Island Disaster (thelede.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Christmas Island detainees remember dead (news.theage.com.au)
- “Australia: boat carrying asylum seekers wrecks off Christmas Island, much loss of life” and related posts (refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com)
- Who’ll blink first and score points off Christmas Island (thepunch.com.au)
- Unrest on Christmas Island as detainees protest over conditions (theage.com.au)
- Dozens feared dead in Christmas Island boat crash (marketwatch.com)
[ Notes from NOel : I’m not sure of the blog-worthiness of this activity, just that it was a first for me, at least in this city, though it certainly won’t be the last. So sorry for the late birthday greetings to Sec A memorables Dr Jo Te-Enriquez (29th Nov), Dr Gilbert Jao (1st Dec), Daisy Chua (4th Dec) and Jesse Chu (6th Dec), Liza Pavon-Wong (4th Dec), 3-point shooter Rodney Uyan (6th Dec), laugh-a-minute Jeff Lu (12th Dec), world class graphic designer Christine Chiang – Schultheiss (14th Dec) and 6-E buddy Klemson See (17th Dec) ! Many happy returns ! And sincerest condolences to schoolmate Mr Dan de Guzman and the rest of the family of Ms Nena de Guzman – Alvarez who passed away recently.]
Dear kabatch, brods, schoolmates, officemates, kabayan and friends :
Whether you’re a tradesman, IT guy or medical professional, a little extra cash never hurts, and fellow Pinoys know this only too well. Your mortgage payments get a little help, you’re able to sneak in a rare movie at the mall, and the kamag-anak back home get a little more than chocolates and the souvenir T-shirt.
During the holidays, the noche buena buffet table gets more crowded, more gifts are placed under the tree, and the trip back home becomes less of a dream. Kabayan all around know about it, but unless you’re this close (hold two fingers together), magaling makisama (get along well) and are willing to forego TV hours and weekend nappy time, you won’t hear about the open secret : there’s serious barya to be earned cleaning houses and offices.
Obviously the easiest way to get cleaning jobs is the referral method, although there may be gigs had via agencies and cleaning companies. As soon as you signify your willingness and you don’t look like you’re afraid of hard work, the vacuum cleaner (and mop, scourer, detergent and other stuff) is yours.
As fate would have it, the house on our cleaning hit-list belonged to an Asian couple, a Malaysian married to a Singaporean, with three sons. They looked so similar to Filipinos that, if not for their accents, there would hardly be any discernible difference.
Modest to a fault, they said that spotless, perfect work wasn’t an essential to satisfy them, although if you were starting a job and wanted to impress, doing mediocre work would hardly be ideal. (more on this later.)
Modest in their dwelling as well, it was an impressive facade outside, double garage and manicured lawn, but the interior was surprisingly spartan and furnished with basic, no-frills furniture. The only luxury we saw, if you could call it that, was a beautiful, expensive looking piano, around which were dozens of sheet music and exercise books.
We started work immediately, working our way literally from top to bottom. Our plate was full : Sweeping cobwebs on the ceiling moulds, using both damp and dry rags on the bookshelves and ledges, mopping the tiles, changing the sheets and pillowcases, and finally, vacuuming the carpets.
[In case you’re wondering, there are two of us, and although my spirit is willing, the bulk of the cleaning is done by my more experienced partner, to save both time and energy for other pursuits. And just to be on the safe side, seeing all those reality / hidden camera shows that spy on nosy cleaners, I paid little more than cursory attention to any item unless I held it for cleaning or gently pushed it out of the way.]
Earlier I said that we worked literally from top to bottom, and though the explanation is common-sensical, it’s not common knowledge, at least not for ignorant little me : Starting from the top avoids the problem of having to repeat some cleaning in case dust or dirt resettles on some place you’ve already done.
I also cleaned from the furthest places retreating into the most accessible, since doing the opposite would’ve resulted in me redoing spots I would almost surely come back to before winding up. I couldn’t help but notice, despite my earlier commitment not to be nosy, that the heart and soul of the house was the academics and well-roundedness of the pre-teen and teenage kids. Reference books, reviewers for university entrance exams, learning software for technical topics, and other similar stuff were standard fare for each non-adult inhabitant, which I conceded was an attribute for ultra-competitive Asian families.
But the fact that this clan was also flexing its muscles among fellow migrant overachievers was a factor, because while initially it seemed a luxury, the need for each child to own a PC or laptop, in light of the necessity to submit well-prepared work (reports and term papers), advances in the hard sciences, and keeping abreast of promising careers, made such appliance an absolute essential.
