Behold, I Have Seen The (Near) Future of Sports Fandom, & Thy Name is HATE

NOte from NOel : I’ve always wanted to be a sportswriter, but emotions and partisanship would have made detachment (not objectivity, for true objectivity is impossible regardless of which writing endeavor you embrace) unlikely, but I did write about the only modern-era UAAP basketball championship of State U (1986), so THAT should count, shouldn’t it? 🙂  Likewise, this is in response to a request from my brother Jude ( whom I love dearly ) after several asks about my NBA partisanship, hope this qualifies bro.  Sorry for such a long, dramatic title though,  please excuse my amateurish attempt at sports-related blogging, and so sorry also for the late May birthday greetings to my kabatch Dr Philip Dy, Rosemarie So-Cheng, Mary Ann Ong-Carranceja, Boyd Barcelona, Peggy Cu and Sherwin Lim.  Many happy returns ! ]

Honestly now, just between us NBA casual fans and junkies, answer me this bro/sis :  During the recently concluded NBA 2011 Finals, you kept tabs from Games 1 to 6 because (1) You wanted the Dallas Mavs, the too-underwhelming-to-be-true overachievers from the West to win their first title, never mind the big mouth and brashness of Mavs owner Mark Cuban;
OR (2) you wanted with all your heart for Mr “The Decision” King (LeBron) James to end up with yet another title-less season, never mind the faultless and heroic play of teammate Dwayne Wade, the efforts of the Miami Heat organization, and the fact that one person’s flaws shouldn’t bring an entire team down?
Well? Is it (1) or (2) ?  We don’t know each other THAT well, but unless you’re from Miami, you love betting on the favorite, or you have a bunch of LBJ rookie trading cards that you’re hoping will soar in market value after a Heat title, I’m going with the “hate” vote, which of course is choice No. 2.  All the more if you’re a fan of any of the other 29 teams in the National Basketball Association, and if you’re not one of the estimated 400,000 citizens of the city of Miami Florida, meaning you’re part of the REST of the 308 million that make up the USA, or the 3 billion of the rest of the hoops loving world.
Whatever your answer, hold that thought for a minute…
…and go back with me to the 2009 women’s US Open tennis championship contested by comebacking Kim Clijsters of Belgium and “we-all-know-who-the-real-World-Number-One-IsSerena Williams, and regardless of the bizarreness ( the spellchecker doesn’t recognize this word) of the way it ended, in an awful foot fault call and resulting penalty point awarding the championship to Clijsters, did you (1) want the overpowering and admittedly masculine looking Serena (or at least more masculine looking than Men’s Champion Juan Martin del Potro) to pin yet another Grand Slam feather on her heavy cap,
OR (2) pull for the first mom to reach a major finals in recent years to put the bulkier member of the Williams sisters in her place?
Hold that thought yet again, and recall the week-old finale of the US Open in golf, and you didn’t have to be a serious golf afficionado to know that something noteworthy just happened.  Was it : (1) newest phenom Rory McIlroy becoming Europe’s youngest major champion (US Open, British Open, Masters and PGA Championship) in 139 years, (2) McIlroy’s amazing comeback since his epic meltdown at the Masters only a month before, (3) his twin US Open records of 72-round totals (268) and score-to-par (-16), surpassing even Tiger Wood‘s records,
OR (4) it’s been the 12th straight major that Tiger hasn’t won, putting him further and further from his personal goal of winning 19 majors, or one more than those won by the all-time great Jack Nicklaus…
If you went for the last choice in any of the scenarios mentioned above, in our humble opinion you’ve joined the “hate” fan culture that has transcended the narrow milieu of sports partisanship.  It’s no longer just wanting your favorite team or idol’s rival to lose and lose spectacularly, because the waves of hate and animosity are directed towards a particular team or athlete, and the latter isn’t even a rival of your favorite.
To be fair, the personalities in question, King James, Serena Williams and Tiger, didn’t help themselves.  The amazing Finals meltdown ( amazing in the sense that up to that point, LBJ was certifiably UNGUARDABLE by anyone, much less a 35-year Jason Kidd who still retains the passing and ball handling gifts, but ran out of athleticism even before MJ’s Third Coming ) will stay with The Chosen One till he unchokes in his breakout Finals and anything less than a decisively won title will fall short; Serena almost got my sympathy again with her emotional Wimbledon comeback after nearly a one-year absence from tennis, but her temper tantrum against Wimbledon court scheduling took it away again; and Tiger will probably participate in a golf major final again, but will never recapture the same level of parbusting magic and shock-and-awe superiority that has characterized much of professional golf in the last 15 years.
