[ 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.
(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 !
- There And Back Again – Matamata, New Zealand (travelpod.com)
- OFW in Reverse (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Aquino: Philippines yet to fully achieve freedom (mindoropost.com)
- Tanaw ang Ortigas Center / mula Hobbiton, Middle Earth (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)