Businesslike schedules on the fridge whiteboard, neat aparadors, and a garden that hardly needed maintenance gave this CSI wannabe another clue : that each family member pulled his or her weight in duties and chores, all helping out in the daily (or weekly) upkeep of the nest.
Remember we said that despite the tight ship, the kids looked well-rounded? This was why : Cricket practice and games, soccer practice and games, piano lessons, bible study were all part of each son’s sked, and these were the regular fare. And beholding the wall pics and awards, the lucky kids seemed to enjoy all these aspects of being young Rennaissance Men. I mentally saluted their broad-minded folks on that.
* * *
Have I said that cleaning house without being nosy was next to impossible if one was by nature a curious person? If no, I’m saying it now.
A few more details : We were paid the minimum hourly wage for what the homeowners thought would be a job fairly done in four hours. At the outset we thought this would be a breeze since a quick overview gave the impression that we would be in and out in a brisk two-and-a-half hours, three at most.
As the hours dragged on, and we kept adding on to our to-do list, we realized that three $20 notes we were paid was actually a bargain : our pride and gigil would not allow us to leave without vacuuming every cobweb, sweeping every speck of dust, and scrubbing to nothingness every ounce of grime.
In all, I signed off at the four-hour mark and my partner put in another 90 minutes before declaring the job finished. The owners probably knew this; by saying they didn’t expect much, they diplomatically ( if not psychologically ) put the burden on us to go beyond expectations and go overboard on the job. Whether or not it was the intention, the house became ultra – clean as a result.
The furniture, colors and interiors of the house we cleaned, notable in their simplicity and tastefulness, reminded me of many homes back in the Philippines. If anything, I realized that there was a marked effort to remind the visitor (even accidental ones like me) that, despite its being in NZ, the house was inhabited by Asians who someday would be going home.
Which, after all, is what most migrants dream to do, after doing well in their adopted land. An ageless fact of migrant life, confirmed in a most unexpected place of part-time work.
Thanks for reading ! NOel
- OFWs ask DFA: What help? (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Gov’t failed to help OFW who cried rape in Saudi – Migrante (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Most OFWs’ destinations have not been certified as safe – POEA (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- 11 stranded Filipinos in US seek government help (globalnation.inquirer.net)
Dear batchmates, schoolmates, brods, kabayan, officemates and friends :
THE naivete ended long before, but somewhat defining the moment of such end (in a wanna-be dramatic life such as mine, there are always defining moments) was a short, short exchange in our smoku room (cafeteria) a month or so ago.
If you remember the intense, violent (but short-lived) typhoon that swept Northern Luzon the time, there was a picture of a house made of light materials that found itself on the sturdy branches of an obviously much stronger acacia-looking tree.
This picture spoke a thousand words more eloquently than any narrative on the storm, so the international news agencies carried it and such picture found its way to the local paper of our host city.
Whereupon one of our colleagues commented on how many Filipinos must have perished in such a short time the storm flexed its muscles, and to which another replied, “(snort), storm should’ve killed off the lot of them.”
Loose translation : dapat nga naubos na lahi nila.
I don’t know which was more outrageous at the time, that such an racist-inspired utterance was actually made, or that the same words were spoken so casually. Whether or not it was meant as a joke, the person who heard what was said (who incidentally was my supervisor) was outraged and decided to report the matter to the plant manager straightaway. (Employer has a near zero-tolerance policy against harrassment, racist and sexist situations.)
At the last moment however, for some reason, he decided to consult me and find out if I found the same offensive.
Which I initially had a hard time deciding, since (1) I wasn’t there at the time of the incident and (2) I was trying to figure out how serious the statement was since, light jokes, which from time to time include race references, are made all the time in the premises.
Eventually I realized that any grievance that would be redressed wasn’t worth the potential trouble and brouhaha it would cause, and I advised him to drop the matter.
He resolved the situation by saying (kamping-kampi talaga sa mga Pinoy) that one way or another, he and a few others would make sure any perceived slight I felt would be paid back to the alleged offender twofold. Sniff, sniff.
But seriously, by now you probably would’ve discerned the naivete of which I speak : that which assumes that every face, every voice and every smile in our adopted land is one that sincerely welcomes us as one of their own.