But it’s not so much a situation of being unlovable losers but the aura of ungracious winners that they projected when they lorded it over their respective realms.  LBJ was a winner at every level right before he reached the pinnacle of success (the NBA Finals), and he was anointed and expected to be one (as High School All-America, No. 1 overall NBA Draft Pick, reportedly $70 million richer in product endorsements before he played a single minute of pro ball, Rookie of the Year, All-Star every season played, gold-medal Olympian, regular season MVP, playoffs MVP)  His talent, sense of entitlement and tolerated arrogance set him up for a failure that his character could never deal with.
Serena knew and asserted her superiority over every other rival; everyone else accepted this, but did she have to rub it in everyone’s faces?  And Tiger’s stranglehold over every aspect of his being No.1 extended to his absolute control over the sports media.  No one was allowed to ask unscreened questions during his media briefings, in fact a reporter’s unfavorable or uncomfortable question to Tiger would probably be his last; he would never be allowed to ask a question, much less be granted a Tiger interview again.  Every self-respecting member of the media covering this knew this rule and accepted it as an immutable reality during the Tiger dynasty.
After their misfortunes and fall from grace, the mass media gave them more than their day of reckoning : they dissected and milked their transgressions till the very last drop : LBJ, who should be by this stage of the media cycle be a figure of pity or at the very least, mild sympathy, remains someone sitting in the figurative corner, someone to be punished and ostracized until he “eats his humble pie.”
For all of her superhuman achievements, media chose to make the public remember Serena’s lame excuses every time she lost a final and of course, the “we all know” comment above.  And we’ve all been witness to the “slow death” torture, some of it well-deserved, of Tiger’s indiscretions, sexting and ill-advised “it’s Tiger” voicemails that have been replayed ad infinitum across every form of media, planet-wide.
If you don’t believe that LBJ, Serena and Tiger have been singled out (not unfairly though) consider superstars of equivalent magnitude :  Kobe Bryant escaped a rape conviction by the skin of his teeth, not the least due to a more-or-less “neutral”  media that was uncharacteristically quiet, and after his acquittal went on to reacquire basketball god status and two more titles for the Lakers; MJ was rumored to have gambling problems and bullied everyone around him viciously; after smoothing over the more aggressive members of the press, his Hall of Fame reputation remained untarnished.  For a while Michael Vick’s foray into dogfighting turned him into Public Enemy No. 1.  After a short prison term and a repackaging of his image, he has regained his star status.
For the trio above, it seems that the media correctly foresaw that sales and ads ( for print media ), ratings and ads ( for electronic media ) and hits and ads ( for online media ) would jump a hundredfold if it fed the deep-seated hate seething below the surface for the ego, lust and poorly-prepared media pronouncements ( e.g., Venus and I have won more titles than those playing on Centre Court; not five, not six, not seven titles for the Miami Heat; nothing is more important than my family ).  Media fed the hate and consequently fed from the hate in the form of increased viewership, readership and patronage.  Not so much the dog biting the hand that was feeding it but giving it exactly what the hand deserved.
It’s almost like for sports superstars, especially those with king-sized egos and raging hormones, love slash admiration for success and talent could in the wink of an eye be transformed into hate and animosity, into currency as golden as annual subscriptions, ad revenue and mouseclicks.  For sports fan – driven businesses, Hate could very well be the New Love.  Next to titles and championships, nothing gets the media (and by osmosis, the Sports Nation of fans and supporters ) more rabid than the next rumor, indiscretion or foot-in-mouth moment by a top-tier athlete.
If you don’t believe this, ask LeBron why the city of Cleveland held a victory parade for the Dallas Mavericks, why anti-Serena blogs persist and why “Anyone But Tiger” T-shirts, coffee mugs and souvenirs, more than a year after Tiger Got Caught, enjoy moderate sales.
Nowadays, when “bad” things happen to “bad” sports idols, far from pitying them, we say : you had it coming.

Thanks for reading !

3 Nevers of Dad and 3 Evers of Bunso

Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila, with th...

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I HAVE SO many good memories of my dad, and the best thing about it is that every time I come home to visit, there will be more.  Some of the highlights are his bringing me to Manila Bay shoreline at Luneta before I learned to walk, a practice he continued with my own kids; bringing me to his favorite Binondo watering holes, soccer games and the occasional Cantonese movie; jogging on Roxas Blvd which I originally disliked, having to wake up so early to avoid the blazing Sunday heat, but later realized it was one of the best things we did together; and sharing with me his opinions on why our country would continue suffering age-old problems no matter who was president or which party controlled Congress.

He has rightly counted two among his many blessings as giving him the greatest satisfaction : that he (knock knock) continues to enjoy good health in his advanced age, and that he has seen many of his grandchildren grow up to adulthood, admittedly something not all of his contemporaries have enjoyed.
Which brings me to one of his grandchildren, Bunso, who incidentally celebrates his birthday today.  He likewise has much to be thankful for, not the least of which is an auspicious start to his college life last week, the love of his family and friends, and above average intelligence which will serve him well the rest of his life.
Below are three “nevers” and three “evers” that remind me most of them, and hope that (1) they will agree and (2) you can relate :
(1) Dad NEVER missed a day of work, always treated his employees like family, and lived the conviction that work justified a man and validated his existence.  Like many children of the Great War, he valued every peso he earned, and knew that the pesos kept coming in only because of the hours he put in at the desk.  By trade he was a numbers cruncher / bean counter but he loved the printed word, ran a printing press to prove it, and encouraged all of us to read and express ourselves through the pen, and in his aura I discerned a poet, calligrapher and artist, trades he might have learned had the war and destiny not intervened.
(2) Dad NEVER used corporal punishment as general policy or behaved less than gentlemanly with Mom.  I didn’t say he never punished us, because there were a few times he actually smacked me for some forgotten reason, but because it was such a rare event, I remember it all the more.  Most of the time he used sound reasoning and logic to tell us why we messed up royally, rarely used sarcasm and only resorted to the dreaded belt and slipper when we committed heinous crimes against the rules of the household. In all my years with my folks, I’ve only seen them argue ONCE, and this was when I was 5 or 6 years old.  Otherwise, he’s always allowed Mom to have the last word, never raised his voice at her, and has exhibited perfect patience with his wife 24/7.  That’s Dad for you.
(3) Dad NEVER played favorites, and never compared one son to another.  Well, maybe he never expressed his thoughts out loud, and believe me, he would have had plenty of occasions and reasons to do so, having five sons of diverse and disparate strengths and abilities flung far and wide. He never raised one up at the expense of the other, always appraised and assessed each one of us on our respective merits, and seldom asked any son who happened to be underachieving (wink, wink) why he wasn’t more like the rest. Come to think of it, he could be tactless in other areas but never when it came to praise, or lack of it.  That’s how I remembered, and continue to remember him.
Now comes Bunso, and on his birthday I can’t help but reminisce the following :
(1)  Bunso was EVER the smiling baby, and out of dozens and dozens of baby pictures I have seen only one (1!) picture of him crying, for some reason it reflects perfectly the recollection that he was a happy and good-natured infant, probably because he was the youngest and had his siblings as well as parents around to humor him.  This good naturedness has carried over into puberty and young adulthood, where Bunso is (so far) emotionally well-rounded, easy-going, has certainly avoided the crests and troughs of the emotional tsunami that marked many adolescent years, mine included ;
(2) Bunso was EVER the dancer and actor, which he almost certainly got from either his mother or his grandfather, both of whom were or are good dancers.  At first I just thought he had too many extra-curricular duties on his plate, dancing for this or that event, then I realized for him to be picked and rostered for so many shindigs evidenced only two things : either he had the talent or the goods to do so, or he really loved dancing and related arts.  The truth is probably a combination of both, and while I’m proud of him, I confess it’s not easy to relate, as I have two left feet and a voice only a mother could love 🙂
(3)  Bunso was EVER the responsible student, and only his para-academic activities, org commitments and his precious down-time from hyperactive school schedule prevented him from an honorific graduation, and to his credit, his insistence on a well-balanced high school experience has given him the best of both worlds : respectable grades and development in things he loves to do.  If I sound like a proud dad, it’s because I truly am.
Happy Father’s Day and happy birthday to two guys I will NEVER get tired bonding with and EVER love and admire :  Dad and Bunso .
Thanks for reading !