For every broad-minded Kiwi with a 21st-century worldview that encourages brotherhood (and sisterhood) and interdependence among countries, there will always be a counterpart xenophobe who can’t avoid feeling insecure with the rainbow of races making its appearance in NZ the last few years.
Difficult as it is to contemplate, the reality is that in this paradise of equal opportunity that respects self-reliance and hard work, there will always be people like the colleague above, and there are many more like him, in varying degrees of intensity.
It’s quite subjective, and definitely there are no hard facts to back me up, but :
(1) can anyone forget morning NZ personality Paul Henry asking the Prime Minister on his impending selection of a new Governor – General : Can we expect a Governor General who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time ?
It initally sounded as wacky as unlikely from such a respected interviewer, until most of us realized that a sizeable number of Kiwis silently supported Henry’s unspoken opinion; that is, that migrant numbers had been growing too rapidly and uncomfortably so.
(2) Among other TV ads that pass through our political correctness (PC) blood-brain barrier, two kinds of ads strike us as both amusing and slightly disturbing : the company that assures us that their customer service and helpdesk functions are performed by Kiwi-staffed call centers; and the brands that proudly proclaim themselves to be 100% Kiwi owned.
When one contemplates the first ad, the immediate problem is that talking to someone stretching his/her “e” vowel sounds, calls merienda “tea time” and pronounces “fish and chips” as “fush and chups” is no assurance that service will be provided, and the secondary problem is that, what if the caller and potential customer doesn’t require a Kiwi call center staffer, because such caller / potential customer may not be Kiwi himself/herself?
In the second, such ads that emphasize a misplaced nationalism fail to take into account the realities of an ever-growing migrant market, that foreign dollars are just as acceptable as Kiwi money, and are just as effective in wealth-generation and nation-building.
The long and short of it is, despite the altruism and good intentions of the best and the brightest in enlightened Kiwi society, there will always be the shortsighted and underachieving who inevitably blame others for their failures.
The easiest and most vulnerable targets, as you might expect, are the newcomers and outsiders.
It’s up to us to show them that we deserve the chance to live the Kiwi / Pinoy Dream as much as any of them, as long as we walk the walk, do the hard work and in true Pinoy fashion, do whatever it takes to shine.
Thanks for reading !
[ NOtes from NOel : umaapaw po ang aking pasasalamat sa mga dalangin at mga bati sa pagisyu ng panibago naming WP (Work Permit) nakaraang buwan, mabuhay kayong lahat. Abot-abot sa Diyos ang aking thank you, no words can express my gratitude. (Although I’m trying now.) One of the few times I’m speechless, actually, and you know what a blabbermouth I am . If you will indulge me in the near future by continuing to patronize my rants and raves, I will have ample opportunity to thank you, but for now, just to be a Filipino, just to be lahing kayumanggi na tinimplahan ng dugong Tsino, just to be lucky enough to be a member of the uring manggagawa in NZ as well as the Pinoy community and subcommunities with its intricate overlapping circles of trust and friendship, I am proud to be . . . btw, kudos to all-around nice guy and schoolmate Mr Sam Dignadice for being accepted to the prestigious University of Auckland MBA program, itaguyod po natin ang bandera ng kapwa Pinoy ! ]
Dear batchmates, schoolmates, kabayan, officemates, and friends :
Prior to my close call, close shave, tightrope walk and hanging bridge adventure (of waiting to exhale between Work Permits) a few weeks ago, I had occasion to contemplate one of the more thought-provoking questions that both well-intentioned Pinoy and Kiwi minds pondered :
Why are Filipinas, especially as wives, so desirable to Kiwi men?
Everyone in my workplace either personally knows someone who has a wife, Pinay girlfriend, cyber girlfriend (or at least, that’s what they are told by such girlfriend) or are looking for a Pinay themselves. This is no exaggeration. We, or rather our countrywomen, are simply THAT popular.
Before we go further, we have two caveats : we claim not an ounce of objectivity in trying to answer the question we just posed, and second, we limit all our comments to our first-hand personal knowledge and verifiable hearsay material. Maybe later, I will explain.
But for now, we refer firstly to the scores of happy Kiwi husbands we’ve chanced to meet and befriend in our first few years in NZ, mostly in Auckland. Some I met through other Filipinos, others by chance, and still others professionally. The common denominator is that the wife keeps them happy, with one raised eyebrow discouraging any domestic mischief (kids’ as well as dad’s) and a hand always holding the kawali (frying pan) for those tasty and addictive Filipino dishes about which no elaboration is necessary.