Tanaw ang Ortigas Center / mula Hobbiton, Middle Earth

Picture taken in 2005 from a Motorola conventi...

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[ NOte from NOel : belated happy Araw ng Kalayaan ! ]

(Some details have been changed.)

The name was the first clue.

Good evening, this is Maricris, thank you for calling Little Brown Brother Telecoms. How may I assist you with your issues?

(Ahem.) Hi Maricris, my name’s Noel, I haven’t had internet the last three weeks since moving house. I gave notice that I was moving house around that time but I haven’t heard from you since then ? Could you help me sort out my reconnection please?

Certainly Noel, I just need your DOB or date of birth or account number, so I may assist you straightaway.

The accent is an even stronger clue, a definite giveaway this time… just a few seconds of listening and I’m fairly confident Maricris grew up most probably in one of the metro centers, Manila or Cebu most likely. Slight traces of Visayan sounding vowels as well.

I have a third clue coming, probably the most important.

Most Kiwis have a hard time with my surname, may I just spell it out for you? B-A-U… I start.

Not a problem at all, I can pronounce your name easily, Mr Bautista.


You’ve probably tried to reach me before, I’ve seen the missed call prompts, but we’re not allowed to use cellphones in the workplace.

That’s too bad, sir. ( I barely noticed it, but I haven’t heard anyone use sir on me since ordering Palabok Value Meal Christmas 2009 at Jollibee Megamall [sigh] ) Because we can’t send your modem unless we’re sure someone’s around to personally receive it. May I confirm if someone will be home for receipt of the item?

( I can’t confirm but I’m tired of bringing me and my bulati to internet cafes in single-digit Celsius in the middle of Windy Welly. ) I’m only 50-50 sure that my son will be home, but could you help me out and take a chance on delivery?

The courier won’t leave it and your service will only be delayed further Sir Emmanuel.

Noel, please. ( I smile, because I know they can sense it.) And I know you’re Pinoy, Maricris, so Taglish na lang, OK?

(Laughs.) I thought so sir, but we’re not allowed to speak in Tagalog unless the client requests it specifically. But talking to a kabayan is always a pleasant surprise. Kumusta po ang New Zealand?

Wag mo na rin akong i-po, tumatanda ako lalo (am blushing, hope she doesn’t sense it.) Makikisuyo lang Maricris, pwede bang irelease yung modem asap? Ako na ang bahalang dumiskarte sa tatanggap. Ayos pala kaming mga kababayan mo rito sa NZ, medyo malamig lang ngayon.

Eh sir kung ma-assure nyo lang na may tatanggap nang personal sa bahay nyo wala namang problema po yan. Wag nyo rin pong kalimutang ibalik ang lumang modem and cable para di kayo ma-bill.

I asked her why it took longer than usual to organize my internet service given that I’d already given notice of my house transfer.

Kasi po di sila kikilos unless magset kayo ng appointment na tatanggapin nyo yung modem eh. Ganun po talaga yung procedure eh… pwede po bang magtanong sir?

Oo naman, ano yun? (having a good idea what she would probably ask).

Madali po bang magkajob dyan sa NZ? Direct hire po ba kayo o nakipagsapalaran kayo?

Hmm, so people knew the hit-or-miss, all-or-nothing nature of some job seekers here. Or at least, maybe I wasn’t the first accidental migrant Maricris bumped into on-the-job.

Offhand, I was a bit surprised at her directness in asking cuz I knew the call was being recorded (for quality assurance and training purposes, the last thing I heard before she came on the line). But mainly because it was such a spontaneous exchange, I went ahead.

Naku Maricris kung alam mo lang, parang butas ng karayom ang linusot ko makahanap lang ng work. Sinwerte lang, lalo na’t di na ideal destination ang NZ for guest workers. Onti na lang ang work permit holder tulad ko, either naging permanent resident na or umuwi na, baka sumubok na sa ibang bansa.

I could almost see the brightness in her face dissipating into a more neutral, professional mask.

So parang ayaw nyo na rin dyan Sir?

Syempre maganda’ng sahod so habang kelangan pa ako ng employer, tyaga na lang.

Advise mo ba kung magtry akong pumunta jan?

Dumalaw ka muna Maricris sa website ng Immigration NZ, dub dub dub immigration dot gov tee dot enzed, tingnan mo Skilled Migrant Category, baka may relevant experience ka malay mo. Pero kung ako sa yo sumubok ka ng ibang options tulad ng US, Australia etc.

It doesn’t feel good discouraging a kabayan especially when NZ had given me so much, but better to open their eyes now than disappoint her with starry – eyed tales of streets lined with jobs and tree branches heavy with Kiwifruit dollars.

Gaano katagal na kayo jan sir, anjan na rin ba family nyo?

(hahaha, this had become a migration orientation pep talk.)

Naku three years na rin ako pero walang security, pabago bago ihip ng hangin Maricris. me dalawang anak pa ako jan pero nauna na yung panganay, Kiwi kasi stepdad nya.

(sighs.) buti pa kayo jan sir pauwi-uwi na lang twing Pasko, at kumikita pa ng dollars !

Wag mong ismolin ginagawa mo Maricris, mas importante ginagawa nyo habang nasa malayo kami, kayo ang nagpapatakbo ng Pilipinas. Paano na lang kung aalis lahat diba? Your time will come hija.

Kakaiyak naman kayo sir. Nainspire tuloy akong ayusin career ko rito.

Kuya Noel na lang. Ayusin mo lang problema ko, and kahit kelan welcome ka tumira sa amin kapag nagbakasyon ka sa Wellington.

tutoo yon ha Kuya?

Oo naman ! Nga pala, Happy araw ng kalayaan Maricris !

Maligayang Independence Day Kuya. And thank you for calling Little Brown Brother Telecoms.

***  ***  ***  ***  ***

The modem arrived without hassle a few days later.

Thanks for reading !


Essential & Not-so-essential 1st Day Tips 4 Bunso the College Freshman


Image by ECOgarden via Flickr

[ NOte from Noel :  As of this writing, Bunso is on the brink of his freshman year in college.  I’m far from ideal as a dispenser of advice, but I’ve taken it upon myself to give him pearls of wisdom.  Thanks in advance for reading ! ]

Dear Bunso :

Sorry for the late baon, I didn’t know when your first day was and the text messages were late in coming.  I’m sure you’ll spend a sleepless night before your first day as a college student, few beginnings in your life will be as memorable as the chapter that heralds the start of your freshman year.  Not only does it formalize your entry into the world as a young adult, it is when you make serious choices as regards career and the life you will lead hereon.  The textbooks will undoubtedly help and your course curricula will serve as excellent guideposts, but it will be during this time that you will solidify your views of the world around you, your theory on why things are what they are, why things never seem to change, or why things will continue to be.  Most of the time you will figure things out for yourself, for that is the task of your professors and the adventure of learning : to train you to think for yourself, and to educate yourself in whatever discipline that you find worth your time and effort.