It may be a slight exaggeration, but the way most Pinays cook for, wash and iron for, and groom their husbands, the latter are practically a spoiled lot. We have no empirical data on how Kiwi women go about their day, but we daresay that their male counterparts who’re lucky enough to find Pinay mates have never had it so good.
We know a countrywoman who cuts her hubby’s hair, manicures his nails, prunes his unruly facial hair and does all the other household things with verve and elan the way only Filipinas do. And believe me, the bloke knows how lucky he is.
Not to be sexist about it, Kiwis can do these things on their own, as most of us Pinoys know and do. But because our kababayan sisses and kumares do such a great job taking care of their spouses, it’s so easy to just sit back and enjoy themselves.
In Windy Welly, the situation is no different. We know practically of no case where our hosts aren’t kept happy by their darling from the Islands, whether the introduction was made through the internet, by a common friend, or by a lucky encounter at work or at play. In turn, through word of mouth, referrals and friends of friends, the reputation and renown of the world-class Filipina wife/partner worth her weight in gold is perpetuated and spread far and wide.
Again, this is probably a unique case/s, but I know of at least two Kiwis who married Pinays, one for his first marriage and the other on the rebound, but the relationship unfortunately turned sour and they broke up after the birth of one child. Guess what? Both guys had second relationships with Pinays, now how’s that for the proverbial repeat sale?
This can only help the reputation of us Pinoys. First, Kiwis invariably ask us, after realizing we are Filipino, if we know of any eligible Pinay bachelorette. It’s not a frivolous or light-hearted question that they ask; frequently they are always on the lookout for such opportunities. Understandably, they prioritize potential mates that are already known by acquaintances or friends from the Philippines as well.
I say this because not every encounter with Pinays is ideal. Unfortunately, it has to be said that out of every dozen, one or two Pinays seek relationships for reasons other than romantic. This is no judgment on them; life is hard enough back home for us to criticize anyone for wanting to seek a better life overseas.
But there are compatriots who want to skip several stages in the pursuit of happiness (work, love, marriage, wealth-building, and so on), and if in the process they happen to break the hearts of guys gullible enough to believe their sweet nothings, so be it.
That last sentence was written in irony, not as straight opinion. While it’s true that no one ever enters into a relationship without eyes open, sadly, some Kiwis are naive enough to believe that the first Pinay they meet, especially in the virtual world, will love them for being lovable ( ? ) forever and ever. The moment they fall into that mode, they are in for a rude awakening, and the only difference between one case and the next is the amount of time before they guy knows he’s been had.
But back to the positives. The trickle down effect is that a Pinay wife who’s been true to her spouse, does the right thing and preserves the good image of the Filipina, is that future spouses get an edge and a head start towards better lives abroad.
Relatedly, all things being equal, I would probably have gotten my present job anyway, but I didn’t realize that at least one of the senior personnel where I started my training was married to a Filipina, and it was such a natural thing to him that Filipinos were all-around good people that he didn’t even bother to tell me.
But from day one, I had a good feeling, because no less than three kabayan had been hired by him recently, and he didn’t need to play favorites, he just treated Pinoys as fairly as he did anyone else.
** ** ** ** **
As we said earlier, it’s hard to be objective and dispassionate when talking about people of your race and nationality and at the same time assess a social phenomenon like blended marriages and families that are, so to speak, spiking the curve in terms of incidence and preference.
We don’t need stats to see that Pinoys have emerged stratospheric in terms of migrant growth rates in NZ. We just need to open our eyes and look around. And one of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that Pinays as wives are first, or at least near the top, in terms of preference and desirability.
A last word? I had a chance to talk to a Kiwi missionary who spent some time evangelizing in the Philippines, and of course he fell in love with, and married a Filipina. He was not a starry-eyed lover, having gone through a previous marriage and several children. Inevitably I asked him how Pinays differed from his life’s loves.
NOel, the best way to sum it up (on why Kiwis gravitate towards Pinays) is Filipinas take good care of their men. Of course, it helps that you guys (figuratively, guys include girls) speak English well, but the attraction is universal. My wife knows instinctively how to make me happy, and it wouldn’t be right for me not to at least try to do the same for her. I’ve been lucky and unlucky in love, but knowing my (Pinay) wife has made up for everything else.
Wow, not much you can add to that. Cheers to Pinay wives everywhere !
Thanks for reading !
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