But forget all that for now.  You’ve come this far, and you deserve a memorable first day and first week as a collegian, don’t hesitate to do everything to store all the wonderful memories of your first day at campus, make as many friends as possible, and above all, cultivate your love for learning as you’ve always done, burn in your mind’s eye the crowd of people your age sharing your goals, the beautiful campus around you, the impressive edifices of learning all about, as these will be your world for the next four years :

Don’t try to do too much on your first day – You will be too stoked to do anything else but soak it all in, so just go with the flow.  Your first day will most likely be an assault to the senses : the human traffic will be at least twice or thrice what you’re used to in Siena, the chatter and noise level will be barely bearable, you will see all around you people as excited as you are, seeking to impress new friends, and you can’t have a campus without the cool customers : the jocks and cheerleaders, the artists, the nerds, and the groupies around each of these species.  Take them all in, make them part of your consciousness, because a good part of this community will make you part of their family.

Find your mates – I’m not sure if you’ve enrolled in a block of classes or a unique schedule, but if it’s the latter, you will soon enough find colleagues who share two or more classes with you.  It might be a bit early on Day One of school, but these are the guys who will be your buddies for the rest of the semester.  Breaks, gaps in schedules, class work and car pools are just some of the areas where you can collaborate and pool resources for mutual benefit.  Trust your first impression in this regard, if you feel good vibes coming from a new acquaintance/s, reach out to make friends for life.

Embrace your causes carefully – I’m not sure about the sense of timing on that side of Katipunan, but the cause – oriented groups, of which schools like yours are never in short supply, will often use the heady days of first week, to air their advocacies and pet causes all around campus.  When the exhilarating air of idealism is new to the senses, the appeal to change the world is at its strongest, and more so to freshmen hearing noble exhortations to kapit bisig for the first time.  You will often hear them during orientation talks, when moderators allow them their five minutes, during impromptu gatherings on the quadrangle, when even fringe groups are given their fifteen minutes of fame by the campus crowd, when in a burst of righteous exuberance you might just be inspired to hug a tree, defend a political prisoner, or revive legal rights long taken for granted.  Youth is the time to pick up these causes I know, but please choose your battles carefully, and always remember what you came to school for.  Above all, keep in mind the sacrifices made by those who came ahead of you, so that you could walk the corridors of learning.

Pace yourself – It might be hard to balance your energies when there is so much to do, so much to accomplish in so little time, but it is doable.  There is balance among the efforts you devote to your different subjects, the division of labor between reading assignments, writing reports and preparing for exams, which is after all where you hardened your muscles in high school, and not the least, the balance between work and recreation, without which you will be doomed to burn out long before nearing the finish line.  Just keep your eye on the big picture, which is  a living a well-rounded life, pushing yourself to the limit and enjoying yourself later, and the balance will come naturally.

Make your predecessors proud, and your successors inspired – And when you make the final selection on your degree course, embrace your causes and find out where you will excel, do everything you can to leave your mark as a student.  You may have heard this before, but you are a special student, in a special school entering university at a very special time.  Because of all your gifts and the needs of the times, you have no choice but to change the world.  I was hoping not to sound so melodramatic, but your stint as a student in a good school is no less than a great privilege, demanding that you use your training to help make our country a better one for the less fortunate, particularly those who have not had your opportunity.

I know it’s a lot to absorb before your first day at school, I hope I haven’t dulled your sense of anticipation.  It sounds trite, but you are in for a thrilling adventure, and no matter what you do, great rewards await.  In a sense, as you embark on your journey of learning, you have already won, and you only need to claim your prize at the end of your four years.  Vaya con Dios!

I love you always and miss you terribly.  Kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos anak.


OFW in Reverse

Toronto from CN tower just before the new year...

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[ NOte from NOel : IRONY ALERT :  At least half of the things said here today are in the ironic sense or tongue-in-cheek, please react accordingly, though we are grateful still in advance for your attention, thanks! ]

 Dear kabatch, classmates, schoolmates, kabayan, Maroonmates, officemates, Huttmates and friends :

 AFTER NEARLY SIX YEARS of not sharing the same living space, Panganay and I recently became housemates rather abruptly, if not unceremoniously.  The last time I was with him I was still an angry 40-year old unable to come to terms with the unrealized dreams and failures that come with impending middle age. After what seemed like an eternity later, I have now accepted the realities of things I must live with, successes out of my reach coupled with worlds still conquerable.

Among these conquerables is a renewed relationship with the firstborn, although the lines defining the stereotype  of father + son are no longer distinct. Too much time has passed and too much faith lost, although lots of faith is there to be regained.  The arrangement is by no means permanent, as you might have already assumed.  Panganay’s outlook is too bohemian for him to stay in one place for more than a few idle moments in the hurly-burly schedule of twentysomethings, I myself am unsure as to how long I can stay in this Kiwi idyll of ferny glens and political correctness, given that my own immigration status is far from stable.

But for now we ( or at least one half of us for sure ) are happy to form an unlikely family, with of course wry-smiling esposa hermosa by my side.

Beyond the bonding, paternal / filial overcompensation and awkwardness in reestablishing familiarity, the congruences end.  Because of the basic disconnect in goals, methodology and values, it’s hard for either of us to see the wisdom in what the other does.

For one thing, Crazy Good Son ( one of my nicknames for him, although he’s not aware of it ) is in a state of flux.  An unexpected turn of events the last few years has gifted him with near-permanent resident status courtesy of his mom, and if God continues to smile on him and nothing goes awry, he will shortly become a citizen of the First World without so much as lifting a finger.

I am uncertain as to how conscious he is of his extreme good fortune, given the thousands of hopeful migrants ( not just Pinoys ) who gamble away life’s savings and the best years of their lives annually just for a chance to become permanent residents of NZ and Australia; that employment, career (and consequently income) opportunities improve probably about tenfold as one enters a job market with infinitely less competition and exponentially better work conditions; that the practically limitless possibilities to improve on one’s professional education all but assure him of a better life ahead; on a daily basis I would love to lecture him on his outrageous fortune, but his above-average intelligence tells him he has struck the job equivalent of marrying the provincial warlord’s daughter.

Instead, he spends much of his waiting time studying the odds, discovering exactly how to maximize his newfound luck with the least bit of effort (no surprises there) and qualifying his idleness from being “forced” (by the processing time of his documentation ) to being philosophical idleness, namely one “of choice.”

I remember one of our first conversations outside the Philippines when, aware of his considerable free time while waiting for the good news (of his Returning Resident’s Visa issuance, as the life-changing document is known ) I asked him if he wanted me to ask around for informal jobs/chores for him to perform, in case he needed something to do.

Nakakaawa naman ang mga unemployed Papa, ibigay mo na sa kanila.  Kanila na mga mowing and cleaning, he counterpunched, half in jest but obviously not that crazy about joining the workforce in such a manner.

Right away, also semi-jokingly ( but semi-seriously too ) I noted two things in his response :  His acute ( but rather misplaced ) concern for the unemployment situation here (at an all-time high) and his apparent ambivalence to doing menial jobs, which after all is work that is honorable in any society, no matter how sophisticated or stratified the latter.

Hindi naman po, and his combination of reasons were that it wouldn’t be a good look to take away jobs that should rightfully go to youth that grew up around the community, and that the dance crew he had joined was occupied with contests and busking for Christchurch earthquake victims.  Who could argue with that ? I mused, seeing your son so creative and concerned with helping the unlucky ?  So that was that, at least for a while.

I know what you’re thinking, ha?  Sign up for work anywhere and anytime you can find it, apply first before finding out if you’re qualified, never hurts to try, and as long as you  buy bread (or rice) with the wages, work is work is work.  All the above proverbs true not only for you, me and our fellow countrymen, but for every newcomer off-the-boat, giddy to try his luck in the land of Promise.

As it was not my place to judge and in light of the abovementioned modified relationship vis-a-vis Senior and Junior, I held my tongue.  Besides, his YouTube posts looked so cool, he might even be on the short list for Talentadong Pinoy, if ever there was a Kiwi version.  Who was I to rain on his parade?

**     **     **     **     **

Before long, my busybodying daddy instincts got the better of me once more.

You know, you could actually test the waters by just making initial inquiries about jobs you might like, without actually tipping your hand, just look at ALL those I.T. vacancies posted by all those ATTRACTIVE-sounding companies with their flashy logos and sexy compensation packages I said, broaching the topic over his favorite sinigang na hipon one night  after work, a not-too-subtle nudge directing him toward an early-bird job hunt…

Was I naive or something?  his eyebrows countered asap, although his retort was respectful enough.  Una pong tatanungin nila Are you a permament resident, di naman ako pwedeng magsinungaling, maaalala nila sagot ko kahit sa initial interview, naisip ko na po yon he he, and again, that was that.

**     **     **     **     **

I don’t have to tell you though that I’ve heard of countless Pinoys who’ve gone straight from the airport to pounding the CBD pavement (jetlag notwithstanding), bringing crisp CVs from home and ready to swipe away an earnest job interview, and a prospective job at that, from any faint-hearted, or hesitant Kiwi having second thoughts about a precious job candidacy.  THIS was the attitude I thought that Panganay needed to arm himself with, weeks away from joining the rat race for a Jay-Oh-Bee.

Left unsaid, in all my second-guessing about his jobsearch aversion, was the lack of hunger : he wasn’t, like me ( or millions of other job hopefuls ), a family man desperate for a family income, he wasn’t shouldering a rent budget with equally desperate job candidates, had no debts to pay, and no one to send money home to.  There was no pressure on him to find work urgently.  In short, he wasn’t the typical new OFWIt wasn’t his fault, but he was undermotivated to prove himself as one of the planet’s pre-eminent heat-seeking missiles when it came to work, the Pinoy OFW.

Oh for sure he had it in him to find a great job, having better-than-average smarts, the requisite social skills, more than capable of selling the concept of here I am and this is what I can do, hiring me is the best idea you’ll come up with this week and maybe next.

But (deep sigh) until he woke up from his OMG-I’ve-actually-gotten-here reverie, he wasn’t going to be challenged, mentally or physically, anytime soon.

**     **     **     **     **

What I’d suspected, that he was in no real hurry to join the workforce (except on his own narrow terms), came into sharp relief a few days ago, when I told him that a friend mentioned that a gig might be available cleaning dishes and disinfecting lavatories.

He bristled at the idea of performing such tasks, asking if he could instead wait on tables or just take orders, and mentioned in passing that he preferred cafes over eating places, because the dishes would be easier to clean.

Look anak, you have to start somewhere, and you could use it as an immersion experience, seeing how it is to work without actually being formally engaged.  And wouldn’t you like to feel how it is to work for money you’re spending?  I told him, careful not to offend and using such as a teachable moment.

What he answered was, to say the least, a rude awakening for me.

Hindi ako nag-aral Pa para gawin yung job na ganyan, kahit naman siguro ikaw na nakatapos ng pag-aaral pagiisipan nyo nang mabuti bago tanggapin ang kahit na anong work.  Di po ako namimili (pero ganun na nga diba?) pero maghahanap muna ako ng iba.

And with that, I realized how wide the chasm was between his job attitudes and mine.

**     **     **     **     **

In seaching for a way to end this cautionary tale, a DVD I saw, Wall Street  the sequel came to mind.  The aging but still debonair Michael Douglas tells Shia LeBouf in a subway scene that the most important asset these days is not businesses, land or property, but time.  Anyone who has the luxury of time can do whatever he/she wants, and the convenience of doubling back to correct one’s mistakes.

In my humble view, the greatest asset that not just Panganay but many people of his age group possess is time, although I hope he does not, in his quest to achieve job perfection, squander too much of his precious asset.

Thanks for reading !